Mobiles 'may cause brain cancer'

The World Health Organization's cancer research agency says mobile phones are "possibly carcinogenic".

A review of evidence suggests an increased risk of a malignant type of brain cancer cannot be ruled out. However, any link is not certain - they concluded that it was "not clearly established that it does cause cancer in humans". A cancer charity said the evidence was too weak to draw strong conclusions from.

A group of 31 experts has been meeting in Lyon, France, to review human evidence coming from epidemiological studies. They said they looked at all relevant human studies of people using mobile phones and exposure to electromagnetic fields in their workplace.

The WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) can give mobile phones one of five scientific labels: carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, possibly carcinogenic, not classifiable or not carcinogenic.

It concluded that mobiles should be rated as "possibly carcinogenic" because of a possible link with a type of brain cancer - glioma.

Source - BBC

Acupuncture has significant impact on mystery illnesses

Acupuncture has a 'significant' effect on patients with mystery symptoms - and could be added to the list of available treatments for undiagnosed health problems, research shows. One in five patients has symptoms which are undiagnosed by medicine, and the cost of treating them is twice that as of a diagnosed patient.

A team from the University of Exeter examined 80 patients, and investigated the benefit of acupuncture being added to their usual care. After the first trial of its type, researchers say those who underwent acupuncture showed 'a significant and sustained benefit' and add that the treatment could be safely added to the list of possible therapies.

Of the 80 patients, nearly 60 per cent reported musculoskeletal problems, and in the three months prior to the experiment had accounted for treatment including 44 hospital visits, 52 hospital clinic visits, 106 outpatient clinic visits and 75 visits to non NHS workers. Half were treated with acupuncture for 26 weeks with the other acting as a control group, reports the British Journal of General Practice.

Source - Telegraph

How to never get ill: Take a nap

History has many accomplished nappers.

Leonardo Da Vinci took short naps every few hours; Napoleon Bonaparte dozed on his horse. And very wise they were, too. Lack of sleep causes the body to produce more of the hormone cortisol, which gives us energy but restricts production of human growth hormone — limiting the body’s ability to repair itself.

A 2008 Stanford University study found that fruit flies’ immune systems fought invading bacteria best at night. This backed up the theory that our bodies use dormant hours to regenerate and fight disease (by producing immune cells called monocytes).

Source - Daily Mail

How warming up your kidneys can treat heart failure

Heating the kidneys with high energy waves could be the latest treatment for a weak heart.

Doctors from Imperial College London are using this technique on patients with heart failure to relieve their symptoms. The treatment, which numbs the nerves that carry signals from the kidney to the brain, has previously been used to treat high blood pressure.

Now, scientists say it could help with heart failure, as many of the symptoms are linked to the kidneys. It seems the kidneys mistakenly tell the brain to send the body into ‘emergency mode’, which increases heart rate and raises blood pressure, placing even greater strain on the heart and triggering symptoms such as breathlessness and fatigue.

The theory is that cutting off certain nerves signals between the kidney and the brain will improve heart failure symptoms.

About 900,000 Britons suffer from this condition, with one in 15 people over the age of 75 developing it. Heart failure can be triggered by high blood pressure or heart attack and leaves the heart so weak that it can’t pump enough blood around the body.

Source - Daily Mail

Ayahuasca: a shamanic miracle or 'crazy tea'?

By her own admission there aren't many recreational substances that Courtney Love hasn't tried. In a candid interview with the latest issue of the American magazine Fix, the former Hole singer and widow of Kurt Cobain rattled off a long list of her past addictions. But there was one high that even a committed connoisseur like Love hadn't hit.

"The one drug I'd like to try one day is ayahuasca, which should be mandatory for everybody," she said. "It's apparently this crazy tea that gives you these intense hallucinations."

Crazy tea is one way of putting it. A powerful hallucinogenic brew made from rainforest plants, ayahuasca has been used for centuries by indigenous communities in the Amazon in shamanic medicine. The viscous brown liquid is made from a boiled-down mixture of psychotropic plants and is treated with deep reverence by Amazon natives.

But over the years, an increasing number of Westerners have begun to use variations of ayahuasca, either for recreational highs or in therapy centres which offer their own versions of traditional Amazonian medicine.

The ingredient which makes the drink hallucinogenic is dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a naturally occurring psychedelic compound that, in synthesised form, is a Class-A substance. But while DMT itself is banned in Britain, ayahuasca is not, and there has never been a prosecution for its possession or use.

