Five big killers – heart disease, stroke, cancer, lung and liver disease – account for more than 150,000 deaths a year among under-75s in England alone and the Department of Health estimates 30,000 of these are entirely avoidable.Coronary Heart Disease is the biggest killer, causing almost 74,000 deaths each year in the UK- that’s about 200 people dying every day.
More than a quarter of the deaths occur in people who are younger than 75 and experts say the majority are preventable.
Smoking, being overweight and having high blood pressure are all risk factors.
About one in three adults in England and Scotland have high blood pressure and nearly half of them are not receiving treatment for the condition, says the British Heart Foundation.
Between April 2011 and March 2012 only 2% of those eligible in England actually had a health check. Out of nearly 16 million people eligible, about 425,000 were offered a check and 211,000 took up the offer.
England has one of the highest rates of asthma prevalence in the world. Figures from GP registers in 2008 suggested that about 6% of the English population has asthma.
And more than three million people in England are living with COPD. This lung disease kills about 23,000 people a year in the UK.
The most important cause of COPD is smoking, but about 15% of cases are work-related, triggered by exposure to fumes, chemicals and dusts at work.
Premature deaths from COPD in the UK was almost twice as high as the European average in 2008 and premature mortality for asthma was more than 1.5 times higher.
The disease is one of the most common causes of emergency admission to hospital and is expensive in terms of acute hospital care. It costs nearly 10 times more to treat severe COPD than the mild disease.
Strokes are the third leading cause of death in England each year and the leading cause of disability. More than 150,000 people have a stroke every year in the UK but, according to The Stroke Association, up to 10,000 of these could be prevented if more people were aware of the symptoms and sought out emergency treatment.
Symptoms can include facial weakness, speech problems and pins and needles down one side of the body.
The Health Secretary Mr Jeremy Hunt says a major challenge is getting all parts of the country to meet the performance levels of the best.
For example, if all patients suffering from a mini stroke (transient ischaemic attack or TIA) were treated as rapidly as those treated in the top 25% of hospitals, 540 strokes would be avoided each year, which in turn would save the NHS £4.5m a year.
Cancer has now become so common that today one in 30 people living in the UK either has cancer or is in remission. By 2030 it is estimated that three million people in England will have had some form of cancer.
The good news is that cancer survival rates are now improving in the UK.
More men are now surviving prostate and bowel cancer and women with breast cancer have a better outlook than ever before. But the UK still lags behind other European countries in terms of cancer survival.
Cancer Research UK says part of the problem is unhealthy lifestyles. It is estimated that about a third of cancers are caused by smoking, diet, alcohol and obesity.
And many cancers are detected too late. Although there are national screening programmes for certain cancers, like breast and cervical, public awareness of symptoms and the need to seek help early is still too low.
Another issue is access to treatment. Waiting times to see a doctor for speedy diagnosis and treatment have come down. But the provision of certain types of cancer investigations and treatments across the UK is variable and some groups of society, like the very old, can miss out.
Lastly, the Chief Medical Officer of England, Prof Dame Sally Davies, highlighted liver disease as an issue in her annual report.
It is the only major cause of mortality and morbidity that is on the increase in England while it is decreasing among European peers.
Between 2000 and 2009, deaths from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the under 65s in England increased by about 20% while they fell by the same amount in most EU countries. And all three major causes of liver disease – obesity, undiagnosed infection, and, increasingly, harmful drinking – are preventable.
More than a third of men and over a quarter of women regularly exceed the government recommended level of alcohol intake – three to four units of alcohol a day for men and two to three units for women.
The government in England is currently considering whether to set a minimum unit price for alcohol to deter problem drinking and cut alcohol-related illness.
Spices have been revered for their health benefits throughout history- but are they really good for your health?According to Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient belief system in Hinduism, spices can be warming or cooling and are used to affect the balance of the digestive system.
“They act as a stimulus to the digestive system, relieve digestive disorders and some spices are of antiseptic value,” explains Dr Krishnapura Srinivasan, a scientist at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore, India.
