Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Magnet therapies 'have no effect'

Magnet therapies which are claimed to cure conditions ranging from back pain to cancer have no proven benefits, according to a team of US researchers.

Sales of the so-called therapeutic devices, which are worn in bracelets, insoles, and wrist and knee bands, top $1 billion worldwide, they said.

But a major review showed no benefits, a British Medical Journal report said.

The team also warned self-treatment with magnets risked leaving underlying medical conditions untreated.

Source BBC World


Mental health link to diet change

Changes to diets over the last 50 years may be playing a key role in the rise of mental illness, a study says.

Food campaigners Sustain and the Mental Health Foundation say the way food is now produced has altered the balance of key nutrients people consume.

The period has also seen the UK population eating less fresh food and more saturated fats and sugars.

They say this is leading to depression and memory problems, but food experts say the research is not conclusive.

Source BBC News


Fruit and veg 'cut stroke risk'

Eating more than the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day can cut risk of stroke, a study says.

People who ate three to five cut the risk by 11% compared with those eating fewer than three, The Lancet reported.

It was 26% lower for people who ate more than five servings, University of London researchers found in the study of data on more than 257,500 people.

The Department of Health says five or more daily portions cuts risk of heart disease, cancer and other problems.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the most common cause of disability in most developed countries.

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Berries 'help prevent dementia'

Compounds in the common British blackcurrant could help prevent Alzheimer's disease, research suggests.

A study shows blackcurrants and their US cousins, boysenberries, are full of potentially beneficial anti-oxidant compounds.

Research in the Journal of Science Food and Agriculture found these compounds could block the cell damage which leads to Alzheimer's disease.

Oily fish makes 'babies brainier'

Eating oily fish and seeds in pregnancy can boost children's future brain power and social skills, research suggests.

A study of 9,000 mothers and children in Avon suggested those who consumed less of the essential fatty acid Omega-3 had children with lower IQs.

These children also had poorer motor skills and hand-to-eye co-ordination, research in the Economist said.

The Food Standards Agency says pregnant women should consume only one or two portions of oily fish a week.

Exercise 'cuts Alzheimer's risk'

Regular exercise reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease by up to 40%, US research suggests.

The University of Washington study claims to be the most definitive investigation into the effect of exercise on dementia.

The Annals of Internal Medicine study found the more frail a person was, the more exercise was likely to help them.

A regular gentle work-out was enough to produce a positive effect - even for people aged over 65.

Protein may regulate depression

Scientists say they have pinpointed a protein which they believe may play a pivotal role in depression.

A team from Rockefeller University in New York found mice deficient in the protein - p11 - showed signs of depression-like behaviour.

In contrast, raising levels was shown to have an anti-depressant effect on the animals.

Writing in the journal Science, they say p11 appears to help regulate a brain chemical linked to mood.

However, a UK expert said the biochemical regulation of depression was likely to be complex.


Eating veg 'cuts blood pressure'

A vegetable-rich diet can help to reduce blood pressure, researchers say.

A team led by Imperial College London, which studied 4,680 people aged 40-59, said it was not clear why eating more vegetable protein had such an effect.

But amino acids - the building blocks of protein - or vegetable components, like magnesium, may be key, they said.

However, they found no strong evidence that high meat consumption is linked to high blood pressure. The study features in Archives of Internal Medicine.