Can singing a lullaby ease a child's pain?

Amid the beeping of heart monitors, a more gentle noise can be heard on the wards of Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The soft voice of music therapist Nick Pickett and the strumming of his guitar are entertaining the young patients in Bear Ward. All the children here are under three years old. Some are facing the long wait for a heart transplant and are being kept alive by the rhythmic beating of a mechanical heart. Sam Wallace's bed is surrounded by balloons, toys and other reminders of home. His grandmother, Viv Green, says the music has a transformative effect.
"Oh, Sammy loves music, he has always loved music."It just makes him happy. He will sing and dance. He loves to dance, he moves with the music as soon as he hears it and it just brightens him up completely - he's a different boy."

Gardening 'linked to longer lives'

Pottering around the garden or fixing up the house has been linked to a longer life in a study of people over the age of 60.
Older people can struggle to exercise vigorously, but the study said simply getting off the sofa and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle was a lifesaver. The Swedish study of 4,232 people suggested the risks of heart attack and stroke were cut. The findings were published  in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The researchers at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, said elderly people tended to spend more time being sedentary and less time exercising than people in other age groups. So they looked at the activity levels in-between sitting down and full-on exercise - such as fixing up the car, home repairs, cutting the lawn, blackberry picking or going hunting.

Why ginger is good for you

Food is never dull when it contains ginger. 
Some zingy, warming root ginger electrifies and enlivens a dish like nothing else. A stalwart aromatic in Asian and Caribbean cooking, you can incorporate it into a spice paste to build a deep, broad-shouldered flavour, or finely shred it raw over your finished dish as a pungent, tongue-tingling garnish, but it also works brilliantly in western dishes, such as crème brulée. 
Choose big chunky rhizomes that are firm to the touch, without any give, and with smooth, unwrinkled skin – they keep better in the fridge than small ones. Don't be timid or parsimonious with fresh ginger; think in terms of tablespoons, not teaspoons, and aim to use it up quickly when it's dripping with juice.
No wonder ginger occupies a venerable role in ayurvedic medicine as an appetite stimulant and digestive aid. It acts as a carminative (it prevents flatulence) and an intestinal spasmolytic (it soothes the intestinal tract). Modern research supports its efficacy as a safe remedy for travel sickness, and for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Ginger also seems to have an analgesic effect on the joints. Gingerols, the potent anti-inflammatory compounds found in ginger, appear to reduce the pain, and improve the mobility, of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.

Four women on fighting cancer with alternative therapies.

Cancer is on the rise. According to a recent report by Macmillan Cancer Support, nearly half of all Britons will receive a diagnosis during their lifetime. Billions of pounds are spent researching and trialling conventional medical treatments, and health advances are made year on year, extending the lives of patients beyond what was previously thought possible.
There is not, however, and probably never will be, a “golden bullet” – a cure-all for the array of cancers that threaten us. Cancer is a vast and ever-changing problem, and we must keep finding new ways to confront it. We will rightly continue to turn to the medical profession first. But there is a growing number of people in Britain seeking alternative approaches too, and making their voices heard. It’s a controversial area polarising opinion.
According to the breast-cancer charity The Haven, 89 per cent of its service users found that non-medical, complementary therapies (including herbal medicine and nutritional, energy, touch and mind-body therapies) were “essential” to their recovery.
Sheila Dillon, the presenter of Radio 4’s The Food Programme and a cancer sufferer, has recently spoken out against the NHS’s refusal to accept that diet matters in the fight against cancer.

'Ozone therapy' endangered patient's life

Dr Philip David Alan Jack, 79, administered 'ozone therapy' to treat a rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in rooms rented from a company in Staffordshire.
The patient had more than 120 consultations with Dr Jack and underwent 'major ozone autohaemotherapy' around 80 or 90 times, whereby blood is taken out of the patient, mixed with ozone and re-injected into the vein. The controversial alternative therapy purports to increase the amount of oxygen in the body by introducing ozone into the blood.
Proponents of the treatment claim it can be used to treat cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis, but there there are no peer-reviewed papers on the subject. Furious specialists treating the patient at Leicester Royal Infirmary found out about the unorthodox treatment and reported Dr Jack to the General Medical Council.
The medic, who retired from general practice in 1988, but is still fully registered, is facing allegations of misconduct at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester.
The GMC say the treatment exposed Patient A to the 'hazard of fatal septicaemia' and that the doctor, who also goes by the names Dr Mathew Jack and Dr David Jack, failed to provide effective treatment as it was of no proven benefit. Dr Jack has admitted that he should have shared information with Patient A's GP and haematologist, but maintains that the treatment is beneficial and of no danger to the patient.