It is not surprising that spices have become associated with dieting. As far back as 2500 years ago, the Chinese teacher and philosopher Confucius recommended eating ginger at every meal to improve digestion. But there is still no scientific consensus on how spices affect our health.
“There’s a perception that spices are good for dieting as this is often covered in the media; women will often latch on to anything that sounds as though it’s an easy way to lose weight,” explains Azmina Govindji, an award-winning dietician from the British Dietetic Association.
Scientists at the Human Performance Lab at Appalachian State University, North Carolina, US, recently studied whether culinary doses of red pepper and turmeric would reduce chronic inflammation in overweight females aged 40-72.
They hypothesised that inflammation in overweight people could be caused by oxidative stress. This is a process when chemically reactive molecules known as free radicals trigger physiological events or damage tissues.
But the results of the month-long clinical trial were negative. No evidence was found to suggest that red pepper or turmeric alters inflammation by influencing oxidative stress.
This could point to the need for higher doses and longer testing periods, scientists say. Or that the spices simply have no effect.
Cayenne pepper is another spice touted as a weight loss solution. You might have added it to poached eggs or corn on the cob, but how about eating it with maple syrup? Deep fried calamari with garlic and lemon mayonnaise Crispy calamari deep fried with cayenne pepper, salt and paprika
The cayenne pepper and maple syrup diet made headlines in 2007, when US singer Beyonce Knowles reported losing 20lb (9kg) after following it for two weeks.
So why is the spice hotly tipped as a solution to weight loss?
“There have been suggestions that red cayenne pepper may be a useful aid to weight management, especially in people who don’t normally eat chilli peppers,” says Ms Govindji. “But this remains to be confirmed.”
The effect of red pepper on thermogenesis, a process which affects metabolism and appetite, was studied by scientists at Purdue University, Indiana in the US.
The study found that as body temperature increased, metabolic rate increased, and the desire to eat fatty foods was decreased in participants who ate red pepper as part of a meal compared to those who didn’t.
Another study by researchers at Kyoto University, Japan found that males in the country who consumed a normal diet along with a red pepper extract known as “CH19-Sweet” experienced slightly decreased body fat and weight loss after two weeks.
But can we draw any real conclusions from studies such as these? Whether you’re taking a leaf out of the Hairy Dieters book and roasting some cumin-crusted vegetables, or cooking up a spiced apple and raisin crumble, ultimately it is not the spices alone that help you lose weight but how you cook with them.
Cannabis makes pain more bearable rather than actually reducing it, a study from the University of Oxford suggests.Using brain imaging, researchers found that the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis reduced activity in a part of the brain linked to emotional aspects of pain.
But the effect on the pain experienced varied greatly, they said.
The researchers’ findings Amygdala activity contributes to the dissociative effect of cannabis on pain perception are published in the journal Pain.
The Oxford researchers recruited 12 healthy men to take part in their small study.
Participants were given either a 15mg tablet of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) – the ingredient that is responsible for the high – or a placebo.
The volunteers then had a cream rubbed into the skin of one leg to induce pain, which was either a dummy cream or a cream that contained chilli – which caused a burning and painful sensation.
Each participant had four MRI scans which revealed how their brain activity changed when their perception of the pain reduced.
Dr Michael Lee, lead study author from Oxford University’s Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, said: “We found that with THC, on average people didn’t report any change in the burn, but the pain bothered them less.”
MRI brain imaging showed reduced activity in key areas of the brain that explained the pain relief which the study participants experienced.
Dr Lee suggested that the findings could help predict who would benefit from taking cannabis for pain relief – because not everyone does.
“We may in future be able to predict who will respond to cannabis, but we would need to do studies in patients with chronic pain over longer time periods.”
He added: “Cannabis does not seem to act like a conventional pain medicine. Some people respond really well, others not at all, or even poorly.
“Brain imaging shows little reduction in the brain regions that code for the sensation of pain, which is what we tend to see with drugs like opiates.
