Drinking lots of tea could cut your heart disease risk, study says

Heart disease rates could be reduced by 10% if everyone took to drinking large amounts of tea, a study has suggested.
Researchers found sipping eight cups of black tea a day lowered blood pressure. They estimated that in the general population this would result in a 10% reduction in high blood pressure prevalence and a 7% to 10% reduction in the risk of heart disease.
A group of 95 men and women aged 35 to 75 were given three cups of powdered black tea solids each day for six months, or a flavour-matched non-tea “placebo” drink. Each tea drink contained 429 milligrams of polyphenols, plant chemicals that are said to have health benefits.
A regular cup of black leaf tea contains up to 150mg of polyphenols, so the total dose consumed by the volunteers was equivalent to 8.58 cups of tea a day. Participants had normal to high blood pressure readings at the start of the study.

Source  - Mirror

Funding of alternative treatments questioned

Thanks to a $374,000 taxpayer-funded grant, scientists now know that inhaling lemon and lavender scents doesn't do a lot for our ability to heal a wound. For $666,000 in federal research money, we can be certain that distant prayer cannot heal AIDS. Americans also paid $406,000 to learn that squirting brewed coffee into someone's intestines doesn't help treat pancreatic cancer and $1.25 million to discover that massage makes people with advanced cancer feel better.

These and other dubious investigations were funded by the government's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. NCCAM, a small, little-known branch of the National Institutes of Health, was launched a dozen years ago to study alternative treatments that are used by the public but are not accepted by mainstream medicine.

Since its birth, the center has spent $1.4 billion, most of it on research. Millions of those dollars have been used to fund studies with questionable grounding in science, according to a review of hundreds of NCCAM grants and other documents reviewed by the Chicago Tribune.

Source  - Los Angeles Times

The end of illness?

Take statins if you’re over 50, and baby Aspirin, too. Drop the vitamin supplements like they were a lit cigarette. Junk the juicer. If the vegetables at the supermarket aren’t today-fresh, opt for fresh frozen. Wear sensible shoes. Eat lunch and go to bed at the same time every day. Get your flu shot. Move around a lot, even when you aren’t exercising. Digitize your medical records, family history and genetic profile, and store this information on a USB stick. Carry it with you always. Share it, anonymously, with the world.
Think of yourself as a system: cancer is not something the body gets and health is not something it has—both are states, dynamic processes really, that the body undergoes. And your system is not the same as anyone else’s: the daily glass of red wine that does wonders for your friend may be killing you. Take note of the specific, unchanging details of your system. Is your ring finger longer than your index finger? That ups the risk of prostate cancer for a man, and of osteoarthritis for a woman. (No one knows quite why, but the marker is well-established.) Keep an eye on your more changeable fine points. Check your nails: yellowish hue bad (go for a diabetes check); white crescent at the base good (iron levels are sufficient). Check your ankles: indentation marks from your socks or loss of hair could mean circulatory problems and increased risk of blood clot.

Do all these things, which essentially add up to two commandments—cut down on daily sources of life-threatening inflammation and take an active part in your own health care—and you stand a very good chance of living to see the end of illness.

Source  - Macleans

How yoga can help fight ageing aches

Yoga has never been so fashionable, its benefits as a stress-buster and body toner advocated by celebrities from Madonna to Ricky Martin. And while it suits all ages – pre-schoolers are stretching and twisting on the mat, thanks in part to the BBC children’s series Waybuloo – it is especially good for older people.
In fact, Fenella Lindsell, a consultant on the CBeebies show and co-founder of the children’s yoga company Yoga Bugs (www.yogabugs.com), says her classes for the elderly are the highlight of her week.
Eight years ago, Lindsell, 48, began subsidised yoga sessions for older adults to increase their mobility and help reduce the aches and pains of ageing, following a request from her local GP’s surgery in Balham Park, south London.
At first, the classes attracted a slow stream of men and women. But now the three weekly sessions of gentle “Hatha flow” yoga – focusing on breath work, postures and relaxation – are packed.
The physical and emotional benefits appear remarkable. Judy Campbell, 70, has Sjogren Syndrome (an auto-immune disorder affecting her joints) and inflammatory lung disease. She believes that the yoga she has learnt in Lindsell’s class for the past eight years has strengthened her muscles and improved joint mobility, while the breathing techniques have increased her lung capacity and helped with tiredness and pain toleration. The classes calm her, too; they are “the most positive part of my week”, she says.

