Is fasting a free health fix – or is it just a fad? | Life and style | The Guardian

Restricting the amount you eat is said to fight disease, extend lifespan and improve wellbeing. As well as dieters, people with diabetes and MS could benefit

Source: Is fasting a free health fix – or is it just a fad? | Life and style | The Guardian

Most GP’s have given a Patient a Placebo Drug

PlaceboMost family doctors have given a placebo to at least one of their patients, survey findings suggest.

In a poll, 97% of 783 GPs admitted that they had recommended a sugar pill or a treatment with no established efficacy for the ailment their patient came in with.

The PLOS One study authors say this may not be a bad thing – doctors are doing it to help, not to deceive patients.

The Royal College of GPs says there is a place for placebos in medicine. Continue reading Most GP’s have given a Patient a Placebo Drug

Beta-Blockers don’t appear to Work

They have treated heart disease for 40 years, but it now seems that beta blockers don’t work. What went wrong?

IT IS very rare for new evidence to question or even negate the utility of a well-established class of drugs. But after four decades as a standard therapy for heart disease and high blood pressure, it looks like this fate will befall beta blockers. Two major studies published within about a week of each other suggest that the drugs do not work for these conditions. This is a big surprise, with big implications.

The first beta blocker, Inderal, was launched in 1964 by Imperial Chemical Industries for treatment of angina. This drug has been hailed as one of great medical advances of the 20th century. Its inventor, James Black, was awarded the Nobel prize in medicine in 1988.

The 20 or so beta blockers now on the market are very widely used – almost 200 million prescriptions were written for them in the US in 2010. They are standard issue for most people with heart disease or high blood pressure. This may now change.

A large study published last month in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that beta blockers did not prolong the lives of patients – a revelation that must have left many cardiologists shaking their heads (JAMA, vol 308, p 1340). Continue reading Beta-Blockers don’t appear to Work

Eating Cherries can help with Gout

Eating cherries can reduce the risk of gout attacks, a study has suggested.

US researchers found patients with gout who ate cherries over a two-day period had a 35% lower risk of attacks compared to those who did not.

The study in Arthritis & Rheumatism said cherries contain anthocyanins, antioxidants which contain anti-inflammatory properties.

UK experts said the research offered “good evidence” of the benefits of eating cherries for people with gout.

Gout is a common type of Arthritis that can cause sudden and very severe attacks of pain and swelling in the joints, particularly in the feet.

It is caused by too much uric acid in the bloodstream, which causes urate crystals to start to form in and around the joints and under the skin. Continue reading Eating Cherries can help with Gout

Why stress gets on your nerves

MOST PEOPLE would agree that certain events in their life, such as bereavement, changing jobs, examinations, or even rush-hour travel in big cities, are stressful. We try to avoid stress, but if we cannot, we must try to adapt to it. This adaptation is sometimes referred to as ‘toughening up’. Although stress is difficult to define, we know that both avoidance and toughening up are crucial ways of coping with it.

When we cannot cope, stress can lead to irritability and fatigue, and other more serious disorders, such as gastric ulcers, cardiovascular disease, anxiety and depression. Yet not everyone subjected to severe stress suffers from a heart attack or a bout of depression: some individuals are much more vulnerable than others. Many neuroscientists now suspect that the difference in the ability to cope may lie in biochemical changes in the brain involved in the process of adaptation to stress.

Continue reading Why stress gets on your nerves

The Body Electric

HAS anyone told you lately you’re electric? Well, you are. Your every pore oozes with the stuff. Must be all those ions you’ve been pumping. And we’re not just talking about nerve impulses here: every surface of your body, from your skin to your cell membranes, is humming with electrical activity.

Biologists have known for more than 200 years that nerve impulses are transmitted electrically. But only recently have they started eavesdropping on the electrical chatter of the rest of your body, and have discovered that electricity, in the form of electric fields, plays a vital role in numerous biological processes from embryonic development to cell division, nerve regeneration and wound repair. “The phenomenon is broadly applicable and I think we have only scratched the surface of something that is evolutionarily highly conserved and widely used,” says Colin McCaig of the University of Aberdeen, UK, who has been working on the biological effects of electric fields since the 1980s. Continue reading The Body Electric