“Instead cannabis appears to mainly affect the emotional reaction to pain in a highly variable way.”
The study was funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.
The longevity lifespan that Olympians enjoy is within the reach of everyone, doctors say.Research Survival of the fittest: retrospective cohort study of the longevity of Olympic medallists in the modern era published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggests athletes live 2.8 years longer on average than the average lifespan.
The research indicated those who took part in non-contact sports such as cycling, rowing and tennis enjoyed the longest life of all.
But the general population could have a similar “survival advantage” by doing a little more exercise, experts said.
The conclusion by two public health professors came after they reviewed two studies of Olympic athletes published by the BMJ website.
The studies looked at the lifespan and health of 25,000 athletes who competed in Games dating back to 1896.
Those taking part in contact sports such as boxing had the least advantage, while cyclists and rowers enjoyed the best health.
But the researchers also found those who played lower intensity sports such as golf enjoyed a boost.
Possible explanations put forward for the finding included genetic and lifestyle factors and the wealth and status that comes with sporting success.
The recommended level of physical activity for adults is 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week.
Studies suggest people who manage that amount or more live for up to several years longer than those that do not.
Writing for the BMJ website, the professors said: “Although the evidence points to a small survival effect of being an Olympian, careful reflection suggests that similar health benefits and longevity could be achieved by all of us through regular physical activity.
“We could and should all award ourselves that personal gold medal.”
But they said governments were still not doing enough to promote the benefits of physical activity, calling it a “public health failure”.
New research suggests that chemicals in tap water are linked to the huge rise in food allergies.Food allergies have risen sharply over the past 20 years, with 1-2 per cent of adults and 4-6 per cent of children thought to be affected. The number of children admitted to hospital for food-related anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction) has risen seven-fold since 1990 – but no one quite knows why.
The latest theory Food Allergies? Pesticides in Tap Water Might be to Blame, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, suggests that chemicals called dichlorophenols could be to blame.
US researchers who looked at food allergies in more than 2,000 people found that those with the highest levels of dichlorophenols in their urine had an 80 per cent higher risk of having a food allergy.
Their theory is that dichlorophenols, which they say are found in purified tap water and in pesticides and disinfectants, have anti-bacterial properties that could affect the microflora in the gut that are thought to protect against food allergies.
Dichlorophenols are also by-products of a common antibacterial and antifungal agent called triclosan (used in many consumer products, including toothpaste) and in the UK are more likely to be found in household cleaning products, kitchen utensils and containers and pesticide residues than in water.
Although little research has been done on UK exposure levels, the Chemicals Regulation Directorate says dichlorophenols “have not been identified as a cause of concern”.
The reason behind the rise in food and other allergies remains a mystery.
One well-known theory is the hygiene hypothesis – that as we become increasingly obsessed with cleanliness, our children are not exposed to the bugs that help the immune system develop properly. Another unproven theory is that the rise in allergies may be due to basic changes in Western diets, with processed foods becoming more common and fresh fruit and veg less so.
Some experts now think that government guidelines introduced in the Nineties may have contributed to the explosion in food allergies. “Parents were advised to avoid giving peanuts to young infants on the grounds that early consumption of potential allergens could affect underdeveloped immune systems, resulting in allergy – when the opposite seems to be the case,” says Prof Brostoff.
The guidelines were quietly withdrawn in 2009 after a large study the previous year showed that Jewish children living in the UK were almost 10 times more likely to develop a peanut allergy than those living in Israel, where peanut protein – often in the form of Bamba, a popular snack – is commonly given to infants in the first year of life.
Prof Brostoff says the best thing parents can do to reduce the risk of food allergy in their children is to gradually introduce potential allergens – not just peanuts, but cow’s milk, eggs and fish – at an early age.
“The lining of the gut membrane is the most powerful immune organ in the body,” he says. “The advice I always give is that it is better to introduce foods when the gut is more plastic and able to adapt. Giving a food early in a baby’s life can help make the gut more tolerant, and numerically this effect is more important than the presence in the environment of any chemicals.”
