Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine

Monthly Archive


Milk Bad For The Heart?

Milk took a bit of a hammering this week. It seems a particular protein in milk may be responsible for the epidemic of heart disease in the West, at least according to a scientist in new Zealand. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom that the number of deaths from heart disease in a country is directly linked to its average level of dietary fat, Dr Corrie McLachlan believes that the differing amounts of a certain protein in the milk of different national herds is responsible for the pattern. Milk consumed in Finland, for example, contains high levels of the beta casein A1 protein, and the country has a death rate of 400 per 100,000 men aged 30 to 69. Milk in France contains a third of the amount and the death rate there is around a quarter of that in Finland. Dr McLachlan claims that there is a direct correlation between consumption of the protein and the number of heart disease deaths.

Some scientists are sceptical of the claims. Dr Kevin Marshall of the New Zealand Dairy Board said that conclusions based on the type of analysis Dr McLachlan conducted are not always tenable, adding that ‘correlations aren’t cause and effect’. Dr McLachlan has now travelled to the Channel Islands in an attempt to prove his theory. Milk from Jersey cows is rich in the A1 protein, while milk from Guernsey cows has more of the benign A2 form. If the rates of heart disease in the two islands match the A1 content of their milk, the theory could gain more credence. Dr McLachlan has a vested interest in the result of his study, however: he heads a company that manufactures milk which is low in the potentially deadly A1 form.

The Times,,72-111947,00.html

Work Stress Risks Health

We’re workaholics and it’s not doing us any good whatsoever. Latest figures show that one in five Brits will not take their full holiday entitlement in 2001. A survey by the holiday company Travel Choice found that 25 per cent of men and 17 per cent of women will not take their full 20 days entitlement. Many of them say they are too busy or too stressed to take the time off. Others are worried about job cuts. The survey, of more than 1000 workers, also found that many believe they are living to work rather than working to live. The study follows other work that shows the number of Britons taking sick days off work is rising because of stress. Figures from the Institute of Management show that one in 10 people lose their temper each day and nearly 90 per cent of managers work overtime.

Managing director of Travel Choice’s parent company, Peter Shanks advised that the trends ‘go against all management, medical and Government advice’. Furthermore: ‘Three-quarters of the women and two-thirds of the men in our survey said they felt more positive about their job after a holiday.’ Professor Cary Cooper of the School of Management at Manchester University said the British were now ‘the workaholics of Europe’. He added that men often have a ‘macho’ attitude to work that means they feel they have to prove themselves and not give in to pressure. Professor Cooper called on managers to encourage people to take time off to stop them from burning out.

Daily Express

Virus Linked To Schizophrenia

There is a aged legacy at the bottom of schizophrenia we hear. An ancient virus that has written itself into the human genetic code may be responsible for certain cases of schizophrenia, scientists claim. A study by German and American scientists found that the molecular ‘footprint’ of the virus was activated in the nervous system of around 30 per cent of people with acute schizophrenia, and in seven per cent of people with the chronic form of the disease. A control group of people without the disease contained no trace of the virus. Schizophrenia includes a broad range of brain disorders and affects around one in 100 people. The team now hope the link with a virus could be used to develop a treatment. ‘Our hope is that we can interfere with the virus by preventing it becoming active,’ a spokesman said.

The Times

Achievement Is A Boost For Health

Doing well at what you do does you good. High-flying and achievement at work could be good for your health, new research has found. A team at University College London examined the health of Whitehall civil servants over five years, all aged between 35 and 55. The study found that men and women in the higher-ranked positions were less likely to suffer from heart disease, bronchitis and depression than their juniors. Those in lower positions were almost 50 per cent more likely to suffer depression than their bosses. Relative grades of employment had more of an effect on people’s health than the social status or health of a person’s parents. Doctors believe the answer could lie with the fact that people in high positions feel more in control of their lives. ‘Feeling like you are in control is important for mental, and it would appear, physical wellbeing,’ a spokesman said.

Daily Mail

Worm On The Brain

We’ve heard of water on the brain but imagine surgeons’ surprise in the US when they extracted the remains of a dead worm from the brain of a woman. It seems the lady in question was infected with the worm after eating an undercooked pork taco while on holiday in Mexico. The worm had then moved from her large intestine into her bloodstream and then into her brain where it had died. Dr Joseph Sirven of the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, who performed the operation, said that the remnants of the worm were causing the woman to have seizures. The condition is one of the major causes of epilepsy in South America and South-East Asia. Although the worm had destroyed some brain tissue, doctors say that there will be no long-term damage to the patient.

The Times

High Fibre Debate

Is it or isn’t it good for us? – fibre that is. Well, a scientist at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund claims that a high fibre diet may not have the beneficial health effects that doctors have long presumed. Dr Robert Goodlad will today present research suggesting that, rather than fibre itself containing beneficial properties, the range of vitamins and minerals that accompany high-fibre foods provide the benefit. ‘A lot of people have said that fibre is good, especially in terms of the treatment of colon cancer, but if you look carefully at all the studies the evidence is not so solid.’

