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Red wine may help protect against prostate cancer

Austrian researchers have discovered that moderate consumption of red wine has a slightly protective effect against prostate cancer. The team from MedUni Vienna’s Department of Urology carried out a retrospective analysis of 17 studies including around 611,000 patients.

Their findings showed that a moderate consumption of red wine – approximately one glass a day – reduced the risk of developing prostate cancer by around 12 per cent. However, consumption of white wine increased the risk by 26 per cent. The researchers now want to find out which components of red wine have this protective effect and whether this can also be used therapeutically – for example in high-risk groups.

“Indeed, it has already been shown that polyphenols, which are predominantly found in red wine, can have a protective effect in other diseases and other types of cancer,” said lead researcher Shahrokh Shariat. Red wine contains 10 times the amount of polyphenols found in white wine, which might explain the observed results. The findings were published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology.

Study shows increased interest in natural health

A new study shows millions of adults are relying on natural remedies and therapies to maintain a normal healthy lifestyle. And rather than turning to a doctor as a first port of call in times of trouble, 48 per cent prefer to find their own treatment while 21 per cent are taking up natural alternatives such as homeopathy, nutritional therapy, therapeutic massages and herbal tonics.

Mani Norland, Principal for The School of Health, which commissioned the report via OnePoll.com, said: “Busy waiting times and overloaded medical professionals mean many people find it easier to fend for themselves. Add to this a growing mistrust of pharmaceutical companies, and it’s little surprise many adults are looking for more natural solutions to stay well. People feel more empowered to take responsibility for their own health and do their own research, and the survey shows that many choose natural medicines because they feel they are safer, less toxic with little or no side effects.”

I is for Iodine...

“Iodine is a trace mineral that is best known for its vital role in thyroid hormone production,” explains Mani Norland, principal of the School of Health (www.schoolofhealth.com). “However, it is also important during pregnancy and early childhood to support the development of the brain. Regular intake of iodine-rich foods boasts the health benefits of increased energy, stamina, increased immunity and improved detoxification. Food sources are a good place to begin. Iodine-rich foods include sushi and other seaweeds, cranberries, baked cod, plain yogurt, eggs, dried prunes, strawberries and sardines.”

Dietary changes may help osteoarthritis symptoms

The pain of arthritis could be reduced by taking 1g of fish oil a day, a new study has found. Researchers from the University of Surrey examined the link between diet and the effective self-management of osteoarthritis. Analysing 68 previous studies in the field, the researchers found that a low-dose supplement of fish oil (one and a half standard capsules) could result in pain reduction for patients with osteoarthritis and help improve their cardiovascular health.

Essential fatty acids in fish oil reduce inflammation in joints, helping to alleviate pain. The researchers also found that a reduction of weight for overweight and obese patients and the introduction of exercise tailored to mobility could also help ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Not only does obesity increase strain on joints, it can cause low-grade, systemic inflammation in the body aggravating the condition further.

An increase in foods rich in vitamin K such as kale, spinach and parsley, was also found to deliver benefits to patients with osteoarthritis. Vitamin K is needed for vitamin-K-dependent (VKD) proteins, which are found in bone and cartilage. An inadequate intake of the vitamin adversely affects the working of the protein, affecting bone growth and repair and increasing the risk of osteoarthritis. The results were published in the journal Rheumatology.

Folic acid could reduce risk of stroke

Folic acid could help to reduce the risk of stroke in people with high levels of homocysteine and a low platelet count, according to a new study about to be published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Commenting on the study, Dr Gill Jenkins, a GP and advisor to the Health & Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS), notes: “Most strikingly, in this large analysis involving over 10,000 people with high blood pressure, those with a low blood platelet count and high levels of homocysteine who took a combined daily dose of both enalapril (a prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure) and folic acid saw a 73 per cent reduction in their risk of first stroke compared to people who took only enalapril daily.” She adds: “Folic acid is an essential B vitamin, which is required for making red blood cells and the synthesis and repair of DNA and RNA. Folic acid is also capable of lowering homocysteine levels in the blood. This is important because high levels of homcysteine are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including stroke.

Dr Jenkins adds: “People who have high blood pressure or are concerned about their cardiovascular health or risk of stroke should consult their doctor and should not change any medication they are taking without their doctor’s advice. However, the findings of this study suggest that taking a B vitamin or multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplement containing folic acid would be a wise move for all adults in the UK.”

Excessive screen time linked with heart disease and cancer

Time spent watching TV or looking at a computer screen during leisure time – termed discretionary screen time – has been associated with higher risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease in a new large-scale study.

The research was led by the University of Glasgow and published in BMC Medicine. The researchers looked at 390,089 participants and analysed the amount of discretionary screen time. They found that the association between a high level of discretionary screen time and adverse health outcomes was almost twice as strong in those with low fitness levels or low grip strength.

In contrast, the potential adverse associations of high levels of discretionary screen time were much smaller in those who had the highest levels of fitness and grip strength.

The researchers also found that higher levels of screen time were associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality, as well as a higher risk of both heart disease and cancer. The findings were independent of physical activity, grip strength, BMI, smoking, diet and other major confounding factors, including socio-economic status.

Trend alert: Plogging

Want to get fit whilst helping to improve your local environment? Try plogging! This new fitness craze involves picking up litter while out jogging and was first coined around 18 months ago in Sweden. It has since travelled around the world with active ploggers in Australia, India and the US among others. Staff and students from the University of Sussex have adopted the pastime around their campus and are now looking to make it a regular activity. Why not try it in your own community?

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