Eating cherries 'could cut gout'

US researchers found patients with gout who ate cherries over a two-day period had a 35% lower risk of attacks compared to those who did not.
The study in Arthritis & Rheumatism said cherries contain anthocyanins, antioxidants which contain anti-inflammatory properties.
UK experts said the research offered "good evidence" of the benefits of eating cherries for people with gout.
Gout is a common type of arthritis that can cause sudden and very severe attacks of pain and swelling in the joints, particularly in the feet. It is caused by too much uric acid in the bloodstream, which causes urate crystals to start to form in and around the joints and under the skin.

Source  - BBC

Effects of mistletoe on cancer patients

Scientific trials are to test whether mistletoe can help boost the immune system of cancer patients.
The Aberdeen University pilot study will be overseen by cancer specialist Professor Steven Heys, from the university's medical school. The study will be run jointly with Camphill Medical Practice in Aberdeen, which regularly offers cancer patients mistletoe therapy. It will involve women with breast cancer.
Dr Stefan Geider, a GP at the Camphill practice, said some patients who have had mistletoe injections had noticed an impact on their wellbeing.
"We see an increase in energy levels, less fatigue, good appetite, better sleeping, high motivation, from my clinical experience," he said. "From seeing patients on a regular basis, my experience is that mistletoe has, with some people - although not with all - an impact on tumour reduction."
However, he said it was important people realised that it was not a miracle cure.
"Mistletoe has to my experience helped a lot of patients tremendously, both in terms of quality of life as well as life expectancy," he said.

Source  - BBC

Doctors are 'excited' by drug-free migraine therapy

A drug-free treatment for migraine which, it is claimed, alleviates pain in sufferers plagued by the chronic condition was described by doctors yesterday as an "exciting innovation".

The hand-held device, which delivers a brief magnetic pulse to the back of the head, reduced the frequency of headaches in more than half of patients prescribed it in a clinical trial.
The findings were presented at the European Headache and Migraine Trust International Congress in London yesterday. They have not been peer reviewed or published in a medical journal.
Migraine affects an estimated eight million people in Britain. It is caused by an "oversensitive" brain which reacts to triggers such as fatigue, hunger, stress or the weather with a throbbing, headache, often accompanied by nausea and visual disturbances.
Specialists at migraine clinics in London, Bath, Hull, Exeter, Liverpool and Aberdeen prescribed the device to patients, of whom almost three-quarters (73 per cent) reported a reduction in pain. Almost two-thirds said associated symptoms such as nausea were improved. No figures for the number of patients involved in the trial, the source of funding or the cost of the device were available.

Source  - Independent

Cannabis plant extract 'could stop aggressive cancers from spreading'

A compound found in cannabis could halt the spread of many forms of aggressive cancer, scientists say.
Researchers found that the compound, called cannabidiol, had the ability to 'switch off' the gene responsible for metastasis in an aggressive form of breast cancer. Importantly, this substance does not produce the psychoactive properties of the cannabis plant.
The team from the California Pacific Medical Center, in San Francisco, first spotted its potential five years ago, after it stopped the proliferation of human breast cancer cells in the lab. Last year they published a study that found a similar effect in mice. Now they say they are on the verge of publishing further animal study results that expand these results further.
Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle, study co-leader Dr Sean McAllister, said: 'The preclinical trial data is very strong, and there's no toxicity. There's really a lot or research to move ahead with and to get people excited.'

Chocolate can create same high as opium

It’s certainly a good excuse to have when you’re slumped on the sofa and feel like you're simply obliged to finish off that shiny tin of Quality Street.
Chocolate has an effect on the brain similar to opium, according to a study that found amazing comparisons between obese people and drug addicts.
In the study, a natural brain chemical called enkephalin - an endorphin with similar properties to opium - surged as rats began to eat M&M chocolates. When a drug was used to stimulate the dorsal neostriatum - the brain area releasing the chemical - the number of M&Ms eaten more than doubled. In the brain, enkephalin binds to molecular ‘receptors’ sensitive to opiate chemicals to reduce pain and produce pleasurable feelings.

Source  - Daily Mail

Painkillers 'are the cause' of millions of headaches

They said some were trapped in a "vicious cycle" of taking pain relief, which then caused even more headaches.
The warning came as part of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's (NICE) first guidelines for treating headaches. It is also recommending acupuncture in some circumstances.
"Medication overuse headaches" feel the same as other common headaches or migraines.
There is no definitive UK data on the incidence of the condition, but studies in other countries suggest 1-2% of people are affected, while the World Health Organization says  figures closer to 5% have been reported.
While painkillers would be many people's instant response, they could be making sufferers feel even worse.
Prof Martin Underwood, from Warwick Medical School, who led the NICE panel, said: "This can end up getting into a vicious cycle where your headache gets worse, so you take more painkillers, so your headache gets worse and this just becomes worse and worse and worse. It is such an easy thing to prevent."

Source  - BBC

Did this grandfather, 78, really beat 'incurable' cancer just by changing his diet?

