10 ways to avoid catching a cold

We all feel that first sneeze or tickle at the back of the throat that signals the beginning of the cold season. But is there actually anything we can do to prevent ourselves from getting one? Adults average three to four sniffle bouts a year, with children picking up double this number. Yet scientists are no closer to that elusive goal: a cure for the common cold.
According to Professor Ron Eccles of Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre, the sheer number of different viruses is the main reason why we keep catching them year after year. But there is a glimmer of hope.
“We’re at a stage now where there’s a huge amount known about these ­viruses and how they work. We hope that by continuing to ­increase this knowledge we’ll have a breakthrough,” says Prof Eccles.
The good news is that all this research has taught us how colds spread. Here are 10 simple ways to ­significantly improve your odds of avoiding the scourge of winter...
1 Go green
The Babraham Institute in ­Cambridge found that eating plenty of leafy green veg can boost your immune system.
It turns out that cruciferous vegetables – from pak choi to broccoli – contain food chemicals that help ensure white blood cells function at peak performance to fight off infections.
Try: Stir-frying broccoli with a little soy sauce and ginger for a fabulous flu-fighting side dish.

Source  - Daily Mirror

Do supplements increase risk of death?

Contrary to the headlines, this recent paper, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, analysed the risk of mortality of those taking various supplements versus non-users and found that supplement takers had a reduced risk of death. To quote the study “self-reported use of vitamin B complex; vitamins C, D, and E; and calcium had significantly lower risk of total mortality compared with non-use; copper was associated with higher risk.” They found statistically significant health benefits for many supplements, with calcium being the strongest positive, and copper being the strongest negative.
When they looked at the pattern of risk over the three decades they reported that, for many nutrients the mortality risk was less in supplement takers and further reduced the longer people had been taking the supplements. This was true for multivitamins, magnesium, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin E. Vitamin C and B vitamins were associated with reduced risk in each of the three survey points.
The most negative association was seen with iron, with increasing mortality risk the longer a person had taken it. Copper went from a negative in the first survey point, to a positive result in the last.
They also found that “compared with nonusers, supplement users had a lower prevalence of diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, and smoking status”. Generally, they were a bit more physically active and less likely to be on HRT.

Source  - Patrick Holford

Probiotic yoghurts DO work

After wolfing down a pizza you may want to finish with a probiotic yoghurt, after researchers found they help the body to break down carbohydrates.
Scientists from Washington University School of Medicine wanted to look at what impact, if any, live bacteria in popular yoghurts have on digestion.  They performed studies on mice as well as identical female twins using a yoghurt that had five strains of live bacteria.
The team found eating the yoghurt twice a day for seven weeks did not alter the mix of microbes in the intestines of the women or the mice. However, when they took a closer look at the mice they found there were significant changes in some of the bacterial enzymes involved in metabolising carbohydrates.
Many of the key changes noted in the highly controlled laboratory environment were also found in the seven pairs of twins.

Source  - Daily Mail

Don't swallow everything: Alternative medicine

Why is homeopathy "utter nonsense"? What about ear candling? And does ginger really help prevent motion sickness?
Chemistry professor and author Joe Schwarcz, PhD, answers these questions and more in his latest books.
Schwarcz, director of McGill University's office for science and society, is on a mission to demystify science for students and public alike. Through his bestselling books, a weekly column for The Montreal Gazette, radio shows, university lectures and public talks -- including one given Wednesday night in Calgary addressing the public's rising fear of chemicals -- Schwarcz explores the science that surrounds us in our daily lives.
His forthcoming book, Dr. Joe's Health Lab (Doubleday Canada, Nov. 6, $22.95) focuses on health, nutrition and medicine.
Schwarcz, who's been fascinated by chemistry ever since seeing a magician perform at a childhood birthday party, used to write up science quizzes for his school buddies. He continues to share his love of science with people, selecting items he finds interesting.
"The main theme in all my books is separating sense from nonsense and providing interesting information. It's entertainment for the mind, as well as feeding the mind. I try to make it compact, because in these days people have been conditioned to sound bites, which is why I make them punchy and to the point."

