Alzheimer's: Diet 'can stop brain shrinking'

A diet rich in vitamins and fish may protect the brain from ageing while junk food has the opposite effect, research suggests.
Elderly people with high blood levels of vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids had less brain shrinkage and better mental performance, a Neurology study found.
Trans fats found in fast foods were linked to lower scores in tests and more shrinkage typical of Alzheimer's.
A UK medical charity has called for more work into diet and dementia risk.
The best current advice is to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, not smoke, take regular exercise and keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check, said Alzheimer's Research UK.

Source  - BBC

Cantaloupes and concussions

 Hard to believe just a year ago we thought mammograms were good for us, cantaloupes could not be bad and concussions were just the human cost of doing business in hockey. Change is the name of the game in health: Cellphones are bad, then they’re not, then they are. While health debates continue on a number of fronts, here are my picks of the top stories of 2011.
*Mammography: More harm than good. Canadian guidelines released a few months ago from the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care suggest against routine mammography for women of average risk who are aged 40 to 49 and extending time between screens for older women. The reason? Potential harm from over-diagnosis and unnecessary treatment. A British study suggested the same, while in the U.S., radiologists backed routine mammograms. A few weeks ago, a Dutch study weighed in noting mammograms cut the risk of breast cancer death by half. The debate, while tops in health news, is confusing and unhelpful.
*Tainted cantaloupes. Until this summer, cantaloupes were a favourite healthy food. But the tainted ones from a U.S. grower set a record as the deadliest food outbreak in over a decade with 30 deaths. Traffic on consumer websites was heavy as we ramped up our awareness of listeria and other food-borne illnesses. Recently, an alert about the dangers of E. coli in raw cookie dough -- a study published in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases found 94% of participants who consumed it got sick.
*Cellphones and brain cancer. The World Health Organization has opened the “yes they do/no they don’t” debate once more with its announcement in May that cellphone radiation may cause cancer. While a series of Swedish studies showed a connection, the WHO announcement was based on a review by 31 scientists from 14 countries. Risk is highest in children and adolescents. Teach your kids to text!

Source  - Macleans

Just a spoonful of malt extract could banish winter sniffles

Aah! That delectable smell of malt extract: all sugar and yeast and… umm, fish livers.
As I hold the tablespoonful of sweet, treacly gloop in front of me, it takes me back to my happy childhood: my mother standing before her three small daughters, bottle of Radio Malt (as it was branded) in one hand, large spoon in the other, cajoling us into swallowing the magic elixir, which was supposed to ward off colds and winter illness while building up our weakling bodies. But it hasn’t been widely seen for decades.
The gloop is a product of the brewing industry, derived from barley grains. Malt extract is packed full of sugars and some nutrients, including vitamin A and riboflavin. Though now mainly used in flavoured drinks and confectionery, after the war it was popular as a cheap dietary supplement for a generation of undernourished children who needed a high carbohydrate feed as well as more vitamins. Back then, its rich, sweet flavour was often combined with unpalatable but nutritious cod liver oil which, with high vitamin D levels, could protect against rickets. Small wonder that in The House at Pooh Corner, Kanga gave Roo and Tigger malt extract as a “strengthening medicine”.

Source  - Telegraph

Acupuncture really can reduce stress levelst

Acupuncture really does reduce stress levels, say scientists.
In the first study of its kind, a team found the ancient Chinese therapy reduces levels of a protein linked to chronic stress. Although the research was carried out on rats, researchers say it might help explain the sense of well-being many people receive from the therapy. If their findings are replicated in human studies, it could offer a proven treatment for stress.
The U.S. study tested the effect of acupuncture on blood levels  of the protein neuropeptide Y (NPY), which is secreted by the sympathetic nervous system in humans.
This system is involved in the ‘flight or fight’ response to acute stress, resulting in constriction of blood flow to all parts of the body except to the heart, lungs and brain (the organs most needed to react to danger).
Chronic stress, however, can cause elevated blood pressure and cardiac disease.

Source  - Daily Mail

Mediterranean diet helps you live longer

Ever since the 1950s, studies have found a Mediterranean diet, packed with vegetables, fish and olive oil, can improve health.
Now a study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden suggests even older people who stick to the diet can increase their life expectancy by up to three years. Scientists studied thousands of 70-year-olds in the Gothenburg region over 40 years as part of their 'H70' study.
They found those who eat a Mediterranean diet have a 20 per cent higher chance of living longer than those who consume a diet heavy in animal-based products such as meat and milk.

'This means in practice that older people who eat a Mediterranean diet live an estimated two to three years longer than those who don’t', says Gianluca Tognon, from the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.
The diet traditionally favoured by natives of countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy is high in unsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. It includes plenty of vegetables, olive oil, fruit, nuts, fish and whole grains and is low in meat and alcohol. 

