Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine

Monthly Archive

WEEK BEGINNING 12 Mar 2001

Mum Knows Best

Pregnant women who eat a diet rich in oily fish are more likely to have intelligent children, according to new research. British scientists have shown that what a woman eats during pregnancy may have long-term effects on the development of her unborn child. A mother whose diet is rich in a fatty acid, called DHA, found in salmon, sardines, tuna, kippers and herring, passes it to the baby in the womb, helping the child's brain development. Women who receive high levels of DHA from their mothers are faster learners even at four months old. Dr Peter Willatts, a child psychologist at Dundee University who carried out the research, claims pregnant women could improve their children's development by eating oily fish two or three times a week during pregnancy. Previous research has shown that regularly eating oily fish can protect against heart disease and high blood pressure.

The Mail on Sunday

For more go to Pregnancy

Natural Pregnancy Spa Programme

Healthy Nutrition series

Egg Infections

British supermarket chains have come close to eradicating salmonella in the chickens that lay their eggs. Tesco has used a vaccine to prevent the growth of salmonella, and its eggs have been free of the bug for 18 months. Only six per cent of its chickens remain contaminated. A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said a pasteurisation technique that allowed eggs to be sterilised in their shells without cooking them is under development.

Sunday Express

GM Food Under Scrutiny

The Royal Society is to launch a new investigation into genetically modified (GM) food after expressing fresh doubts over its safety. The Society said the study would look at new scientific evidence to see whether there was any link between GM food and potential new allergies. Its report will be made this summer. The move follows the findings of the Canadian Royal Society, which slammed international standards for the testing of GM food as ‘scientifically unjustifiable’. The report concluded that there was not enough known about the possible allergic effects of GM food.

Daily Express

Eyeing Up The Stress

Stress in the workplace is more likely to cause eye strain than staring at a computer screen, a new study has claimed. According to the report in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, one third of complaints about computer screens are usually related to other factors. Lack of job satisfaction, unsympathetic bosses, loud noise and cigarette smoke are more likely to lead to eye problems than computer screens, poor lighting or long hours. People working in a more harmonious environment are a third less likely to complain of blurred or strained vision. The study was based on 200 bank employees.

Daily Express

For more go to Stress in the Workplace feature

Boosting Vitamin D For The Elderly

In an effort to try and increase bone health in the elderly, vitamin D injections may be given to them at the same time as their annual flu jabs. A £400,000 trial at Southampton University, funded by the NHS and the National Osteoporosis Society, will involve almost 10,000 pensioners. Other research in this area has shown that patients with higher vitamin D levels are at a lower risk of sustaining injury following a fall. Despite this knowledge, lack of exposure to sunlight and a poor diet often results in a low level of vitamin D, and so in turn inhibits calcium uptake resulting in weak bones. The motivation for this trial is to try and improve statistics. For example, every three minutes a fracture occurs as a result of weak bones in old age, and one in five orthopaedic beds are occupied by patients with broken hips.

Daily Mail

For more go Osteoporosis - the Silent Killer

Healthy Nutrition series

Death In The Mind

A study of more than 1400 men lasting 20 years suggests that overly conscientious and clean people are at risk from heart attacks and the symptoms of anxiety, such as palpitations, sweating, sleep disturbance and indigestion. Moreover, men with phobias are also more prone to a coronary. Research published in the medical journal Heart reveals that middle-aged men may reduce the risk of ill health through behavioural therapy. All the men involved in the study displayed no obvious signs of cardiac problems when recruited between the ages of 40 and 64. As they entered the study, they were asked to fill in questionnaires designed to outline their psychological profiles. This helped researchers grade them in a number of areas of mental health, including obsessive thought patterns, and obvious displays of anxiety. The authors concluded that psychological factors are likely to increase the risk of a fatal heart attack. In another study from Holland, researchers found that very depressed people over the age of 55 are four times more likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than non-depressed patients. A spokesman for MIND, a mental health charity, said: 'This is another reason why we must treat depression seriously.'

The Guardian

For more go to Anxiety

Depression

Mood Boosters Q&A

Opening Forgetfulness

Freud’s theory that people suppress unpleasant memories could have a scientific basis, according to a team of scientists at the University of Oregon. In one investigation, subjects who were asked to deliberately forget certain words during a memory test did indeed have difficulty recalling them later on, despite financial inducements to remember. Dr Michael Anderson, who conducted the study, said: ‘I do not believe that my subject have "erased" their memories. I believe that they have suppressed them. That is, I believe the memories are still there, but they are difficult to access.' The findings could eventually lead to treatment for amnesia resulting from traumatic injury, schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder.

