The health foods doctors say don't work

Dr Aseem Malhotra, lead cardiologist of the National Obesity Forum, says:

I don’t go near Benecol or any other margarine-type products that claim to lower cholesterol and I advise my patients to stay clear of them, too.  First, they are expensive; second, these products are artificial, packed with unnatural products that really can’t do you any good; and third, I don’t believe there is any demonstrable health benefit.

They may have a very marginal effect on cholesterol, but — and this is critical — this hasn’t been established as having any clinical benefit in reducing the risk of a heart attack. In short, the whole saturated fat argument has been ridiculously overhyped.

A review of studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010, which analysed almost 350,000 people for up to 23 years, revealed no consistent evidence linking saturated fat and cardiovascular disease.

Source  - Daily Mail

Grapefruit and pills mix warning

Doctors have warned of a "lack of knowledge" about the dangers of mixing some medications with grapefruit.
The fruit can cause overdoses of some drugs by stopping the medicines being broken down in the intestines and the liver. The researchers who first identified the link said the number of drugs that became dangerous with grapefruit was increasing rapidly. They were writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The team at the Lawson Health Research Institute in Canada said the number of drugs which had serious side effects with grapefruit had gone from 17 in 2008 to 43 in 2012.
They include some drugs for a range of conditions including blood pressure, cancer and cholesterol-lowering statins and those taken to suppress the immune system after an organ transplant. Chemicals in grapefruit, furanocoumarins, wipe out an enzyme which breaks the drugs down. It means much more of the drug escapes the digestive system than the body can handle.

Source  - BBC

Forget coffee - green tea holds the key for men

Looking for a quick brain pick me up before work? Forget coffee - it seems green tea has the key.

A new study has found that the tea - already credited with providing a host of health benefits  - can help improve memory and cognition in men.

Researchers recruited 12 healthy men and divided them into two groups. One group was given a drink containing a green tea extract, while a second group was given a placebo drink without the extract.

Then, using an MRI machine, scientists studied the effects of the two drinks on the men's brains while they performed a memory test.

Compared to the placebo group, the green tea drinkers experienced an increase in the activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with working memory, which you need for problem solving and focus.

Source  - Daily Mail

The mother with crippling arthritis... and copper insoles.

A mother-of-three is training for a half marathon after beating excruciating arthritis - thanks to a pair of £30 copper insoles.

Garden designer Helen Basson, 39, feared she would end up in a wheelchair after she was diagnosed with arthritis in every joint of her body after the birth of her third child. Her condition was so bad she was unable to lift her baby out of his cot or get into the bath unaided. But within three months of inserting the copper insoles, recommended to her by her mother-in-law, Mrs Basson astounded her doctors by beginning to walk freely. She is now planning to take part in a half marathon in February.

She said: 'I couldn't do anything. I had to be helped off the toilet and getting in and out of the bath was extremely difficult. It was terrifying - I was a young woman and I feared I would end up in a wheelchair. The low point was a check-up at the hospital when they inserted a fluid into me and discovered I had arthritis in every joint. There was a time when I thought I wouldn't be able to walk again, so running a half marathon will be incredible.

The apparent healing powers of copper were first pioneered by the ancient Greeks who used copper bracelets to ease aches and pains (the insoles claim to contain 14 times more copper than bracelets).
Copper is an essential mineral in the body and is thought to keep blood vessels, the immune system and bones healthy.

The Arthritis Foundation reports there is no scientific research to prove the effectiveness from copper bracelets. However it also says there is scant research to prove there are no benefits.

