Wednesday, July 31, 2013



Breastfeeding 'can enhance a child's IQ': Longer a mother chooses to feed baby the better their intelligence scores aged seven

The journal article ("Infant Feeding and Childhood Cognition at Ages 3 and 7 Years") is here.  It is a great rarity in that it takes basic precautions against confounders.  Both maternal IQ and social class were controlled for.  A major reservation, however, is that IQ measured at age 7 is not at all stable and, moreover,  environmental influences tend to wane as the individual gets older.  So it is perfectly possible that the beneficial effect of breastfeeding might be completely washed out by the time the individuals studied reach adulthood

The apparent decision by the Duchess of Cambridge to breastfeed has been given a boost by fresh evidence showing it can help raise a baby’s IQ.

The longer the child is breastfed – ideally exclusively – the higher the intelligence scores are at the age of seven.

The study also found breastfeeding can enhance language skills from the age of three.

The US researchers recommend babies are solely fed on breast milk for the first six months and are given the chance to breastfeed until a year old.

However, British experts warned that delaying the introduction of solid foods until six months at the earliest might leave some babies feeling hungry.

It emerged yesterday that the Duchess has at least one maternity dress made for breastfeeding and was given encouragement in hospital to help her baby George start on her milk.

Earlier research has shown breast milk protects babies against stomach bugs, chest infections, asthma and allergies, and confers health advantages in later life.

But only a small number of women in the UK breastfeed their babies for long periods and the number of new mothers starting in 2011 fell slightly to 73.9 per cent.

Barely 2 per cent of babies are breastfed exclusively for six months.

The latest study included 1,312 mothers and children who had taken part in Project Viva, a long-term investigation of pregnancy and child health in the US.

It found seven-year-olds breastfed for the first year of life were likely to score four points more in a test of verbal IQ than bottle-fed children.

Verbal intelligence scores at seven increased by 0.35 points for every extra month of breastfeeding.

Three-year-olds also benefited, having higher scores in a language-acquisition test the longer they had been breastfed. Exclusive breastfeeding had the greatest effect.

The US team of researchers reported the findings in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The scientists, led by Dr Mandy Belfort, from Boston Children’s Hospital, said: ‘Our results support a causal relationship of breastfeeding in infancy with receptive language at age three and with verbal and non-verbal IQ at school age.

'These findings support national and international recommendations to promote exclusive breastfeeding through age six months and continuation of breastfeeding through at least age one year.'

A number of factors that might have influenced the results, including home environment and mothers' IQ, were accounted for by the researchers.

Children took part in several tests, including the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test at age three and the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test at age seven.

Certain nutrients in breast milk may benefit the developing infant brain, it has been suggested.

One of these is docosahexaenoic (DHA), which is abundant in fish.   Part of the research looked at whether mothers' fish consumption was linked to the benefits of breastfeeding but the results were not statistically significant.

It is thought that chemicals naturally present in breast milk can aid brain development, but skin to skin contact and bonding during breastfeeding may also play a part.

But Clare Byam Cook, an independent breastfeeding counsellor and former midwife, said: ‘It’s best to keep an open mind about what your baby’s individual needs are.  'Many babies feel hungry if they only get breast milk and most need solids before six months.’

She said mothers who can breastfeed their babies easily are giving them a great start in life.

She said: 'Most women who give up find it too difficult to continue.  'They are not unaware of the benefits to the baby, they have been brainwashed into thinking if they don't their baby will miss out and it can be a very worrying time.

Ms Cook, the author of Top Tips For Breast Feeding and Top Tips For Bottle Feeding, said there was new evidence that breastfeeding exclusively for six months may not be best for baby, putting them at risk of allergies, food aversion and even obesity.

Babies can be safely given solid foods at least eight weeks earlier in life than official Department of Health guidelines telling women to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, according to researchers.

SOURCE






Influential  autism study an 'elaborate fraud,' British journal finds

A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was an "elaborate fraud" that has done long-lasting damage to public health, a leading medical publication reported Wednesday.

An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study's author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study -- and that there was "no doubt" Wakefield was responsible.

"It's one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors," Fiona Godlee, BMJ's editor-in-chief, told CNN. "But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data."

Britain stripped Wakefield of his medical license in May. "Meanwhile, the damage to public health continues, fueled by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals and the medical profession," BMJ states in an editorial accompanying the work.
Explainer: Autism and vaccines

Speaking to CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," Wakefield said his work has been "grossly distorted" and that he was the target of "a ruthless, pragmatic attempt to crush any attempt to investigate valid vaccine safety concerns."

The now-discredited paper panicked many parents and led to a sharp drop in the number of children getting the vaccine that prevents measles, mumps and rubella. Vaccination rates dropped sharply in Britain after its publication, falling as low as 80% by 2004. Measles cases have gone up sharply in the ensuing years.

In the United States, more cases of measles were reported in 2008 than in any other year since 1997, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 90% of those infected had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown, the CDC reported.

"But perhaps as important as the scare's effect on infectious disease is the energy, emotion and money that have been diverted away from efforts to understand the real causes of autism and how to help children and families who live with it," the BMJ editorial states.

Wakefield has been unable to reproduce his results in the face of criticism, and other researchers have been unable to match them. Most of his co-authors withdrew their names from the study in 2004 after learning he had had been paid by a law firm that intended to sue vaccine manufacturers -- a serious conflict of interest he failed to disclose. After years on controversy, the Lancet, the prestigious journal that originally published the research, retracted Wakefield's paper last February.

The series of articles launched Wednesday are investigative journalism, not results of a clinical study. The writer, Brian Deer, said Wakefield "chiseled" the data before him, "falsifying medical histories of children and essentially concocting a picture, which was the picture he was contracted to find by lawyers hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers and to create a vaccine scare."

According to BMJ, Wakefield received more than 435,000 pounds ($674,000) from the lawyers. Godlee said the study shows that of the 12 cases Wakefield examined in his paper, five showed developmental problems before receiving the MMR vaccine and three never had autism.

"It's always hard to explain fraud and where it affects people to lie in science," Godlee said. "But it does seem a financial motive was underlying this, both in terms of payments by lawyers and through legal aid grants that he received but also through financial schemes that he hoped would benefit him through diagnostic and other tests for autism and MMR-related issues."

But Wakefield told CNN that claims of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism "came from the parents, not me," and that his paper had "nothing to do with the litigation."

"These children were seen on the basis of their clinical symptoms, for their clinical need, and they were seen by expert clinicians and their disease diagnosed by them, not by me," he said.

Wakefield dismissed Deer as "a hit man who has been brought into take me down" by pharmaceutical interests. Deer has signed a disclosure form stating that he has no financial interest in the business.

Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, said the reporting "represents Wakefield as a person where the ends justified the means." But he said the latest news may have little effect on those families who still blame vaccines for their children's conditions.

"Unfortunately, his core group of supporters is not going to let the facts dissuade their beliefs that MMR causes autism," Wiznitzer said. "They need to be open-minded and examine the information as everybody else."

SOURCE



Tuesday, July 30, 2013



One to infuriate the food freaks



While it may not be the obvious choice to hold a wedding reception, one couple who chose their local McDonald's could at least guarantee their guests' food would arrive quickly.

Fast-food fans Steven Asher and Emily Marshall had spent the past year enjoying a string of romantic dates at the Golden Arches, so it seemed like the obvious place to toast their nuptials when they tied the knot on Saturday.

They arrived in a stretch limo and dined with their 33 guests in a roped-off area at their local branch in Bristol.

Emily tucked into a chicken nugget meal with a coke, while Steven had the Chicken Legend meal with a strawberry milkshake.

The couple were treated to a bottle of champagne by fast food bosses - but had to make do with soft drinks at McDonald's because of its alcohol ban.

Steven, 28, and Emily, 21, are familiar faces at the restaurant and dine there twice a week when they can afford it.

The pair decided to celebrate the start of their new life together at McDonald's, because they wanted to make it 'as memorable as possible'.

Stephen, who works at a warehouse for a chilled food company, today described it as 'the happiest day of our lives'.

He said: 'When I saw Emily in her dress for the first time I couldn't believe my eyes, she looked absolutely beautiful.

'We were both shaking throughout the ceremony, we were so nervous.

'But it was a great day and everyone seemed to find our reception at McDonald's really interesting.

'Everyone enjoyed themselves - everyone loves McDonald's don't they?"

SOURCE






Dementia Rate Is Going DOWN

A new study has found that dementia rates among people 65 and older in England and Wales have plummeted by 25 percent over the past two decades, to 6.2 percent from 8.3 percent, a trend that researchers say is probably occurring across developed countries and that could have major social and economic implications for families and societies.

Another recent study, conducted in Denmark, found that people in their 90s who were given a standard test of mental ability in 2010 scored substantially better than people who had reached their 90s a decade earlier. Nearly one-quarter of those assessed in 2010 scored at the highest level, a rate twice that of those tested in 1998. The percentage of subjects severely impaired fell to 17 percent from 22 percent.