Dolphin therapy is a scam

I've lost track how many times my disabled daughter has been offered a swim with a dolphin. While disabled people struggle to get a hoist or a few hours' home help, numerous charities will fly them to Florida to experience the miraculous feeling of frolicking in the water with a friend of Flipper. According to organisations that sell such snake oil, "dolphin therapy" alleviates a wide range of disabilities, from increasing the attention span of a child with attention deficit disorder to curing paralysis. Dolphin Tale  is the latest vehicle to peddle this propaganda. This family film is about the remarkable, restorative powers a dolphin called Winter brings to troubled and disabled youngsters.
Two great myths buoy up this linking of a marine mammal with a person with an impairment. There's the myth that dolphins share human characteristics; in the film, the dolphin Winter conducts lively conversations with people in squeak language. And there's the myth that all disabled people need to be whole again is a good dose of inspiration – even from an animal.

Source  - Guardian

Parents face inquiry for treating son with alternative medicine

Luca Monsellato was taken to hospital with a high fever and cold symptoms but failed to respond to emergency medical treatment and died.
His parents, Marcello and Giovanna Pantaleo, told doctors they had been treating his apparent three-week cold with fennel tea – a popular homeopathic remedy for coughs – in an attempt to keep his fever under control. They eventually took him to hospital when his condition worsened. Staff at the hospital described Luca as looking "pale, thin and breathless".
Mr Monsellato, 52, of the southern Italian town of Tricase, close to Lecce, has been a doctor of alternative medicine for more than 20 years. He is honorary president of Italy's Homeopathic Sinergy Association and an expert on acupuncture.
He told staff at the hospital how his son had been suffering from the effects of a cold for three weeks and they had given him fennel tea instead of other medical treatment.

Source  - Telegraph

Fish could cut risk of dementia

Eating fish may boost blood flow to the brain which could stave off dementia in later life, researchers have discovered.
The health benefits of a diet rich in omega-3, a fatty acid found in oily fish, have long been suspected, and the findings of two studies into its effects on young people suggest that it can improve reaction times in 18-35 year olds as well as reducing levels of mental fatigue after they perform tough tasks.
Although the results suggest that, contrary to popular belief, taking omega-3 or fish oil supplements may not have an impact on the mental performance of young adults, the researchers at Northumbria University say the increased blood flow to the brain it caused could be important for older people. 

Source  - Daily Mail

Yoga may not give you a mental lift

It is supposed to be a thorough workout for both body and soul.
But researchers claim doing yoga has no additional mental benefits when compared with regular stretching. The largest study of its kind found those who do the Indian stretching with a bad back would alleviate the physical symptoms – but that was it.
The researchers were unable to detect any improvement in mental welfare that they could specifically put down to the exercise.
Yoga has become one of the most popular ways to stay in shape thanks to endorsement from hundreds of celebrities including Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Those who follow it claim it gives them a spiritual cleansing that can be traced back to its roots in ancient India. However the study found that overall, yoga was only as effective at relieving back pain as normal stretching. 

Source  - Daily Mail 

Fish oil supplements 'can slow growth of prostate cancer cells in just four weeks'

A low-fat diet with fish oil supplements can slow down the growth of prostate cancer, research has shown.
Scientists in the U.S. made the discovery after testing prostate tissue samples taken from men with the disease. They found that just four to six weeks on the diet was enough to reduce the growth of cancer cells.
 The same effect was not seen in men who remained on a regular Western diet with no fish oil supplements.
Study leader Professor William Aronson, from the University of California at Los Angeles, said: 'The finding that the low-fat, fish oil diet reduced the number of rapidly dividing cells in the prostate cancer tissue is important because the rate at which the cells are dividing can be predictive of future cancer progression. The lower the rate of proliferation, the lesser the chances that the cancer will spread outside the prostate, where it is much harder to treat.'
The findings appear in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
The scientists tested blood samples before and after the diet commenced, and examined tissue from surgically removed prostate glands.

Source  - Daily Mail 

Chronic Back Pain

Weekly yoga classes eased pain and improved functioning in some people with chronic lower back pain -- but the yoga sessions weren't any better than regular stretching classes, according to a new study.

Researchers found that participants in both types of classes had better functioning and fewer symptoms after three months than back patients who were only given a book with advice on preventing and managing pain.

Source - Reuters

'Superfood' myths

One in ten people believe that 'superfoods' can prevent cancer despite their being no medical evidence, health experts have revealed. 
The term 'superfood' has no scientific definition but it is often bandied around and applied to foods with a specific health benefit giving the public a false expectation of the benefits. 
The new research, commissioned by Bupa, has revealed that 11 per cent of Britons think it can prevent cancer and many believe that there are more health benefits to 'superfoods' than eating a balanced diet.  
Christina Merryfield, Lead Dietician at Bupa's Cromwell Hospital, said: 'The term 'superfood' is misleading as there is no clear definition and many of the supposed health claims are vague or not fully substantiated.
'Some so-called 'superfoods' like pomegranate juice and almonds can be good for you as part of a balanced diet, but giving them such a heroic sounding name confuses the public and can cause worse diet choices as people mistakenly believe they can 'undo' the damage caused by unhealthy foods. 

