Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine
WEEK BEGINNING 26 Feb 2001
The Seeing Stick
Scientists at Leeds University have developed a prototype walking
stick that could help blind people to 'see'. The electronic white
stick uses a bat-like sonar to detect hazards around them. The technique
mimics the natural radar used by bats to enable them to fly in the
dark. The device is undergoing trials and could cost as little as
£300 if mass-produced.
Clucking About Bugs
Food poisoning bacteria, including salmonella and campylobacter,
are found in 16 per cent of chickens bought from supermarkets, according
to a report by the Consumers Association. In fact the scale
of the problem may be even worse since the tests used to detect
bacteria were not the most sensitive. The association, which went
undercover to slaughterhouses, said: Chickens arent
born with salmonella or campylobacter they catch it. This can happen
at any stage in the food chain. On the farm, infection can spread
if chickens are confined in small spaces. Chickens from Tesco
were found to be contaminated in 6 per cent of cases while 22 per
cent of Sainsburys chickens were contaminated.
Chewing The Fat
New research suggests that high fat diets during childhood and
adolescence may impair brain development. Two scientists at Toronto
University compared young rats that received 40 per cent of their
calories from fat with those in which only 10 per cent of calories
came from fat. Tests revealed that rats fed a high fat diet had
impaired memory and concentration. It is believed that fat hinders
the brain absorbing glucose. Professor Carol Greenwood, one of the
scientists involved in the research, said: Our brain needs
glucose essentially energy in order to function. When
glucose metabolism is impeded by saturated fatty acids, its
like clogging the brain and starving it of energy. The findings
may have implications for adolescent children, many of whom get
40 per cent of their calories from fat.
The Daily Telegraph
For more go to The Demon Fat
Fruit For Longer Life
An apple a day could cut the risk of death by 20 per cent, researchers
have found. An extra orange or banana could lower the risk by 50
per cent. The research, published in The Lancet, shows that a small
change in diet can make a big difference. Scientists measured the
level of vitamin C in the blood of nearly 20,000 men and women and
found that those who ate the most fruit and vegetables were at half
the risk of dying early, compared to those who ate the least. The
effect of eating a single extra piece of fruit or serving of vegetables
is strongest in heart disease but is also significant in cancer,
the report found.
Professor Kay-Tee Khaw and colleagues from the clinical gerontology
unit at Cambridge University based their research on a group of
30,000 men and women aged between 45 and 79 who were asked to fill
in a questionnaire about their life styles and eating habits, and
had the level of ascorbic acid in their blood measured. After four
years, 309 of the men and 187 of the women had died. Those with
the highest levels of ascorbic acid in their blood, who ate the
most fruit and vegetables, were half as likely to have died as those
who ate the least amount. The key message is that small dietary
changes can have a big effect. Just one or two extra servings
of fruit and vegetables a day made all the difference, Professor
Khaw said. The effects of a change in diet remained even when smoking,
blood pressure, diabetes, age, cholesterol levels and the use of
supplements were taken into account. The researchs limitations
were that the team did not single out the effects of social class
differences and physical activity. On Wednesday the Government revealed
its plan to give 80,000 children in 510 schools in the poorest areas
of England a free piece of fruit every day. The plan is to cover
all children aged four to six by 2004.
The Daily Telegraph
Smoking Bad In Pregnancy Plus
Although most women know the risks of smoking while pregnant, many
are not translating this into action, according to the Health Education
Authority. Around one in four British women smoke while pregnant
despite the estimate that failure to kick the habit kills 400 babies
a year. Women who smoke have significantly more stillbirths and
babies that die in the first month of infancy. The babies that survive
tend to be smaller, at more risk from deformities, more prone to
asthma in childhood and lung disease as adults, and may not be as
bright as children of non-smokers. There are further adverse effects
if the mother smokes while breast-feeding and while her child is
growing up. The risk to mothers is also greater as those who smoke
may have increased difficulty in delivering their babies, go into
premature labour and bleed excessively.
A Puff Away From Death
Just one cigarette could be enough to trigger a fatal heart attack,
doctors have found. New research suggests that every time smokers
light up they have an increased risk of seizure over the following
hours. A single cigarette can lead to a blood clot large enough
to stop the heart.
Doctors have known for years that long-term smokers are more likely
to suffer heart attacks, but the study is the first to show there
is an immediate effect. Researchers discovered that heart attack
victims who smoked a cigarette six hours before their seizure had
bigger blood clots in their arteries. While small clots may have
no effect, or result in only a minor attack, larger clots can kill
by choking off blood from the heart. The study monitored 902 patients
at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, and discovered
a short-term association between the formation of bigger clots and
an increased risk to the heart.
The patients, who had all suffered a heart attack, were given angiograms
to highlight any blockage in the arteries. Doctors found a correlation
between blood clot size and the length of time since the last cigarette.
The average clot size for those who smoked within six hours of the
attack was 23 sq millimetres, while clots in those who had smoked
between six and 24 hours before the symptoms were half that size.
The reasons for the disparity in blood clot size remain unclear.
The director of anti-smoking charity ASH said: 'The message has
got to be that one cigarette can kill you, and that giving up will
give you immediate health benefits and may even save your life.'
For more go to Smoking Cessation Q&A
Style Before Health?
One woman in five will wear high heels to please a boyfriend,
husband or boss, a survey shows. Women of all ages link fashionable
footwear with sexuality, status and power. The new survey of women
registered with an Oxfordshire family practice shows that women
would rather put up with pain and risk serious problems with their
feet rather than wear sensible but less sexy shoes.
Head of podiatry services at Oxfordshire Community Health, Mr Philip
Joyce interviewed 164 women chosen randomly and divided them into
three age groups: 18-23, 38-43 and 68-73. Younger women wore the
least sensible shoes, and Mr Joyce said that many women between
68 and 73 still chose their shoes for style, not comfort.
The survey shows that one woman in 10 would wear uncomfortable
shoes if they looked good and only one woman in three actually liked
wearing heels. But more than 80 per cent of the women interviewed
said they would not change their shoe style to improve a foot problem.
Mr Joyce believes that three out of four women will have problems
with their feet by the time of retirement.
The Daily Telegraph
Health Of Men
The Government has established a new group to examine worrying
trends in mens health. Death rates from heart disease are
around five times higher in men than in women, and high blood pressure
is twice as common. The number of men who commit suicide has gone
up 50 per cent in the last 20 years, and many men are failing to
confront health problems quickly enough. Research into exclusively
male diseases, such as prostate cancer, receives a small fraction
of the funding allocated to research into cervical and breast cancers.
The statistics could explain why men have a life expectancy five
years shorter than their female counterparts. Peter Baker of the
Mens Health Forum, which is to work in association with the
cross-party group of MPs, said policy changes should target younger
men in particular.
The Independent on Sunday
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