Source - Independent

Flaky skin? Try the ancient almond remedy

High Street chemists' shelves heave with expensive creams and lotions for itchy, flaky skins and scalps. But could a bottle of almond oil, costing as little as £1.59, really be all you need?

Almond oil, or oleum amygdalae, has been used in ancient Chinese, Ayurvedic and Greco-Persian schools of medicine to treat dry skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. But it seems modern science has alsLinko found benefits.

Dermatologist Dr Mervyn Patterson says: 'Almond oil contains ursolic acid and oleic acid which are plant-derived compounds known to have anti-inflammatory and barrier repair effects.

'If you imagine the stratum corneum (the outer layer of skin) as 12 different slates on top of each other stuck together with mortar, this provides a barrier to the rest of the skin. "

Source - Daily Mail

Why coffee cuts your chance of pregnancy

Scientists say they have discovered why drinking coffee makes it harder for women to conceive.

Caffeine, the stimulant in coffee, impairs the transport of eggs from the ovaries to the womb, they found. Previous studies had shown that consuming too much coffee affected female fertility.

Recent research involving 9,000 women found that drinking more than four cups a day cut the chances of conceiving by a quarter. Until now, the reason for the link was a mystery. The new investigation, conducted on mice, showed that caffeine inhibits contractions of the fallopian tubes which are needed to carry eggs to the womb.

Source - Daily Mail

Diet Coke sweetener in safety spotlight

An artificial sweetener used in Diet Coke is to undergo an urgent EU safety review.

Aspartame is ingested every day by millions of people around the world in more than 6,000 well-known brands of food, drink and medicine. However, it has been the subject of a number of studies that appear to show harmful effects on human health.

One recent study linked diet drinks containing aspartame to premature births, while another suggested it could cause cancer. To date, health watchdogs, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), have ruled out any link to ill-health.

But after several MEPs asked for a new investigation following pressure from European health campaigners, EU Commission officials have now asked the EFSA to bring forward a review that had been planned for 2020.

The concern about artificial sweeteners such as aspartame relates to the fact that they contain methanol, a nerve toxin which can be metabolised in the body to form two more nerve toxins: formic acid and formaldehyde, the chemical used to preserve dead bodies.

Earlier this year, experts on Britain’s Committee on Toxicity(CoT) ruled that ‘long-term exposure to methanol consumed through food, including from aspartame, is unlikely to be harmful to health’.

Source - Daily Mail

Fish oil could curb binge drinking by reducing desire for alcohol

Fish oil supplements have been hailed as a wonder treatment for conditions ranging from autism to dementia. Now new evidence suggests the omega 3 fatty acids could tackle alcohol abuse as well.

Scientists from the Indian University School of Medicine made the discovery by chance when studying whether fish oil had any benefit for bipolar disorder. Lead author Dr Alexander Niculescu found that the fatty acid DHA, which is the main ingredient of fish oil, 'normalised' behaviour of mice with the condition.

'They are not depressed and when subjected to stress they do not become manic,' Dr Niculescu said.

However, an unexpected finding of the research was that the fatty acid also reduced the desire for alcohol.

Less childhood sleep has fat risk

Children who get insufficient sleep at night are more likely to become overweight, according to researchers in New Zealand.

A study,published on the BMJ website, followed 244 children between the ages of three and seven. It said more sleep was linked to a lower weight, which could have important public health consequences. UK experts said there was "no harm" in drawing attention to the link between reduced sleep and ill health.

The children were seen every six months when their weight, height and body fat were measured. Their sleeping habits and physical-activity levels were recorded at ages three, four and five. The researchers found that those children who had less sleep in their earlier years were at greater risk of having a higher Body Mass Index at age seven.

This link continued even when other risk factors, such as gender and physical activity, were accounted for in their research.

Source - BBC

Culture linked to improved health

Trips to the theatre, concerts, art galleries and museums have been linked to better health and wellbeing, according to researchers in Norway.

A report, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, showed the more often people engaged in cultural activities the greater their health benefits. The authors suggest culture could be used to promote good health. The study interviewed 50,797 adults from Nord-Tr√łndelag County in Norway.

They were asked about their health, and satisfaction with life, as well as levels of anxiety and depression. They were also questioned about their involvement in two cultural fields: "creative culture" when the person does something such as play an instrument, paint or sing, and "receptive culture" including going to galleries and concerts.

