Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine

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Increased Asthma Risks With Pets

Latest evidence from the USA suggest that keeping of pets may increase the risks of asthma by almost double. The study revealed that by reducing risk factors in homes rates of acute asthma attacks can be dramatically reduced in children between the ages of 6 and 17 years by as much as 45 per cent. These typical risk factors include various pets, tobacco smoke, dust, mites and last, but not least, cockroaches. Dr Bruce Lanphear, head of the research team at the Children’s Hospital Medical Centre in Cincinnati advised: ‘More than 330,000 excess cases of asthma were attributable to having a pet allergy. Parents need to consider carefully the risks and the benefits of owning a pet’. More than a million UK children require regular asthma treatment.

The Independent

Overcleanliness At Fault For Some Eczema

Eczema is on the increase in the Western world and one particular doctor believes he has the answer and the research evidence to back his claims. However, his findings are not quite what we might expect. For Dr Peter Arkwright of the University of Manchester claims that our obsession with cleanliness may be at the route of the dermatological mini-epidemic – supporting the well held ‘hygiene hypothesis’. Dr Arkwright discovered that after he injected children with a mild dose of a harmless bacterium, the surface area of their bodies covered in eczema decreased by as much as 48 per cent. He expounds: ‘The hygiene hypothesis suggests that with the increase in allergic diseases such as eczema, asthma and hay fever; there has been a decrease in infectious diseases that used to cause lots of sickness and death. In other words, we have become too clean.’ And Dr Arkwright is not the only top medical scientist to support the hygiene hypothesis. Professor Graham Rook, an immunologist at University College London, regards dirt as no where near as harmful as is commonly believed. ‘It looks as though our immune system needs to be exposed to germs in the early stages of development in order to function properly.’

Daily Express

Chocolate – A Little Of What You Like...

Chocolate may never be the same again – certainly not for those who crave it. For a team of researchers in Switzerland has discovered a means of altering the delicacy in order to reduce its effect on our waistlines whilst still retaining its oh-so-good taste. The scientists at where else but the Nestlé Research Centre in Lausanne noticed that by adding calcium to dark chocolate it prevents much of the cocoa butter from being absorbed. The consequence of this revelation is that rather than being transformed into body fat, the cocoa butter passes directly through the gut. The new chocolate was tested on sweet-toothed volunteers and the results proved highly successful with the cholesterol levels of the test group being reduced by 15% within two weeks. All in all great news for those who just can not bear to do without a daily chocolate fix but want to improve their personal health.

Daily Express

The Broken Heart Repairs Itself

The damaged heart can repair itself it was announced this week. In groundbreaking research scientists have discovered that heart muscle is very capable of extensive regeneration. The finding opposes the much-held belief that heart attacks result in irreversible damage. The research was carried out at the New York Medical College and its results revealed that heart muscle cells in two particular regions of the heart had replicated themselves in 13 patients following cardiac arrests. Dr Claude Lenfant, Director of the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, advises: ‘The findings provided the most dramatic and clear-cut demonstration to date of heart cell regeneration after cardiac injury. We have a new understanding of the heart that opens up the possibility of repairing heart damage after a heart attack.’

The Independent

Pop The Vino Pill

In the latest developments in wine research French vino experts are seeking to offer the health benefits of red wine in an easy-to-swallow pill form. It is an advance on the recent research findings that a few glasses of red wine each week may reduce the risks of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The new initiative headed by the Société Française de Distilleries aims to market a red wine extract to pharmaceutical companies. David Ageron, the SFD research and development manager, announced this week: ‘The idea is that sales of wine extract will provide a fall-back for producers this year and also make sure of a minimum price for their wines.’

Daily Express

Epidemics Linked To Poor Diets

The latest nutrition research from the USA emphasises the need for a healthy diet. Scientists there have now discovered that the influenza virus becomes far more virulent when it infects mice deficient in the mineral selenium. By extrapolation to human populations, the researchers equated that flu epidemics might be exacerbated by deficiencies in diet. Professor Linda Beck of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill advises that her team had concentrated on the flu virus because it leads to the hospitalisation of in excess of 100,000 people each year in the USA. She continues: ‘What we have found conceivably could be true for any RNA virus – cold virus, AIDS virus and Ebola virus’. Dietary selenium is present in shellfish, fish, whole grains, garlic and offal.

The Times

Counting The Rising Cost Of Diabetes Care

The cost of treating diabetes in the UK is set to rocket according to experts. Indeed diabetes could very easily account for one fifth of the NHS budget by 2010. In the UK alone there are currently in excess of one million sufferers of Type 2, or late-onset, diabetes. In truth diabetes can be aptly described a ‘disease of affluence’ – its most common risk factors being over-eating and a lack of any form of exercise. As a consequence of overweight and poor physical fitness the human body progressively loses its ability to control blood sugar levels, resulting in complications such as blindness and kidney damage. According to Professor George Alberti of the Royal College of Physicians and one of the country’s top diabetes experts, "50 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes already have significant complications by the time they are diagnosed. Prevention and early detection must now be the priorities.’ With the numbers of diabetes sufferers expected to rise exponentially, Professor Alberti’s warnings will become ever more pertinent.

The Sunday Telegraph


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