The British study, published on Tuesday in The Lancet, and the Danish one, which was released last week, also in The Lancet, soften alarms sounded by advocacy groups and some public health officials who have forecast a rapid rise in the number of people with dementia, as well as in the costs of caring for them. The projections assumed the odds of getting dementia would be unchanged.

Yet experts on aging said the studies also confirmed something they had suspected but had had difficulty proving: that dementia rates would fall and mental acuity improve as the population grew healthier and better educated. The incidence of dementia is lower among those better educated, as well as among those who control their blood pressure and cholesterol, possibly because some dementia is caused by ministrokes and other vascular damage. So as populations controlled cardiovascular risk factors better and had more years of schooling, it made sense that the risk of dementia might decrease. A half-dozen previous studies had hinted that the rate was falling, but they had flaws that led some to doubt the conclusions.

Researchers said the two new studies were the strongest, most credible evidence yet that their hunch had been right. Dallas Anderson, an expert on the epidemiology of dementia at the National Institute on Aging, the principal financer of dementia research in the United States, said the new studies were “rigorous and are strong evidence.” He added that he expected that the same trends were occurring in the United States but that studies were necessary to confirm them.

“It’s terrific news,” said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, an Alzheimer’s researcher at Duke University, who was not involved in the new studies. It means, he said, that the common assumption that every successive generation will have the same risk for dementia does not hold true.

SOURCE



Monday, July 29, 2013


Fennel could help beat PMT, study claims

It's not clear if this was double blind and the sample sizes were small  but this will undoubtedly fire up the herb enthusiasts



Fennel could help millions of women beat the monthly misery of pre-menstrual tension, researchers have claimed.

Young women who took drops made from the plant’s seeds felt less depressed and found it easier to get on with their jobs, their friends and their family.

It is believed that the liquorice flavoured seeds could help to rebalance the female sex hormones which lay behind some of the symptoms of PMT, the Daily Mail reported.

Around three-quarters of women suffer with PMT, with up to 40 per cent claming that it impacts on their quality of life, and minority becoming violent or suffering severe depression.

PMT is also said to have an economic impact with time off or loss of productivity estimated to cost employers £3,000 a year for every female staff member.

Scientists in Iran, where fennel already has a variety of medical uses, looked the affect it had on 36 women who were split into three groups.

One group took a fennel extract from three days before their period until three days afterwards, the second exercised regularly and the third did nothing differently.

The symptoms eased for those exercising, but the biggest difference was for those taking the fennel supplement, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s annual conference heard.

Dr Hassan Pazoki, of Urmia University, said: “After eight weeks, the severity of symptoms had reduced so much that they could do their jobs and have a normal relationships with their friends and family. Depression was also reduced.”

His team believe that combining exercise with the fennel extracts could have an even bigger impact.

Although bitter, the drops do not have any side effects.

But Professor John Studd, of the London PMS and Menopause Clinic, dismissed the findings, claiming any impact was likely to be psychological.

Earlier this year a separate study suggested that eating broccoli, sesame seeds and other plant foods rich in iron could help combat PMT.

The benefits of eating fennel have been rumoured for many years, and it was introduced to Britain by the Romans, whose warriors are said to have eaten it to make them strong.

SOURCE







The formula for a happy life? Stay curious, live in the moment and look after your health

This is just opinion and the stress on living in the moment is undoubtedly tendentious.  DELAY of gratification is normally found to have desirable outcomes

For years philosophers have sought the secret to a fulfilling existence, but now one man claims to have discovered it - and come up with a formula.

Research into what makes people feel happy has led renowned professor, Dr Todd Kashdan, to produce an equation called the Feel Good Formula.  In it, he identifies six factors which, when put together in the right combination, make a happy soul.

The factors are: Live in the moment (M), be curious (C), do something you love (L), think of others (T), nurture relationships (N), and take care of you body (B).

The winning formula is Feeling Good = (Mx16 + Cx1 + Lx2) + (Tx5 + Nx2 + Bx33).

Dr Kashdan reviewed the results of nationwide research carried out into how Brits truly feel, inside and out.

Dr Kashdan, author of ‘Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life’ drew upon his years of experience to analyse the research.

Whilst it may not appear obvious how a combination of letters and numbers will make you feel good, Dr Kashdan believes this formula is the perfect prescription for a happy soul.

He said: 'There is no single secret to feeling good, but when these six ingredients are carefully attended to, in the right doses, you will be on target for a happy life.

'Transform’s research shows that Britain is in need of a bit of a lift and it is great to be working with them on this mission to inspire a more upbeat Britain.

'Each of the ingredients requires a bit of work.  'Just know that your hard work will lead to the greatest rewards possible.'

Steven Taylor, Marketing Director at Transform Cosmetic Surgery said: 'We are delighted to have such a well respected figure as Dr Kashdan involved on the Feel Good Campaign and couldn’t be more pleased that the partnership led to the creation of an actual formula to Feel Good.

'We hope that the Feel Good Formula will continue to help boost spirits and put a smile on faces across the UK.'

SOURCE

Sunday, July 28, 2013



Could coffee help prevent depression? Two cups a day 'may reduce the risk of suicide by 50%'

This is naive.  Since most Americans and Europeans drink coffee, this is really a study of the minority who do not drink coffee.  But who are they?  Mostly people who are caffeine sensitive, probably.  So the findings could equally well be held to show that sensitive people get more depressed

Drinking between two to four cups of coffee every day appears to reduce the risk of suicide in men and women by 50 per cent, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health reviewed data from three previous US studies and found the risk of suicide amongst adults who drank several cups of caffeinated coffee on a daily basis was about half that of that compared to those who drank decaffeinated coffee, very little coffee or no coffee at all.

The study, of 200,000 men and women, examined data which outlined their caffeine consumption both coffee and non-coffee sources – including tea, caffeinated soft drinks, and chocolate.

However for the majority, coffee was the main caffeine source and over the average 6 and-a-half year assessment period,  there were just 277 deaths from suicide.

‘Unlike previous investigations, we were able to assess association of consumption of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages, and we identify caffeine as the most likely candidate of any putative protective effect of coffee,' said lead researcher Michel Lucas, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.

Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system but may act as a mild antidepressant by increasing production of certain 'feel good' neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline.

This could explain why previous epidemiological studies have found a lower risk of depression among coffee drinkers in past, the researchers reported.

In spite of the findings, the authors do not recommend that depressed adults self-medicate by increasing their caffeine consumption as an increase could result in unpleasant side effects.

‘Overall, our results suggest that there is little further benefit for consumption above two to three cups a day or 400 mg of caffeine a day,’ the authors wrote.

The researchers didn’t observe any major difference in risk between those who drank two to three cups of coffee per day and four or more cups a day, most likely due to the small number of suicide cases in these categories.

However, in a previous HSPH coffee-depression study, the investigators observed a maximal effect among those who drank four or more cups per day.

In fact one previous large Finnish study showed a higher risk of suicide among people drinking eight or nine cups per day. Few participants in the two HSPH studies drank such large amounts of coffee so the impact of six or more cups a day of coffee was not addressed in these two studies.

SOURCE






Does smoking make you a bad parent? Survey finds smokers feed their children less, buy them smaller birthday presents and raid their money box to fund their habit

Not surprising.  Smokers are mostly lower class

The dangers of smoking during pregnancy or near a child have been well-documented, but new research has found that that smoker parents are also less caring towards their children.

A survey has discovered that nicotine addict mothers and fathers cut back on Christmas presents for their children, buy them less clothing and even feed them less to fund their daily cigarette habit.

The poll, which examined the lifestyle behaviour of smokers, also discovered that some people stole from friends, applied for credit cards and even asked strangers on the street for money when desperate for their fix.

The research was carried out by pharmaceutical company Pfizer as part of their Don't Go Cold Turkey Campaign and asked 6,271 smokers about how they funded smoking in tougher economic times.

It revealed that while 60 per cent of smokers refused to pay more than £8 for a packet of cigarettes, one per cent - which equated to 31 people - were willing to pay an astonishing £40.

The most alarming statistics related to smoking parents however. It found that many were often more willing to reduce their child's quality of life than go without cigarettes.

A shocking 20 per cent admitted to having bought their children fewer or cheaper clothes and shoes  to save money instead of quitting smoking.

A worrying 17 per cent admitted to cutting back on food and drink for their children, 35 per cent reduced the amount of treats they gave them and 20 per cent said they even cut back on Christmas and birthday presents to continue smoking.

Nearly nine per cent - which equated to 350 of those polled - had stolen money from their child's money box.

Just under 13 per cent said they had stopped taking their children to after school groups, 17 per cent admitted to having cut back on toy purchases and just under seven per cent had even refused to send their children on school trips to save money rather than quit their habit.

Almost 65 per cent of those polled admitted to feeling under financial pressure and 50 per cent said they were concerned about falling into debt but all still continued to feed their tobacco habit.

And a significant number of smokers admitted to engaging in reckless and even dishonest behaviour to fund the habit.

Nearly 1,000 people had dipped into their life savings to make sure they could afford cigarettes and 275 had even stolen from friends of family members.

