Parents warned against giving paracetamol and ibuprofen for mild fever

A misplaced “fever phobia” in society means parents too frequently use both medicines to bring down even slight temperatures, say a group of American paediatricians, who warn that children can receive accidental overdoses as a result. As many as half of parents are giving their children the wrong dosage, according to a study carried out by the doctors.

In new guidance, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that a high temperature is often the body’s way of fighting an infection, and warns parents that to bring it down with drugs could actually lengthen a child’s illness. Family doctors too readily advise parents to use the medicines, known collectively as “antipyretics”, according to the authors of the guidance.

GPs also often tell parents to give their children alternate doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen – known as combination therapy – believing the risk of side effects to be minimal. In its official guidance, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) says the use of the drugs “should be considered in children with fever who appear distressed or unwell”.

Asthmatic Olympic hopeful, 18, gets her breath back

A talented athlete whose sporting career was thrown into jeopardy after she was diagnosed with asthma has got her breath back thanks to pioneering treatment.

Hannah Lupton, 18, of Preston, has been doing athletics for almost 10 years and is showing great promise as a heptathlete. The teenager, who lives with parents Janine and Aidan and has three sisters and a brother, is aiming to qualify for the Great Britain under-20s team. But a few years ago Hannah started to struggle with her training sessions and felt like she could not finish them.

Hannah, who is studying sports, biology and chemistry at Preston's Cardinal Newman College, said: 'I felt out-of-breath and dizzy, breathless and a bit panicky. I just could not understand what was happening.'

Doctors diagnosed Hannah with sports-induced asthma as they realised the condition was only brought on when she was exercising and prescribed her with inhalers. However, Hannah found these did not help much.

Source - Daily Mail

Education reduces blood pressure

Despite exam stress, a long stint in education is good for people's blood pressure, according to researchers in the US.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is linked to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. The study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, shows the link is stronger in women than in men.

The British Heart Foundation said the findings supported the link between deprivation and heart disease risk. Higher levels of education have been linked to lower levels of heart disease. The researchers suggest that blood pressure could be the reason why. The study looked at 30 years of data from 3,890 people who were being followed as part of the Framingham Offspring Study.

Source -BBC

Hot flushes may be a blessing

A new study shows women plagued by the nuisance symptoms at the start of ''the change'' have a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Scientists cannot yet explain the trend, identified from an analysis of data on 60,000 women taking part in a major US study. But they say it is good news for women who are known to become more vulnerable to heart disease after the menopause.

Hot flushes - known as hot flashes in the US - are one of the most common menopausal symptoms. They occur suddenly, lasting about four minutes on average, and produce an uncomfortable feeling of intense heat. Sufferers may break out in sweats and frequent hot flushes at night can severely disrupt sleep. The symptoms are caused by the dilation of blood vessels in the skin and are linked to hormone imbalances, but still not fully understood.

Researchers discovered the positive news about hot flushes after studying women taking part in the Women's Health Initiative, a 10-year investigation of menopausal symptoms and heart and artery problems. The findings will appear in the June issue of the journal Menopause and were published online today.

Source - Telegraph

Take time for tea

Having a cuppa could help you solve the crossword faster, according to the latest study. Natural ingredients found in a cup of tea can improve brain power and increase alertness, it is claimed.

Researchers looked at the effect of key chemicals found in tea on the mental performance of 44 young volunteers. The effects of these ingredients, an amino acid called L-theanine – which is also found in green tea – and caffeine at levels typically found in a cup of tea, were compared with a dummy treatment.

The active ingredients significantly improved accuracy across a number of switching tasks for those who drank the tea after 20 and 70 minutes, compared with the placebo. The tea drinkers’ alertness was also heightened, the study found.

Tea was also found to reduced tiredness among the volunteers, who were aged under 40, according to the Dutch researchers reporting on their findings in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience.

Source - Daily Mail

Pecans nuts are a pick-me-up for the heart and lower risk of cancer

Eating pecan nuts can lower the risk of developing heart disease or cancer, say researchers.

A study showed their naturally occurring antioxidants help reduce inflammation in the arteries. The nuts are particularly rich in one form of the antioxidant vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol, and the study showed that its levels in the body doubled eight hours after eating pecans.