Source  - Telegraph

Complementary medicine - does it work?

“Quackish” degree courses, such as aromatherapy, reflexology and acupuncture, are being scrapped at many universities. Homoeopathy has been dropped altogether, due to declining student applications and campaigns by scientists against non-evidence based forms of medicine.
While many taxpayers will be pleased their money is no longer being spent teaching students the benefits of yin energy or any other subject for which there is no clinical evidence, the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) insists the course closures are “very disappointing”.
“A significant number of people find complementary health therapies to be very helpful; it would be a shame if there were no trained practitioners to treat them,” says Maggy Wallace, chair of the CNHC. “It’s arrogant not to accept an individual’s opinion as evidence that a certain treatment has benefited them.”
In many respects I agree with her. Like almost all complementary health patients, I found my way to alternative therapies when prescription drugs had failed to work; in my case, several courses of antibiotics for a kidney infection.

Dark chocolate isn't so healthy for you after all

Chocoholics pounce on studies showing dark chocolate is good for your heart and contains procyanidins, which help to lower blood pressure.
But while dark chocolate is better than milk and white chocolate due to the antioxidants it contains, it’s also higher in calories and saturated fat.
For example, a 40g serving (4-7 squares) of chocolate that’s 85 per cent cocoa has 227 calories and 12g saturated fat (60 per cent of your daily limit), but the same amount of Dairy Milk has 210 calories and 7g saturated fat (37 per cent of your daily limit).
Get it right: Stick to no more than a square or two daily and tuck into Red Delicious apples as well.
One of these has the same amount of procyanidins as about 47g of dark chocolate. And you’ll save more than 150 calories.

Source  - Daily Mail

Pomegranate seed oil 'no better than a placebo' at easing hot flushes

Pomegranate seed oil is a popular alternative remedy for women seeking relief from menopausal symptoms.
It was thought that because it is rich in plant compounds called phytoestrogens, these would mimic estrogen in the body. However, the first clinical trial of the treatment has found that women taking the supplement twice a day for 12 weeks got no more relief than women taking a placebo pill containing sunflower oil.
'Like many herbal remedies, there's no clear evidence that it is effective at reducing menopause symptoms,' said Dr Silvina Levis, from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida.
Previous research has found that soy supplements and red clover extract, which also contain phytoestrogens, are not effective at reducing menopause symptoms like mood swings and hot flushes.
As many as 85 per cent of menopausal women experience the symptom many times a day - a sensation of heat, often accompanied by sweating, rapid heartbeat and anxiety, according to past studies.

Source  - Daily Mail

Could magic mushrooms help the fight against depression?

Magic mushrooms could one day be prescribed for depression after Professor David Nutt, the controversial sacked government drugs advisor, claimed research on healthy volunteers proved what a mistake it was to abandon therapeutic psychedelic drugs more than 50 years ago.

The first clinical trial into magic mushroom therapy could start by the end of the year after two small studies suggested the active chemical, psilocybin, had a profound affect on key regions of the brain.
Professor Nutt's team, at Imperial College London, hope to test the hallucinogen on depressed patients who have not benefited from antidepressants or behavioural therapy.
Psilocybin would be infused into their bloodstreams before a psychotherapy session, tailored to elicit positive memories. If funding is approved by the Medical Research Council it would represent a major step towards mainstream rehabilitation for such drugs since LSD was banned in 1966.

Source  - Independent

Experts review vitamin D advice

The chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, is to contact medical staff about concerns young children and some adults are not getting enough vitamin D.
Government guidelines recommend some groups, including the under-fives, should take a daily supplement. However, recent research found that many parents and health professionals were unaware of the advice.
There has been an increase in childhood rickets over the past 15 years.
According to Dr Benjamin Jacobs, from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, links to heart disease and some cancers are also being investigated.The consultant paediatrician told BBC Breakfast that the hospital saw about one severe case a month of rickets - softening of bones through lack of vitamin D in childhood.

