Complementary cancer therapies linked to reduced survival

Cancer patients who use complementary therapies may be more likely to shun conventional treatments and risk their chances of survival, research suggests.

A study of 1,290 patients in the US found people who received such therapies often refused life-saving care such as chemotherapy or surgery. Fewer of them survived five years after starting treatment compared to those on standard care, researchers found. Experts urged patients not to ditch proven cancer medicines.

Researchers said the use of complementary therapies, which range from diets, minerals and vitamin infusions to yoga and acupuncture, was growing in the US but there was limited research on how effective they are. Their study, published in JAMA Oncology, looked at 258 patients who had used complementary therapies with at least one standard treatment, compared to 1,032 who only received conventional care.

Fish oil supplements for a healthy heart 'nonsense'

Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements is often touted as a simple way to protect your heart - but experts say the evidence that it does any good is flimsy at best.
Cochrane researchers looked at trials in over 100,000 people and found little proof that it prevented heart disease. They say the chance of getting any meaningful benefit from taking omega-3 is one in 1,000. Eating oily fish, however, can still be recommended as part of a healthy diet.
The review mainly looked at supplements rather than omega-3 from eating fish. Experts still believe the latter is good for the heart as well as general health. The NHS says people should try to eat two portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily fish, such as salmon, fresh tuna or mackerel, to get enough "good" fats.

Air pollution linked to spikes in hospital and GP visits


Air pollution leads to spikes in health problems and drives up hospital admissions and visits to the GP, according to a new study.

The report proves an “absolutely clear” link between poor air quality and health problems and researchers said it should serve as a warning to politicians about the serious impacts of toxic air on public health.
“The patients we looked at, who all suffer from lung conditions, are to my mind the canary in the coalmine on this issue,” said one of the report’s authors, Prof James Chalmers, from the respiratory research in the school of medicine at Dundee. “They are the first and most seriously affected by air pollution but it can affect us all.”
The findings come amid growing concern about the illegal levels of air pollution in the UK and the impact on people’s health - particularly children. Last week a medical expert said the hospital admissions of a girl who died in an asthma attack at the age of nine showed a “striking association” with spikes in illegal levels of air pollution around her home in London.

Multivitamins do nothing for your heart health and don't prevent heart attacks

The vitamin industry is booming, having successfully persuaded millions of people that a few supplements a day could stave off all kinds of life-threatening health issues. But more and more studies are calling these promises into question.

Now, a new study has taken aim at one particularly popular myth: that multivitamins prevent heart attacks, strokes and other causes of cardiovascular death. The paper by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham looked at data on 2,000 people over 12 years and found supplements had no impact at all on heart health.

If anything, it could be detrimental, said lead author Joonseok Kim, MD, in a withering attack on the vitamin industry. Those who took multivitamins seemed to feel they were doing something to improve their health, while continuing to smoke and eat junk food, he warns.

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Kim's study is an analysis of 18 published studies that have been published by the American Heart Association journal Circulation.