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Health News

1.

Wash your hands for longer and cold water is fine


Sunday, 04 June 2017

A new study looking at washing your hands has come up with some interesting findings, or at least some interesting suggestions that may need further investigation as the sample for the study was small - 20 people, 10 men and 10 women.

 

The study was carried out by researchers from Rutgers University and GOJO Industries in the US.  It is worth noting GOJO Industries produce hand sanitisers and soaps however, the research suggests these are of no more benefit than regular soap and water and cold water is just as effective as how water.  What can make a difference is how long you wash your hands for.


The research only tested for E. coli bacteria which is a leading cause of food poisoning. They found using cold was just as effective at getting rid of the bacteria as washing with hot water and antibacterial handwash or soap was not significantly more effective at removing the bacteria than normal soap.

 

It did establish that washing your hands for longer – 30 seconds instead of 15 seconds – is more effective at getting rid of bacteria if you want to protect yourself against food poisoning or infections like the flu.  It has to be said that the research only compared two products and also only studied E. coli.

There would need to be further, more in-depth research covering a wider range of products and other types of bacteria and infections before it can be stated for certain that cold water is just as effective as hot.

 

Using an antimicrobial soap wasn't found to be significantly more effective than normal soap at removing bacteria during any of the trial washes.  There was no significant reduction in bacteria after handwashing between the lowest and highest water temperatures of 15C or 38C.  Washing for 30 seconds (20 seconds of lathering and 10 seconds rinsing off) was found to notably reduce bacteria compared with washing for 15 seconds (10 seconds of lathering and 5 seconds rinsing off) when using common soap. Lather time didn't affect bacterial count for antimicrobial soap.


Current guidelines recommend that we wash our hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds:

 

after using the toilet

after handling raw foods like meat, fish and vegetables

before eating

after touching pets or animals

2.

Winter Flu Warnings – Get The Jab?


Thursday, 14 September 2017

Warnings are appearing that this winter the flu virus could become a serious problem for thousands of people and increase pressure on an already under-strain NHS towards breaking point.

The warnings are based on the winters just experienced in Australia and New Zealand which can give a reasonable indication of what we can expect in the UK during our winter season.  The southern hemisphere have had their worst flu season for many years after, like here, having relatively low levels of flu spreading for the past few years.

The NHS has said this year has been different for them, with double the average flu cases already with some of the season remaining.

 

The NHS went through the worst winter it had seen for a generation last year and with bed shortages and long waiting times already hospitals are warning things could get worse, particularly for vunerable people such as the elderly.

There is no guarantee this winter flu will be severe across the UK and this current strain is no particularly special just more prevalent.  There are always a few strains around but one normally becomes far more common although not necessarily the same one as the southern hemisphere.

 

Should you get the flu jab?

 

Early signs are encouraging and it appears the vaccine available this year is pretty effective against this strain, unlike last year where it was less effective among the elderly.

 

If you are aged over 65, pregnant or have certain long-term conditions such as heart problems, stroke etc. you can get the flu jab free on the NHS.  Also healthcare workers or children 6 months to three years old at risk such as asthmatics can also get it free – a nasal spray is available free to some children.

You can get the jab from your doctors surgery or most local pharmacies.

 

Even if you are not eligible for a free jab you can protect yourself against flu by paying for the jab from your local pharmacy, usually for about £10 - £15.  It’s quick and doesn’t hurt.

 

Even if you had the jab last year strains change and protection decreases so you should get one every year, particularly if in one of the vulnerable groups.

High-risk groups, such older people, pregnant women and those who have long-term medical conditions or a weakened immune system, are at risk of complications.

The most common of which are chest infections.

 

Symptoms of flu include a high temperature, tiredness, weakness, general aches and pains and a dry, chesty cough.

 

3.

Higher risk of heart attack if non-O blood group?


Monday, 01 May 2017

Latest research suggests people with a non-O blood type have a slightly increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

 

The researchers think it may be because people with A, B and AB blood groups have a higher level of a blood-clotting protein.

 

This research should not cause alarm as it is a slightly increased risk and it does not allow for the fact that everyone should focus on giving up smoking, eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking exercise as far more important factors in preventing heart attacks or stroke.

 

Having said that the research did involve a study of 1.3 million people so has a proper study size and looked at coronary events in more than 770,000 people with  non-O blood group and more than 510,000 people with O blood group.

 

About 1.5% of non-O blood group and 1.4% in O blood group experienced a heart attack or angina.

They also studied cardiovascular events in 708,000 people with non-O blood and 476,000 with O blood, which affected 2.5% and 2.3% of each group respectively.

Significantly, as opposed to the headlines when the researchers looked at fatal heart events, they found no major difference in risk between the O and non-O blood groups.

 

It was presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress.

 

It revealed that 15 in 1,000 people with a non-O blood group suffered a heart attack compared to 14 in 1,000 people with blood group O which although is a small increase in risk becomes more significant when looked at in terms of the whole population as previous research has found that people with the rarest blood group - AB - were the most vulnerable to suffer heart disease, a 23% risk increase.

 

48% of the population in the UK have blood group O which makes it the most common blood group.

 

There are a number of factors which can increase the risk of heart disease, such as smoking, being overweight and an unhealthy lifestyle and these can have a far more profound effect on our risk of heart disease.  However, they are all things that we can do something about – we cannot alter our blood group.

Your parents genes determine which blood group you are.

 

The research was from the University Medical Centre Groningen in the Netherlands and study author, Tessa Kole, said more research was needed to establish the reason cardiovascular risk increased in non-O blood group people.

She said: "In future, blood group should be considered in risk assessment for cardiovascular prevention, together with cholesterol, age, sex and systolic blood pressure."