A grandfather, who was told by doctors that his cancer was 'incurable', has been given the all-clear less than four months later - after trying a different diet.

Allan Taylor could have been forgiven for fearing the worst when doctors told him they could do nothing to treat his condition. But the 78-year-old would not give up, and instead searched the internet for an alternative method to fight his cancer.
After studying websites, he decided to radically change his diet - and found his condition improved dramatically. Mr Taylor, a retired oil rig engineer from Middlesbrough, replaced red meat and dairy products with 10 portions of raw fruit and veg each day.

Source  - Daily Mail

Spinach could help fight off dementia

Spinach could help beat help beat dementia, according to a study.
Researchers have discovered a link between low vitamin C, beta-carotene levels and dementia. So antioxidant rich fruit and vegetables - such as spinach, carrots and apricots - could help fight the disease’s devastating symptoms, their findings suggest.
German scientists from the University of Ulm looked at the differences between 74 people with mild Alzheimer’s disease and 158 healthy subjects. The participants, aged between 65 and 90, underwent neuropsychological testing, answered questions about their lifestyle and had their blood examined and their body mass index calculated.
The team, led by epidemiologist Professor Gabriele Nagel and neurologist Professor Christine von Arnim, found the serum-concentration of the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene were significantly lower in patients with mild dementia than in control group.

Source  - Daily Mail

Acupuncture Provides True Pain Relief in Study

A new study of acupuncture — the most rigorous and detailed analysis of the treatment to date — found that it can ease migraines and arthritis and other forms of chronic pain.
The findings provide strong scientific support for an age-old therapy used by an estimated three million Americans each year. Though acupuncture has been studied for decades, the body of medical research on it has been mixed and mired to some extent by small and poor-quality studies. Financed by the National Institutes of Health and carried out over about half a decade, the new research was a detailed analysis of earlier research that involved data on nearly 18,000 patients.
The researchers, who published their results in Archives of Internal Medicine, found that acupuncture outperformed sham treatments and standard care when used by people suffering from osteoarthritis, migraines and chronic back, neck and shoulder pain.

Source  - New York Times

Fish oil supplements 'do NOT cut risk of heart attacks and strokes'

Scientists claim fish oil supplements do not cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes despite being widely used and even prescribed for prevention.

A review of 20 studies involving almost 70,000 patients concluded that taking omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oil had no significant effect on rates of heart attacks, strokes and heart-related deaths.

Previous trials have had conflicting results about whether supplements may protect the heart. But fish oil supplements are approved on the NHS to prevent heart attack survivors from having a second attack and recommended in official guidelines.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (Pufas) are known to fight inflammation, one of the key processes that contribute to narrowing of the arteries. Researchers conducting the new study analysed data on 7,044 deaths, 3,993 heart-related deaths, 1,150 sudden deaths, 1,837 heart attacks and 1,490 strokes.

The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed no evidence of risk reduction associated with omega-3.

Source  - Daily Mail

Alzheimer's could be the most catastrophic impact of junk food

When you raise the subject of over-eating and obesity, you often see people at their worst. The comment threads discussing these issues reveal a legion of bullies who appear to delight in other people's problems.
When alcoholism and drug addiction are discussed, the tone tends to be sympathetic. When obesity is discussed, the conversation is dominated by mockery and blame, though the evidence suggests that it may be driven by similar forms of addiction.
I suspect that much of this mockery is a coded form of snobbery: the strong association between poor diets and poverty allows people to use this issue as a cipher for something else they want to say, which is less socially acceptable.
But this problem belongs to all of us. Even if you can detach yourself from the suffering caused by diseases arising from bad diets, you will carry the cost, as a growing proportion of the health budget will be used to address them. The cost – measured in both human suffering and money – could be far greater than we imagined. A large body of evidence now suggests that Alzheimer's is primarily a metabolic disease. Some scientists have gone so far as to rename it: they call it  type 3 diabetes.

Source  - Guardian

Subconscious cues can trigger the placebo effect, say researchers

Subliminal information can trigger the placebo effect and its opposite, the nocebo effect, researchers say.
The finding suggests that patients with certain ailments may feel better or worse depending on subtle cues their brains pick up from the environment, but which they are not consciously aware of.
Karin Jensen, who led the study at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said the work had implications for how doctors interact with their patients and how healthcare is delivered.
The placebo effect is the curious biological mechanism whereby patients' symptoms improve when they take fake medicines with no active ingredient, such as sugar pills or saline injections. It also boosts the effectiveness of genuine medicines.
Though placebo is the better known effect, there is an opposite reaction, called the nocebo response, where people can feel worse after an intervention that should have no ill effects. While both are usually linked to a tangible intervention the patient is aware of, Jensen's team wondered whether subconscious cues might be enough to trigger the same effects.