SOURCE

Saturday, July 27, 2013




Teenagers who smoke cannabis damage their brains for LIFE and may be more likely to develop schizophrenia

Mouse study only so even if the damage is as described, quantifying it is a large problem.  The damage in people could be real but maybe trivial

Teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis suffer long lasting brain damage and are in much greater danger of developing schizophrenia.
American researchers say the drug is particularly dangerous for a group of people who have a genetic susceptibility to the mental health disorder - and it could be the trigger for it.

Asaf Keller, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said the results highlight the dangers of teenagers smoking cannabis during their formative years. The study found that even short-term exposure to cannabis impaired brain activity, with the damage continuing into adulthood

The study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, exposed young mice to the active ingredient in marijuana for 20 days.  It found that their brain activity was impaired, with the damage continuing into adulthood.

The past 20 years has seen major controversy about the long-term effects of marijuana, with experts divided over its long-term effects on teenagers.

Previous research has shown that children who started using marijuana before the age of 16 are at greater risk of permanent brain damage, and have a significantly higher incidence of psychiatric disorders.

‘Adolescence is the critical period during which marijuana use can be damaging,’ said the study's lead author, Sylvina Mullins Raver, a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
‘We wanted to identify the biological underpinnings and determine whether there is a real, permanent health risk to marijuana use.’

The scientists began by examining cortical oscillations in mice. Cortical oscillations are patterns of the activity of neurons in the brain and are believed to underlie the brain's various functions.  These oscillations are very abnormal in schizophrenia and in other psychiatric disorders.

The scientists exposed young mice to very low doses of the active ingredient in marijuana for 20 days, and then allowed them to return to their siblings and develop normally.

‘In the adult mice exposed to marijuana ingredients in adolescence, we found that cortical oscillations were grossly altered, and they exhibited impaired cognitive abilities,’ said Raver.

‘We also found impaired cognitive behavioural performance in those mice. The striking finding is that, even though the mice were exposed to very low drug doses, and only for a brief period during adolescence, their brain abnormalities persisted into adulthood.’

The scientists repeated the experiment, this time giving marijuana to adult mice that had never been exposed to the drug before.

Their cortical oscillations and ability to perform cognitive tasks remained normal, indicating that it was only drug exposure during the critical teenage years that impaired brain activity.

‘We found that the frontal cortex is much more affected by the drugs during adolescence,’ said Keller.  'This is the area of the brain controls executive functions such as planning and impulse control. It is also the area most affected in schizophrenia.’

Keller now wants to know whether the effects can be reversed. ‘We are hoping we will learn more about schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders, which are complicated conditions,’ he said.

‘These cognitive symptoms are not affected by medication, but they might be affected by controlling these cortical oscillations.’

SOURCE





Blood pressure drugs may boost brainpower: Side effect of medicines slows dementia patients' mental decline

Very preliminary findings

Doctors have long recognised that taking blood pressure drugs may slow the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Now researchers have uncovered the first evidence that the drugs, called ACE inhibitors, may actually boost brainpower.

Those with high blood pressure are more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s and similar diseases, but the study found their memory and thinking skills were protected by the drugs they were taking.

ACE inhibitors – whose names  include ramipril, captopril and perindopril – have become increasingly popular in the past ten years, particularly for younger patients.

Researchers in Ireland and Canada investigated drugs which target a specific biochemical pathway called the renin angiotensin system – a hormone system which is thought to affect the development of Alzheimer’s.

The study compared the rate of cognitive decline in 361 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia (caused by problems in blood supply to the brain), or a mix of both. Of that group, 85 were already taking ACE inhibitors; the rest were not.

The researchers also analysed the impact on 30 patients, with an average age of 77 years, who were taking the drugs for the first time.

They were assessed over six months, using the Standardised Mini Mental State Examination or the Quick Mild Cognitive Impairment tests.

Those taking ACE inhibitors experienced marginally slower rates of cognitive decline than those who were not, found the study in the journal BMJ Open.

Meanwhile, the brainpower of those patients who had been newly prescribed ACE inhibitors actually improved, the experts from University College Cork in Ireland and McMaster University in Ontario, Canada found.

It is the first evidence to suggest these drugs may not only halt cognitive decline, but may actually improve brainpower.

The researchers said: ‘Although the differences were small and of uncertain clinical significance, if sustained over years, compounding effects may well have significant clinical benefits.’

They warn that ACE inhibitors are harmful to some patients, so if larger studies confirm they work well in dementia, it may be only certain people with high blood pressure who stand to benefit.

Previous studies have linked other forms of blood pressure medication with anti-dementia benefits.

Dr James Pickett of the Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘Any drug which halts cognitive decline is potentially exciting because it has the ability to radically improve quality of life.’

But Dr Simon Ridley of Alzheimer’s Research UK said: ‘This is a short study with a small number of participants. It is unclear if the [improvement] could be due to the control of blood pressure, a different effect of the drugs or another factor.’

Among the most widely used ACE inhibitors are perindopril (also known as Coversyl), ramipril (Tritace), captopril (Capoten), trandolapril (Gopten), fosinopril (Staril), lisinopril (Zestril and prinivil).

They work by stopping the  body from creating the hormone angiotensin II. This has a variety  of effects but essentially relaxes blood vessels and helps reduce the amount of water re-absorbed by  the kidneys – helping decrease blood pressure.

SOURCE




Friday, July 26, 2013



Mothers who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have children with 'bad behaviour or ADHD'

So WHO were the "Mothers who smoke during pregnancy"?  Mostly lower class women and lower class people have more health problems anyway

Children are more likely to be unruly and badly behaved if their mothers smoked in pregnancy, claim researchers.

The risk of antisocial behaviour rose among children whose mothers smoked.

They were more likely to have poor attention spans and show disruptive behaviour such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

An analysis of three existing studies from New Zealand, the U.S. and Cardiff analysed rates of conduct problems between the ages of four and 10 years.

Such problems include bad behaviour and attention difficulties.

The study published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry found a link between maternal smoking and conduct disorders that rose with the amount of cigarettes smoked.

Lead researcher Gordon Harold of Leicester University, said: 'The increase is relative to the frequency of smoking.'

Dr Theodore Slotkin, of Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina, in a linked editorial in the journal, added: 'The conclusion is incontrovertible: prenatal tobacco smoke exposure contributes significantly to subsequent conduct disorder in offspring.

'We now know that the consequences of prenatal tobacco exposure are not restricted to perinatal risk, but rather extend to the lifespan and affect the quality of life for countless individuals.'

Previous U.S. research has suggested that later behavioural problems in children may be linked to drinking during pregnancy.

Earlier this week research revealed that nicotine addict mothers and fathers cut back on Christmas presents for their children, buy them less clothing and even feed them less to fund their daily cigarette habit.

The poll, which examined the lifestyle behaviour of smokers, also discovered that some people stole from friends, applied for credit cards and even asked strangers on the street for money when
desperate for their fix.

The research was carried out by pharmaceutical company Pfizer as part of their Don't Go Cold Turkey Campaign and asked 6,271 smokers about how they funded smoking in tougher economic times.

It revealed that while 60 per cent of smokers refused to pay more than £8 for a packet of cigarettes, one per cent - which equated to 31 people - were willing to pay an astonishing £40.

The most alarming statistics related to smoking parents however. It found that many were often more willing to reduce their child's quality of life than go without cigarettes.

A shocking 20 per cent admitted to having bought their children fewer or cheaper clothes and shoes  to save money instead of quitting smoking.

SOURCE







Could your daily vitamin pills take years OFF your life?

They're taken by thousands to boost their health but recent studies have found some supplements could do more harm than good 

Vitamin pills are big business - from chewable ones for children and tablets especially tailored for women going through the menopause to essential oils for dodgy joints and high-dose vitamin C to pep up your immune system, there’s a supplement for everyone.

But can vitamins actually be bad for your health?

It seems that your daily pill can do more harm than good. Indeed, last week saw the revelation that fish oil capsules have been linked to high levels of prostate cancer - a shock for the millions who take fish oils or omega-3 fatty acids every day in the quest to ease joint pain, improve heart health and fight mental decline.

A study of more than 2,000 men found that those with the highest levels of omega-3 in their blood were 71 per cent more likely to develop the most lethal form of prostate cancer, and 44 per cent more likely to develop low-grade prostate cancer.

And it’s not just omega-3 that is under scrutiny. According to Dr Alan Kristal, who led the study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, there is surprisingly little evidence that any vitamin or mineral pills prevent disease - unless people are suffering from a nutrient deficiency.

‘As we do more and more of these studies, we find high doses of supplements have no effect or increase the risk of the disease you are trying to prevent,’ he says. Yet millions of busy Britons take vitamins to compensate for a poor diet.

One in three of us takes a supplement, and we spend about £209 million a year on vitamin pills. The message last week from experts was not to panic.

For most people, taking multivitamin and mineral supplements at the recommended dose is safe.

So amid all this confusing and sometimes contradictory advice, which supplements work and, more importantly, which ones are safe?

MULTIVITAMINS

While they might be the most wide-ranging supplement in the UK - providing 100 per cent of our daily allowance of everything from vitamin B to copper - there is little evidence that they do any good.