Source  - BBC

Fried food 'fine for heart' if cooked with olive oil

Eating fried food may not be bad for the heart, as long as you use olive or sunflower oil to make it, experts say.
They found no heightened risk of heart disease or premature death linked to food that had been cooked in this way.
But the investigators stress that their findings, from studying the typical Spanish diet in which these "healthy" oils are found in abundance, do not apply to lard or other cooking oils. So traditional fry ups should not be the order of the day, bmj.com reports.  
When food is fried it becomes more calorific because the food absorbs the fat of the oils. And experts know that eating lots of fat-laden food can raise blood pressure and cause high cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease. For the study, the researchers at the Autonomous University of Madrid surveyed 40,757 adults about their diet.

Source  - BBC

Chomping on carrots and celery ‘could ward off colon cancer’

Celery is known for its dietary properties, and carrots apparently help you to see in the dark... but they could also both hold the key to slowing the growth of colon cancer, researchers say.
They have found that luteolin - a flavanoid, or antioxidant, found in fruit and vegetables - can block cell signal pathways vital for the cancer's growth. Luteolin can also be found in olive oil, green peppers, thyme, chamomile tea, peppermint and rosemary. However, more research is needed to find how the compound could be developed into an effective anti-cancer agent.
Previous lab tests have revealed luteolin's antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, although further tests were less certain. But new research, published in BMC Gastroenterology, shows that the compound inhibits cell signalling pathways IGF and PI3K - both 'important for the growth of cancer in colon cancer cells'.

Source  - Daily Mail

Nutrition therapists condemned as 'quacks'

Nutrition therapists have been condemned as quacks and accused of putting the health of the sick – including those suffering from breast cancer – at risk.
An industry has grown up based on the concept that ‘food doctor’ nutritionists can cure patients’ ills and allergies through diet.
However at least some of the practitioners, who charge up to £80 for a consultation, are providing advice that could harm health, a study by the consumer watchdog Which? found.
The group sent undercover researchers to pose as patients with a range of problems and visit 15 so-called nutritional therapists. Which? said: ‘They found shocking examples of advice which could have put patients with real health problems at risk.’
All but one of the 15 offered either potentially dangerous or misleading advice. Six of the consultations were rated as ‘dangerous fails’ in terms of misinformation and bad advice. A further eight were rated as ‘fails’, and just one a ‘borderline pass’.

Source  - Daily Mail 

Daily dose of rosehip extract could help cut heart disease

A daily dose of the herbal remedy rose hip could cut the risk of heart disease, new research shows.
Obese patients who consumed a drink made with rose hip powder every day for just six weeks saw their blood pressure and cholesterol levels drop significantly. The tiny berries, which sprout at the end of the rose-blooming season, have been used for centuries as a folk remedy for conditions like arthritis. They are packed with vitamin C and are thought to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
One study in 2007 showed patients with sore joints who took a rose hip capsule every day experienced a 40 per cent drop in pain levels and a 25 per cent improvement in mobility.
In the latest research, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists at Lund University in Sweden recruited 31 obese men and women to see if a daily concoction made with rose hip powder would reduce their risks of developing type two diabetes and heart disease. 

Source  - Daily Mail

More vitamin D a day could keep glasses away

Boosting vitamin D intake could help to prevent age-related diseases, in particular loss of vision and blindness, a study said.

Middle-aged mice treated with the vitamin for six weeks had lower levels of a toxic protein linked to age-related macular degeneration, heart disease and Alzheimer's, it was reported in the journal Neurobiology of Aging. AMD is the leading cause of blindness among people over 50 in the developed world.
Lower levels of amyloid beta in the mice's eyes and blood vessels led to significant improvement in their vision. Vitamin D treatment also reduced numbers of cells called macrophages, which play a vital role in the immune system and can also trigger inflammation.

Source  - Independent

Processed meat 'linked to pancreatic cancer'

A link between eating processed meat, such as bacon or sausages, and pancreatic cancer has been suggested by researchers in Sweden.
They said eating an extra 50g of processed meat, approximately one sausage, every day would increase a person's risk by 19%. But the chance of developing the rare cancer remains low. The World Cancer Research Fund suggested the link may be down to obesity.
Eating red and processed meat has already been linked to bowel cancer. As a result the UK government recommended in 2011 that people eat no more than 70g a day.
Prof Susanna Larsson, who conducted the study at the Karolinska Institute, told the BBC that links to other cancers were "quite controversial". She added: "It is known that eating meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer, it's not so much known about other cancers."
The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, analysed data from 11 trials and 6,643 patients with pancreatic cancer.