Smoking may worsen a hangover after drinking heavily US research concludes- although the reason why is unclear.Researchers asked 113 US students to keep a diary for eight weeks, recording their drinking and smoking habits and any hangover symptoms.
When they drank heavily- around six cans of beer an hour – those who also smoked suffered a worse hangover.
Addiction charities hope this study may motivate smokers to cut down over the festive season.
The study’s findings are reported in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
One of the paper’s authors, Dr Damaris Rohsenow, from the Centre for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University said: “At the same number of drinks, people who smoke more that day are more likely to have a hangover and have more intense hangovers.”
“And smoking itself was linked to an increased risk of hangover compared with not smoking at all. That raises the likelihood that there is some direct effect of tobacco smoking on hangovers.”
The students from a Midwestern university in the US reported on the number of drinks consumed, number of cigarettes smoked and their hangover symptoms – which included if they felt more tired than usual, had a headache, felt nauseated and had difficulty concentrating.
The researchers then estimated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) which helped control for differences between sexes as it took into account weight and the period over which the student drank alcohol.
After analysing the results, the researchers found that smoking more heavily the day before increased the presence and severity of hangover the next day – but only after a heavy drinking episode, estimated at a BAC of 110mg/dl or greater – the equivalent of around six cans of beer an hour.
The reasons why are unclear- but the study suggests it may down to the toxicological and pharmacological effects of nicotine on the nervous system.
High levels of drinking and obesity mean England is one of the few places in Europe seeing a major preventable disease getting worse warns the Chief Medical oOficer.Prof Dame Sally Davies highlighted the rise in liver-disease deaths in the under-65s – up 20% in a decade – in her annual report.
In comparison, most of the rest of Europe has seen rates fall.
She said urgent action was needed to discourage harmful lifestyles.
She said three of the major causes of liver disease – obesity, alcohol abuse and undiagnosed hepatitis infection – were all preventable.
But despite that, premature deaths from liver disease in the under-65s had jumped by a fifth since 2000 to 10 per 100,000 people.
Her study – the first volume of a Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer – focused on a whole host of diseases from cancer to dementia.
But Dame Sally said it was the liver disease figures that most shocked her the most – and showed there needed to be investment in prevention, early diagnosis and effective treatment.
“I was struck by the data on liver disease particularly,” she said.
“This is the only major cause of preventative death that is on the increase in England that is generally falling in other comparable European nations. We must act to change this.”
The report comes after the government said earlier this year it would look to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. A consultation is expected to start soon.
The importance of drinking during moderate as well as strenuous exercise is well known.
For everyday life and light to moderate exercise, regular consumption of water is absolutely essential.
When you exercise heavily or for a prolonged period of time, replacing what your body loses through sweat is important, as well as providing sufficient energy to allow you to continue to perform.
However, Lucozade Sport provides a source of fluid but importantly contains both carbohydrate and sodium.
The carbohydrate, along with the sodium, helps your body absorb fluid more effectively.
The carbohydrate is also a source of energy during this exercise.
Lucozade Sport, as a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink, therefore can help maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, as well as endurance exercise performance, relative to water alone.
What’s the difference between Lucozade Energy and Lucozade Sport?
Lucozade Energy is a carbonated drink and is therefore not designed for use in sport and exercise.
Lucozade Sport is a still isotonic sports drink, however it has been specially formulated to help keep you hydrated during exercise and also supply carbohydrate energy to working muscles. This helps to maximise sporting performance and endurance.
It’s important to remember Lucozade Sport is formulated to be consumed by adults who train or take part in sport.
Carbohydrates including sugars are an essential part of the drink. This is because they are designed to promote a readily available source of energy for exercising muscles.
Lucozade Sport is a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink and is not the same as other carbonated soft drinks.
There is typically much less sugar in Lucozade Sport than in many soft drinks and fruit juices. You need energy and hydration during exercise and Lucozade Sport helps provide these.