In 2010, French researchers followed 8,000 volunteers who had taken either a multivitamin or a dummy placebo pill for six years.

They found that those who popped the vitamin pill were just as likely to suffer heart disease or cancer as those taking the placebo.

That work followed a 2008 major review of 67 studies - involving 230,000 people - which found no evidence that multivitamins prolonged life.

Some studies have even suggested that high doses could do more harm than good.

In 2011, the Iowa Women’s Health Study looked at the health of more than 38,000 older women and found that women who regularly took multivitamins were 2.4  per cent more likely to die over the 19 years of the study.

Their research also showed that use of vitamin B6 increased the risk of death during the study by 4.1 per cent, folic acid by 5.9 per cent, iron by 3.9 per cent, magnesium by 3.6 per cent, zinc by 3 per cent and copper by 18 per cent.

However, the study didn’t take into account the fact that many people start taking heavy doses of vitamins only when they develop serious diseases such as cancer.

But Dr Kristal says: ‘Dozens of studies of multivitamins show that they do absolutely nothing at the recommended doses.’

So if your diet contains plenty of fresh food and your five-a-day, it’s unlikely a multivitamin pill is essential.
VITAMIN C

Doctors have known since the 1750s, when British sailors were first issued with limes, that vitamin C is essential for health. It helps to heal wounds, strengthens the body’s connective tissues and keeps cells healthy.

But despite the many health claims made about vitamin C, there is little evidence that it does much good as a supplement.

While it does appear to shorten the duration of colds, there is little real proof that it staves off illness, Dr Kristal says.

And the high doses recommended by some supporters of alternative medicine may do more harm than good.

In February, an 11-year study of more than 23,000 men found that those who took high doses of the supplement - typically 1,000 mg - were twice as likely to develop kidney stones compared to men who took no pills.

A 2002 study showed that 1g doses of vitamin  C and vitamin E almost trebled the risk of premature death among postmenopausal women in any year.

The Department of Health says adults need 40 mg a day but doses up to 1,000 mg a day are unlikely to cause harm. Anyone worried about their intake should decide whether they are exceeding their safe daily dose.

For example, the effervescent vitamin drink Berocca contains 476 mg. One tablet of a supplement like this, combined with a diet of fresh fruit, could tip you over the safe dosage.

SOURCE


Thursday, July 25, 2013



Restaurant menu calorie counts don't work - and may even make diners consume MORE, study finds

This is by now a common finding but the people who "just know" what the truth is don't care about evidence

Calorie counts on food menus do not motivate people to make healthier choices, according to new findings.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania analyzed the purchasing behaviors of 1,121 adults at two McDonald’s restaurants in New York City.

They found that even when they provided information on 'ideal' dietary intakes for each day or per meal, diners did not change their orders.

Commenting on the results, lead researcher Dr Julie Downs said: 'Putting calorie labels on menus really has little or no effect on people’s ordering behaviors at all.'

She and her team found that the majority of participants actually ended up consuming more calories than recommended per meal - 650 for women; 800 for men.

Calorie counts have become a hot topic of debate over recent years, especially in light of America's worsening obesity epidemic.

Nutrition advocates say if people knew how simple it is to cut their caloric intake, they would make better decisions.

As a result, several states and municipalities across the country including New York, Philadelphia and California, have already introduced mandatory menu labeling.

And soon nationwide regulations will go into effect as part of the Affordable Care Act, although a precise date has not been set.

However, Dr Downs argues the 'well-intentioned' policy is unrealistic and 'not going to help curb' the obesity trend.

'The people who set these policies aren’t very representative,' she explained.

The results suggest that consumers, especially at fast-food venues, tend choose taste, value, and convenience over nutrient content.

According to the American Heart Association, among Americans age 20 and older, 154.7million are overweight or obese.

The recent study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

SOURCE





Sweeteners are not bad for you: Take the scare stories about diet drinks and sweets with a pinch of salt, experts say

Aspartame, xylitol and Stevia might sound like Doctor Who villains, but in fact they are sugar substitutes, or sweeteners.

Most of us have been consuming them in some form since the first of them, saccharin – dubbed ‘the poor man’s sugar’ – was formulated by German chemists more than 100 years  ago.

And fears about their potentially toxic effects date back almost as far.

Diabetes, cancer, strokes, seizures, hypertension, vomiting, dizziness – all have been cited as risks from sweetener consumption.

Yet none of these claims has stuck, and today sweeteners are a global industry worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

They are found in more than 6,000 products from drinks and desserts  to cakes, chewing gum and  ready meals.

Last week a new study emerged, with Purdue University in Indiana claiming that diet drinks containing the artificial sweetener aspartame (such as Coke Zero) are no healthier than their full-sugar counterparts and could contribute to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.

The report author, Professor Susan Swithers, suggested this could be because the chemical fails to trigger the ‘full’ feeling in our brain, so we over-indulge elsewhere.

She also proposed  a link between aspartame and metabolic syndrome, a much-disputed term denoting a combination of symptoms that increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Catherine Collins, principal dietician at St George’s Hospital, London, strongly disputes the findings of the Purdue University research.

‘There are many, many factors involved in us feeling full or satisfied, and indeed experiments have shown that chocolate cravings are noticeably reduced the moment you eat the first piece, before the sugar even hits your bloodstream, so this study proves nothing,’ she says.

It is sugar (sucrose), with its high calorific content and need for insulin to break it down, that poses the real risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, Collins argues.

‘Sweeteners have either zero calories or are very low in calories that aren’t absorbed anyway, so are effectively zero calorie,’ she adds.

‘So the suggestion that these products are no better at preventing weight gain or diabetes, or that they in fact cause them, is unfounded, as the accepted scientific evidence demonstrates.’

THE CANCER MYTH

The spectre of sweeteners as carcinogens first surfaced in the 1970s when saccharin (found in Sweet’N Low) was discovered in one study  to raise the risk of bladder cancer  in rats.

A wealth of later research in humans found no link. Equally, aspartame, the most commonly used sweetener, was blamed in 1996 as the cause  of the spike in brain tumours in Americans between 1975 and 1992.

Subsequent studies again found no relationship.

The sweetener sodium cyclamate was banned in the US in 1969 after a study found that rats fed the equivalent of 250 cans of diet drinks  a day developed bladder tumours.

Further studies failed to replicate these findings, but the ban remains. Sodium cyclamate is deemed safe in Europe and 50 countries worldwide – but is not routinely found in UK products.

Dr Paul Mulholland, an oncologist at University College London who specialises in brain tumours, says: ‘I am not aware of any risk factors for brain cancer apart from radiation.’

SO ARE THEY SAFE?

Collins says: ‘The problem with many of these studies looking at links between cancers, seizures, hypertension and sweeteners – and the way they are reported – is that  too often people confuse correlation with causation.

'For example, an analysis of Mail on Sunday readers would probably find that they have higher levels of bowel cancer than people in Africa, but that’s because this group lives in a Western country with a particular diet, not because reading a newspaper causes cancer.’

The concerns about sugar substitutes are, she argues, based on a misunderstanding of the wider data.

One such misunderstanding is that aspartame is harmful because the body breaks it down into toxic substances – methanol and formaldehyde. But they’re not absorbed and the amounts are negligible: a can of Diet Coke produces 20mg of methanol, half the amount produced by the same quantity of fruit juice .

‘The fact is, sweeteners are safe,’ adds Collins. ‘Both the American Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority approve them. Those who cast doubt about their safety can often have a vested interest in doing so.’

A major review was conducted in 2006 by the EFSA, which concluded: ‘Extensive scientific research ...... together with a history of more than 20 years of safe use, support the conclusion that aspartame is safe.’

Doctors and dieticians warn that there can be unfortunate side effects to some sweeteners. ‘Sugar alcohols in particular – the xylitols and sorbitols – are not absorbed by the gut and will in larger doses, and especially in people who already have irritable bowel syndrome, cause bloating and diarrhoea,’ says consultant gastroenterologist Neil Ikin, from London’s Homerton hospital.

Collins, however, recommends such sugar alcohols, which are often found in chewing gums, as they have consistently been shown to help fight plaque and tooth decay  by preventing bacteria in the  mouth from forming the acids that attack teeth.

The message, it seems, is clear: sweeteners won’t cause any ill effects. Just as long as you don’t have IBS.

SOURCE


Wednesday, July 24, 2013



USDA Funds $25K Study on Whether Kids’ Preference for Fat, Sugar Leads to Obesity

Good to see them researching the question instead of just leaping to conclusions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding a study to determine if “preference for fat and sugar may have a role in overweight and obesity development” among African-American adolescents in Alabama.

The department announced the $25,000 grant to Tuskegee University in Tuskeegee, Ala., in April.

“This project will document taste preferences for fat and sweet foods in African American adolescents and enhance the research infrastructure and capacity in obesity, food product development and sensory evaluation research at Tuskegee University,” the USDA press release from April 2, 2013 said.

The project description from Tuskegee focused on “upgrading a computerized data collection and analysis system for sensory response in obesity and food product development.”

