Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine
WEEK BEGINNING MAY 7
Have A Snack On Us
Fast food is heading for the health service. A brand new 24-hour service of free snack food was unveiled by the NHS this week. Health secretary Alan Milburn has requested that meals become more tempting in order to cut the £50 million cost of unwanted food 10 per cent of the total NHS food budget. The new snackbox service offers three choices and will be available for patients who miss a main meal. The standard box will include a mixture of fruit, crisps, and crackers, and the sandwich box will offer a range of sandwiches, yoghurt and fruit. A childrens snackbox will also be available. The service should be installed in all hospitals by the end of the year. A spokesman said: Our aim is to improve the quality of hospital food. We want patients to have better food with less waste. Mr Milburn will also announce a new range of main meals designed by celebrity chefs including Loyd Grossman.
Food Allergies On The Up
Food allergies are on the rise and our increasingly varied diet could be the culprit. As the demand for more exotic food increases, doctors are coming across more cases of food allergies that our immune systems cannot cope with. Foods like kiwi fruit, passion fruit, pistachio and pecan nuts are often to blame. The worst cases can result in anaphylactic shock, when the throat swells up and the airway becomes blocked. Researchers at Imperial College Medical School in London have found that the number of cases of anaphylaxis has increased by 20 per cent each year since 1991. In 1995 there were 158 cases of anaphylactic shock linked to food. Last year this number jumped to over 400. Dr Aziz Sheik, who led the study, said: We have also found that it is more common in affluent families, and that among children and young people food is by far the main trigger. Children now have a more exotic and varied diet that includes food that is not staple British food.
Milk Of Loving Kindness?
Milk really is a tonic. A study of nearly 6,000 men found that those who drank more than a third of a pint of milk every day were eight per cent less likely to die from heart disease. The risk of death from all causes, including stroke and cancer, was 10 per cent lower. Dr Andy Ness from the department of social medicine at the University of Bristol says that the study took into account that milk drinkers might have led healthier lives. He said that even when other factors were analysed, no increased risk of heart disease could be found in milk drinkers.
Battling With Salmonella
Salmonella infections remain a real risk. So much so that governments scientific advisers have suggested that each egg sold in Britain should carry a stamp with a use by date. Although the egg industry has voluntarily introduced a best before date in egg packets, the Committee insists that every egg should have its own stamp. Committee member, professor Mike Painter, said that vaccination of hens was the key to reducing the incidence of the bacteria.
Zulus May Have The Key To Beating Cancer
A true out of Africa story. A poison used by Zulu warriors on their arrow tips can be used to fight cancer, scientists have found. The extract of root bark from the Cape bushwillow (Combretum caffrum) has also been used in traditional African medicine for centuries. Now a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists has been told that the substance slows the growth of a tumour by shutting down blood vessels inside it. Normal blood vessels are left intact. In a recent clinical trial, half of the patients who received the drug showed a 50 per cent decline in blood flow to their tumours. The plant extract could be particularly useful in treating solid cancers, which are responsible for 90 per cent of cases but often prove impossible to treat. If further trials are successful, the drug could be used on people with colon, ovarian and lung cancers within three years.
The Sunday Telegraph
The Humble Worm & Diabetes
The humble worm and pals could be our saviours. Parasite infestation may help in the prevention of diabetes and other associated autoimmune disorders. Dr David Dunne, of Cambridge University, discovered a possible link when studying parasite infections in east Africa. He found that although the level of infection was high, the incidence of diabetes and similar diseases was low. The situation is reversed in the Western world. This could have been a simple coincidence, but work conducted by his colleague Dr Anne Cooke suggested otherwise. She found that injecting mice prone to diabetes prevented them from developing the disease. The team believes that parasite infections reduce the number of inflammatory cells in the bodys immune system, lessening the chance of developing diseases in which the body attacks itself, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The discovery could also have promise for sufferers of asthma and hay fever, in which the immune systems reaction is inappropriate. One Japanese doctor has even gone so far as to take a regular dose of tapeworm eggs to control his seasonal sneezes.
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