Drink an extra glass of water a day to beat middle-aged spread.

Forget fad diets and punishing exercise routines – the cure to middle-age spread may literally be on tap.
Scientists at Harvard say that drinking just one extra glass of water a day could be the secret to halting an expanding waistline.
The study found that over a 20-year period, adults in their thirties, forties and fifties gained nearly half a stone less simply by replacing one sugar-sweetened drink with a glass of water.
The research, carried out by a team from the Harvard School of Public Health, is one of the most comprehensive investigations into the long-term dietary benefits of drinking water instead of calorie-loaded fizzy drinks or fruit juices. It involved tracking the food and drink consumption of nearly 125,000 people over several decades.  The team looked at adults who took part in three long-term studies carried out in the US from the mid-eighties up to 2007.
Researchers analysed changes in their eating and drinking habits as well as their weight gain on a regular basis over more than two decades. The results, published in the International Journal of Obesity, showed that every four years the men and women in the study gained an average of 1.5 kilos – which works out as more than three pounds. This meant that, over the 20 or so years they were studied, they put on well over a stone as middle age took its toll.

Source  - Daily Mail

Do high doses of vitamin C raise prostate cancer risk?

Men who take high doses of vitamin supplements could be increasing their risk of lethal prostate cancer by nearly 30 per cent, say researchers.
A study of 48,000 men spanning more than two decades suggests popping too many vitamin pills can put them in danger of tumours that are more likely to be fatal.
The researchers linked high doses of vitamin C to an increased risk of lethal and advanced prostate cancer.
The results, by experts from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, in the US, and the University of Oslo in Norway, are not the first to raise the alarm over the dangers of excess vitamin consumption.
Nearly a quarter of adults in the UK are estimated to take antioxidant supplements or multivitamins regularly in the hope that it will help protect them against illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. The market for such products is worth around half a billion pounds a year. In recent years, high-dose vitamins have become popular, with people  taking more in the belief that it is  better for them.
For example, health food shops now sell vitamin C tablets in doses of 1,000mg each, but the body needs only about 40mg a day to keep cells healthy and promote healing. In the latest research, the scientists set out to see if antioxidants in vitamin pills and food could reduce the chances of a prostate tumour. From 1986 to 2008 they followed 48,000 men aged between 40 and 75. Every four years, the men completed food questionnaires designed to record their dietary habits.

Source  - Daily Mail

The healing power of your own mind.

Living with chronic pain can be intolerable. 
You feel desperate to do something, anything, to stop the pain but whatever you try seems to fail. And much as you try to distract yourself, one thought dominates: it hurts. 
Being in pain is not only physical but also a mental battle against the painful sensations, wishing them away and trying to endure them.  But doctors now think that struggling like this actually makes your suffering worse. In fact, the latest medical advances show that accepting and exploring sensations of pain and illness can bring more powerful relief than the most commonly prescribed painkillers.
This approach constitutes a new treatment based on the ancient practice of 'mindfulness' meditation, which clinical trials show can reduce chronic pain by 57 per cent. Accomplished meditators can reduce their pain by more than 90 per cent. 
One high-profile practitioner is actress Goldie Hawn. She has said that through mindfulness, 'we can move our set point of happiness'. She set up a programme called MindUp under her Goldie Hawn Foundation to help children deal with stress and emotions and reduce their anxiety. This forms the basis of her book 10 Mindful Minutes, which teaches techniques such as mindful breathing and thinking.

Source  - Daily Mail

Alternative treatment shrinks enlarged prostates.