Source  - Daily Mail

Some cheeses are saltier than a bag of crisps

According to a report by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), Alarming levels of salt in cheese are contributing to an epidemic of high blood pressure responsible for strokes, heart attacks and thousands of early deaths a year


Really? Breathing Exercises Can Relieve Asthma

Breathing exercises are among the most popular alternative therapies for asthmatics. But do they work?
According to a recent report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the answer depends on the technique. Some appear effective in reducing asthma severity, but there is little evidence to support others.
In the exhaustive, 219-page report, researchers examined 22 randomized studies of breathing techniques. Among the most common are hyperventilation-reduction techniques like the Buteyko method, which instructs asthmatics to breathe shallowly and slowly through the nose when short of breath. The report also looked at  yoga  breathing exercises and so-called inspiratory-muscle training, which involves exercises and devices that make inhaling more difficult in order to strengthen muscles.
The researchers found the most robust body of evidence supported hyperventilation-reduction breathing techniques, which achieved “medium to large improvements in asthma symptoms and reductions in reliever medication use of approximately 1.5 to 2.5 puffs per day.”

Source  - New York Times

Exercise can be more effective at cutting deaths than statins

Researchers compared fitness levels in 10,000 middle aged people who were taking statins against those not taking statins.
The fittest people who were not taking statins were 50 per cent less likely to die over the next ten years than the unfittest who were on the drugs, the study found. The findings highlight the importance of moderate exercise and the scale of the health benefits achievable through staying active, the researchers said. Exercising is cheaper and has fewer side effects than taking drugs, experts said.
Brisk walking or cycling for 150 minutes a week was enough to class someone as highly fit in this study of people with high cholesterol levels, the authors said.

Source  - Telegraph

One fizzy drink a day linked to higher prostate cancer risk

Men who consumed 300ml of a sugary soft drink a day appeared to raise their odds of succumbing to faster growing forms of the disease, according to a 15-year study. The sugar in the drinks is believed to release insulin, which feeds tumours.
The study, carried out by Swedish scientists and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tracked the health of more than 8,000 men aged 45 to 73 for an average of 15 years. All were in good health when the study began, and were asked about what they liked to eat and drink.
Those who drank more sugary drinks were more likely to have been diagnosed with prostate cancer by the end of the study.

Source  - Telegraph

Health alert over energy 'shot' drinks

Health authorities in the United States have launched an investigation into concentrated energy drinks after the deaths of 13 people have raised questions about their safety. And yesterday two MPs called for urgent action in Britain; one of whom wants a temporary ban on their sale to under-16s until all risks have been assessed.

The US public health regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is looking into a highly potent over-the-counter product called 5-Hour Energy, which is available in Britain. A recent US government survey suggested that energy drinks could be behind as many as 13,000 Emergency Room visits a year.
Since 2009, the FDA has received 90 complaints which refer specifically to 5-Hour Energy. More than 30 of them involved life-threatening injuries, such as heart attacks and convulsions. In one case, a consumer allegedly suffered a spontaneous miscarriage. "The FDA is continuing to investigate reports of illness, injury or death of people who took products marketed under the label 5-Hour Energy," a spokesman told the news agency AFP, promising swift action if the drink is proven to have caused any deaths.

Source  - Independent

Hooked on fish-oil pills? You're wasting your money

Britain has fallen out of love with vitamin supplements — just 35 per cent of us regularly take them, down from 41 per cent in 2008.  Yet fish oil sales seem to be holding their ground. But we’re wrong to place so much faith in them, says TOM SANDERS, professor of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College, London.
Fish-oil supplements are now so popular that as many as one in five people take them regularly, according to the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey.
You can see why, with claims that the pills can prevent a multitude of disorders, from Alzheimer’s to Zellweger syndrome, a rare hereditary disorder.  However, the idea that a single dietary component taken in such small doses should have such widespread effects is, in my opinion, laughable.  Rather than a passport to good health, fish-oil pills are more like snake oil.
I’ve been researching the health benefits of fish and fish-oil supplements, which contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, for more than 30 years.  What I have found is that, although fish-oil supplements have a role to play for some people, they have been over-hyped and over-sold. Although they won’t actually harm you in the vast majority of cases (though if you eat too many you’ll get fat), there is little evidence of any health benefit.

