Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine

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News Beginning Wk 30 July 2001

Watch Out In The Garden!!

Watch out; watch out if you go down to the garden today!! This is the essence of the message being delivered by a new government-led garden safety campaign, issued this week. More than 300,000 people are hurt each year in their own gardens and over 125,000 of those are children. Those under the age of 10 are at the highest risk, while nearly 25 per cent of child accidents involve toddlers just two or three years old. Children drown in pools or paddling ponds, burn themselves on barbeques, swallow weed killer, are seriously injured by power tools, or are hurt while playing on badly constructed slides or swings. Consumer affairs minister Melanie Johnson warned that most of these injuries are avoidable and advised that people follow some basic safety rules. The Government pamphlets advising on garden safety will be available from DIY stores in the UK this week.

Daily Express

The Fruit Is On Us!!

Get your lovely nanas here!! Who would have thought it but now your local GP might be prescribing fruit and veg in your area. Doctors are prescribing patients vouchers that can be exchanged for fresh fruit and vegetables in an attempt to curb illnesses such as heart disease. Up to 200 potential victims of heart disease are taking part in the initiative, the first of its kind, which aims to kick-start changes in lifestyle and diet. The experiment, taking place in Wirral, encourages adults to change their shopping and cooking habits. In order to qualify for the scheme, patients need to be referred by their GP or a practice nurse to an exercise and lifestyle programme. Weekly shopping vouchers worth £6 are given to those taking part and these can be exchanged for fresh, tinned, frozen or dried food in local Co-op stores. Patients are also encouraged to exercise, with State subsidised fitness regimes ranging from gentle walking to gym workouts. Increasing evidence has shown that eating five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day could cut deaths from heart disease and cancer. The scheme was welcomed by GP and Clinical Director of the Wallasey Heart Centre, Anthony Cummins: ‘It is amazing the difference this can make, and it is cost effective. Changing behaviour happens gradually, there is a learning process. You need to support people, making something accessible and worthwhile. Doctors can buy what they like and drive where they like. Not all our patients can,’ he said.

The Daily Express

Peanut Butter May Be Linked To Cancer

New warnings this week about those favourite peanut butter brands. Research has shown that up to 25% of peanut butter may have greater than safe levels of toxins. Tighter controls have been placed on imported peanut butter, following tests revealing that 17 types contained aflatoxin, a natural contaminant linked to liver cancer. Professor David Phillips, of the Institute of Cancer Research, said the quoted levels pose only ‘the tiniest risk’ but any product exceeding the limit ‘should probably be taken off the market.’ Last night, Tesco, the supermarket chain, recalled a suspect batch of its own brand peanut butter, which contained more than twice the legal limit of aflatoxin B1 permitted under EU rules. The Food Standards Agency said that it was not necessary for families to change their eating habits or stop buying peanut butter. British consumers spend £30 million a year on peanut butter.

Daily Express

Too Little Cholesterol May Be Dangerous

We have all heard that high cholesterol levels are detrimental to your health, but now there is growing evidence that too little cholesterol can be equally as bad. The evidence shows that contrary to common belief, low levels of cholesterol may actually increase the risk of death, claims a report published today in the medical journal Lancet. Elderly people, who have previously been advised to eat healthily and exercise in order to reduce their cholesterol levels, are in fact the group that is most at risk.

The authors studied the cholesterol concentration levels over 20 years of 3572 Japanese/American men aged 71 to 93 in Hawaii. Death from a range of diseases was analysed in relation to cholesterol level. The scientists found that average cholesterol levels decreased as men got older, but that the lower levels were associated with higher death rates. Males who had maintained low cholesterol levels for 20 years had the highest risk of death, while those with higher levels had reduced death rates by up to 40 per cent. Team leader Dr Erwin Schatz remarked that the findings showed that long-term maintenance of low levels of cholesterol actually increased the risk of death. Although he admitted that they could not explain the results, he advocated that a more prudent approach be taken when advising patients to reduce their cholesterol.

Daily Mail

Government Not Doing Enough To Prevent Smoking Diseases

The Government has come under great criticism for its cuts in spending on anti-smoking campaigns. The Department of Health has greatly reduced expenditure on these campaigns, and has done so every year since Labour came to power, according to new figures. Spending has fallen from £16 million in 1999 to just over £13 million this year. In contrast, tobacco firms continue to spend £170 million a year on advertising. Liberal Democrat health spokesman in the House of Lords, Tim Clement-Jones, said: ‘Government complacency on smoking and tobacco advertising is costing lives. Each week that goes by means another 60 lives are lost. The Government must stop dragging its feet.’ More than 120,000 people die each year in the UK from smoking related diseases and it is estimated that 3000 a year lives will be saved from measures in the Tobacco Advertising Bill.

Sunday Express

Scottish skin disease discovery

A rare skin disorder seen only in a few families living in the Scottish isles is providing an opportunity to study the genetics of skin disease. The Fotheringhame family of Stronsay, in the Orkneys, is afflicted by a form of hyperkeratosis, in which the skin of the hands and feet becomes thick and horny. Scientists have studied the family and discovered the gene responsible for the trait. The discovery has lead to a test that can distinguish between different types of hyperkeratosis in other patients, and predict whether it will lead to cancer of the gut in later life. Researcher Dr Liz Rugg said: ‘Six generations ago a single change occurred in a piece of DNA that resulted in the next generation developing this type of hyperkeratosis. The change has remained in that family’s genetic code. By identifying the change that has occurred in the Stronsay gene, medicine can offer therapy in the future.’

The Sunday Telegraph

 

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