The Daily Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=003504489528944&rtmo=psUbM3le&atmo=tttttttd&pg=/et/01/3/15/wmem15.html

Breast-feeding Predicts Heart Disease

Babies who are breastfed for longer than four months are at greater risk of developing heart disease in later life, according to a study published today in the British Medical Journal. Scientists at the Child Health Institute in London, found a direct link between increased stiffening of the artery walls in adults and the time they were breastfed as a baby. People who had been breastfed beyond four to six months had greater stiffness in their arteries, a marker for future cardiovascular disease, than those bottle-fed or breastfed for less than four months. Raised cholesterol concentration and blood pressure, two other risk factors for heart problems, were also found to be higher in those who had been breastfed for prolonged periods. The researchers believe that breastfeeding may affect the production of fats in the body leading to the early formation of fatty streaks in the arteries which are then added to by high-fat diets.

Advocates of breastfeeding continued to remind people of the benefits of the practice. Mary Newburn, head of policy research at the National Childbirth Trust, said: ‘The suggested negative effects of breastfeeding beyond four months must be weighed against both the long-term health benefits of breastfeeding and the negative effects of formula milk.’ Previous research has found that bottle-fed babies are more likely to suffer from obesity and raised blood pressure as teenagers than their breastfed counterparts. Formula milk has been linked with a high incidence of gastroenteritis, respiratory disease, diabetes and allergies in children. The researchers fully acknowledge the benefits of breastfeeding but believe the study questions the current wisdom that ‘breast is best’ especially after the first few months of life. Nevertheless, the report recognised that the real problem may lie with western diets, typically high in fat, that children are given after weaning.

Financial Times

For more go to Natural Pregnancy Spa Programme

Heart Disease

High Blood Pressure

Obesity

Diabetes

Allergies

Viral Cause Of Leukaemia

Evidence has emerged that childhood leukaemia is caused by a virus and not, as previously thought by some environmental pollution, according to a study in the Lancet says. The study looks at the incidence of the rare disorder in wartime communities that experienced 'population mixing' because of large numbers of visitors. For example, in the Orkney and Shetland islands, where many servicemen were posted in the Second World War, the wartime incidence was three times higher than would have been expected. The results indicate that there is a higher risk in children who live in communities where there are likely to be large influxes of visitors.

Professor Leo Kinlen, an epidemiologist at Oxford University, first formulated the theory of population mixing more than a decade ago. He also found that the cluster of leukaemia cases at Seascale, Cumbria, near the notorious Sellafield nuclear power plant, was probably due to the influx of people as workers flocked there to build and operate the plant. 'We believe that the principal cause of childhood leukaemia is an infection of some sort. We can't say what it is but we know where we've got to look,' he said.

The Independent

Looking At Dyslexia

New scientific evidence has found that dyslexia is caused by neurological abnormalities in the brain as opposed to cultural and linguistic factors. A comparison of the brains of dyslexic English, French and Italian speakers found that while the prevalence of the disorder varied between the groups, the condition had the same biological basis. The study, published today in Science, refutes theories that because dyslexia is more prevalent in languages where the written form is more complicated than the spoken, dyslexia must have a social and linguistic origin. The research team found that while Italian dyslexic people performed better at reading tests than the English and French dyslexic people, both groups did equally badly at short-term memory tests. In addition, brain scans showed that all the volunteers had reduced brain activity in the left temporal lobe- the part of the brain that processes language. Therefore, while the condition is exacerbated in languages that are complex to write such as English, the underlying neurological basis is the same in Italians. However the fact that the Italian written language more closely mirrors the spoken form, means that the disorder often goes undiagnosed among this nationality. Juliette England of the British Dyslexia Association, said: ‘This really endorses that in dyslexia, the brain functions in a different way. It shows that dyslexia doesn’t have to be a handicap, and that it doesn’t mean that you are stupid.’

The Times

Staff Stress Leads To Illness

The shift towards part-time work, temporary contracts and self-employment is harming the nation’s mental health. A study published in the British Medical Journal compared the health of 666 civil servants who worked for the Government’s Property Services Agency before, and 18 months after, it was sold to Tarmac in 1992. The researchers, from University College London Medical School, found that 41 per cent of the former civil servants were unemployed. Of those still working, just under 50 per cent felt ‘insecure’ in their jobs and were far more likely to see their GP for stress-related illness than those in permanent, long-term work. Dr Jane Ferrie, an epidemiologist who led the study, said the findings had implications for the trend towards more flexible working. She said: ‘There are indications that these moves are not in the best economic interests. We are showing there are also health implications.’