“Alabama ranks sixth nationwide with 36.1% of its children, ages 10-17 years, falling into the obese category,” the project summary said. “Increased preference for fat and sugar may have a role in overweight and obesity development.”

The study will evaluate taste preferences for African-American children in selected Alabama counties ranging in ages 12 to 17.

“It is hypothesized that a preference for fat and sweet foods would predict weight gain among African Americans,” the project description said.

The children will be recruited for the study through advertisements.

“Firstly, participants will be presented with randomly ordered solutions such as non-fat milk, whole milk, half and half, and cream containing different levels of sugar by weight,” the project description said. “Participants will rate the foods for sweetness, creaminess, and pleasantness using a 9-point hedonic scale.”

“Secondly, participants will also be asked to give lists of their favorite foods,” the description continued. “Foods will be grouped into high-fat, high-sugar, high carbohydrate, high protein categories, and participants will indicate their preferences using the 9-point hedonic scale.”

The project description said that the main objective is to “develop a community based, nutrition education program with and specifically for rural southern African Americans to prevent weight gain and decrease cancer risks” and “to investigate relationships between dietary patterns and markers for cancer risks among these children. Participants will be invited to volunteer for the preference testing before and upon completion of the study.”

SOURCE





Regulations Prompt Schools to Ditch Federal Lunch Subsidies

Approximately 200 school districts across the country have opted out of federal lunch requirements, leaving them free from regulations Michelle Obama pushed in 2010, but without federal subsidies for school lunches.

“It was basically about watching the amount of food get thrown away last year. The kids just didn’t like what we had to offer them,” said Gary Lewis, superintendent of Catlin Public Schools in Illinois. “The new guidelines from the federal level for us were too restrictive.”

Through the lunch program, the federal government dictates the type, amount, and even color of food in public schools.

Federal lunch programs began because students were coming to school malnourished, said Kay Brown, a director at the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“We still have hunger, and we have problems with obesity and all the challenges that presents,” she said. “The solution to that is the right amount of nutritious food.”

Brown presented a GAO report to Congress in June on the effects of 2010’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The report recommended changes to the law because GAO’s investigation found it increased useless calories in meals and food waste in cafeterias. About 200 schools have dropped the federal program because of its regulations and costs, according to the School Nutrition Association.

Higher Costs for Schools

The act will cost taxpayers another $3.2 billion over its first five years, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Districts are reporting fewer students purchasing lunch and costly equipment upgrades to cook the new menu.

Because of the regulations, Catlin lost somewhere between $5,000 and $7,000 last year, Lewis said. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake district in New York served 22 percent fewer lunches and lost about $100,000.

“That was upsetting to everybody – the board of education, the school lunch manager,” said Christy Multer, a district spokesman. “She’s expected to operate her program in the black, to cover the cost of offering the lunches to students from the sales…. If you offer food that students don’t like, they won’t buy it.”

What Kids Won’t Eat

The HHFKA requires that schools serve a fruit or vegetable to students, even if those students will not eat it. GAO inspectors visited an elementary school that served children oranges, which many threw in the trash, Brown said.

“In that particular case, the effect is more on the nutrition the kids are not getting,” Brown said.

She said she saw similar waste in seven of the 17 schools she visited, but noted that most of the waste occurred in the youngest grades, and lunch period length may have been a factor.

The act mandates which kinds of vegetables students should be served – one from each of five categories per week. Many students readily eat beans within soup or chili, Multer said, but won’t eat them measured out in little cups the way the regulations directed.

The lunch manager was further challenged by requirements that food vendors hadn’t caught up with, Multer said. Three-ounce chicken patties, a more popular meal at the district, didn’t fit the 10-ounce-per-week cap for a protein-based entrĂ©e, which averages two ounces per day. Many students were disgruntled at seeing part of the patty cut off.

 “We wanted to give it a full year’s try, and we did,” Multer said. “We were hoping that maybe it would bounce back, the kids would get used to it, but it didn’t.”

Multer and Lewis said their districts will still offer free and reduced-price lunches, but local and not nationwide taxpayers will foot the bill.

“Some school districts have figured out a little better than others how to change their menus, or how to change the nutritional contents of the lunch program and make it appealing to kids,” Brown said. “Some have been introducing over a period of time some more healthy foods. .... Over time, acceptance was improving.”

Balancing Authority, Responsibility

Multer said her district provided healthy lunches before HHFKA, and so do many districts. Each district’s challenges are different, Brown said.

“There’s such huge variety from one [school district] to another,” she said. “Some have really diverse populations, and they have to decide what kinds of ethnic foods students will accept, and some have fewer students eligible for free and reduced-price meals, and who can go off campus to buy their own food.”

Parents are an important part of keeping kids healthy, Multer said.

“The question becomes: What’s the role of the parent to ensure that each child is exposed to a wide variety of vegetables for their health versus the role of the school district?” she said. “Schools also have an obligation to work with parents to ensure that. We need to involve parents in that. I think the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act has called attention to this and maybe this is something that will promote more parents to take a more active role in their children’s eating.”

Taking responsibility for school lunches means upset parents are now the district’s fault, Lewis noted, which makes them more responsive to parent concerns.

“How do you ensure healthy children and healthy adults?” Multer asked. “Some things you can legislate and some things maybe you can’t legislate. You can’t legislate kids to like sweet potatoes.”

SOURCE


Tuesday, July 23, 2013



Now resveratrol bites the dust

More evidence that anti-oxidants are a BAD thing.  A simpleton's theory runs up against the facts

Health supplements containing the ‘miracle ingredient’ from red wine could undo the positive effects of exercise, experts have warned.

A daily dose of the antioxidant resveratrol cancelled out many of the benefits of a two-month-long exercise programme, a study found.

With exercise alone, blood pressure and levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and other harmful blood fats were lowered.
Undoing all that hard work... A daily dose of the antioxidant resveratrol cancelled out many of the benefits of a two-month-long exercise programme, a study found

Undoing all that hard work... A daily dose of the antioxidant resveratrol cancelled out many of the benefits of a two-month-long exercise programme, a study found

But if combined with a course of supplements, most of the positive effects vanished, research published in the Journal of Physiology reports.

Resveratrol has become increasingly popular as study after study has credited the compound with health-boosting properties, from extending life and battling obesity to warding off heart disease and obesity.

However, most research is carried out on mice or rats, rather than in the human body.

Resveratrol, which is found in the grape skins that give red wine its colour, is supposed to boost health by mopping up dangerous oxygen molecules known as free radicals that attack cells and tissues and are blamed for health problems from ageing to cancer.

The Danish scientists behind the latest study say these free radicals may be needed for the body to recover after exercise.   Without them, many of the benefits of exercise, such as lowering blood pressure and increasing oxygen uptake, may disappear.

In the study, 27 men in their mid-sixties were asked to perform eight weeks of high-intensity exercise training – with half the group given 250mg of resveratrol a day and the other group receiving a placebo.

Scientists expect to get the same result from women and younger men.

Despite the findings, wine lovers need not worry about the effect of the odd glass of red on their exercise routine.

The amount of resveratrol in the supplements studied was far higher than can be obtained from drinking wine alone.

However, it could easily be obtained from supplements.

SOURCE






When fruit and vegetables are BAD for you: Getting your five-a-day is responsible for HALF of all food poisoning cases

Fruit and vegetables are responsible for 46 per cent of food poisoning cases, recent research shows.  The study by the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that leafy vegetables, namely lettuce and spinach, are the worst offenders.

It also showed that meat and poultry are responsible for 22 per cent of food poisoning cases.

The study found that every year one in six people in the U.S. fall ill with food poisoning – about nine million people.  The majority of cases of foodborne illness caused by leafy vegetables are caused by pre-cut greens which are bought in plastic bags.

The reason for this is that these products tend to be eaten raw. In contrast, the bugs in meat and poultry that many people would expect to be the cause of most cases of food poisoning, are usually killed during cooking.

Dr Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia's Centre for Food Safety explained to Modern Farmer that lettuce is particularly dangerous as harmful bacteria can form within the plant tissue.  This means that when the lettuce is washed, the bacteria will not be washed away.

He added that leafy greens can cause E.Coli, salmonella, and listeria.  These bugs tend to come from animals which carry them in their intestines.  If the animals’ manure gets into soil or water, it can contaminate vegetables.

Salmonella is especially likely to be transmitted in this way as manure can be blown around by the wind when it dries out, and salmonella is known to be tolerant to drying.

In extreme cases, contaminated bagged salad can cause fatal kidney failure, according to Dr Doyle.

Dr Doyle says that the only way to prevent lettuce-related food poisoning is to ensure that farmers are doing something to kill bacteria in the field, as soon as the leaves are picked.

He believes that farmers should be using disinfectants to achieve this – he says that currently they typically use chlorine but that this is not very effective at killing bacteria.

However, Dr Doyle accepts that the odds are in the consumers favour as millions of bags of salad are sold every year and the number of food poisoning cases is small.

This data is supported by a recent study from the Food Standards Agency which showed that there are 120,000 extra cases of food-related illness during a British summer.

Dr Lisa Ackerley, a microbiologist, believes this is not due to undercooked meat so much as poor hand, surface, and utensil hygiene when people are cooking outside.

