June 2017 News Round-Up

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4 cups of coffee or tea per day can protect against liver disease

Daily Mail (Jun 8th) explains how coffee and herb teas can protect the liver.

Drug trials ‘skewed by the pharmaeutical industry,’ GPs say

So ran the headline in The Telegraph (Jun 20th). The Academy of Medical Sciences is calling for an overhaul of patient information following a string of controversies over the risks and benefits of common drugs.

  • 4 out of 5 GPs believe drug trials are skewed by the pharmaeutical industry
  • Only 1 in 3 of the public trusts medical research

I strongly recommend that my readers get hold of a copy of Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s recent book called ‘Doctoring Data’, which will give a far deeper insight into just how the drug marketing and prescribing is skewed. Dr Kendrick is an NHS GP, and not only knows his stuff, but he’s funny too, so this book will both entertain and inform.
On the same theme, a report in The Guardian (Jun 8th) claims that ‘miracle’ drugs costing up to £30k per patient for the debilitating and sometimes fatal liver disease hepatitis C ‘may have no clinical effect’. (If hepatitis C is a subject that interests you I recommend this blog – The High Fat Hep C Diet)
Also this month, (Mail Online Jun 27th) the Care Quality Commission gave a damning report into the first online GP service Push Doctor, which charges £25 for a ten minute webcam consultation. Despite the privately run service using NHS doctors, the CQC labelled the service ‘unsafe’ for patients to use. Their criticisms included:

  • Prescribing inappropriate and off-label drugs with insufficient reason
  • Failing to carry out routine tests before prescribing drugs
  • Failing to identify when patients were children

Elements of the Mediterranean diet can reduce bowel cancer risk by 86%

Israel’s Tel-Aviv Medical Center investigated which foods were associated with bowel cancer development. Three healthy food choices stood out: A diet rich in fish, fruits and low in fizzy drinks were most strongly influential, each contributing approximately 30% reduction in the incidence of advanced, pre-cancerous colorectal lesions, compared to people who made unhealthy choices. “Among people who made all three healthy choices the benefit was compounded to almost 86 per cent reduced odds,” Newsmax (Jun 30th)
Several papers also covered a study into bowel cancer and PUFAs, finding that having higher amounts of enzymes for metabolising omega 3’s were protective whilst those for omega 6’s were not. (Sunday Express, Jun 28th)
Whilst considering Mediterranean fruits, News Medical (Jun 30th) takes a look at a new book that lays out the beneficial effects of grape consumption. They even provide a free download if you want to read it all.

Diet high in ‘good fats’ can reduce gut inflammation

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have shown a high-fat diet may lead to specific changes in gut bacteria that could fight harmful inflammation in Crohn’s disease. The fats in question were coconut oil and cocoa butter. Feeding these to mouse models led to considerable alterations in gut bacteria and reductions in small intestine inflammation. News Medical (Jun 22nd)

Vitamin A deficiency may play a role in the development of diabetes

Medical News Today (Jun 14th) reports on a study which found that pancreatic beta cells require vitamin A to release insulin in response to raised glucose. The team also discovered that “that a lack of vitamin A led to a reduction in beta cells’ ability to stave off inflammation, while a complete deficiency of vitamin A caused beta cells to die.”

Fungal toxins in homes 

A highly cited article NBC news (Jun 23rd) reports on a study that found how patches of mould in buildings release toxins directly into the air, contributing at least in part to ‘sick building syndrome’

Sleep consistency should be a lifestyle goal

The rest of the article can be read here: Time (Jun 8th)

Regular chocolate consumption reduces cognitive decline

▲Check out our recipe for chocolate truffles here
More good news about chocolate (Express, Jun 30th), with Italian researchers singing it’s praises. The greatest effects on cognition were seen “in older adults whose memory had already started to decline, or who had other mild cognitive impairments which can lead to Alzheimer’s”
Another chocolate study found that eating dark chocolate, but not milk or white, led volunteers to eat 20% fewer calories in a subsequent meal. (Daily Mail, Jun 30th)

Sun, Sea and Vitamin D: Sunscreen problems

Russian scientists claim that a common component of most sunscreens (Avobenzone) can react with chlorine in outdoor pools producing products that in the presence of UV rays are ‘linked to infertility, immune system damage and even cancer’. (Appropriately: The Sun, Jun 27th)
While we are on sunscreens, here is one we missed last month: American researchers are warning that routine use of sunscreen is contributing to low vitamin D levels among vulnerable groups. They recommend that exposure to midday sun for 30 minutes per day, twice per week without sunscreen can help overcome this problem. (Medical News Today, May 3rd)

Infant nutrition: growth, breastfeeding, non-dairy milk and eggs

The WHO recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. After the first six months, infants should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond. The first two years of life are critical for growth and development – any stunting at this stage is largely irreversible.
Role of breast feeding
A study into the long term benefits of exclusive breast feeding were reported in NewsMedical, Jun 30th, with the lead researcher stating  “Our observations indicate that if full breast feeding stops before three months of age, children are at greater risk of becoming overweight, even through to 20 years of age,”
Stunting and non-dairy milks
A recent study found that children are at risk of stunted growth if they consume non-dairy milk alternatives (e.g. soy and nut milks) For those who drank cows milk each 250ml cup per day was associated with 2mm height increase. Whereas drinking non-dairy alternatives were associated with 4mm reduction in height per cup. (News Medical, Jun 9th)
Unfortunately, in a recent survey 1/3 of UK children did not know that milk comes from cows. (The Sun, Jun 30th) Even more worryingly, 1 in 10 thought a cow was the size of a double decker bus and a further ten percent thought they are as small as cats! Many of them thought that cows drink milk, rather than produce it.

Stunting and egg consumption
‘An egg a day appears to help young children grow taller’ reported the BBC (Jun 7th) in relation to a six month study in Ecuador which gave children aged 18 months an egg a day for six months. At the end of the study 47% fewer cases of stunted growth were observed in the egg eating group.

The British Nutrition Foundation advised: “A range of protein-rich foods should be provided when feeding young children, which can include eggs but can also feature beans, pulses, fish, especially oily fish, meat and dairy products.”

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