The researchers analysed 16 men and women who ate a sequence of three diets, one of whole pecans, one of pecans blended with water, and a neutral ‘control’ meal. Even after three hours, unhealthy oxidation of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood – which can cause heart problems – fell by up to a third.

‘Previous research has shown that pecans contain antioxidant factors. Our study shows these antioxidants are indeed absorbed in the body and provide a protective effect against diseases,’ said Ella Haddad, of California’s Loma Linda University, whose findings were published in The Journal of Nutrition.

Alternative allergy test offers 'mislead parents'

There is no scientific evidence that complementary therapies or kits sold through websites can identify allergies, the NHS watchdog NICE says. It says sites for services such as hair analysis use plausible stories but are not backed up by scientific evidence.

It is publishing new guidance to help doctors in England and Wales identify when a child may have allergy problems. NICE says some parents end up turning to alternative therapies after a perceived lack of help from their GPs. It is estimated that one in 20 young children has a food allergy.

Dr Adam Fox, an allergy specialist based at the Evelina Children's Hospital in London, says not all children suffer immediate and obvious symptoms.

"Food allergies can actually be extremely subtle. Lots of children have eczema, colic or spit up more food than usual. For some of those children the underlying problem is an allergy to something within their diet."

Source - BBC

Organic produce 'not as good for your health'

The organic 'back to nature' approach to gardening - doing away with artificial chemicals - will not deliver healthier or more tasty produce, it is claimed.

A controversial new study from Which? Gardening suggests produce grown using modern, artificial, methods may well be better for you. The claims follow a two year study growing potatoes, broccoli and tomatoes and will alarm producers and consumers who put their faith in natural food.

Organic bodies have rejected the claims, insisting the trial was too small to offer meaningful results. However, they will come as a severe blow to the industry's reputation. The non-organic broccoli or calabrese was found to have significantly higher levels of antioxidants than the organically grown samples.

Antioxidants are beneficial chemicals that are said to improve general health and help prevent cancer. The research found the non-organic potatoes contained more Vitamin C than the organic crop.

Source - Daily Mail

Alcohol in moderation 'can help prevent heart disease'

An alcoholic drink a day can help keep heart disease at bay, according to a review of 30 years of research.

The work, published in the British Medical Journal showed a 14% to 25% reduction in heart disease in moderate drinkers compared with people who had never drunk alcohol.

Another article , by the same Canadian research group, showed alcohol increased "good" cholesterol levels. But experts said this was not a reason to start drinking. For many years, studies have suggested that drinking alcohol in moderation has some health benefits. Scientists at the University of Calgary reviewed 84 pieces of research between 1980 and 2009.

Source - BBC

Mobile phones 'affect the brain'

A study by the National Institutes of Health in the US suggests that mobile phones could have an effect on the brain.

They reported higher sugar use in the brain, a sign of increased activity, after 50 minutes on the phone. The research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association said the clinical significance was unknown. Experts in the UK said there was no suggestion of a health risk.

Since the boom in mobile phone use, there has been considerable interest in the effect on the body. The largest study on 420,000 mobile phone users in Denmark, has not shown a link between phone use and cancer.

This small study on 47 people investigated the effect of magnetic fields (RF-EMFs) coming from a phone's antenna. It suggests that brain activity is affected, but cannot draw any conclusions about possible health implications.

Source - BBC

Even low dose of aspirin 'could reduce cancer risk long term'

Taking a common headache relief pill may also reduce the risk of a wide range of cancers, according to a long-term study.

Earlier trials found high doses of the drug could lower the risk. Now scientists say taking a low dose of aspirin over a long period can lower a person's risk of colon and rectal cancer by 20 per cent and gastrointestinal cancers by 35 per cent.

Study leader Professor Peter Rothwell of Oxford University, said: 'We showed in a paper a couple of months ago in The Lancet that low dose aspirin also prevented colon and rectal cancers. This suggested that low dose aspirin may also prevent other cancers.'

Professor Rothwell, who prescribed aspirin for many years to patients with minor strokes, began studying other possible beneficial effects.

