Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine
WEEK BEGINNING 29 OCTOBER 2001
Headaches Relieved By A Good Cuppa?
The British and tea seem to go together like…well, a cup and saucer? But there is evidence this week that there is more to that brew up than might as first strike the eye. A study published in Current Pain and Headache Reports by researchers in the USA announces: 'Caffeine alone provides a low but very real level of effectiveness in treating tension type headaches.’ The research involved hundreds of regular headache sufferers, who were given ibuprofen and caffeine in varying combinations. The results indicate that caffeine boosts the effectiveness of standard painkillers, with 71 per cent of the patients taking a combination of ibuprofen and caffeine reporting complete relief, compared to 58 per cent who took only ibuprofen. However, the researchers were surprised to find that patients who just had caffeine responded as well as those who only had the conventional painkiller.
The Daily Mail
Fertility Badly Affected By Smoking
A warning this week for those women wishing to become pregnant and who smoke. Major new research shows that Women who smoke take two months longer to get pregnant than women who do not smoke. The study by the Imperial Cancer Research Fund looked at 569 women who were all trying for a baby, and found that on average women who smoked took longer to conceive. However, women who quit smoking up to a year before trying for a baby stood just as good a chance of conceiving quickly as non-smokers. The doctor who led the study, Marcus Munafo, said: ‘The risks of smoking during pregnancy are well documented. But many women may not be aware that by quitting, they are also greatly improving their chances of getting pregnant in the first place.’ The study also suggests that heavy smokers are affected to a greater degree, although the reason why smoking should affect fertility is not clear. Doctors think that smoking may affect the release of an egg for fertilisation or the quality of the eggs. Dr Munafo believes that women who want to have a baby should include stopping smoking early as possible.
The Daily Mail
Men No Longer Kings Of The World
Men no longer get it all their own way in society it seems and new research may highlight the reasons why. The First World Congress on Men’s Health, due to open in Vienna this week, is to launch research initiatives to investigate why male supremacy is in decline. According to Prof Meryn, of the Institute of Medical Education at the University of Vienna and Alejandro Jadad, of the University of Toronto, one of the great medical mysteries is why women, on average, live seven years longer than men – when most social determinants of health are in favour of men. They write in the British Medical Journal: ‘In most of the developed world women are … making rapid gains in terms of equality in compensation and opportunities in the workforce. Will we see the gaps in life expectancy widen as the gaps in social determinants of health become narrower? The answer is probably yes.’ We await the results of the study with eager anticipation.
New Digital Hearing Aids: GPs Forced To Foot The Bill
The new digital hearing aid is set to be a major boon for the hard of hearing but all is not well when it comes to providing the new devices. This week The Royal National Institute for Deaf People has released a leaked memorandum from the West Dorset general hospitals NHS trust advising that the more effective digital aids would have to be rationed. The memorandum from the trust’s head of audiology and hearing therapy, Jeremy Tweed, said: ‘When you refer patients to us for assessment of candidature for a hearing aid, it is very important that you do not say what type of hearing aid they will get.’ The memorandum is also reported to have stated that it would be helpful if the benefits of digital versus standard NHS hearing aids were downplayed. So much for clinical excellence for all patients!
The Daily Express
New Pacemaker To Fight Obesity
Whatever will they think of next in the battle of the bulge? Released this week is news of a groundbreaking stomach ‘pacemaker’ that tricks people into thinking they are full so they do not eat as much may be available in the UK before Christmas. The matchbox-size device, said to be more effective than other weight-loss treatments, is implanted in the stomach wall and sends false electrical signals to the brain, telling the body that it does not need to eat. Dr Claudia Knippig, from Magdeburg University, said: ‘There are no rules about what patients eat or how much exercise they take. Apart from minor surgery there are no risks.’ Patients will need a GPs referral to be fitted with the device. One wonders what would happen if an alarm system was incorporated into this new device.
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