A ten-second blast of steam could be a promising new treatment for men with an enlarged prostate.
The experimental therapy uses steam to destroy excess tissue caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous condition in which the prostate 'grows' with age.
The prostate is a doughnut-shaped gland - around the size of a walnut - that wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder and out of the body. The gland tends to become larger as a man ages, possibly due to changing hormone levels.
As it grows it can press on the urethra, and the first sign of the condition is usually trouble passing urine, difficulty starting even when the bladder is full, and a need to urinate more frequently.  Treatment often involves alpha-blockers, drugs that relax muscle fibres within the prostate. Potential side-effects include dizziness and headaches.

Source  - Daily Mail

Just eat more porridge!

First, a health warning: anyone eating breakfast should skip to the sports section.
In January of this year a group of doctors in Amsterdam published a study using 'friendly bacteria' in the most extreme way possible. They were treating a group of patients with an infection caused by a bacterium called Clostridium difficile (C.diff) - which grows when your normal bowel bacteria are wiped out by antibiotics. It can cause severe diarrhoea and even death. 
Ironically the treatment of C.diff infections is usually another strong course of antibiotics, but instead the Dutch group used the ultimate probiotic: a faecal transplantation.
That's right: they took donor faeces from healthy volunteers (screened for every imaginable disease) and infused it via a tube into the patients' small intestines. The treatment was so effective that the trial was stopped early. It was a small trial, and not without flaws, but it should prompt research in an area of medicine where we are only just beginning to understand our ignorance: the bacteria living inside us.

Source  - Daily Mail

Exercise 'boosts academic performance' of teenagers

Intensive exercise improves the academic performance of teenagers, according to new research.
The study, of about 5,000 children, found links between exercise and exam success in English, maths and science. It found an increase in performance for every extra 17 minutes boys exercised, and 12 minutes for girls. The study by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee found physical activity particularly benefited girls' performance at science. 
The authors said this could be a chance finding or reflect gender differences in the impact of physical activity on the brain. Children who carried out regular exercise, not only did better academically at 11 but also at 13 and in their exams at 16, the study suggested. Most of the teenagers' exercise levels were found to be well below the recommended 60 minutes a day.
The authors speculated what might happen to academic performance if children got the recommended amount. They claimed that since every 15 minutes of exercise improved performance by an average of about a quarter of a grade, it was possible children who carried out 60 minutes of exercise every day could improve their academic performance by a full grade - for example, from a C to a B, or a B to an A.
However, the authors admitted this was speculation given that very few children did anywhere near this amount of exercise.

Housework 'not strenuous enough' for exercise

Housework and DIY are not strenuous enough to count towards people's activity targets, a paper has found.
It had been thought they could count towards the recommended 150 minutes of moderately intense activity per week. But the BMC Public Health study, which surveyed over 4,500 adults, found those who counted housework were heavier than those who did other activities. Experts said activities only counted when they made breathing more rapid and the heart beat faster.
NHS recommendations do say housework does not count towards the 150-minute goal. But the researchers in this paper say there has been a move towards promoting a "lifestyle approach" to physical activity - encouraging "domestic" activities in people who may not take part in sports or go to the gym. And they warn that, while any activity is better than none, people should be aware that they still need to meet the moderate activity target on top.

The problem with taking too many vitamins

Millions of people swear by vitamin supplements. But many are wasting their time and some could even be harming themselves, argues Dr Chris van Tulleken.
In November 1912 a party of three men and 16 dogs set out from a remote base in eastern Antarctica to explore a series of crevasses many hundreds of miles away. Three months later just one of the men returned. His name was Douglas Mawson. His skin was peeling off and his hair was falling out. He had lost almost half his body weight. He recounted what Sir Edmund Hillary described as "the greatest story of lone survival in the history of polar exploration".
A month into their journey, one of the team, along with the tent, most of the provisions and six dogs plunged into a crevasse, never to be seen again. Mawson and the other surviving member, Xavier Mertz, started to return to base, surviving in part by eating the remaining dogs. After a few weeks Mertz developed stomach pains and diarrhoea. Then his skin started to peel off and his hair fell out. He died incontinent and delirious a few days later.
Mawson suffered similar symptoms. With the kind of understatement typical of his generation of polar explorers he described the skin of the soles of his feet peeling off: "The sight of my feet gave me quite a shock, for the thickened skin of the soles had separated in each case as a complete layer... The new skin underneath was very much abraded and raw."