Both types of cultural activity were linked with good health, wellbeing, low stress and low depression even when other factors, such as social background and wealth, were taken into account.

Source - BBC

Diet, fitness and health have become an obsession

For those of us who can afford to worry about it, rather than worrying about where the next meal is coming from, diet, fitness and health have become an obsession, shrewdly fed by the press, who now give over lumps of newsprint to "Good Health" advice. Which would be dandy, if the advice wasn't so contradictory.

What is the benighted health fiend to make this week of a full page devoted to the pros and cons of coffee? According to a Greek study, one cup of coffee a day could reduce your blood pressure – although British research says it could keep you awake all night, which, according to the Japanese, is bad for your heart. Almost as bad, the Spaniards say, as getting out of bed too quickly. Two cups of coffee a day, says the University of Florida, could keep Alzheimer's at bay, but, according to the French, could be dangerous if you're pregnant.

How crossing your arms can confuse your brain and help lessen pain

Crossing your arms after burning your hand or suffering an injury could lessen pain, research suggests.

Scientists found that crossing the arms across the body may confuse the brain about where pain is occurring. Researchers think the theory has most impact on pain felt in the hands, and have not yet tested it on other parts of the body.

A team from University College London (UCL) used a laser to generate a four millisecond pin prick of pure pain (without touch) on the hands of eight people. The test was then repeated with the arms crossed. The participants recorded their perception of the intensity of the pain, and their electrical brain responses were also measured using scans.

Source - Daily Mail

Cooked tomatoes 'as good as statins' for battling cholesterol

They are common ingredients found in millions of kitchen cupboards.

But pasta sauces and pizza toppings could add much more than a tasty tomato flavour to a family’s favourite meals. Scientists said that cooked tomatoes can have the same benefits as statins for patients battling against high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure.

They could be an ‘effective alternative’ to statins, the class of drugs commonly prescribed for these conditions which can lead to heart problems, according to a study. And just two ounces of tomato paste or a pint of juice a day could be enough to help many patients.

The secret lies in high levels of the compound lycopene which gives ripe tomatoes their bright red colour. This powerful anti-oxidant is essential for good health as it helps lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Talking on a mobile phone 'may lower male fertility'

Men who are planning to have children one day may want to reduce how long they spend chatting on their mobile phones.

Researchers from Queen's University, Canada, found that mobile use may lower sperm quality and lead to a decrease in fertility. The team found that electromagnetic waves (EMW) transmitted by handsets has a complex relationship with male hormones.

Lead researcher, Dr Rany Shamoul, said: 'Our findings were a little bit puzzling. We were expecting to find different results, but the results we did find suggest that there could be some intriguing mechanisms at work.'

The research team discovered that men who reported cell phone use had higher levels of circulating testosterone but they also had lower levels of luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is an important reproductive hormone that is secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain.

Source - Daily Mail

Eating butter and cheese 'doesn't increase risk of heart attacks'

It's great news for cheese and butter fans - scientists have found that eating dairy food doesn't increase your risk of a heart attack.

Nutritionists surveyed thousands of middle-aged people and found that even those who ate more than half a kilo of cheese did not seem to suffer from increased risk. Contrary to earlier beliefs that saturated fat might lead to a heart attack, researchers found that nutrients in dairy products actually counteract the harmful effects.

Researcher Stella Aslibekyan, of Brown University, Rhode Island, where the research was carried out, said: 'Things like milk and cheese are very complex substances. We looked at heart attack risk and dairy products in their entirety and then looked at separate components of those dairy products, including fats, and it turns out that the results are null. Perhaps the evidence is not there.

Source - Daily Mail

Pre-eclampsia supplement 'can protect against disease'

A dietary supplement given to pregnant women at high risk of pre-eclampsia can reduce the likelihood of the disease occurring, a study says.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, researchers says the presence of an amino acid and antioxidant vitamins in the supplement helps to combat abnormally high blood pressure. More than 600 women took part in the study in Mexico City. But experts say more research is needed on the effects of the supplement.

Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition where abnormally high blood pressure and other problems develop during pregnancy. It affects up to 10% of all first-time pregnancies and is dangerous for both mother and child. Pre-eclampsia is thought to be linked to a deficiency in L-arginine, an amino acid that helps maintain a healthy blood flow.

Source - BBC

My broken leg healed in half the time... all because I meditated

Meditation is often touted as a panacea for all manner of ailments, from chronic pain to anxiety, stress and even depression.