Source - Daily Mail

Red meat does increase cancer risk, new report will confirm

Britons should cut their consumption of red and processed meat to reduce the risk of bowel cancer, scientific experts are expected to recommend in a report.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) was asked by the Department of Health to review dietary advice on meat consumption as a source of iron. In a draft report published in June 2009 the committee of independent experts said lower consumption of red and processed meat would probably reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

The committee said: 'Although the evidence is not conclusive, as a precaution, it may be advisable for intakes of red and processed meat not to increase above the current average (70g/day) and for high consumers of red and processed meat (100g/day or more) to reduce their intakes.'

A daily total of 70g is equivalent to about three rashers of bacon.

Source - Daily Mail

Speaking a second language can delay dementia onset for years

Speaking a second language may slow the rate at which the brain declines with age, showing that bilingual people are better protected against Alzheimer's disease than people who use only one language.

Several studies have now demonstrated a clear link between using a second language and cognitive decline, which can be explained by the idea that bilingualism acts like a "mental gymnasium" that keeps the brain active in later life, scientists said.

The latest study, presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, found bilingual patients with probable Alzheimer's were more likely have delayed symptoms compared to monolingual patients. In fact, the effect of speaking a second language produced a stronger effect on delaying the onset of Alzheimer's than any drug currently used to control the disease, said Ellen Bialystok, professor of psychology at York University in Toronto, Canada.

Source - Independent

Turmeric fights stroke damage

A drug derived from the curry spice turmeric may be able to help the body repair some of the damage caused in the immediate aftermath of a stroke.

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles are preparing to embark on human trials after promising results in rabbits.

Their drug reached brain cells and reduced muscle and movement problems.

The Stroke Association said it was the "first significant research" suggesting that the compound could aid stroke patients.

Source: BBC News

Study suggests mobile phones do not lead to brain tumours

Britain’s 48 million mobile users have been assured they are not at the risk of developing cancer from talking on their phone.

Mobile phones have been regularly linked with brain disorders as their usage increased over the last decade and health authorities advised people to try and limit their time on the phone. But new research from a nine-year study could allay the concern that mobile phones are bad for your health.

Scientists from Manchester University found that there had been a rise in one form of brain cancer in England but said its increased incidence was too small to be linked to mobile phone usage.

Source - Daily Mail

Negative experiences can stop painkillers working

A patient's belief that a drug will not work can become a self fulfilling prophecy, according to researchers. They showed the benefits of painkillers could be boosted or completely wiped out by manipulating expectations.

The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, also identifies the regions of the brain which are affected. Experts said this could have important consequences for patient care and for testing new drugs.

Heat was applied to the legs of 22 patients, who were asked to report the level of pain on a scale of one to 100. They were also attached to an intravenous drip so drugs could be administered secretly. The initial average pain rating was 66. Patients were then given a potent painkiller, remifentanil, without their knowledge and the pain score went down to 55. They were then told they were being given a painkiller and the score went down to 39.

Then, without changing the dose, the patients were then told the painkiller had been withdrawn and to expect pain, and the score went up to 64. So even though the patients were being given remifentanil, they were reporting the same level of pain as when they were getting no drugs at all.

Source - BBC

Red wine 'can help breast cancer chemo patients'

Women who are about to undergo chemotherapy for breast cancer should drink a glass or two of red wine a day, research suggests.

Laboratory tests show an organic compound in the wine called resveratrol can double the effect of the chemotherapy drug rapamycin. Cancer cells often develop resistance to rapamycin, an immunosuppressant which can also slow the growth of cancerous tumours, stop them or make them smaller.

Dr Charis Eng, who led the new US study at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, said: "Our findings show that resveratrol seems to mitigate rapamycin-induced drug resistance in breast cancers, at least in the laboratory.

"If these observations hold true in the clinic setting, then enjoying a glass of red wine or eating a bowl of boiled peanuts - which has a higher resveratrol content than red wine - before rapamycin treatment for cancer might be a prudent approach."

She added that their lab study on human breast cancer cell lines found that when rapamycin was used in conjunction with resveratrol, it was twice as effective at killing those cells than using rapamycin alone.