The Daily Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=003504489528944&rtmo=asxN8pxL&atmo=tttttttd&pg=/et/01/3/16/nshift16.html

For more go to Stress in the Workplace

Stressbuster series

Legal Changes For Tele Masts

A tough new law is to be brought into force to give schools and local communities an effective veto over the positioning of mobile phone masts on public sites. At the moment, many masts under 15 metres in height are exempt from a number of regulations, making them the preferred option for companies applying for planning permission. The move comes following public concern over possible health risks posed by the radiation emitted by the masts. The number of mobile telephone masts is expected to double over the next two years to about 50,000 to meet the ever-rising demand by customers. There has been mounting concern over their potential to damage health, as well as the masts being an unsightly addition to many public buildings.

Several communities have taken a vigilante approach to the rising number of masts, by tearing them down. In response to growing fears, the amount of time the local authority spends on the initial application for planning permission will be doubled to 56 days in order to give local people and organisations more chance in which to lodge any objections to the plans.

The environment minister, Nick Raynsford said: 'Local people must have a better opportunity than now to have their say on proposals for mast development.' The move comes after a report from a government task force. The report found that masts meeting international standards on radiation protection were safe, but that there was a 'lack of consultation.' The new plans guarantee that school governors will be consulted on the placing of new masts. Mike Dolan, spokesman for the Federation of the Electronics Industry, which represents the UK mobile phone operators, said the new law would give 'much needed clarification' of planning policy.

Financial Times

The Origin Of Schizophrenia

Research to be published next month will reveal that tiny mutations found in our ancestors' brain cells helped trigger mankind's takeover of the world 100,000 years ago - but these characteristics also cause people to suffer from schizophrenia and depression. Mr David Horrobin, medical adviser to the Schizophrenia Association of Great Britain, says: 'We became human because of small genetic changes in the chemistry of the fat in our skulls… these changes injected into our ancestors both the seeds of the illness of schizophrenia and the extraordinary minds which made us human.' His theory adds support to previous research claiming to have linked intelligent people with mental disease, particularly schizophrenia.

In his new book Mr Horrobin points to a long list of geniuses whose personalities and temperaments showed schizoid tendencies or signs of mental instability, including Schumann, Strindberg, Poe, Kafka, Wittgenstein, Newton, Darwin and Faraday. Psychologists agree that mental illness and creativity could be linked. Professor Til Wykes from the Institute of Psychiatry in London said that great minds are usually marked by an ability to make connections between unexpected events or trends, and those suffering from mental illness often make unexpected or inappropriate connections between day-to-day events. According to Horrobin, schizophrenia and human genius began to manifest themselves as a result of evolutionary pressures that triggered genetic changes in our brain cells, allowing us to make unexpected links with different events, an ability that lifted humanity to a new intellectual plane.

Many scientists remain sceptical about Horrobin's ideas, who is a former managing director of Scotia Pharmaceuticals. Professor Tim Crow of Oxford University agreed that genetic changes may have made humans vulnerable to schizophrenia, but he said: 'The trouble is Horrobin's mechanism does not explain why so very few of us ever develop the disease.'

The Observer

Planets Influence Fertility

Scientists at Southampton University are set to investigate whether the planets have a role in influencing a woman’s ability to conceive. Pat Harris, a member of the university’s Research Group for the Critical Study of Astrology, is recruiting 150 women to take part. Fifty will undergo infertility treatment, 50 will be pregnant, and a further 50 will have already had a child. Ms Harris will analyse the women’s astrological charts and compare the dates and times of any conceptions to determine whether they are linked to Saturn, which is said to govern emotion, and Jupiter, which has been associated with success. She will also analyse the effect of anxiety.

The study could prove of interest to the 25,000 women who undergo in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment in Britain every year, as only one in five of them goes on to have a baby. It will be designed to withstand scientific scrutiny to ensure that any positive links are worth further investigation. Dr Kamal Ahuja, the head of infertility treatment at the Cromwell Hospital in London, praised the study. ‘Where I come from one believes in these things. I have spent the last 20 years looking at things in a scientific, Western way but you come across examples that make you stop and think,’ he said.

The Sunday Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=003504489528944&rtmo=Qwe0H33R&atmo=tttttttd&pg=/et/01/3/18/nfert18.html

For more go to Pregnancy

Natural Pregnancy Programme

Infertility

 

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