Source  - Daily Mail 

Mobile phone brain cancer link rejected

Further research has been published suggesting there is no link between mobile phones and brain cancer.
The risk mobiles present has been much debated over the past 20 years as use of the phones has soared.
The latest study led by the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Denmark looked at more than 350,000 people with mobile phones over an 18-year period.
Researchers concluded users were at no greater risk than anyone else of developing brain cancer.
The findings, published on the British Medical Journal website, come after a series of studies have come to similar conclusions.

Source  - BBC

Prayer can cure, churches tell those with HIV

Seriously ill patients suffering from conditions including cancer and HIV are being encouraged by some Evangelical Christian churches to depend on prayers rather than pills.
Worshippers in London, Manchester and Glasgow have stopped taking life-saving drugs after being persuaded about the healing powers of God, according to research by the African Health Policy Network (AHPN).
A BBC London investigation yesterday revealed that at least three women with HIV have died after they stopped taking medication on the advice of their pastors.
Francis Kaikumba, chief executive of AHPN, said a family member committed suicide last year after being convinced by a church he did not suffer from a mental health problem. The man's mental health deteriorated after he stopped taking his medicine after taking guidance from the pastor.
Mr Kaikumba said: "This is a national concern... It is about spiritual healing being the preferred option for every condition and in some cases people being told that medication will damage the affects of the prayers. We have found very vulnerable people in London, Glasgow and Manchester being offered one-stop solutions to very complex issues such as diabetes, TB [Tuberculosis], cancer, as well as housing and immigration problems. This is not just a trend in the UK, it is happening on a much wider scale in Africa."

How a bowl of soup can help boost your bones.

Warming winter soups are packed with nutrients and, if you choose wisely, can be a tasty way of helping your body meet different needs...


Lentils are packed with soluble fibre, which studies have shown can help bring down levels of artery-clogging cholesterol. It binds to cholesterol in the gut, reducing its absorption into the bloodstream.


As a clear soup, it’s always going to be lower in calories than a creamy one. Also, the chunky vegetables slow down stomach emptying, so you feel fuller longer (unlike pureed vegetables in other soups), and the pasta pieces turn it into a proper meal that satisfies hunger.


You'll get your entire daily requirement of vitamin A and more from a bowl of this soup. And that’s important for your immune defences, because this vitamin maintains the mucous surfaces of respiratory passages — keeping out the  infection-causing bugs.

Source  - Daily Mail

Warning over fish pedicures

People with weak immune systems or underlying medical conditions are at risk of infection from fish pedicures, the Health Protection Agency has warned.
The beauty treatment sees customers place their feet in tanks of water containing tiny Garra rufa fish which nibble on dead skin. While the pampering carries a "very low" risk for healthy clients, those with conditions including diabetes and psoriasis have now been advised against it.
The pedicures - which are popular in Asia - have been banned in some US states, including Florida, Texas, New Hampshire and Washington amid fears that infections could spread through open wounds.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) today issued new guidance after a panel found fish tank water contained a number of micro-organisms and that infections could be transmitted either from fish to person (during the nibbling process), water to person (from the bacteria which can multiply in water), or person to person (via water, surrounding surfaces and the fish). 

Cheers to a pint of bone builder

Older women could guard against osteoporosis in later life by drinking a pint of beer a day.
A new study has shown that ale is an ideal source of dietary silicon, which is crucial in the formation of new bone. Bone is continuously being lost and reformed and silicon is vital for helping to renew it.
Although silicon is contained in some plants and beans, one of the richest and most easily absorbed sources is beer, as it is an ingredient of the malt used in the brewing process. Several previous studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the amount of silicon in a person’s diet and their bone mineral density. 
In the new study, Professor Jonathan Powell, head of nutrition research at Cambridge University, studied the effects of beer on bone formation and found that ethanol – which is also present in alcohol – helps to prevent bone loss and silicon encourages the growth of new bone.
‘Silicon combines with the hormone oestrogen to produce a beneficial effect and as women age, their oestrogen levels fall, and so, as they get older, it is important for women to take in a good daily amount of silicon,’ says Prof Powell.