SOURCE


Monday, July 22, 2013



High intake of saturated fat & sperm quality in Danish men

Below are some excerpts from a skeptical writer.  I can only echo her point that sperm motility is the key factor in fertilization and the numbers show no effect of fat on motility

“Eating a fatty diet could reduce a man’s sperm count by 40%” said the Daily Mail – enough to put every man off his bacon & egg. The Globe and Mail warned similarly: “Eating too much saturated fat may decrease sperm counts.”

The headlines came from a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” High dietary intake of saturated fat is associated with reduced semen quality among 701 young Danish men from the general population.” Unfortunately only the abstract is on free view – I’ve got hold of the full article to see what it’s all about.

As the article title confirms – the study involved 701 Danish men who signed up for military training between April 2008 and June 2010. The men “delivered a semen sample, underwent a physical examination, and answered a questionnaire comprising a quantitative food-frequency questionnaire to assess food and nutrient intakes.” The food questionnaire was intended to review the three months prior to the military training sign up appointment.

The full article states (in the introduction) “We therefore examined the associations between dietary fat intakes and semen quality among 701 young Danish men from the general population, hypothesizing that a high intake of saturated fat is associated with reduced semen quality.” So, the researchers hypothesised that saturated fat intake is associated with reduced semen quality before doing the study. As Einstein said, if you know what you’re looking for, it ain’t research!

The conclusions of the study were: “…men in the highest quartile of saturated fat intake had a 38% (95% CI: 0.1%, 61%) lower sperm concentration and a 41% (95% CI: 4%, 64%) lower total sperm count than did men in the lowest quartile. No association between semen quality and intake of other types of fat was found.”

Table 2 is interesting. This has semen volume, sperm concentration, total sperm count and motile sperm (the latter gives an indication of the quality of the sperm – their ability to move effectively towards an egg) against the different quartiles for total fat, SFA, MUFA, PUFA and even gets down to omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. Let’s just take the part of the table for SFA vs the sperm measurements:

This tells me that the ‘best’ intake of saturated fat for semen volume, sperm concentration, total sperm count and motile sperm is 11.2-13.27% of dietary energy (a bit precise, but that’s what it suggests). There’s barely any difference between the third and fourth quartiles and the second quartile is ‘better’ than the first. This is notwithstanding all the variables stacked against the quartiles as they go up from 1 to 4 for everything else – alcohol, smoking, STD’s, age, being underweight etc.

Table 3 tries to “take into account confounders”. However, it only tries to take into account BMI, alcohol consumption, smoking and the period of abstinence before the sample. It doesn’t appear to take into account the nearly three times higher incidence of STDs and there being more men in Q4 over 20 than in Q1. Even if all attempted confounders have been perfectly accounted for (and I can’t see how, from the SFA data in Table 2 being unremarkable and the different attributes in Table 1 being significant), surely the difference in age in Q4 and the highly significant difference in the incidence of STDs could alone explain any difference in sperm quality? (Again – not that the difference in sperm quality in Table 2 is much to get excited about).

Table 3 also no longer mentions motility – that’s the statistic to get excited about if you’re trying to conceive – why was this dropped? Did it not give ‘the right’ answer?

It also makes no sense to claim an association with saturated fat and not total fat or any other fat. Saturated fat cannot be eaten alone. Every single food on the planet that contains saturated fat also contains monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat – there are no exceptions. The extracted numbers from Table 1 confirm that total fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat all increased from Quartile 1 to Quartile 4 and yet we are led to believe that only saturated fat is associated with sperm concentration and sperm count.

Not only is this not plausible, no plausible mechanism is offered for any possible explanation for proposed association throughout the article. How can saturated fat intake (alone from other fat intake and total fat intake) impact sperm concentration and sperm count?

If the period of abstinence tells us anything, a much more interesting headline could have been “Men who eat more saturated fat have sex more frequently!”

SOURCE






Statins risk for women: Taking cholesterol-lowering drug for more than ten years 'doubles chances of the most common breast cancer'

The statin religion is unraveling at long last

Women who take statins for more than a decade face double the risk of contracting the most common type of breast cancer.

Alarming findings raise new concerns over the long-term safety of a widely prescribed medicine in the UK.

Previous studies have suggested the cholesterol-lowering drugs, used by an estimated eight million men and women, can reduce the risk of certain cancers – including the breast form of the disease.

However, most research looked at patients who had only been on them for five years or less.

The latest findings identified invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) which starts in the ducts of the breast before spreading inwards. It accounts for around seven out of ten breast cancer cases.

The experts at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, US, also found the chances of getting invasive lobular carcinoma, which accounts for ten to 15 per cent of breast cancers, went up almost 2.5 times in some women on statins long-term.

Around 48,000 women in Britain are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, equal to around 130 a day. A woman has a one in nine chance of developing the disease at some point in her life.

The reasons why the anti-cholesterol pills might stimulate cancer growth are unclear.

The researchers said one explanation may be that statins affect hormone regulation in the body, especially as the study found women on the drugs were significantly more likely to suffer cancers driven by the hormone oestrogen.

They said it’s possible that while short-term use does appear to have a protective effect against breast cancer, in the long-run statins may damage certain chemical pathways that lead to growth of tumours.

The report found: ‘As more women are taking them and for longer durations it is possible we will observe effects that prior studies could not detect.’

Last night, leading UK cancer bodies called for urgent research to clarify the risks to women.

But they urged patients on statins not to stop taking them without consulting their GP.

Sally Greenbrook, from the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: ‘Any study suggesting a potential link between statins and breast cancer risk should not be taken lightly. But these drugs are extremely effective at reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.’

Jessica Harris, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘There’s been a huge amount of research into the link between statins and cancer. ‘But so far there’s no conclusive answer, with some studies showing a reduced risk, some no link, and others showing a raised risk.’

Statins have also emerged as a major weapon against heart disease in the last 20 years.

The latest research, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, examined how long-term statin use affected breast cancer risk in women aged between 55 and 74.

The researchers studied just under 2,000 women diagnosed with either IDC or ILC between 2000 and 2008 and a separate group of 902 women of a similar age profile but who were free of cancer.

Around 370 men a year in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer – but the latest research did not investigate the cancer risk of men taking statins.

SOURCE



Sunday, July 21, 2013



Why ARE high-flying women more at risk of developing breast cancer?

Nobody seems to know why.  I note however that fat is protective against breast cancer and career women would be mostly slim

Jan O'Mahony loved her job as a GP, but it was highly demanding, especially when she started taking on extra managerial responsibilities.

She often found herself working in the evenings, which she had to juggle with running a home, raising two daughters and worrying about her two elderly parents. It all added up to a hectic lifestyle that will sound familiar to millions of British women.

‘It was pressurised and I can remember times when I felt exhausted, but it became second nature,’ says Jan, 59, from Leeds. ‘Certainly my husband Don was concerned, but I convinced him I was fine and it was what I wanted to do - and it was. I loved my job. There was no reason to worry about my health.’

Then, at the end of a holiday in October 2009, Jan noticed a lump in her breast. Concerned, she immediately went for tests - and her worst fears were realised.

‘I knew, just from the nature of the lump, that it could be cancer. But it's still a horrible shock when you hear those words,’ she recalls. ‘It's something that's on your “dread list” as a woman.’

Signed off work to begin surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she started to take stock.  ‘I started to worry about the stress of my job, and what role it might have played in me getting cancer,’ she says. ‘Breast cancer doesn't develop overnight and I'm not saying that was the cause of it, but in the two years prior to the diagnosis, I was under a lot of pressure.

‘I also wondered if putting myself back in that situation would affect my risk of recurrence.’

Anyone told they have a serious illness will instinctively look for a reason. Often there is none. But in the case of breast cancer, research is increasingly showing that one particular group is at more risk: professional women.

The latest findings, published in June in the journal Social Science & Medicine, are dramatic. Researchers analysed data from about 4,000 women over a 55-year period and found that women in professional jobs were nearly 70 per cent more likely to develop breast cancer than housewives or women in ‘lower-status occupations’.

'There's no doubt stress affects your immune system. I don't know what part it played in my illness, but this coloured my view in terms of coming back to work'

So why are high achieving women such a high risk group? Might 'having it all' also unfortunately include breast cancer? Putting off babies to forge a career may be one factor. Breast cancer is commonly driven by the hormone oestrogen, and it's known that having children, and breastfeeding before the age of 30, offer natural protection because they reduce the total number of menstrual cycles a woman has, lowering her oestrogen levels.

Some 49,564 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK in 2010, up from 37,107 women in 1995. Experts suggest this rise is partly driven by the fact that women are delaying their families until later in life: nearly half of all births in England and Wales are now to women over 30, according to the Office of National Statistics.

And women in demanding careers are the group most likely of all to put off having children, or not have them at all. They also have smaller families. ‘There's no doubt professional women are more likely to get breast cancer,’ says Lester Barr, consultant breast surgeon at South Manchester University and Christie Hospitals, and chairman of the charity Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention.