Source - Telegraph

Eating berries 'may lower your risk of Parkinson's disease'

Tucking into a bowlful of berries at breakfast may lower your risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a major new study.

Researchers found that men and women who regularly eat the sweet treat may have a lower risk of developing the degenerative illness. Men may further lower their risk by regularly eating apples, oranges and other sources rich in dietary components called flavonoids. These are found in plants and fruits and are also known collectively as vitamin P and citrin. They can also be found in berry fruits, chocolate, and citrus fruits such as grapefruit.

The Harvard study involved 49,281 men and 80,336 women. Researchers gave participants questionnaires and used a database to calculate the intake of flavonoids. They then analyzed the association between flavonoid intakes and risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

Source - Daily Mail

Herbal medicines will survive after ministers approve plan that bypasses EU directive

Herbal and Chinese medicines that faced the axe are to stay under new plans to register UK practitioners for the first time.

The Government has moved to protect consumers wanting herbal products that will disappear from many health food shops after April 30. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will ensure around 2,500 qualified herbalists and Chinese medicine practitioners continue to have the right to supply a wide range of herbal medicines.

They had faced restrictions under an EU directive because they are not signed up to a statutory regulation scheme. Mr Lansley has approved a plan for the Health Professions Council (HPC) to establish a register of practitioners supplying unlicensed herbal medicines, who will be required to sign up by law.

But from May 1 consumers will be unable to personally buy many traditional herbal products under an EU directive passed in 2004, taking effect this year.

Source - Daily Mail

Pain reduced by changing what you look at.

What you look at can influence how much pain you feel, a study has revealed.

Contrary to many people's compulsion to look away during a painful event such as an injection, scientists found that looking at your body - in this case the hand - reduces the pain experienced. The team also showed that magnifying the hand to make it appear larger cut pain levels further still.

The study, published in Psychological Science, is shedding light on how the brain processes pain. The researchers say that gaining a better understanding of this could lead to new treatments.

Look away?

The University College London (UCL) and University of Milan-Bicocca research, which was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), was carried out with the help of 18 volunteers.

Zinc can be an 'effective treatment' for common colds

Taking zinc syrup, tablets or lozenges can lessen the severity and duration of the common cold, experts believe.

A review of the available scientific evidence suggests taking zinc within a day of the onset of cold symptoms speeds recovery. It may also help ward off colds, say the authors of the Cochrane Systematic Review that included data from 15 trials involving 1,360 people. But they say zinc cannot be used long-term because of toxicity concerns. Excessive amounts can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

Now more work is needed to determine the exact dosing required, say the experts.

Source - BBC

Fears grow for city homeopathic hospital

The future of Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital has been cast into doubt, with some NHS bosses refusing to send patients there.

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) have said the NHS should stop funding such hospitals, arguing there is no evidence of their effectiveness. The chief executive of the health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Robert Calderwood, said that last year one health board had decided to stop referring patients to the hospital. And he warned that, if others follow suit, he will have to look at how much the hospital is costing the health board. With cuts of about £50m to find in the next financial year, the BMA is calling for funding to be withdrawn.

Mr Calderwood said: “You could be forgiven for thinking it is a no-brainer.”

Source - Evening Times

Dinner table rules 'combat asthma and obesity'

The 'ABC recipe' for mealtimes also includes focusing on discipline and communication and can help ease symptoms of asthma, according to a study.

Dr Barbara Fiese, director of the University of Illinois’ Family Resiliency Center, which carried out the research, said: "When children were part of families that 'followed the recipe,' their asthma symptoms were less severe and they were more apt to take their medicine. They also tended to worry less about their symptoms, and they were able to engage more fully in activities at school and after school."

Dr Fiese and her team videotaped 200 families, that included children aged five to 12 with persistent asthma, and observed their actions during family meals. She said the 'recipe' could also help combat other health problems: "Family mealtimes, when they're done right, are linked to many benefits for children, including a reduced risk of substance abuse, eating disorders, and obesity."

Source - Telegraph

Warwick scientists say lack of sleep 'bad for health'

The risk of developing heart disease can increase by as much as 48% if a person does not get enough sleep, University of Warwick scientists say.