Like most sensible people, I’d always taken such sweeping claims with a large pinch of salt. However, five years ago I learned the power of meditation for myself after an accident left me critically injured and in constant pain.

A freak gust of wind caught me off-guard as I was paragliding over the Cotswolds. One moment my paraglider was flying normally, the next its wing had collapsed, sending me tumbling into the hillside 30ft below.

I was struck with the most agonising pain imaginable. The bone in the lower half of my right leg had been driven up through my knee and into my thigh. I could see the outline of my fractured shin bone sticking through the cloth of my jeans. I went into shock and my body was racked with violent uncontrollable spasms. As I lay on the hillside, I remembered a form of meditation I’d been taught in the sixth form of my comprehensive school in Neston, Cheshire, as a way of tackling exam nerves.

Over the years I’d used it to deal with the usual stresses and strains of daily life, but never in times of physical pain. But I knew that meditation (and self-hypnosis) had been used for pain relief and, as I lay on the hillside, in sheer desperation I tried them both. I forced myself to breathe slowly and deeply, to focus on the sensations the breath made as it flowed in and out. I pictured myself in a beautiful garden and imagined myself inhaling its peaceful and tranquil air.

One in three GPs cannot offer 'alternative' therapies to patients suffering back pain

One in three GPs cannot offer 'alternative' therapies to patients suffering back pain - despite NHS guidelines sanctioning their use.

A new survey reveals a big gaps in availability of therapies like acupuncture, massage and manipulation for NHS patients. The postcode lottery is revealed in a survey for the College of Medicine, a body promoting integrated healthcare.

It found 34 per cent of family doctors could not prescribe complementary therapies for patients most seriously disabled by back pain. But guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) - which were the first to endorse widespread use of 'alternative' therapies - have been in force for two years.

Back pain sufferers in England and Wales are supposed to be able to opt for a three-month course of acupuncture, spinal manipulation or exercise - and try something different if the first treatment fails to work. Treatment can be provided by physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths or other qualified specialists

Source - Daily Mail

Coffee 'cuts prostate cancer risk' US study suggests

Coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of dying from prostate cancer in a study of nearly 50,000 US men.

Those who drank six or more cups a day were found to be 20% less likely to develop any form of the disease - which is the most common cancer in men. They were also 60% less likely to develop an aggressive form which can spread to other parts of the body.

But charities say the evidence, reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is still unclear. They do not recommend that men take up coffee drinking in the hope of preventing prostate cancer.

Source - BBC

'Sunshine vitamin' pills may extend lives of cancer patients

A vitamin pill available for a few pence in any local chemist's shop may have a bigger impact in extending the survival of cancer patients than drugs costing tens of thousands of pounds, says a leading cancer specialist. Professor Angus Dalgeish, consultant medical oncologist at St George's Hospital, Tooting, south-west London, will tell a conference next week that he tests all his cancer patients for the level of Vitamin D and prescribes supplements where they are low.

At St George's, where he runs a clinic for patients with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, tests showed that the majority had low Vitamin D.

"If we supplement people who are low they may do better than expected. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Vitamin D turns out to be more useful in improving outcomes in cases of early relapse than drugs costing £10,000 a year," said Professor Dalgleish. "I spent a decade studying interferon for which the NHS paid £10,000 annually per patient for years for very little benefit. Vitamin D is much more likely to give a benefit in my view."

Source - Independent

Selenium 'does not prevent cancer'

Taking a daily supplement of selenium will not ward off cancer, say experts who have reviewed the available evidence.

The Cochrane group looked at 55 studies that included over a million people.

Despite anecdotal reports of selenium's cancer powers, the investigators found no proof of a protective effect against skin cancer or prostate cancer. And taking selenium over a long period of time could have toxic effects, they found.

Lead author Dr Gabriele Dennert, of the Institute for Transdisciplinary Health Research in Germany, said: "We could find no evidence to recommend regular intake of selenium supplements for cancer prevention in people whether or not they already have enough selenium."

Small amounts of selenium are essential for health and help build a strong immune system to fight off infections and diseases. Many foods, including brazil nuts, tuna and pasta, contain selenium.

Source - BBC

Breast-fed infants 'better behaved'

Breast-fed babies grow into better behaved and more emotionally stable children than those that are bottle fed, a study has shown.

Five-year-olds who had been breast-fed were almost a third less likely to suffer behavioural problems severe enough to disrupt family life.