Source  - Daily Mail 

Ginger could reduce bowel cancer risk

Fifteen volunteers given two grams of ginger root supplement daily for 28 days showed reduced signs of colon inflammation - a condition that has been linked to bowel cancer - compared to 15 given a placebo.
The researchers, from the University of Michigan Medical School in the US, consequently suggested that ginger could be used as a bowel cancer prevention agent.
Suzanna Rick, a naturopathic doctor, said: "Interest in this is only going to increase as people look for ways to prevent cancer that are nontoxic, and improve their quality of life in a cost-effective."
The study is published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Bowel cancer claims 16,000 lives a year in Britain, more than either breast or prostate cancer.

Source  - Telegraph

Eating chocolate may reduce risk of strokes in women

A sweet tooth isn't necessarily bad for your health - at least not when it comes to chocolate, researchers say.
A study of more than 33,000 Swedish women found that the more chocolate women said they ate, the lower their later risk of stroke. The results add to a growing body of evidence linking cocoa consumption to heart health.
Research leader Susanna Larsson from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, said previous studies had linked flavonoids in chocolate with a drop in high blood pressure - a risk factor for strokes. However, she said the latest study did not give people a free pass to gorge on chocolate as it had not yet been proven whether this theoretical benefit translates into real-life benefits.
'Given the observational design of the study, findings from this study cannot prove that it's chocolate that lowers the risk of stroke,' Dr Larsson said.
While she believes chocolate may boost health, she also warned that eating too much of it could be counterproductive.

Source - Daily Mail

High doses of vitamin E 'can significantly increase risk of prostate cancer'

High doses of vitamin E can significantly increase the risk of men developing prostate cancer, says a major study.
The chances of developing the disease rose by 17 per cent, even years after men stopped taking the vitamin, claim researchers. The latest warning over potential harm caused by vitamin supplements follows a study which found women taking multivitamins and other supplements have an increased risk of dying. 
The new findings come from a U.S. trial which was attempting to confirm earlier reports that extra vitamin E and the mineral selenium could help prevent prostate cancer.
Instead the researchers discovered the opposite - more cases of prostate cancer among men taking 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E a day than placebo, or dummy capsules. This is the equivalent of 363mg a day – the measurement used in Britain – which is 30 times more than the recommended daily amount.
Lead researcher Dr Eric Klein, of the Cleveland Clinic in Chicago, said millions of older Americans take supplements containing vitamin E, many of them at the megadose levels of the study.

Source  - Daily Mail

Vitamins linked with higher death risk in older women

When it comes to vitamins, it appears you could have too much of a good thing, say researchers who report a link between their use and higher death rates among older women.
Experts have suspected for some time that supplements may only be beneficial if a person is deficient in a nutrient. And excess may even harm, as the study in Archives of Internal Medicine finds.
All of the women, in their 50s and 60s, were generally well nourished yet many had decided to take supplements. Multivitamins, folic acid, vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron in particular appeared to increase mortality risk. The researchers believe consumers are buying supplements with no evidence that they will provide any benefit.

Source  - BBC

Why 'fruit sugar' is one of the most damaging ingredients in our food

Sweet, cheap and natural — fructose sounds like the ideal ‘healthy’ sweetener.
However, the sugar, which is found naturally in fruit but is now added to many processed foods, may hide a range of deadly secrets.
Scientists are discovering that fructose appears to be linked to serious modern epidemics such as cancers, heart disease, hypertension, kidney damage and even dementia.
The latest fears were raised last week by research that found people who consume lots of fructose by drinking fruit juice have an increased risk of rectal cancer.
The research, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, suggests that the high content of fructose in processed fruit juice may be the trigger. 

Source  - Daily Mail

Rainbow coloured carrots and super broccoli that's healthier and sweeter

The healthiest foods aren’t usually the ones that tempt our tastebuds or turn our heads.

But two new additions to the supermarket shelves could be about to prove that theory wrong.

A healthier and sweeter variety of broccoli goes on sale today – alongside eye-catching crunchy carrots in colours such as purple, yellow and amber. 
 The super-broccoli is packed with a plant chemical credited with warding off cancer and heart problems, and is said to taste better than other varieties.
The Benefort√© broccoli contains up to three times as much glucoraphanin – a compound which, when broken down within the body, is thought to provide protection against prostate and other cancers and improve heart health. What’s more, raising levels of the plant chemical reduces broccoli’s sharp flavour, making the vegetable taste less bitter. 