A long period of sleep shortage increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to scientists. They found most people need between six and eight hours of sleep a night to protect their health.

Professor Cappuccio and co-author Dr Michelle Miller, from the University of Warwick, conducted the research. They said they followed up evidence from periods of seven to 25 years from more than 470,000 participants from eight countries including Japan, the USA, Sweden and the UK.

Professor Cappuccio said: "If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep you stand a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance of developing or dying of a stroke."

Source - BBC

Cutting out some suspect foods could help calm ADHD children

Children with ADHD should be tried on special diets to trace foods that may trigger disruptive behaviour, doctors claim. They say diet should come before drugs, such as Ritalin, that are often prescribed to calm hyperactivity at school.

Research shows restricting the range of foods given to children with ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – can lead to significantly better behaviour. Suspect foods are taken out and then re-introduced into the diet to detect which are causing problems, a report by Dutch researchers in The Lancet medical journal says.

In a study of 100 children aged four to eight with ADHD, half were given an ‘elimination’ diet where they were only allowed a few foods such as rice, meat, vegetables, pears and water.Over time they were allowed different foods including wheat, eggs, peanuts, milk, soy and fish.

Source - Daily Mail

Herbal weight loss pill warning

People are being warned to stop using a weight loss pill sold over the internet and in Chinese medicine shops.

The Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a warning about Herbal Flos Lonicerae (Herbal Xenicol). Anyone taking the product should stop immediately and contact a doctor, it says.

The warning comes after reports of side effects such as palpitations, with one patient needing hospital treatment. The capsules are thought to contain an as yet unknown pharmaceutical substance.

Tests are underway to establish the cause of the side effects.

Source - BBC

How coffee can boost the brainpower of women...

Next time you have a high-pressure meeting at work, keep an eye on what goes into your colleagues’ cups. Drinking coffee improves women’s brainpower in stressful situations – but sends men into meltdown, according to a study.

While sipping a cappuccino or downing an espresso boosts women’s performance when working with others, the same drinks impair men’s memories and slow their decision-making. And given that Britons get through some 70million cups of coffee a day, the implications are significant, say the researchers.

Psychologist Dr Lindsay St Claire said: ‘Many meetings, including those at which military and other decisions are made, are likely to be male-dominated. Because caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world, the global implications are potentially staggering.’

Source - Daily Mail

Popeye had it right:!

Popeye's taste for a can of spinach before a fight has a genuine scientific basis, researchers have found: the leafy green vegetable really can boost your muscle power.

It was thought the iron content of spinach accounted for its status as a superfood. But researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have found that the inorganic nitrate it contains is the secret of its strength-giving property.

Source - Independent

Moderate exercise such as walking 'boosts memory power'

Walking for 40 minutes a few times a week is enough to preserve memory and keep ageing brains on top form, research shows.

Moderate exercise increased the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that makes memories, in 120 volunteers. The year-long trial, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed performance on memory tests also improved. Exercise may buffer against dementia as well as age-related memory loss.

The latest work looked at healthy people in their 60s rather than people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. But the findings have important implications for ageing societies faced with a dementia time bomb.

In the UK, 820,000 people have dementia, and this figure is set to double by 2030. Until a cure is discovered, finding cheap and simple ways to reverse this trend is imperative, say experts.

Source - BBC

Early bowel cancer detected by dogs in Japan

A Labrador retriever has sniffed out bowel cancer in breath and stool samples during a study in Japan.

The research, in the journal Gut, showed the dog was able to identify early stages of the disease. It has already been suggested that dogs can use their noses to detect skin, bladder, lung, ovarian and breast cancers.

Cancer Research UK said it would be extremely difficult to use dogs for routine cancer testing. The biology of a tumour is thought to include a distinct smell and a series of studies have used dogs to try to detect it.

Notoriously difficult

The researchers at Kyushu University used Marine, an eight-year-old black Labrador. She was asked to pick from five samples, one of which was from a cancer patient and four from healthy people. In the breath tests she picked out the cancer sample 33 out of 36 times. She was even more successful with the stool samples, finding 37 out of 38 cancers.

Source - BBC