Source  - BBC

Health secrets of walnuts

The festive season may be over, but there is at least one Christmas treat worth making a  habit of eating throughout the year – walnuts. Scientists have discovered they are the healthiest nuts to eat as they are loaded with antioxidants.
Snacking on as few as seven a day could help ward off disease and lower cholesterol, they claim. Walnuts contain very high levels of polyphenol, an anti-oxidant which can protect the body from molecules which damage tissue.
Walnuts contained the most polyphenol out of a list of nine commonly eaten types of nuts, tests revealed. Brazil nuts and pistachios were close behind, and cashews and hazelnuts had slightly lower levels of antioxidants.

Source  - Daily Mail 

Traditional Chinese medicine 'makes fertility treatments more effective'

Traditional Chinese medicine has long been used to ease pain and treat disease.
Now researchers have found it can also boost fertility if used in combination with fertility treatments.
A team led by Dr Shahar Levi-Ari from Tel Aviv University compared the success rates of couples using intrauterine insemination (IUI) both with and without Chinese herbal and acupuncture therapies. IUI involves a laboratory procedure to separate fast moving sperm from more sluggish sperm.
The fast moving sperm are then placed into the woman’s womb close to the time of ovulation when the egg is released from the ovary in the middle of the monthly cycle. 
The results, which have been published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine, show a significant increase in fertility when the therapies are administered side-by-side.
When combining IUI with traditional treatments, 65.5 per cent of the test group were able to conceive, compared with 39.4 per cent of the control group, who received no herbal or acupuncture therapy.

Source  - Daily Mail

Vitamin B and folic acid 'boosts memory in pensioners'

Older adults who want a sharper recall should take note - a study has found taking vitamin B12 and folic acid for two years improves both short and long-term memory.       
The benefits were modest but encouraging, said study author Janine Walker, a researcher at Australian National University.
'(Vitamins) may have an important role in promoting healthy ageing and mental wellbeing, as well as sustaining good cognitive functioning for longer on a community-wide scale,' Ms Walker said in an email.
The researchers asked more than 700 people aged 60 to 74 years to take a daily dose of folic acid and vitamin B12, or placebo pills that resembled the vitamins.

Source  - Daily Mail

For Neck Pain, Chiropractic and Exercise Are Better Than Drugs

Seeing a chiropractor or engaging in light exercise relieves neck pain more effectively than relying on pain medication, new research shows.
The new study is one of the few head-to-head comparisons of various treatments for neck pain, a problem that affects three quarters of Americans at some point in their lives but has no proven, first-line treatment. While many people seek out spinal manipulation by chiropractors, the evidence supporting its usefulness has been limited at best.
But the new research, published in The Annals of Internal Medicine found that chiropractic care or simple exercises done at home were better at reducing pain than taking medications like aspirin, ibuprofen or narcotics.
“These changes were diminished over time, but they were still present,” said Dr. Gert Bronfort, an author of the study and research professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota. “Even a year later, there were differences between the spinal manipulation and medication groups.”

Source  - New York Times

Fish oil may hold key to leukaemia cure

A compound produced from fish oil that appears to target leukemia stem cells could lead to a cure for the disease, according to Penn State researchers.
The statement follows research where mice with leukemia-causing cells who were treated with the fish oil component were completely cured of the disease - with no relapse.
The compound - named delta-12-protaglandin J3, or D12-PGJ3 - targeted and killed the stem cells of chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML. It is produced from an Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish and fish oil.
Sandeep Prabhu, associate professor of immunology and molecular toxicology in the Department of Veterinary and Medical Sciences at Penn State said: 'Research in the past on fatty acids has shown the health benefits of fatty acids on cardiovascular system and brain development, particularly in infants.
'But we have shown that some metabolites of Omega-3 have the ability to selectively kill the leukemia-causing stem cells in mice.'

Source  - Daily Mail

Detoxing in January is futile, says liver charity

Giving up alcohol or going on a detox for one month is pointless, especially after the excesses of the festive season, says a liver charity.
Instead, the British Liver Trust says drinkers should make a decision to stay off alcohol for a few days every week throughout the whole year. Experts agree that a short period of complete abstinence will not improve liver health. A longer-term attitude to alcohol is more desirable, the charity said.
Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said that people tend to believe the hype about rejuvenating their liver by detoxing in January.
"People think they're virtuous with their health by embarking on a liver detox each January with the belief that they are cleansing their liver of excess following the festive break.

Source  - BBC