Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine

Monthly Archive


WHO Reports On Alcohol

Young people in Britain are increasingly prone to alcohol abuse, a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned. Evidence indicates that children as young as 11 are turning to drink. Less than 10 per cent of 13-year-olds in the UK say they have never had alcohol, and around half of 15-year-olds drink alcohol more than once a week. This puts British children among the highest youthful drinkers in Europe.

The WHO report, published ahead of an international conference this week, has compiled figures on alcohol consumption for most European countries as well as the US and Canada. The figures show that death rates in the UK from alcohol-related liver disease have risen by 50 per cent in the last decade. In England and Wales alone 33,000 people die every year from alcohol-related causes. In addition, 50 per cent of violent crime and 65 per cent of suicides are down to the influence of alcohol.

The WHO report has also focused on the influence of advertising. It said that advertising ‘overshadows the risk of alcohol use to individual and public health’. The report questions the effectiveness of voluntary advertising codes like those in Britain. Countries which ban all alcohol advertising had 27 per cent lower consumption.

The Department of Health said it would publish its own report on alcohol abuse later this year.

The Guardian

Don’t Count On Long Life

A world populated by centagenarians is not just around the corner, according to a recent study. Some pundits have predicted that improvements in living conditions, diet and medical care will lead to dramatic increases in life expectancy at birth over the coming decades. The figures seem to show otherwise.

Dr Jay Olshansky of the University of Chicago studied patterns in death rates around the world between 1985 and 1995. Presenting his findings to the annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco, he concluded that Americans would have to wait until the 26th century before they could routinely expect to live until their 100th birthday. Europeans will only have to wait until the next century. Average life expectancy in France will reach 85 by 2033, but not until 2182 in the US.

Dr Olshansky acknowledged that a purely mathematical analysis of the past can't give cast iron predictions of the future, and added that unless biologists learn how to control the ageing process, increases in life expectancy will be a matter of days and months rather than years. He said: 'Adding decades to the lives of people who have lived for 70 years or more is far more difficult than adding decades to the lives of children who are dying of infectious diseases.'

The Daily Telegraph

New Insight Into Near Death

Scientists in Southampton think they have found the first evidence that near-death experiences are not just hallucinations. Dr Sam Parnia and colleagues questioned 63 people who had been resuscitated following a heart attack. Before resuscitation their heart had stopped beating, breathing had ceased, and their pupils were fixed and dilated. Under such conditions it shouldn't be possible for brain activity to occur or memories to form, according to Dr Parnia. However, seven of his patients reported 'highly structured, narrative, easily recalled and clear' experiences while they were clinically dead. Physiological measurements during the study contradicted claims that near-death experiences are hallucinations caused by a lack of oxygen. Dr Parnia said: 'If our results are replicated, it would imply that the mind may continue to exist after the death of the body, or an afterlife.'

Daily Mail

That Deadly Fat

An unhealthy diet that is high in fat may impair concentration and learning skills, according to researchers in Canada. In a study recently published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, scientists compared the performance of rats on a high fat diet with rats fed on lower fat food. A range of memory and learning tasks showed that the animals receiving less fat achieved consistently better scores than their counterparts on the unhealthy diet. The tests also showed that the cognitive function of the high-fat rats improved when injected with glucose. T author of the study, Professor Carol Greenwood, said: 'Our brain needs glucose – essentially energy – in order to function. When glucose metabolism is impeded by saturated fatty acids, it's like clogging the brain and starving it of energy.'

The Daily Telegraph

For more go to The Demon Fat

Musical Babies

American scientists have discovered that all babies are born with perfect pitch, the ability to pick out a musical note without referring to a tune or scale. However, most people lose the gift some time after they are eight months old leaving only one in 10,000 adults with the musical talent. Researchers believe that perfect pitch fades as children learn to place notes in the context of a familiar tune which is a simpler way of remembering them, forsaking the initial wiring of the brain which is set up to recognise the frequency of sounds in a similar way to animals such as birds and dolphins. However, the research also suggested that those who learn instruments at a young age, speakers of an oriental language in which pitch changes meaning, and blind people are more likely to retain perfect pitch into adulthood. Those children who started to play an instrument at the age of four were more likely to have perfect pitch than those who started at age eight.

The Daily Telegraph

More Than One Apple Keeps Doc Away

Scientists have found that eating two apples a day significantly lowers the risk of heart disease. Chemicals in the fruit, called phytonutrients, act like antioxidants found in red wine to increase the rate at which cholesterol in the body breaks down. This helps to prevent the arteries becoming clogged. Researchers at the University of Californian Davis Medical Centre say that drinking a glass and a half of apple juice each day has the biggest benefit.

Daily Mail

For more go to Heart Disease

Healthy Nutrition series

Bear Studies On Muscle Loss

Scientists are studying hibernating bears in order to understand muscle wasting in humans. The muscles of people confined to bed for weeks or months atrophy or waste away, yet the black bear maintains muscle mass and strength during its five month hibernation. Dr Hank Harlow, of the University of Wyoming, said: ‘Understanding how bears maintain their muscles during starvation and confinement can potentially lead to new ways of looking at muscle disuse atrophy in humans.’ Dr Harlow has suggested that bears recycle urea in the gut to provide the constituents for new muscle protein.

The Daily Telegraph

North/South Divide For Life

Figures published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics, show that men in southern England can expect to live for up to ten years longer than those in some parts of Scotland. The life expectancy of men living in the Chiltern area of Buckinghamshire is 78.4 years while those in Glasgow average only 68.4. There was a similar gap for women, with those in some parts of the South living for an average of eight years longer than those in Glasgow. The statistics emphasise the impact of poor diet and smoking in less affluent areas. The association between decreasing life expectancy and social deprivation was found to be stronger in men than in women. Dr Ian Banks, president of the Men's Health Forum, said people with low incomes tended to smoke more and eat less healthily leading to the 'killer problems' of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. He warned that the situation was set to worsen due to the growing gap between high and low income groups.

Daily Mail

For more go to Obesity

Heart Disease


Healthy Nutrition series

Is The Olive Healthier?

Olive oil is not the healthy alternative it is claimed to be, according to a new report. A survey of different studies, published in the medical journal The Lancet this week, found that olive oil had no advantages over sunflower or rapeseed oil when it came to promoting health. Professor Arne Astrup, who co-authored the report, said: ‘Olive oil has higher saturated fat than most other vegetable oils and so, from the point of view of preventing cardiovascular disease, it is not the best.’

The European Union (EU) spends �6 billion a year on subsidising olive oil producers in southern Europe and has spent �0 million publicising its supposed health benefits. Sales of the oil have rocketed over the last decade as Britons followed the vogue for Mediterranean cookery, and supermarkets make around 25 per cent more profit from olive oil than from other types. The report’s authors said the EU had given an ‘unjustifiably favourable impression’ of the potential health benefits of olive oil, an accusation which was rejected by an EU spokesman as ‘completely unjustifiable’.

The Sunday Times

For more go to Healthy Nutriion series


Monthly Archive

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