For example, people with blood group A, who are known to have higher cholesterol in their blood may need a reduced treatment level for high blood pressure.

The associate medical director at The British Heart Foundation, Dr Mike Knapton, said the findings would not have a large impact on the current guidelines used to assess someone's risk of a heart attack.

"Most of a person's risk estimation is determined by age, genetics (family history and ethnicity) and other modifiable risk factors including diet, weight, level of physical activity, smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

"People with a non-O blood group type - AO, BO and AB - need to take the same steps as anyone wanting to reduce their CVD risk.

"That includes taking sensible steps to improve their diet, weight, level of physical activity and not smoking, and where needed, manage blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes."

 

If you would like help in giving up smoking, advice on healthier living, knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes testing, or find out your blood group your local pharmacy is a good place to start.

4.

Don’t spare the Chilli, it's probably good for you


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Chillies are good for you or so it seems!

 

Although not everyone’s cup of tea many people like a bit of chilli, certainly their popularity has grown massively over the decades as more international cuisine has arrived in the UK.  From a little bit of heat in a pasta to the bravado of a ordering the hottest phall curry after a few beers our liking for chilli has grown.  In fact the phall curry originated in the curry houses of Birmingham and is hotter than a vindaloo by using scotch bonnet or habanero chillies.  Anyone familiar with Caribbean cooking will recognise the scotch bonnet and be aware of the fire they can contain.


Anyone who has ever eaten a really hot chilli will be only too aware that they can cause a lot of pain.

They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colours and of course, strengths, which is what causes the burning feeling in your mouth, and with hotter ones your eyes, hands and anything they touch.

 

The hottest part of a chilli is not the seeds but the white spongy layer inside.  The strength of a chilli, how much it will burn, is measured by something called the Scoville Scale, which measures in Scoville heat units. For example, a Bell pepper registers 0, paprika or pimento is 100 – 1000, Jalapeno 3500 – 10,000, Cayenne pepper 30,000 – 50,000, Scotch bonnet and Habanero or Birds Eye are 100,000 – 350,000.  That should be enough for the most ardent fans however, you can move up to the Naga Chilli, one of the hottest in the world with a Scoville score of more than 1.3m and the world record holder for hotness, the Carolina Reaper, first grown in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  This has an eye-watering score of between 1.5 to 2 million!  Never mind eating it, handle with asbestos gloves!

 

The burning sensation from eating chillies is mainly caused by a chemical called capsaicin which gets into your saliva and then binds on to receptors in your mouth and tongue.  The receptors are in fact actually there to detect the sensation of scalding heat and the capsaicin molecules happen to fit the receptors perfectly making your mouth feel like it is on fire because the receptors are sending a signal to your brain making it think your mouth is literally burning.

Chillies originally produced capsaicin to avoid being eaten by mammals but humans have learned to like or even love the burn they give.

 

When you eat a chilli your body releases adrenaline in response to the pain, your eyes may begin to water and heart rate increase.  If you tolerate biting some extremely hot chillies it is possible to experience a "chilli endorphin high". Endorphins are natural opiates that act as painkillers which are sometimes released in response to the chilli's sting. Like opiates they are said to induce a pervasive sense of happiness.


But are there any health benefits?


Researchers from the University of Vermont undertook a recent study where they looked at data from more than 16,000 Americans over an average of 18.9 years.

During the research time period, nearly 5,000 of them had died. Those who ate a lot of red hot chillies were 13% less likely to die during that period than those who did not.

 

Another study carried out in China found similar results. The researchers are not sure but suggest it may be that capsaicin is helping increase blood flow, or even altering the mix of your gut bacteria in a beneficial way.

 

Either way don’t hold back with the chilli as it won’t do any harm and at the very least release some endorphins to improve your mood.

5.

Can yoga help with lower back pain?


Thursday, 19 January 2017

 

Back pain is one the most common conditions in the UK and causes millions of people pain.  A recent medical review suggests that yoga may help relieve the discomfort of pain in the lower pack. The review stated that in some people there is evidence that yoga may help relieve pain and improve function associated with chronic lower back pain.  A chronic condition is something that cannot be cured but managed with ongoing treatments etc.

The study looked at 12 trials that compared the effects of yoga with other treatments, such as physiotherapy, or no treatment at all.

Yoga benefitted people with lower back pain compared with those who did do any exercise for their back.

If someone was already doing exercise then the results were not as compelling.

 

Yoga is a usually slow-paced exercise routine which integrates various positions with

The researchers did say the results should be treated with a little caution as it was not possible to hide the effects of the yoga from the participants so a placebo effect could have come into play.

 

There are currently quite a few recommended treatments for long-term back pain, including painkillers, physiotherapy, exercise or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). If you suffer from back pain you should talk to your doctor.

 

It is very important to keep active and mobile as much as possible. When it comes to lower back pain yoga could be one of a range of possibly beneficial exercise-based treatments for back pain.  It is worth investigating to find the right treatments for you.

 

Three universities carried out the research in the UK, US and Yoga Sangeeta in the US.

The UK researchers were much more enthusiastic than the US based Cochrane researchers, who are known to err on the side of caution.

The researchers stated "There is low- to moderate-certainty evidence that yoga compared to non-exercise controls results in small to moderate improvements in back-related function at three and six months. Yoga may also be slightly more effective for pain at three and six months."

They added: "It is uncertain whether there is any difference between yoga and other exercise for back-related function or pain, or whether yoga added to exercise is more effective than exercise alone.”

"Yoga is associated with more adverse events than non-exercise controls, but may have the same risk of adverse events as other back-focused exercise. Yoga is not associated with serious adverse events."

 

You can find out more about yoga here

 

Also:


Yoga Alliance

 

The British Wheel of Yoga

 

Independent Yoga Network

 

Iyengar Yoga


more
 

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