Those reared on bottled milk formula tended to display more troublesome traits such as neediness, anxiety, hyperactivity or lying and stealing.

The link between breastfeeding and better behaviour could be explaineLinkd by fatty acids in mother's milk or bonding between child and parent, say scientists. Researchers analysed data from a survey of around 10,000 infants born in the UK over a 12-month period between 2000 and 2001.

In total, 29% of children born after a full-term pregnancy, and 21% of those born prematurely, were breast fed for at least four months. Parents were asked to complete Strength and Difficulties Questionnaires (SDQs) designed to assess the behaviour of their children via a scoring system.

Source - Independent

How a simple sugar pill from the doctor may not be a thing of the past

Not so long ago, it wasn’t unusual for your friendly GP to have at hand a bottle of sugar pills for patients’ minor aches and pains. While sugar pills are no longer on offer, a report out last week revealed that half of all German doctors are happily dishing out placebos to their patients for ailments such as stomach upset and low mood.

The study, published by the German Medical Association, said that placebos – here defined as sham treatments without any active constituents – from vitamin pills to homeopathic remedies and even surgery, can prove effective as treatments for minor problems and are completely without side effects.

So if placebo treatments are such a good thing, should UK patients be getting them?

The power of the placebo first came to light during the Second World War. Morphine was in short supply in military field hospitals and an American anaesthetist called Henry Beecher, who was preparing to treat a soldier with terrible injuries, feared that without the drug the operation could induce a fatal heart attack.

In desperation, one of the nurses injected the man with a harmless solution of saline. To Beecher’s surprise the patient settled down as if he had been given morphine and felt little pain during the operation. Dr Beecher had witnessed the placebo effect.

Source - Telegraph

Life could be like a box of chocolates

Mindfulness is hip. It’s as trendy as yoga or zone-eating. No surprises, then, that when I enter the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC), I see dawn-red soft furnishings, green plants, rubber mats and kneeling stools. Wellbeing gurus would feel right at home. Link

So would chocolate lovers. Mark Williams, clinical psychologist and the Centre’s director, suggests the best way to understand mindfulness is to try it and invites me to join him in a “chocolate meditation”.

Mindfulness, he says, is about being present in the moment, being aware of our thoughts and feelings – so that instead of being overwhelmed by them we are better able to manage them. Using meditation and other techniques such as breathing and yoga-based exercises, it helps us think about ourselves, and in turn others, with kindness and an overriding sense of acceptance. It’s about finding our innate joie de vivre and feeling able to cope just when we think we’re going under. It’s as irresistible as chocolate.

Source - Telegraph

Why 'intolerance' to dairy foods may be all in the mind

The mere thought of a latte or cappuccino brings some people out in a cold sweat and they like nothing more than to bore others with the virtues of soy milk. But researchers say lactoLinkse intolerance may be all in the mind.

Many people who claim to be intolerant to the milk sugar lactose are simply stressed, anxious or depressed. While their symptoms are real, the cause is in their mind, rather than in their coffee cup. The discovery by Italian researchers has important implications for health, because many people who believe they are lactose intolerant cut out dairy products from their diet. This could leave them severely short of calcium, raising the odds of brittle bones and falls and fracture in old age.

The study is the latest to question whether many of the millions of people who claim to have food intolerances are actually fussy eaters.

Source - Daily Mail

Sex and coffee 'trigger stroke'

Coffee, sex and blowing your nose could increase the risk of a type of stroke, say researchers in the Netherlands.

The study on 250 patients identified eight risk factors linked to bleeding on the brain. They all increase blood pressure which could result in blood vessels bursting, according to research published in the journal Stroke.

The Stroke Association said more research was needed to see if the triggers caused the rupture. More than 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke each year with nearly 29,000 due to bleeding on the brain. Bleeding can happen when a weakened blood vessel, known as a brain aneurysm, bursts. This can result in brain damage or death.

The researchers at the University Medical Center in Utrecht looked at 250 patients for three years to identify what triggers ruptures.

Source - BBC

Juice cocktail 'good for heart'

A blend of fruit juices, including grape, cranberry and blackcurrant, may have benefits for the heart, research suggests.

French scientists tested the blend on pig arteries in the lab, and found it caused artery walls to relax. It remains to be seen whether fruit juices can improve vascular health, they report in a scientific journal. The study adds weight to evidence fruit and veg reduces heart disease risk, says the British Heart Foundation.