The discovery in the 1970s that rural Africans suffered less colon cancer than people eating a Western diet gave rise to a new trend of fibre diet supplements and high-fibre breakfast cereals. High-fibre diets have also been linked to a decreased risk of diabetes, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Dr Goodlad's says that he and other colleagues pointed out uncertainties surrounding medical research into high fibre diets back in 1996, and subsequent trials have substantiated his contentions, leading some researchers to say that it is time to abandon the idea that fibre can help to prevent colon cancer. Dr Goodlad says that the direct risks and benefits of fibre are not precisely understood, although he maintains that people should continue to eat fibre as it occurs naturally.

High-fibre fruit and vegetables include oranges, grapefruit, apples, baked beans, lentils, jacket potatoes, and carrots. A spokesman for Kellogg's, the cereal manufacturer, said the company continued to believe strongly in the health benefits of fibre rich foods. A diet rich in natural fibre from a combination of cereals, vegetables and fruit provides numerous health benefits that have been well documented in more than 100 studies, according to the company, with diets rich in high-fibre foods helping to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and colon cancer.

The Times,,2-113353,00.html

Beat Obesity With A prickly Thing

It might seem a rather prickly solution but a cactus, eaten by members of an extinct African tribe to stave off hunger on hunting trips away from home, could be the basis for a new pill to tackle obesity. Researchers studied the Hoodia cactus, which has been eaten by the Kung bushmen of southern Africa for thousands of years as they followed their prey on empty stomachs. Scientists at a biotechnology company in Britain say they have isolated an ingredient in the plant that suppresses appetite and could be used to help obese people. The ingredient, called P57, has already been tested for safety on healthy volunteers. Tests on obese subjects will begin later this year. The Chief scientific officer at Phytopharm, Dr Daryl Rees, said the drug could be on the market, estimated to be worth nine million pounds, as a pill, by the end of 2003. The marketing rights to the drug have been bought by Pfizer pharmaceuticals, which is also paying for clinical trials. Dr Rees said: ‘If it is just growing naturally Hoodia is quite sparse, but we are growing it in controlled horticulture. We have taken over areas of desert in South Africa and filled them with little baby cactuses.’

Daily Telegraph

Insulin Jabs A Thing Of The Past?

If there is one thing diabetics hate it is jabbing themselves with insulin shots but these injections may soon be a thing of the past. Medical scientists have announced that they have developed an inhaler that can confer the same medical benefits. Researchers in Glasgow discovered a way of allowing patients to breathe in certain types of drugs, including insulin, using the type of inhaler favoured by asthmatics. The technique, which could be used as a substitute for needles, works by turning the proteins and peptides normally injected into the bloodstream into tiny particles that can be inhaled. Team leader for the research, Dr Marie Claire Parker, of the joint project between the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde, told the Edinburgh International Science Festival that the main problem in the research process had been getting the size of the particles right. ‘If the particles are too small they will be exhaled and if they are too big they will become trapped in the throat. We have developed a way of making sure these particles can get deep into the lung and be absorbed into the bloodstream.’ Inhalers for diabetics could be available commonly available within the next three years.


IQ Boosting With Oily Fish

Want to boost your growing baby’s abilities? Well there is good news because new research suggests that mothers who eat oily fish during pregnancy have babies with greater intelligence and better eyesight. Special fats contained in sardines, salmon and mackerel can boost babies’ brainpower and vision while they are in the womb. Levels of fatty acids vital for developing the brain are much higher in women who eat oily fish during pregnancy. Previous research discovered that oily fish could help cut the risk of heart disease and strokes. Two seperate studies examined the role of fats in the mental development of children. The concentration of DHA fatty acids in blood samples from both the mother and her infant were significantly higher in women who ate oily fish during their pregnancy. Tests showed that infants whose mothers had high concentrations of DHA had sharper vision and processed information more quickly than babies of mothers with low levels of DHA. Six year olds who had high DHA concentrations when they were babies were more capable of solving problems than their peers. Researchers believe that oily fish helps improve the communication between brain cells. Many health experts already suggest that people eat three of four portions of oily fish each week to keep arteries healthy. Low levels of heart disease among Eskimos are thought to be attributable to their diet, which is based on fish.

Daily Express

Fishy Oil Aids Dyslexia

Fish is great for dyslexics – and it’s official. Researchers from Imperial College School of Medicine in London and the University of Oxford have discovered that feeding fish oils to children with dyslexia and other learning problems makes them less anxious, more able to concentrate and significantly better behaved than before. Their results will be presented at the British Dyslexia Association’s conference at York University this week.

The Sunday Telegraph


Monthly Archive

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