Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine
WEEK BEGINNING 22 OCTOBER 2001
Genes Count For A Lot In Asthma
New research published this week reveals that genetics may play a greater part in the onset of asthma in children than any environmental factors. The study of twins in England and Wales, conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry, London, and the University of Southampton, genetic factors accounted for over two-thirds of all cases of asthma in young children. Environmental influence was not found to be statistically significant. The research leader, Dr Gesina Koeppen-Schomerus, who reported the study in the journal Archives of Disease and Childhood, said: ‘The present findings indicate that asthma is highly inheritable, even in pre-school children exposed to the same environmental allergens in the home. Environmental factors such as family diet and air pollution are likely to be much less important than genetic make-up.’ With more than five million sufferers, Britain has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world.
Water, Water Everywhere And Pure As The Eye Can See
The ancients knew more than a little bit about water purification it seems – they were certainly no mugs. Now a UK microbiologist’s has followed in their steps, basing a new idea on ancient Sanskrit texts. His invention could help provide cheap clean water for the world’s poorest people, potentially saving millions of lives. Two thousand year-old Sanskrit texts tell of how Indians put out a shallow bowl of water all day and prayed to it. By evening the water was purified. A researcher at the University of Northumbria, Dr Rob Reed, has discovered how to decontaminate drinking water simply by leaving it in sunlight. The answer, says Dr. Reed, is not prayer, but the sunshine combined with oxygen from shaking the water. A cheap method of purifying water could have a huge impact in many countries as well as in disaster areas where polluted water causes disease. The World Health Organisation estimates that 3.4 million people die each year from contaminated water. Dr. Reed is now working with Chochin University in India on the possibilities of solar disinfect ion.
The Daily Express
Obesity In Children Continues To Rise
Childhood obesity is now not just confined to Western countries. New evidence shows that countries such as china are now reporting record levels of childhood obesity as well. Tewnty0five per cent of children in the US aged between six and 18 are now overweight or clinically obese. However, figures are rising in other countries including Russia, where 16 per cent of children are now overweight or obese, and China, where seven per cent of children have an unhealthy weight. Dr Youfa Wang, an assistant professor of human nutrition at the University of Illinois and Chicago, compared data for more than 16,000 children across three nations. Dr Wang said: ‘Although the problem of child obesity is much more serious in the US than Russia and China, we observed in those countries a remarkable increase, especially among younger children, those in urban areas and those in high socio-economic groups.’ The study shows that in China the problem is most common among affluent children in urban areas whose families were more likely to afford a high-fat diet rich in meat, whilst in Russia children from the lowest income families were also at risk and obesity was most common in rural areas. In America, children from the poorest families are most likely to suffer from obesity. Developing nations such as Thailand, Brazil and Egypt were also experiencing rising numbers of child obesity. The research follows calls by the World Health Organisation for an urgent analysis of childhood obesity
The Daily Mail
Discover Of Longevity Gene!!
Man’s dream of long-life received boost this week when it was revealed that medical researchers in America believe they may have pinpointed the gene that confers longer life on humans. A team at the US National Institutes of Health have discovered that the absence of this gene can decrease the lifespan of mammals by making them more vulnerable to ‘oxidative damage’, a process caused by a type of chemical called ‘free radicals’. Oxidative damage is thought to be a key factor in the aging process. So make sure you beat off those nasty oxidants with a healthy diet containing plenty of fruit and veg.
Bad Idea: Breakfast Cereal Bars
You’ve probably all seen them in advertisements on TV – breakfast cereal bars. Life too busy for breakfast? Don’t worry – have a cereal bar whilst driving to work (or sitting on the tube – well, maybe not!) But evidence shows that these "wonders" of the modern age are not all they’re cracked up to be (or should that be Snap! Crackle! And Pop!). The bars contain as much sugar and fat as confectionary, a damning new report has revealed. The independent Food Commission said that alternative breakfast bars were much more unhealthy than the average bowl of cereal and milk. The worst offender in a survey of 18 bars was Kellogg’s Coco Pops bar, with 41 per cent of its calories comprised of sugar. Saturated fats accounted for 29 per cent of the calories in Kellogg’s Rice Krispies bar, while 29 per cent of the calories in Kellogg’s Frosties bar were sugar. The report also said that the bars were worse because sugar was more likely to stick to your teeth, whereas sugar in a bowl of cereal could be washed down with milk. The report said: ‘It is important that breakfast substitutes offer the healthiest alternative, rather than a worse option. Sadly, we could not recommend any of the products we examined.’ So I’m afraid it’s back to stuffing down that porridge as you race to get out the house!!
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