Source  - Daily Mail 

Green tea can slow down weight gain

Drinking green tea may help you stop piling on the pounds by limiting how much fat is absorbed by the body, scientists say.
Researchers found a compound in the herbal drink slowed down weight gain in a study on mice. Crucially the mice were already obese at the start of the study from Penn State university.
Research author Joshua Lambert, said: 'Our results suggest that if you supplement with EGCG or green tea you gain weight more slowly.' The researchers, who released their findings in the online version of Obesity, fed two groups of mice a high-fat diet. 

Source  - Daily Mail

A pinch of reality about salt

The Canadian government is in an all-out war on salt.
According to Health Canada, about half of us are consuming more than double the recommended daily dose, and it plans to rectify that by altering the food supply. The problem, say critics, is that the response could do more harm than good.
There’s no question high-salt diets can affect blood pressure, but several studies suggest this outcome, generally speaking, is dwarfed by other health benefits. In fact, the government’s position, critics charge, is based on out-of-date data, and ignores the most recent studies. Worse, Ottawa’s salt offensive could cause serious health concerns, including heart disease, low birth rates, kidney disease, or an early death.
“[Canada’s] limits are not based on science,” explains Michael Alderman, a physician and epidemiologist at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine and editor of the American Journal of Hypertension. “Folks that eat the least amount of salt have the worst outcomes. They die.”

Source  - Macleans

Eat yourself happy with foods to beat depression

More of us are now taking ­anti-depressants than ever before and women are almost twice as likely to feel depressed than men.
The researchers – from a German university – blame some of it on the stresses of modern life. “Women in particular are having to juggle family and work more than ever before,” ­explains Professor Cary Cooper, a stress expert from ­Lancaster University. “Then there’s the ­economy and an ­uncertain job climate to contend with.”
Studies show that the start of autumn and winter can lead to a lower mood, ­too, with cases of ­seasonal affective ­disorder (SAD – where a ­lack of sun and ­daylight lower levels of ‘happy’ hormones) increasing at this time of year.  But the good news is you can eat yourself happier by making sure ­certain foods are part of your daily diet.
“What we eat has a huge impact on our mood,” says James Duigan, trainer ­to Elle Macpherson and Rosie ­Huntington-Whiteley. “What we eat can help lift our mood and raise levels of feel-good hormones. However, the wrong food can do the opposite and raise stress levels.” Here’s what to do to stay happy.

Source  - Mirror

How mulberries have as much iron as a sirloin steak

A wet, warm autumn means a bumper crop of nuts and berries, packed with nutrients. ANNABEL VENNING speaks to Sarah Wilson, specialist dietician at London’s Princess Grace Hospital, about their health benefits.

These fruits, right, are very rich in iron, vital for maintaining a healthy count of red blood cells and preventing anaemia – a rare feature among berries. They contain 1.85mg per 100g, 23 per cent of the recommended daily intake, on a par with sirloin beef. 
They are also a good source of Vitamin C and have high levels of resveratrol, an antioxidant also found in red wine that is thought to ‘clean up’ pollutants in the body. Studies on rats found that resveratrol was effective against tumours of the skin, breast, lung and prostate.

Rosehip syrup is the traditional remedy for the common cold because of the high Vitamin C content of the berries, about 1,000 times higher than oranges or lemons. They are also rich in Vitamins A, D and E, calcium, iron and fatty acids. ‘Studies have shown that rosehip powder was effective in reducing the pain from osteoarthritis,’  says Wilson.

Source  - Daily Mail

Good news for red wine lovers

A chemical found in red wine can stop breast cancer in its tracks, according to new research.
Laboratory tests have shown resveratrol, which is found in the skin of grapes, could halt the development of the disease by blocking the growth effects of the hormone oestrogen.
Scientists said the finding published in The FASEB Journal has important implications for the treatment of patients.
Dr Sebastiano Ando, of the University of Calabria in Italy, said: 'Resveratrol is a potential pharmacological tool to be exploited when breast cancer become resistant to the hormonal therapy.'
The key chemical is also found in blueberries, peanuts and cranberries.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women, and almost 45,000 cases are diagnosed in the UK every year.   Resveratrol works by blocking the way oestrogen combines with DNA in a woman's body to spread tumour cells by turning them malignant.

Source  - Daily Mail