Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine

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Better Health From Longer Time At The Breast

Women who continue to breast feed their children after they have started on solid foods have a lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life, according to a new study. Dr Tongzhang Zheng of Yale Medical School in Connecticut interviewed Chinese women with breast cancer about their suckling habits. He found that mothers who breast-fed their child beyond its second birthday were half as likely to have developed breast cancer as those who stopped after a year. China’s one-baby policy made Dr Zheng’s findings more clear-cut than Western studies, which have not found any link between breast-feeding and cancer.

A long period of breast-feeding could also be good for your child. In a separate study, scientists found that children can develop circulatory problems if solid foods are introduced into their diet too soon. Researchers at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee found that teenagers are at greater risk of developing heart disease and diabetes if they were fed solid food too soon. Professor Jill Belch, who led the study, said that feeding a baby from a bottle and introducing solid food after only a few weeks is the worst combination because the child’s sluggish circulatory system becomes ‘like drawing treacle through a straw.’

Paediatricians recommend that children should receive nothing but breast milk for at least the first 15 weeks, but 56 per cent of women in England and Wales give up after six weeks, with only 10 per cent following doctors’ advice.

The Daily Telegraph

Preventing Dyslexia In The Womb

Children with dyslexia could improve their reading and writing skills by mimicking the movements of a baby in the womb, according to new research. The Dyslexia Project, a joint study between The Royal Maternity Hospital, Belfast, and Queen's University, found that special routines designed to imitate 'primary reflexes' led to significant improvements in dyslexic children. The routines copy the slow and deliberate movements of both the developing foetus and the newborn child. These include the palmer reflex, when a baby will grasp a finger placed in its palm. Another involves stretching and flexing arms and fingers. At about six-months-old, the primary reflexes are turned off and secondary reflexes take over – such as those that give us the ability to stand and balance. In some children, the primary reflexes remain the dominant force and this makes it difficult to do things like hold a pen. By mimicking primary reflexes, children can help develop secondary ones, says psychologist Martin McPhillips. After doing 10-minute exercises for 10 months, a group of 60 dyslexic children were able to perform better in reading and writing tests. Mr McPhillips concluded that the exercise promoted the dominance of secondary reflexes that allow people to develop co-ordination.

Daily Mail

Sweet Persimmon, My Heart’s Desire

An unusual red-coloured fruit, the persimmon, could prevent heart attacks, according to scientists. The fruit, which looks like a tomato and can be found in the 'exotic' section at supermarkets, can substantially reduce the risk of heart disease. The fruit contains significantly higher concentrations of dietary fibre, minerals and phenolic compounds. These are vital in fighting atherosclerosis, in which the arteries become blocked – a leading cause of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. A steady diet of persimmons can also improve lipid metabolism, the way that the body copes with fat, in laboratory rats. Compared to apples, persimmons contain twice as much dietary fibre and more of the major phenolics, or antioxidants thought to ward off cancer and help prevent blood clots.

Daily Mail

For more go to Healthy Nutrition series

Those Vikings, They’ve Got A lot To Answer For

A hallucinogenic plant used by marauding Vikings to wind themselves up into a murderous frenzy could be used by modern-day Britons to treat depression, according to a Welsh company. Molecularnature Ltd is seeking inspiration in an ancient textbook of herbal medicine called the Red Book of Hergest, which reveals that the plant, bog myrtle, was also used by the Celts to induce euphoria, reduce stress, preserve beer and speed the healing of a wound. The company hopes to isolate the chemicals that have these effects. Laurence Jones, the project's director, said: ‘Britain has a long history of herbal medicine and much of this knowledge is local, concerning plants only found in certain areas... some of the possible products could be worth millions of pounds.’

The Observer


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