Why You Absolutely Should Be Reading Books

In a world of omnipresent screens, it can be easy to forget the simple pleasure of curling up with a good book. In fact, a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 28 percent hadn't read one at all in the past year.
But the truth is that reading books can be more than entertainment (or a high school English assignment). In fact, a study released earlier this month suggests that enjoying literature  might help strengthen your "mind-reading" abilities.  The research, published in the journal Science, showed that reading literary works (though, interestingly, not popular fiction) cultivates a skill known as "theory of mind," which NPR describes as the "ability to 'read' the thoughts and feelings of others."
And that's hardly the only way being a bookworm can boost your mind and well-being. Below, six more science-backed reasons to swap the remote for a novel.

Labour tells new health spokeswoman to drop her support for homeopathy

Labour has forced its new public health spokeswoman, Luciana Berger, to renounce her views on homeopathy.

Ms Berger replaced Diane Abbott as shadow Health minister in Ed Miliband's reshuffle last week. She has previously signed parliamentary motions submitted for debate that supported the funding of homeopathic remedies on the NHS after the British Medical Association had opposed it. A Labour Party spokesman yesterday said: "Luciana fully supports the scientific evidence on the use of homeopathy. These old petitions will have no impact on her work as a shadow Health minister."
Homeopathy is a method of alternative medicine using diluted substances which are claimed to cause the body to heal itself. It is widely viewed by the scientific community as being based on no evidence, the remedies being no more effective than placebos.
Private practitioners offer homeopathic remedies to treat a range of illnesses, including asthma and high blood pressure. Some also suggest that it can prevent diseases such as malaria. A 2010 House of Commons science and technology committee report on the treatment stated that the concept of homeopathy was "scientifically implausible". Homeopathy is sometimes available on the NHS; there are NHS homeopathic hospitals, and some GP practices offer it.

Vitamin D pills' effect on healthy bones queried

Healthy adults do not need to take vitamin D supplements, suggests a study in The Lancet which found they had no beneficial effect on bone density, a sign of osteoporosis. But experts say many other factors could be at play and people should not stop taking supplements.
University of Auckland  researchers analysed 23 studies involving more than 4,000 healthy people. The UK government recommends children and over-65s take a daily supplement. The New Zealand research team conducted a meta-analysis of all randomised trials examining the effects of vitamin D supplementation on bone mineral density in healthy adults up to July 2012. The supplements were taken for an average of two years by the study participants.
Source - BBC

Exercise 'can be as good as pills'

Exercise can be as good a medicine as pills for people with conditions such as heart disease, a study has found.
The work in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) looked at hundreds of trials involving nearly 340,000 patients to assess the merits of exercise and drugs in preventing death. Physical activity rivalled some heart drugs and outperformed stroke medicine.The findings suggest exercise should be added to prescriptions, say the researchers. Experts stressed that patients should not ditch their drugs for exercise - rather, they should use both in tandem.
Too few adults currently get enough exercise. Only a third of people in England do the recommended 2.5 hours or more of moderate-intensity activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week. In contrast, prescription drug rates continue to rise. There were an average of 17.7 prescriptions for every person in England in 2010, compared with 11.2 in 2000.
For the study, scientists based at the London School of Economics, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University School of Medicine trawled medical literature to find any research that compared exercise with pills as a therapy.

Walking 'cuts breast cancer risk'

Post-menopausal women who walk for an hour a day can cut their chance of breast cancer significantly, a study has suggested.
The report, which followed 73,000 women for 17 years, found walking for at least seven hours a week lowered the risk of the disease. The American Cancer Society team said this was the first time reduced risk was specifically linked to walking. UK experts said it was more evidence that lifestyle influenced cancer risk.
A recent poll for the charity Ramblers  found a quarter of adults walk for no more than an hour a week - but being active is known to reduce the risk of a number of cancers. This study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention followed 73,615 women out of 97,785 aged 50-74 who had been recruited by the American Cancer Society between 1992 and 1993 so it could monitor the incidence of cancer in the group.

Start Quotegn

They were asked to complete questionnaires on their health and on how much time they were active and participating in activities such as walking, swimming and aerobics and how much time they spent sitting watching television or reading.  They completed the same questionnaires at two-year intervals between 1997 and 2009.