Source  - Guardian

Marijuana linked to testicular cancer in US study

Researchers whose findings appeared in the journal Cancer said the link appeared to be specific to a type of tumour known as nonseminoma.
"This is the third study consistently demonstrating a greater than doubling of risk of this particularly undesirable subtype of testicular cancer among young men with marijuana use," said Victoria Cortessis of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, who led the study.
"I myself feel like we need to take this seriously now," she added, noting that the rates of testicular cancer have been rising inexplicably over the past century.
The research is not ironclad proof that the marijuana is to blame, and even if it is, the danger is not overwhelming. According to the American Cancer Society, a man's lifetime risk of getting testicular cancer is about one in 270 – and because effective treatment is available, the risk of dying from the disease is just one in 5,000.
So far, little is known about what causes it. Cortessis said undescended testicles, in which the testes remain in the abdomen beyond the age of a year, are a risk factor. Both pesticide and hormone exposure have also been associated with the tumours.

Source  - Telegraph

So what IS the truth about acupuncture?

For critics of acupuncture, last week’s headlines provided ready ammunition.
News reports revealed that hundreds of NHS patients undergoing the treatment have suffered complications including fainting and dizziness.
A study said there were 325 reports of patients coming to harm after having acupuncture on the NHS in just two years.  These included 100 cases of needles being left inside the body, and five patients who suffered collapsed lungs after a needle accidentally penetrated their chests.
Proof, according to acupuncture’s critics, that its claims to be an effective form of pain relief are not just mumbo-jumbo, but dangerous mumbo-jumbo. But is that the whole story?
Many would argue that all treatments have side-effects — especially if mistakes are made — and that the number of problems reported was relatively small.
Now a major analysis, published yesterday, suggests the sceptics are also wrong about acupuncture’s benefits: it really does control pain. Practitioners claim that by inserting fine needles at 400 specific points on the skin, they can affect the ‘meridians’ — channels of energy that run up and down the body, blocking pain. Critics claim any relief comes purely from the placebo effect.

Source  - Daily Mail

Green tea isn't just good for your heart, it's good for your brain too

Sipping green tea is not just good for you heart - it could boost the memory as well, say researchers.

A study from China found that the chemical properties of the healthy beverage promotes the generation of brain cells, providing benefits for memory and spatial learning.
Study leader Professor Yun Bai from the Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China, said: 'There has been plenty of scientific attention on its use in helping prevent cardiovascular diseases, but now there is emerging evidence that its chemical properties may impact cellular mechanisms in the brain.'
Professor Bai's team focused on the organic chemical EGCG that is found in green tea.
'We proposed that EGCG can improve cognitive function by impacting the generation of neuron cells, a process known as neurogenesis,' said Prof Bai.  'We focused our research on the hippocampus, the part of the brain which processes information from short-term to long-term memory.'
The team found that ECGC boosts the production of neural progenitor cells, which like stem cells can adapt into various types of cells. The team then used laboratory mice to discover if this increased cell production gave an advantage to memory or spatial learning. 

Source  - Daily Mail

Ginkgo biloba 'does not stop Alzheimer's'

A Chinese herb claimed to improve memory and mental sharpness is not able to prevent Alzheimer's disease, scientists have found.

Researchers in France tested the effect of Ginkgo biloba on more than 2,800 elderly volunteers who took the supplement over five years. Half the participants, who were all aged 70 or older, were given twice-daily doses of Ginkgo and half received an inactive placebo.
During the trial, rates of dementia and Alzheimer's symptoms hardly differed between the two groups.
A total of 61 people who were given Ginkgo were diagnosed with Alzheimer's - the most common dementia disease - compared to 73 people in the placebo group.
Alzheimer's Society spokeswoman Jess Smith said: "It is understandable that people would want to hear that an over-the-counter herbal remedy could be the answer to preventing Alzheimer's. "

Source  - Independent

Organic food isn't healthier

It comes at a premium price, but it seems organic food may not be worth shelling out for.
Researchers claim it is no more nutritious than food grown using pesticides and chemicals – and won’t benefit your health. Many people pay as much as a third more for organic food in the belief that it is healthier and safer. However, Dr Dena Bravata and colleagues from Stanford University Medical Centre, California, found no clear evidence of any significant added health benefits.
They also found that there was no guarantee organic food would be pesticide-free – a key attraction for many consumers – though it did have lower levels. Senior author Dr Bravata said: ‘There isn’t much difference between organic and conventional foods, if you’re an adult and making a decision based solely on your health.’
The results, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, come from the biggest review yet of existing studies comparing the two types of food.  However, UK campaigners said the survey was not equipped to detect real differences.

Hidden perils of acupuncture

Hundreds of NHS patients undergoing acupuncture have suffered complications including dizziness, collapsed lungs and even needles being left in their bodies, researchers warn.
They said the complementary therapy – which involves the skin being punctured with needles – is not as safe as previously thought and in some cases can lead to  life-threatening health problems. Their study found there were 325 reports of patients coming to harm after having acupuncture on the Health Service in just two years.
These included 100 cases of needles being left inside the body, 63 where patients lost consciousness and a  further 99 which saw people feeling dizzy or faint.
Another five patients suffered collapsed lungs – known as a pneumothorax – after the needle accidentally  penetrated their chests. The condition can be fatal if victims are not treated immediately, normally by having a tube inserted into their chest to re-inflate the lung.

Source  - Daily Mail