The researchers looked for a chemical called polyphenol in fruit and berries. They found the most active fruits included blackcurrant, blueberry, aronia (choke berries), cranberry, lingonberry and grape.

Commenting on the study, Tracy Parker, heart health dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: "This research adds more weight to evidence that eating fruit and vegetables is good for us in terms of reducing our risk for heart disease."

Source - BBC

Nature's gastric bands


All fruit and vegetables are high satiety (or filling) foods that contain a lot of water, air and fibre to produce ‘full-up’ signals in the small intestine — but research has shown apples are particularly effective for weight watchers.

Once digested, they produce the hormone GLP-1, which sends signals to the brain to persuade you into thinking you are full up.

One U.S. study showed people ate 15 per cent fewer calories after having an apple before a main meal. Apparently, the trick is to eat high-satiety foods at the beginning of a meal so you feel fuller early on and don’t compensate later by eating more.

TIP: Eat one medium-sized apple 15 minutes before meals to help regulate your appetite.


Feeling the burn could be the best way to get bikini ready, but it doesn’t have to mean hours sweating in the gym. Recent research found that sprinkling just half a teaspoon of chopped-up red chilli peppers on meals can curb your appetite.

Scientists discovered Capsaicin — the element responsible for giving chilli peppers their heat — reduces hunger pangs, while increasing energy levels.

Source - Daily Mail

Cars could be banned from residential roads to allow children to play

Anne Milton said that she had been looking at a scheme in operation in South America, where roads were closed to traffic on Sundays.

She told MPs that the idea, which began in Colombia, could help tackle childhood obesity.

During a debate in Westminster Hall, Mrs Milton said: "On Sundays, they close certain streets so that everybody can play in them. That is an outstanding idea. Before constituents email to complain about their streets closing, I should say that I accept it would not work everywhere. It could, however, work in some places."

Mrs Milton said that the latest Department of Health figures showed that 28 per cent of children aged between two and 10 in England were overweight or obese, along with 61 per cent of adults. A quarter of 10 and 11 year olds were obese, putting them at risk from conditions such as diabetes. Ministers are due to set out a strategy for tackling obesity by the summer.

A spokesman for the AA said that caution needed to be taken to ensure that motorists were not inconvenienced by road closures.

Source - Telegraph

Salt is GOOD for you

Eating a diet high in salt may not be as bad for you as first thought and could even reduce chances of heart disease.

An eight-year study by scientists in Belgium found that people who ate lots of salt were no more likely to suffer problems with heart disease or high blood pressure than people who ate less salt. The findings 'certainly do not support the current recommendation to lower salt intake in the general population,' said Dr. Jan Staessen, of the University of Leuven in Belgium.

The average adult consumption is 9g per day, 50 per cent more than is recommended. Current UK guidelines recommend adults consume no more than 6g of salt per day (about one teaspoon), while babies and children should have less again as their kidneys struggle with large amounts.

Source - Daily Mail

Chemicals in food packaging linked to breathing problems in babies

A gender-bending chemical found in food packaging is linked to breathing problems in young babies, researchers have found.

A study showed pregnant mothers with the highest levels of bisphenol A in their bodies were twice as likely to have babies who suffer from wheezing in their first six months. Wheezing in babies can be a symptom of lung damage, asthma, bronchitis, allergies or an infection.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, which is used to harden plastics, is one of the world’s most widely manufactured chemicals and can be found in dozens of everyday items including baby bottles, CD cases and food and drink packaging.

Because the chemical mimics oestrogen, many scientists believe it interferes with the way hormones are processed by the body. Although several animal studies have shown it to be safe, others have linked Bisphenol A to breast cancer, liver damage, obesity, diabetes and fertility problems.

Source - Daily Mail

New EU regulations on herbal medicines come into force

New European Union rules have come into force banning hundreds of traditional herbal remedies.

The EU law aims to protect consumers from possible damaging side-effects of over-the-counter herbal medicines. For the first time, new regulations will allow only long-established and quality-controlled medicines to be sold. But both herbal remedy practitioners and manufacturers fear they could be forced out of business.

To date, the industry has been covered by the 1968 Medicines Act, drawn up when only a handful of herbal remedies were available and the number of herbal practitioners was very small. But surveys show that about a quarter of all adults in the UK have used a herbal medicine in the past two years, mostly bought over the counter in health food shops and pharmacies.

The regulations will cover widely used products such as echinacea, St John's Wort and valerian, as well as traditional Chinese and Indian medicines.

Source - BBC