Tai Chi 'could be prescribed' for illnesses

Tai Chi is a suitable exercise for older people with conditions like arthritis, a study has found.
The ancient Chinese art improves physical performance and enhances quality of life, say researchers. Tai Chi combines deep breathing and relaxation with slow and gentle movements.
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, suggests the exercise helps with pain and stiffness in arthritis. It can also help improve quality of life in the lung condition, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). And it may have some physical benefits for people with breast cancer or heart failure, according to researchers from the University of British Colombia, VancouverIn the future, it might even be possible to consider prescribing Tai Chi for patients with several illnesses, they said.

Mediterranean diet with extra olive oil 'slashes the risk of breast cancer by two-thirds'

A Mediterranean diet - with added olive oil - can reduce the risk of breast cancer in women by two-thirds, a study has suggested.
The diet, which involves a combination of food groups from countries including Italy and Greece, typically advocates swapping butter for oils and reducing meat intake in favour of more fish. An increased amount of fruit and vegetables is also central to the diet.
Researchers compared two groups of women, with one group assigned to follow a Mediterranean diet with either extra olive oil or nuts and the other advised to follow a low-fat diet.
The study found that the women, aged between 60 and 80, who followed the Mediterranean diet with added extra virgin olive oil had a 68 per cent lower risk of malignant breast cancer than those following the low-fat diet. Those following the Mediterranean diet with added nuts showed a “non-significant risk reduction”.

Fish diet could ward off depression

Eating a lot of fish may help protect against depression, research suggests.
An analysis of 26 studies of more than 150,000 people in total indicated a 17% reduction in the risk of depression among those eating the most fish. One potential reason given by the researchers was the fatty acids found in fish may be important in various aspects of brain activity.
Mind, the mental health charity, said the study supported other work showing links between diet and mood.
Writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the Chinese researchers said many studies had been done looking at fish consumption and depression, but the results had been mixed. When they looked at different study types, they found that the apparent protective effect of eating lots of fish was specific to studies done in Europe and not those from other areas of the world.
To try to come to a conclusion on what they said had been a controversial issue, they collated the data from all the relevant studies they could find conducted since 2001. Their calculation did show a significant link between the two, and it was true for men and women.

Wasp venom 'a weapon against cancer'

The venom of a wasp native to Brazil could be used as a weapon to fight cancer, scientists believe.
A toxin in the sting kills cancer cells without harming normal cells, lab studies suggest. The University of Brazil team say the experimental therapy latches to tumour cells and makes them leak vital molecules. The work is at an early stage and more studies are needed to check the method will work safely in humans.
Polybia paulista is an aggressive social wasp endemic in south-east Brazil. Though its sting is largely seen as unwelcome, scientists increasingly believe it could be put to good use. It contains an important toxin called MP1 which the insect uses to attack prey or defend itself. And recent studies in mice suggest it may target and destroy cancer cells.