Drinking just one fizzy drink a day could increase a man’s chance of developing prostate cancer by around 40 per cent, research suggests.Men who consumed 300ml of a sugary soft drink a day appeared to raise their odds of succumbing to faster growing forms of the disease, according to a 15 year study.
The sugar in the drinks is believed to release insulin, which feeds tumours.
The study, carried out by Swedish scientists and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tracked the health of more than 8,000 men aged 45 to 73 for an average of 15 years.
All were in good health when the study began, and were asked about what they liked to eat and drink.
Those who drank more sugary drinks were more likely to have been diagnosed with prostate cancer by the end of the study.
Isabel Drake, a researcher at Lund University, said: “Among the men who drank a lot of soft drinks, we saw an increased risk of prostate cancer of around 40 per cent.”
Large amounts of rice, pasta, cakes, biscuits and sugary breakfast cereals were also linked with a less serious form of the disease.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and about 36,000 are diagnosed with the disease in the UK each year. It accounts for a quarter of all newly diagnosed cases of cancer in men but most cases develop in those aged 70 or older.
The scientists who carried out the study said that while genetics were more important in determining the likelihood of developing prostate cancer than was the case with many other cancers, diet did seem to be important.
More research was needed to confirm the link with fizzy drinks but there were already “plenty of reasons” to cut back on them, they said.
Millions of people taking medicines for high cholesterol, cancer and to prevent heart attacks are at risk of potentially life threatening side effects if they eat grapefruits, doctors have warned.A study has listed 43 major drugs which are affected by eating grapefruits or drinking the juice and experts have warned there needs to be more awareness of the risks.
The number of drugs that interact with grapefruit increased from 17 in 2000 to 43 in 2008, researchers in Canada found.
Eating one grapefruit a day or drinking 200ml of juice was enough to trigger significant side effects in some of the patients.
Elderly patients were at particular risk because they are more likely to eat grapefruit and be on the medicines that interact with it, while their bodies are less able to cope with the effects of an overdose, the researchers said.
Grapefruits and some other citrus fruits, contain specific chemicals that affects an enzyme in the gut which can lead to a greater proportion of the drug being absorbed into the body.
This can result in massive overdoses causing serious side effects ranging from hallucinations, low blood pressure, to kidney poisoning, muscle damage, high heart rate and breathing problems.
The findings were published Grapefruit-medication interactions: Forbidden fruit or avoidable consequences? in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Some people have died following the interaction and experts said doctors and pharmacists needed to be more aware of the problem.
The study, conducted by Dr David Bailey, of the Lawson Health Research Institute, in London, Ontario, listed several examples of interactions including one patient who suffered a potentially life threatening increase in heart rate while on the heart disease drug aimodarone and drinking between one and 1.5 litres of grapefruit juice a day.
Another one atorvastatin for high cholesterol suffered serious muscle damage after drinking freshly squeezed grapefruit juice daily for five days and one who developed a blood clot while on Ethinylestradiol, a form of hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms who had eaten a whole grapefruit at breakfast for three days.
Popular drugs affected in this way include simvastatin, taken for high cholesterol, clopidogrel to thin the blood, Tyverb for breast cancer, domperidone for sickness and powerful painkillers Fentanyl, Oxycodone and Ketamine.
One drug, dextromethorphan, is an anti-cough preparation used in over-the-counter products and other drugs that interact with grapefruit are some antibiotics, some anti-HIV drugs, quinine that is in tonic water and has been used against malaria, heart rhythm medicines, and anti-rejection drugs used following organ transplants.
For some drugs drinking 200ml of juice daily was enough to deliver three to six times the normal dose.
Dr Bailey said: “Many of the drugs that interact with grapefruit are highly prescribed and are essential for the treatment of important or common medical conditions.
“Unless health care professionals are aware of the possibility that the adverse event they are seeing might have an origin in the recent addition of grapefruit to the patient’s diet, it is very unlikely that they will investigate it.
“In addition, the patient may not volunteer this information. Thus, we contend that there remains a lack of knowledge about this interaction in the general healthcare community.”