Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Vitamin miracle: "Young offenders are to be given vitamin pills in a bid to control their criminal behaviour after the Scottish Prison Service agreed to a 2 million pound study by scientists from Oxford University. Previous similar experiments have recorded significant reductions in anti-social activity by inmates when their diet was supplemented with vitamins, fatty acids and trace minerals.... Last night, the groundbreaking research was also welcomed by former Chief Inspector of Prisons in Scotland Clive Fairweather and the Soil Association, which represents the organic food movement. The study will be spearheaded by Bernard Gesch of the department of physiology, anatomy and genetics at the University of Oxford. In a previous experiment involving 231 inmates at Aylesbury YOI, Buckinghamshire, Gesch's team noted remarkable results. A group whose diet had been enriched committed an average of 26 per cent fewer violations of the prison code than before the experiment began. Serious breaches - which usually involved an element of violence - dropped by 37 per cent." [One hopes that placebo/Rosenthal/Pygmalion/Hawthorne effects are being controlled for. No mention of it, regettably]

More medical dogmatism: "A Toowoomba paediatrician says he has noticed an unusually high number of genital defects in baby boys on the Darling Downs, west of Brisbane, and is linking it to water supplies. Doctor John Cox says the problem is being caused by phthalates, which are found in polystyrene plastics, insecticides and cosmetics and are released into water supplies during the break down process. Dr Cox has been involved in research work in the UK that is looking at the chemical and its links with hyposapdius, which is a deformity of the penis. Dr Cox says there is too much phthalate in water supplies and that must be changed. "The water supply level here is accepting too high a level," he said. "I mean they keep saying our water supply fits the Australian Standards, but the Australian level of hyposapdius is three times what it was when I came to Toowoomba. "So obviously the level has been set too high for what we accept. "It's got to be brought down to a lower level." See here for what the good doctor has overlooked

Your skin-cancer cured by a herb: "Early clinical trials of a new gel to treat skin cancer have returned promising results. The gel, developed by Brisbane-based company Peplin, can be rubbed on to the skin to treat certain types of skin cancer. Initial trials show just two applications of the PEP005 Topical gel on two consecutive days cleared up 71 per cent of basal cell carcinomas, or BCCs, the most common type of skin cancer. The trials on 60 people throughout Australia built on an early study by Peplin in 2002 using the common garden weed, petty spurge. "That was a very different study and that was just using the raw sap of petty spurge," said Michael Aldridge, Peplin's managing director and chief executive. "This is the same company and we have now identified the molecule responsible for that activity and we have put that into a formal development program, formulated a gel and developed a manufacturing technology. "We ran a phase one study in the US, two phase-two studies looking at sunspots, and this is our third phase-two study looking at basal cell carcinomas." Mr Aldridge said it was the first time the molecule from petty spurge had been used to treat BCCs, which are usually surgically removed. "We've seen some very, very impressive results," he said."

Drug no good: Makes you fat: "In recent years, psychiatric researchers have been experimenting with a bold and controversial treatment strategy: they are prescribing drugs to young people at risk for schizophrenia who have not yet developed the full-blown disorder. The hope is that while exposing some to drugs unnecessarily, preemptive treatment may help others ward off or even prevent psychosis, sparing them the agonizing flights of paranoia and confusion that torment the three million American who suffer schizophrenia. Yet the findings from the first long-term trial of early drug treatment, appearing today in The American Journal of Psychiatry, suggest that this preventive approach is more difficult to put into effect - and more treacherous - than scientists had hoped. Daily doses of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, from Eli Lilly, blunted symptoms in many patients and lowered their risk of experiencing a psychotic episode in the first year of treatment, the study found. But the drug also caused significant weight gain, and so many participants dropped out of the study that investigators could not draw firm conclusions about drug benefits, if any."

Chocolate benefits mythical: "Chocolate may inspire cravings but it is neither addictive nor an anti-depressant. Addicts have long consoled themselves with the belief that it is cheaper than therapy and you don't need an appointment. But, say Gordon Parker and colleagues from the Black Dog Institute in Sydney, a thorough review of the scientific evidence fails to substantiate that belief. Far from lifting a bad mood, eating chocolate may prolong it, the team says in Journal of Affective Disorders. That's enough to induce a bad mood on its own. "Any mood-state effects of chocolate are as ephemeral as holding a chocolate in one's mouth," Professor Parker says. Many claims have been made for chocolate's healthy properties, attributed to a range of pharmacologically active constituents such as serotonin, theobromine, phenylethylamine, caffeine and magnesium. Italian researchers have even claimed that women who enjoy chocolate have a better sex life than those who don't."

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