Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine
WEEK BEGINNING MAY 14
Care For Pain With Vits
Vitamins could have far-reaching uses. For instance, the pain of chemotherapy treatment could be eased for thousands of cancer sufferers by taking a vitamin pill each day, leading experts now claim. Folic acid and vitamin B12 have been shown to significantly cut toxic side effects of chemotherapy, such as sickness and damage to the immune system. Out of more than 450 patients tested, the risk of nausea and immune damage fell by 40 per cent in the half injected with folic acid, a B12 injection and a new chemotherapy drug, Alimta. The results were found by a team of experts from Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle University and the University of Colorado working with the drug firm Eli Lilly.
Warning Against Injectable Vitamins
Beware a new fad! Health warnings about the dangers of injecting vitamins have been issued after it emerged that the ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell is a disciple of the American fad. Her publicist said that she is feeling 'healthier and happier than ever' as a result. However, the chief nutritionist at St George's Hospital in London, Catherine Collins, described the practice as 'bizzare and irrational'. Miss Halliwell, who has lost her once curvaceous figure by losing 28lb in 18 months, is using a high-risk strategy, according to Mrs Collins: 'High levels of vitamins and minerals can cause all sorts of medical problems including liver damage, nausea and dizziness, and they even have neurological effects. For someone leading an active, healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet and maybe a multi-vitamin tablet would be sufficient. If Geri is feeling lethargic, it is because she is not eating enough. She should adopt a healthy eating plan. It would save her money and be far more beneficial for her health.'
The Daily Telegraph
Obesity The Big Killer
Obesity is not just a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight is also the biggest cause of cancer apart from smoking, according to a new scientific study. One of Britains leading experts in the area, Professor Julian Peto, warned that as many as 1 in 10 deaths in non-smokers could be caused by obesity.
The review published in the science journal 'Nature', states that breast cancer in menopausal women is most strongly linked to obesity. The female hormone oestrogen is known to increase the risk of breast cancer, and is released more in fatty tissue than in lean tissue. Evidence suggests that the heaviest 10 per cent of women are 20 times more likely to suffer from breast cancer than the lightest 10 per cent.
Professor Peto, of the Institute of Cancer Research said: We are sure that putting on weight is bad news. There is now a common consensus that cancer is commoner in those who are overweight. About 10 per cent of all cancer deaths among American non-smokers are caused by overweight. The proportion is probably about 7 per cent in Europe where obesity is less common.
The study shows that tobacco is the biggest single cause of cancer and accounts for more than half of all cancer deaths in smokers. Other causes also figure: alcohol, excess sunlight and air pollution each contribute to about 1 per cent of avoidable cases. Infection with the human papilloma virus is directly linked to cervical cancer, which kills 1300 British women a year.
Thunderous Cause Of Asthma
The link between the weather and ilnness took a new twist this week. Australian scientists have explained the surge of asthma attacks, chest pains and wheezing during summer thunderstorms. The study, led by Dr Guy Marks of the Sydney Institute of Respiratory Medicine, shows that a downdraught of cold air sweeps up pollen particles and concentrates them in a shallow band of air at ground level, which triggers the attacks. An association between thunderstorms and asthmatics wheezing has long been recognised. In 1994, London suffered a severe thunderstorm. An hour later, 640 people were admitted to hospital with symptoms of asthma six times the average attendance. Around one in six children and 1 adult in 14 have asthma.
More Sleep With Coffee
For many of us a cup of coffee is a pick-me-up first thing in the morning but it could have great uses in medicine as well. Coffee may provide us with treatments for insomnia, tachycardia (abnormally fast heart-rate), and hyperactivity, researchers said yesterday. Studies have shown that the effects of caffeine in coffee are opposed by other chemicals in the beverage, called chlorogenic acids. If these substances can be isolated from the coffee, it may be possible to develop treatments for epilepsy, angina and sleep problems. Chlorogenic acids are also known to be antioxidants they have the capability to mop up harmful free radical molecules that have been associated with heart disease and cancer. Dr Peter Martin, professor of psychology and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, said: We will be synthesising these compounds in coffee and chemically modifying them with the aim of accentuating certain actions. Some of these chlorogenic acids appear to counteract the action of caffeine, and may be helpful in fighting diseases which feature low adenosine. Add their antioxidant effect, and you can immediately see their potential. This is very novel and exciting.
The Daily Telegraph
Calling all men, smoking has big implications for our sex lives. According to research presented to a conference in San Francisco today, men who smoke are twice as likely to suffer from impotence as those who dont. Smokers with hypertension (high blood pressure) are 26 times more likely to be disappointed with their love life than those not addicted. The anti-smoking group, ASH, said: Hopefully this will be a wake-up call for smokers who value their sex lives.
Lead researcher, Professor John Spangler, of Wake Forest University in North Carolina, said: Cigarette smoking, hypertension and impotence are common disorders, and informing men who smoke of the exceptionally high possibility of developing impotence may motivate many to quit their tobacco habit.
Alarm Bells For Sweeteners
Watch out for those sweeteners. New concerns have arisen that an artificial sweetener used in thousands of products could have dangerous side effects. Aspartame also called NutraSweet and Canderel could be banned if the fears prove to be justified. Referring to recent scientific studies, a leaked letter from the Food Standards Agency stated that there is clearly sufficient new data to justify a review. Aspartame is though to break down into formaldehyde, a highly dangerous chemical, when it is digested in the gut. Side effects reported to American health authorities include headaches, skin and stomach disorders, impaired vision, depression, carbohydrate cravings, panic attacks, an irregular heartbeat and seizures. One expert said: I believe that Aspartame increases the risk of cancer. The manufacturers claim that all the constituents of Aspartame are found at higher levels in natural drinks like tomato juice and milk, and that all the good scientific data shows it is safe.
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