‘There's definitely a link and it's probably a combination of factors. First, professional women tend to have fewer children, they have them later in life and they may breastfeed for less time, all of which are risk factors for breast cancer because of its relationship with the oestrogen cycle.’

Mr Barr adds that alcohol - which has also been linked to breast cancer - is another factor. Figures published last year showed professional middle-aged women were drinking more than teenagers for the first time, downing 9.1 units a week on average.

'Research found that the longer the woman held a job, the greater the risk of cancer, and that being in authority over others was a risk factor'

‘Women are drinking twice as much as they did and professional women tend to have a glass of wine every day to relax,’ he says. ‘Another drive may be more use of the contraceptive pill, and more use of HRT to avoid menopausal symptoms in a high-pressure job.’

Both the pill and HRT change oestrogen levels in women and so may encourage cancer to develop. A 2011 study estimated that just over three out of 100 breast cancers in women in the UK are linked to HRT use.

However, the latest study offered another explanation for professional women's susceptibility to breast cancer: stress. The researchers said that lifestyle and hormonal factors could not fully explain the increased incidence of tumours among this group, and believe the pressures of entering a male-dominated workplace could also have had a role.

‘Women who entered managerial occupations in the 1970s experienced prejudice and discrimination due to prevailing cultural attitudes that men made better leaders than women,’ said Dr Tetyana Pudrovska, who led the study.

‘Exercising job authority was particularly stressful for women... we believe women are still facing the same kind of stresses, and therefore the increased risk is likely to be there today.’

The research found that the longer the woman held a job, the greater the risk of cancer, and that being in authority over others was a risk factor. And this is just the latest evidence to suggest a relationship between stress and cancer.

In 2007, a study of 36,000 Swedish working women aged 30 to 50 found those who felt stressed at work were 30 per cent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who felt in control of things.

Experts have suggested that consistently high levels of the stress hormone cortisol may inhibit the immune system, allowing cancerous cells to flourish.

Jan O'Mahony may never know if the strain of taking on too much did play a role in her illness, but after the shock of being diagnosed with early stage cancer, and the trauma of treatment and recovery, she decided to give up her job completely.

‘Thankfully, I got a good prognosis, and I wanted to put myself at the lowest possible risk of recurrence,’ she says. ‘There's no doubt stress affects your immune system. I don't know what part it played in my illness, but this coloured my view in terms of coming back to work. You only get one crack at life and I had to listen to what my heart was saying.’

She adds that now she has more free time she is able to lead a healthier lifestyle. It's well known that regular exercise, a balanced diet and keeping a healthy weight are all protective against cancer and its return.

'When the cancer came back, I wondered if continuing to work at such a fast pace was the reason why'

‘I've got a better balance in my life now,’ she says. ‘I think women, and particularly my generation, tend to just take things on without thinking about it. As I'd got older I'd found exercise harder and harder to fit in. Now I do Pilates and go to the gym every week and I've lost weight.’

About 55,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Just over 80 per cent of cases occur in women aged over 50

So could too many deadlines contribute to a tumour? The theory that stress causes cancer is still controversial. Analysis of 12 trials in six countries, published in the British Medical Journal, found no link between work-related stress levels and cancer.

One problem is that stress is notoriously difficult to define. For this reason Dr Pudrovska's paper has been criticised by some experts.

‘What one person considers stressful might be enjoyable to another,’ says Dr Hannah Bridges, senior information officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer. ‘The researchers didn't ask the women what their stress levels were.’

Whether high-achieving women are putting themselves under so much pressure it's making them ill may be open to debate. But it often takes something as serious as cancer to get us to reassess our priorities.

SOURCE





Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements may increase the risk of aggressive prostate cancer by 70%

Is the fish-oil religion dying at last?

A supplement taken by millions for its health benefits may trigger aggressive and lethal prostate cancer, research has shown.

Omega-3 fatty acids, derived from fish oils and lauded for their anti-inflammatory properties, were found to increase the risk of high-grade disease by 71 per cent.

Taking omega-3 was also associated with a 44 per cent greater chance of developing low-grade prostate cancer. Overall, the fatty acids raised the risk of all prostate cancers by 43 per cent.

High blood concentrations of all three omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in supplements, EPA, DPA and DHA, were linked to the findings.

Scientists conducting the study compared blood samples from 834 men diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 1,393 participants without the disease.

The results add to evidence published in 2011 by the same U.S. team which associated high blood levels of DHA with a doubling of the risk of high-grade prostate cancer.

Co-author Dr Thodore Brasky, from Ohio State University, said: ‘What's important is that we have been able to replicate our findings from 2011 and we have confirmed that marine omega-3 fatty acids play a role in prostate cancer occurrence.’

Writing in the online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the scientists said the evidence suggested that the fatty acids played a role in prostate cancer development.

People tempted to up their intake of omega-3, particularly by means of supplements, ‘should consider its potential risks’.

Omega-3 fish oils are one of the most fashionable and popular supplements on the high street.

They are said to have a plethora of health benefits, including protection against heart attacks and strokes, staving off arthritis, boosting brain power, and preventing behavioural disorders in children.

Each year Britons reportedly spend around £116 million on fish oil supplements. Globally, omega-3 sales run into billions.

The new study involved men participating in the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (Select), which investigated potential ways to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

No benefit was seen from selenium and an increased number of prostate cancers occurred among men taking vitamin E.

Men with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than those with the lowest levels.

In terms of blood concentration, the difference between the two groups was somewhat greater than the effect of eating salmon twice a week, said lead scientist Dr Alan Kristal, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

‘We've shown once again that use of nutritional supplements may be harmful,’ he said.

Further research is needed to uncover the mechanisms that might cause omega-3 to drive prostate cancer, said the researchers.

One potentially harmful effect was the conversion of omega-3 fatty acids into compounds that can damage cells and DNA, they added.

Omega-3 was also thought to contribute to immunosuppression, the dampening down of the immune system.

It was not known to what extent omega-3 might affect the progress of prostate cancer in men who already had the disease.

‘It's important to note that these results do not address the question of whether omega-3s play a detrimental role in prostate cancer prognosis,’ said Dr Brasky.

Each year around 41,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer and 11,000 die from the disease.

SOURCE

Friday, July 19, 2013



Later retirement helps prevent dementia, French study finds

Hasn't it occurred to anyone that earlier retirement might be brought about by dementia?  That would be the most parsimonious explanation of the findings below

NEW research boosts the "use it or lose it" theory about brainpower and staying mentally sharp. People who delay retirement have less risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, a study of nearly half a million people in France found.

It's by far the largest study to look at this, and researchers say the conclusion makes sense. Working tends to keep people physically active, socially connected and mentally challenged - all things known to help prevent mental decline.

"For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2 per cent," said Carole Dufouil, a scientist at INSERM, the French government's health research agency.

She led the study and gave results today at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Boston.

About 35 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer's is the most common type. What causes the mind-robbing disease isn't known and there is no cure or any treatments that slow its progression.

France has had some of the best Alzheimer's research in the world, partly because its former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, made it a priority. The country also has detailed health records on self-employed people who pay into a Medicare-like health system.

Researchers used these records on more than 429,000 workers, most of whom were shopkeepers or craftsmen such as bakers and woodworkers. They were 74 on average and had been retired for an average of 12 years.

Nearly 3 per cent had developed dementia but the risk of this was lower for each year of age at retirement. Someone who retired at 65 had about a 15 per cent lower risk of developing dementia compared to someone retiring at 60, after other factors that affect those odds were taken into account, Ms Dufouil said.

To rule out the possibility that mental decline may have led people to retire earlier, researchers did analyses that eliminated people who developed dementia within 5 years of retirement, and within 10 years of it.

"The trend is exactly the same," suggesting that work was having an effect on cognition, not the other way around, Ms Dufouil said.

France mandates retirement in various jobs - civil servants must retire by 65, she said. The new study suggests "people should work as long as they want" because it may have health benefits, she said.

June Springer, who just turned 90, thinks it does. She was hired as a full-time receptionist at Caffi Plumbing & Heating in Alexandria, Virginia, eight years ago.

"I'd like to give credit to the company for hiring me at that age," she said. "It's a joy to work, being with people and keeping up with current events. I love doing what I do. As long as God grants me the brain to use I'll take it every day."

Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations for the US Alzheimer's Association, said the study results don't mean everyone needs to delay retirement.

"It's more staying cognitively active, staying socially active, continue to be engaged in whatever it is that's enjoyable to you" that's important, she said.

"My parents are retired but they're busier than ever. They're taking classes at their local university, they're continuing to attend lectures and they're continuing to stay cognitively engaged and socially engaged in their lives."

SOURCE





It’s a mad world: Rotten Apple edition

By Rick Manning

In case the NY city elections are not special enough, New York’s current wacky, billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg  is back at it.  Still smarting from his large soda ban going by the wayside, Bloomberg signed an edict demanding that every resident of the City compost their waste.

Yes, keeping your smelly coffee grinds, egg shells, banana peels and food scraps in a container to decompose for a long period of time is now required in the City.  Even composters think this idea is nuts.