Source  - Daily Mail

Horseback physio gives new poise to disabled

On a chilly winter’s afternoon in the Essex countryside, eight-year-old Esha Ilyas sits astride her beloved horse Blaze, but not in the usual fashion: she is facing the cob’s hindquarters as he is led around the paddock, with her arms stretched high above her head.
Minutes later, without saddle or stirrups, she is holding other equally unorthodox positions: sitting sideways, with arms held out in front; lying flat on the horse’s back; sitting up straight with arms outstretched. It’s as unnerving as watching acrobats at the circus. In fact Esha is having hippotherapy, a little known treatment for profoundly disabled children which appears to be having some stunning results.
Half an hour later, with help, she dismounts, grinning broadly. “I feel fine after that,” she says.
Watching her on Blaze, it’s hard to believe that Esha has cerebral palsy, diagnosed when she was 18 months old. The condition, usually caused by brain injury during pregnancy or birth, means that some of her muscles – particularly those in her legs – are excessively tight, which prevents the full range of movement; while weakness in other muscles that normally maintain posture means she has had problems holding herself upright.

Source  - Telegraph

Maggots clean wounds faster than surgeons

Maggots may trump scalpels when it comes to cleaning large wounds that won't heal easily, such as those seen in diabetics, according to French researchers.
To allow such wounds to heal, doctors usually remove infected or dead tissue with scalpels or enzymes, a process they call debridement. But that method is time-consuming and doesn't always work. Studies have suggested maggots might be helpful, potentially offering antibacterial and healing benefits in addition to keeping the wound clean - although not all researchers are convinced insects are the way to go.
The new study was carried out in patients with so-called venous ulcers on their legs. During a two-week hospital stay, they were randomly assigned to either maggot therapy or traditional wound cleaning with a scalpel, with just over 50 patients in each group. Both groups of patients were blindfolded so they wouldn't know which treatment they received.
The sterile creepy-crawlies, of the species Lucilia sericata, came in little bags that were placed over the wounds twice a week. Maggots secrete substances into the wounds that liquefy dead tissue and then they ingest the material to further degrade it in their guts.
There was no difference in pain or crawling sensations between the two groups, according to Dr Anne Dompmartin of Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Caen and colleagues. Their findings appear in the Archives of Dermatology.

Source  - Daily Mail

Tai chi 'can help prevent falls'

Elderly people whose eyesight is  failing can improve their balance and avoid dangerous falls by practising tai chi, according to a study.
Experts say the gentle martial art builds strength and also improves balance control, reducing the chances of life-threatening falls among old people with poor eyesight.
Researchers from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University set up a four-month programme for 40 people aged over 70 living in care homes. The volunteers had three  90-minute tai chi sessions a week. Each session was designed to help volunteers practise shifting their weight gradually, rotate their heads and torsos and become more aware of their limbs, thus improving their co-ordination.

Source  - Daiy Mail

Irregular movement

They might not be able to save the continent’s economy, but the men of Brussels are finding ways to keep busy. For example, they have decided that since the laxative effect of prunes cannot be proved beyond doubt, they cannot be promoted as an aid to regularity. This has angered Sir Graham Watson, a Liberal Democrat MEP, so much that he has challenged the relevant European Commissioner to a prune-eating contest – hoping, perhaps, that gut feeling will trump scientific dogma.
Far be it for us to contradict the European Food Safety Authority – the same body that recently ruled that water did not prevent dehydration – but prunes deserve a break. They have already suffered the indignity of being rebranded as “dried plums”; refusing to ratify their medicinal benefits is an insult too far. No wonder Sir Graham is in a stew.

Source  - Telegraph

The great detox deception

Gulping pints of maple syrup mixed with chilli peppers, having enemas, being sucked by leeches or getting wrapped in cling film until your body overheats...
All of these so called ‘detoxes’ are undertaken every year by millions of women in the pursuit of good health and beauty. The treatments promise to cure a range of vague ailments, such as tiredness, headaches, bloating, back pain and skin problems, by cleansing your body’s blood and organs of a welter of accumulated ‘toxic’ chemicals.
Now a leading British expert has issued a festive warning for anyone hoping to purge themselves of so-called toxins after an indulgent Christmas break: detoxing simply does not work, says David Bender, a professor of nutritional biochemistry at University College London. At best, it is pointless — and at worst, highly dangerous.
The professor also points out, in this month’s edition of the British Society of Biology’s journal, The Biologist, that we have an excellent system for getting rid of potentially harmful substances — it is called the human body.