Source  - Daily Mail

Meditation could slash the risk of heart attack and stroke

Meditation helps reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke, according to a new study.
Researchers found that Transcendental Meditation, made popular by the Beatles during the flower power era of the 1960s, could cut heart attack rates by half. This type of meditation, which involves making a sound repeatedly, lowers death rates from heart attack and strokes.
In the new study, researchers found that people with heart disease who practised transcendental meditation for 20 minutes twice a day were 48 per cent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die from all causes compared with those who attended a health education class over more than five years.  Those practicing meditation also lowered their blood pressure and reported less stress and anger. And the more regularly patients meditated, the greater their survival, said researchers who conducted the study at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Lead researcher Dr Robert Schneider, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention in Iowa, said: 'We hypothesised that reducing stress by managing the mind-body connection would help improve rates of this epidemic disease.

 Source  - Daily Mail

Are we falling out of love with vitamins?

Sales of vitamins and health supplements have fallen as health conscious Britons opt for fruit and vegetables, new industry figures reveal.
Thirty-five per cent of us regularly pop a supplement of some kind - down from 41 per cent on 2008, according to market analyst Mintel. It believes that products ranging from multivitamin pills to cod liver oil capsules have come to be seen as an unnecessary luxury to those cutting their budgets. Furthermore, many food and drink products now claim to contain the same kind of health-giving ingredients, from omega-3 to various vitamins.
The latest report found the UK market for vitamins and supplements will be worth £385 million this year, up just 2.7 per cent on last year.

Source - Daily Mail 

Green tea may lower the risk of colon, stomach and throat cancers in women

Older women who regularly drink green tea may have slightly lower risks of colon, stomach and throat cancers than women who don't, according to a Canadian study that followed thousands of Chinese women over a decade.
The researchers, whose report appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that of the more than 69,000 women, those who drank green tea at least three times a week were 14 per cent less likely to develop a cancer of the digestive system.
The study adds to debate over the impact of green tea on cancer risks. Past studies have so far come to conflicting findings on whether green tea drinkers really do have lower cancer risks.
'In this large study, tea consumption was associated with reduced risk of colorectal and stomach/esophageal cancers in Chinese women,' wrote study leader Wei Zheng, who heads epidemiology at Vanderbilt University school of Medicine in Nashville, and his colleagues.
Nobody can say whether green tea itself is the reason, since green tea lovers are often more health-conscious in general.

Source  - Daily Mail

Acupuncture can relieve the extreme tiredness suffered by 40% of breast cancer patients

The 40 per cent of breast cancer patients who suffer from extreme fatigue may benefit from acupuncture, new research suggests.
This was the first clinical trial using acupuncture to treat this particular symptom of the disease.  Hundreds of thousands of patients overcoming the disease battle with fatigue.
But the three-year British trial showed acupuncture had across-the-board benefits, alleviating both mental and physical fatigue and improving overall quality of life.
Previously, few treatments were recognised for the up-to-40 per cent of patients needing help for fatigue, devastating their quality of life.
Professor Alex Molassiotis, from the University of Manchester, which led the trial said: 'Fatigue is a blight on the lives of thousands of former cancer patients and this trial proves acupuncture can help them.'

Source  - Daily Mail 

It's certainly a new branch of medicine!

A grandmother claims to have healed herself of a painful bowel condition by eating tree bark. 
Marlene Barnes, 72, started chewing chippings after 48 years with the bowel condition Crohn’s disease.
The inflammatory bowel condition, which affects 60,000 Britons, causes symptoms including pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss and fatigue. Now, a decade on, her doctor has confirmed she no longer has an active trace of the illness in her system. 
Ms Barnes was diagnosed with Crohn’s when she was just 14. 'I’d tried everything to stop it but nothing worked,' said the mother-of-two who had part of her colon removed when she was younger.
The inflammation caused by Chron's destroys the tissue of the bowel so badly that surgeons must cut out sections of the intestine. She told The Sun: 'Then I read of bark’s medicinal properties and felt it was worth a go.'
She began cutting bark off trees in a park, then dried and ground it up at home. 
She said: 'I ate hazel bark first and it felt like a dozen ferrets fighting in my stomach. I thought I’d die, but I began to feel better than I’d done in ages.  I then tried lots of trees to work out which were the real miracle cures.'

Source  - Daily Mail