The Washington Times quotes Jeff Stier, the New York City-based director of risk analysis for the National Center for Public Policy Research, a composting supporter as saying, “…we live in a big city, not on a farm, and while composting is a great idea in certain circumstances, it doesn’t make sense to mandate that all New York residents save their rotting food,” he says. “Consider the increased risks from disease-carrying vermin, a problem the city still hasn’t conquered, from all of the pre-compost material sitting around our dense living spaces.”

Considering the rats that New York City voters are likely to elect to local office in the months ahead, why is anyone surprised that the current Mayor wants New Yorkers to save their rotten apples unfazed by the likelihood of attracting the four legged kind?

Ole’ Blues Eyes would be weeping if he could see the City that never sleeps now.

SOURCE

Wednesday, July 17, 2013



Sweets, fast food and fizzy drinks linked to bowel cancer for the first time

It was just another correlational study and the authors acknowledge that no causal relationbship was demonstrated. Probably just a social class effect.  More details  here

Eating sweets, fast food and drinking fizzy drinks may lead to bowel cancer, a study has found.  Research show that high-energy snack foods are a risk factor of colorectal cancer – alongside a lack of exercise and smoking.  This is the first proof of a connection between the disease and a diet high in sugar and fat.

A research team examined more than 170 types of foods, including ‘healthy options’ such as vegetables and fish, and high sugar snacks such as chocolate and fruit drinks and fatty options like crisps.

As well as established risk factors of colorectal cancer - a family history of cancer, low exercise and tobacco, the team identified new ones.  Among them were a high intake of high-energy snacks and sugar-sweetened drinks.

The ‘positive connection’ found between diet and bowel cancer is the first proof of the popular theory.

The study, published in the latest edition of the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, builds on previous research into the link between bowel cancer and diet.

Dr Evropi Theodoratou from Edinburgh University’s School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, who carried out the study said: ‘What we have found is very interesting and it merits further investigation using large population studies.

‘While the positive associations between a diet high in sugar and fat and colorectal cancer do not automatically imply "cause and effect", it is important to take on board what we’ve found - especially as people in industrialised countries are consuming more of these foods.’

SOURCE





Top psychiatrist: 'We are turning childhood into a disease'

FOR any parent, having to accept your child needs psychiatric drugs must be agonising. But when Susan Bevis's 13-year-old daughter Amy suffered a breakdown after a vicious campaign of school bullying, drugs seemed the only option - as instructed by psychiatrists.

Amy's ordeal began when she simply fell out with a clique of girls. The situation steadily worsened and she faced constant online bullying as well as being physically attacked in class. Gangs started to follow her home, and the family house and car were damaged. Neither the police nor school seemed able to do anything.

Under this terrible strain, Amy began to break down. After months of sleeplessness and extreme anxiety, she said she'd begun to hear voices in her head. Her mother sought medical help. Instead of being offered counselling and social support, Amy was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having 'first-rank schizophrenia', which means she had signs of the condition.

Susan was initially sceptical, but was so anxious to get help she reluctantly agreed to Amy being given medication - this was Risperdal, an antipsychotic that changes the way chemicals in the brain work.

The effects of the medication

"The results were shocking," recalls Susan. "After only a matter of weeks, her slim body ballooned, her legs were like tree trunks, her eyes became dead-looking, her hair was lank and she felt constantly tired."

Although Amy's 'schizophrenic' symptoms were relieved, she was bullied even more. Worried, Susan researched the drug. "The official information said it had never been trialled on children. I was shocked. Amy wanted to come off it, so I agreed" she said.

Worryingly, Amy seemed to relapse, suffering from hallucinations again. "But in fact, she was suffering withdrawal symptoms from the drug," says Susan. After weeks of agony, the symptoms began to subside. The solution to her problems was to move school.

Susan, now a single mother, scrimped and saved to send Amy to a theatre school - "it was the making of her," she says. "My daughter has wanted to be an actress since she was four. It gave her an interest - and an interest is a way of distracting a child from trauma."

Amy is 22 now and is, says her mother, "happy and on top of the world". She's starting her career on the stage, having graduated with a university degree in theatre arts. "The truth is that my daughter never had "first-rank schizophrenia" - she was being bullied and was under terrible stress."

Susan is full of scorn for the psychiatric community's readiness to label children as mentally ill then give them powerful and potentially damaging drugs. She's become a vociferous critic on the subject, appearing at conferences and pressure groups.

She is particularly dismissive of the way psychiatrists often make their diagnosis using the profession's 'bible' - the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), just published in its fifth version (DSM-5).

Inside DSM-5

The manual is written by an influential committee of American psychiatrists and lists official diagnoses and symptoms - its clinical definitions are used by professionals the world over as a guide for labelling psychiatric illnesses, and giving drug treatment.

One of the major criticisms is that the number of new psychiatric diagnoses added to it is rising exponentially. In 1952, the manual was 130 pages long. The fifth edition has 992 pages. And this latest edition has controversially added new diagnoses such as 'Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder', which essentially makes children's temper tantrums a mental illness.

Critics believe the manuals are "disease mongering" - inventing labels for conditions that don't really exist, but are normal, albeit difficult, facets of human nature.

"If you look at the DSM-5 there is a diagnosis for everyone. But there is no scientific proof to back many of them," says Susan, adding, only half in jest: "No doubt they would have a diagnosis for me, as I have challenged the psychiatrists about their care."

One might expect such scepticism from a mother with a bad experience of the psychiatric profession. But the fact is that spiralling numbers of children are being diagnosed with "mental health problems" that may often be merely behavioural.

Let's look at ADHD as an example. According to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, ADHD affects about 6.8 per cent of Australian children. Other estimates suggest the prevalence rate among 6 to 17-year-olds in Australia is around 11 per cent.

Recent British figures show that 650,000 children between the ages of eight and 13 are on the drug Ritalin for ADHD. The New York Times reported that 11 per cent of American children have been diagnosed with ADHD.

The psychiatrist who agrees

Now, one of the world's leading psychiatrists has blown the lid off this burgeoning problem.

Dr Allen Frances chaired the taskforce that wrote the previous version of the DSM, in 1994. At the time, he was described by the New York Times as "the most powerful psychiatrist in America". But now he admits his version of the manual helped open the floodgates for an epidemic of over-diagnosis of children's mental illness and mass over-medication, with potentially devastating side-effects.

"In the past 20 years, diagnosis rates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have tripled, while autistic disorder and childhood bipolar disorder have each increased by a remarkable 40-fold," says Dr Frances, an emeritus professor at Duke University School of Medicine in South Carolina.

"This is not because our kids have suddenly become sicker, it's just that diagnoses are applied to them more loosely."

He fears the latest edition will make the problem even worse. The result has been a bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry. For example over the past 20 years, the worldwide value of the market for ADHD drugs alone has grown from $18 million to $18 billion a year.

And the long-term effects of these drugs on children remains a perilous unknown, because rigorous safety checks were not performed on children before the medicines were launched.

"It is a mass public health experiment that has been done without anyone's informed consent," says Dr Frances. "We have no idea about the long-term effects.

"We do know that in the short term antipsychotic drugs cause tremendous weight gain. A child weighing 50 kilograms will put on 5.5 kilograms in only 12 weeks. This is bound to be a factor for diabetes and heart disease. There is also controversy over whether the long-term use of brain-stimulating drugs causes children to grow up likely to become adult drug abusers."

The fear is that Ritalin-type medications are so similar to amphetamine or cocaine they create addictive yearnings in young brains that may lead to later drug abuse. There are also concerns that ADHD medication damages young brains in similar ways to cocaine which, ironically, may make them into impulsive and antisocial adults.

"Whatever the long-term effect of these stimulant medications, we do know that they are being over-used massively because of over-diagnosis," says Dr Frances. "And being wrongly told you have a mental problem at a young age can have a crippling effect for life."

Temper tantrums on the list

Dr Frances is particularly worried by the new addition to DSM-5 of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder.

"The idea of turning temper tantrums into a mental disorder is terrible," he says. Futhermore, "the criteria for diagnosing it were pretty much conjured out of thin air".

Tellingly, in France, where they shun the DSM, the proportion of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than half a per cent. In Britain it's around 4 per cent. It is estimated one in every 100 Australian children is on medication to treat ADHD symptoms.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is keen to play down the influence of the manual, claiming that they pair the DSM information with "another set of psychiatric-illness classifications - the International Classification of Disease, which is published by the World Health Organisation," says a spokeswoman.

"The Royal College recognises there are some valid criticisms of the DSM approach. All diagnostic classifications in medicine have been, and always will be, evolving and ready to be improved in response to new scientific evidence."

In the meantime there is more medication on the way. In February drug regulators in the UK granted a licence for a new class of ADHD drug, Elvanse, approved for children six and older who haven't responded to Ritalin-type medication, despite a list of known side-effects, such as anxiety, weight loss, stunted growth and heart problems. The drug is not yet available in Australia but is also licensed in Canada.

As Dr Frances knows only too well, it is very easy to add new diagnoses and drugs for children. But it is very difficult indeed to reverse this pharmaceutical tide. As his interview with Good Health drew to a close, he gave a deep sigh and warned: "We are turning childhood into a disease.

SOURCE