Source  - Daily Mail

It Could Be Old Age, or It Could Be Low B12

Ilsa Katz was 85 when her daughter, Vivian Atkins, first noticed that her mother was becoming increasingly confused.
“She couldn’t remember names, where she’d been or what she’d done that day,” Ms. Atkins recalled in an interview. “Initially, I was not too worried. I thought it was part of normal ageing. But over time, the confusion and memory problems became more severe and more frequent.”
Her mother couldn’t remember the names of close relatives or what day it was. She thought she was going to work or needed to go downtown, which she never did. And she was often agitated.
A workup at a memory clinic resulted in a diagnosis of early Alzheimer’s disease, and Ms. Katz was prescribed Aricept, which Ms. Atkins said seemed to make matters worse. But the clinic also tested Ms. Katz’s blood level of vitamin B12. It was well below normal, and her doctor thought that could be contributing to her symptoms. Weekly B12 injections were begun. “Soon afterward, she became less agitated, less confused and her memory was much better,” said Ms. Atkins. “I felt I had my mother back, and she feels a lot better, too.”
Now 87, Ms. Katz still lives alone in Manhattan and feels well enough to refuse outside assistance.

Source  - New York Times

Middle-aged women warned against buying unlicensed herbal menopause treatment

People are being warned against buying a potentially dangerous herbal product for treating symptoms of the menopause.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a safety notice over FSC (Food Supplement Company) Black Cohosh 1000mg capsules.
The MHRA said the pills - an unlicensed herbal remedy - contain 50 times the approved dose for treating menopausal symptoms and do not have the necessary authorisation as a medicine.
It has asked the manufacturer to remove the product from the market after experts also found it carried poor labelling relating to safety information and side effects. The pills can currently be bought in health food shops and online.
According to MHRA figures, 50 reports of suspected adverse reactions linked to various unlicensed black cohosh products have been received since 1998. They have included some people suffering jaundice, liver problems and hepatitis.

Source  - Daily Mail 

Acupuncture offers an alternative, gentle form of medicine

The room is darkened, and flute music plays softly. Then I barely feel the first stick.
Acupuncture needles are very tiny, just the thickness of a few hairs — not at all the vast implement some people think of when they envision acupuncture.
By the third stick, I feel an overwhelming desire to close my eyes. A fourth stick, and I am left alone — just me, the needles and the low hum of Southland Drive traffic outside. Fifteen minutes later, my eyes open and the perpetual knot between my shoulders has untangled.
Before this very minor acupuncture experience, Kathleen Fluhart read the pulses corresponding to various organs and body systems on each arm. She read the pulses before and after the treatment by gently pressing various points around the wrist and lower arm.
For those undergoing a full acupuncture treatment, the experience might involve several treatments with the one-use, variable-size needles — one size for digestive problems, say, one for pain and one "seasonal" treatment, which is a sort of tune-up for all body systems that Fluhart recommends that patients receive five times a year.

Source  -

Young women 'could reduce their heart disease risk by 90 per cent by eating fish once a week'

Young women who regularly eat oily fish are less prone to heart disease say scientists.
A groundbreaking study has found that a fish-rich diet could cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by 90 per cent. 
Traditionally findings have highlighted the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, mackerel and sardines for men. However it is now believed because of gender differences fish oil might be even more beneficial for women of a child-bearing age, boosting blood pressure, cardiac and blood vessel function.
Lead researcher Dr Marin Strom, from the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen said: 'Our study shows that for younger women, eating fish is very important for overall health.' 

Source  - Daily Mail

Could a simple pill costing 30p a day be the answer to getting pregnant?

A 30p multi-vitamin pill could more than double a woman’s chance of having a baby, according to a study.
It found that 60 per cent of those taking the supplements while undergoing IVF became pregnant compared to just a quarter who did not take them.  Researchers say the pills contain nutrients that may boost fertility such as vitamins A, C and E, zinc and selenium, that are often absent from our diets. 
The study carried out at University College London involved 56 women aged 18 to 40, who had all tried unsuccessfully to fall pregnant using IVF for at least a year.   Half were given a multi-nutrient pill to take every day and the other half given folic acid pills to take daily.
The micronutrient pill also contained folic acid which prevents birth defects and has also been shown to help boost fertility.

Source  - Daily Mail

A puzzle a day really can keep dementia away

Just two hours a day spent keeping the mind and body busy is as effective at warding off dementia as drug treatment, research reveals.
Simple activities such as gardening, doing crosswords or sudoku, making snacks and singing helps keep the brain healthy, and even slow the course of dementia in sufferers already diagnosed with the condition. It confirms longstanding theories that keeping the brain active helps keep it healthy.
Researchers in Bavaria trialled a two-hour therapy session, called MAKS, in nursing homes for six days a week for a year. Sessions began with a 10-minute 'spiritual' introduction, in which the 98 participants discussed topics such as 'happiness', or sang a song or hymn.

Source  - Daily Mail