Saturday, May 31, 2008

Diet pill to 'shed 10kg'

A DIET pill billed as helping women drop two dress sizes in six months will be released here.

Denmark company Neurosearch expects the drug Tesofensine to be on the market here in three years.

It is claimed the drug can help people lose, on average, 10kg.

But side effects include nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, insomnia and an increased heart rate.

The drug affects the part of the brain controlling appetite, making people feel full soon after starting a meal.

More than 200 people participated in trials by Prof Arne Astrup, who is president of the International Association for the Study of Obesity and has shares in Neurosearch.

"You could easily come up to 20 per cent weight loss, which could offer an alternative to the surgical treatment of obesity," Prof Astrup said.

Dr Greg Steinberg, from St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research, warned it was nothing more than a "quick fix".

Dr Steinberg compared taking the drug with going on a crash diet, saying people would regain weight unless they changed their lifestyles.


Pill | Diet Pill | Drug | Side Effects | Obesity | Brain | Appetite | Weight Loss | Surgical Treatment | Crash Diet

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Low carb diet curbs epileptic fits

Giving children with epilepsy a special low carb diet reduces the number of seizures they experience by 75% compared with children on a normal diet, according to a study carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Previous studies have suggested that the food regime, which is similar to the Atkins diet, is effective at curbing epilepsy but this is the first gold standard clinical trial to prove that it works.

"When she went on the diet within days she was just so much calmer," said Rachel Farrand of Redhill, Surrey, whose six-year-old daughter, Ella Strutton, was part of the trial. "It's just had a really big impact on her behaviour and her learning."

Ella developed epilepsy after contracting meningitis when she was one. She is now profoundly deaf, has severe learning difficulties and before taking part in the trial she was suffering up to 12 seizures a day. "It made it very hard for her to learn because she couldn't concentrate at all," said Farrand. "She was a complete and absolute whirlwind. She couldn't settle for anything even for a minute." After starting the diet she was seizure-free for six months and now no longer needs to take anti-epilepsy medication.

About one in 200 children are affected by epilepsy, which can often be controlled with regular drugs.

Professor Helen Cross at the Institute of Child Health at University College London and her colleagues recruited 145 children - including Ella - aged between two and 16 who all had severe epilepsy. Half were randomly assigned to a ketogenic diet, which involves eating no carbohydrate and no more than the minimum dietary requirement of protein. Fat is permitted. The other half ate a normal diet. Forty-two children were not included in the final analysis for a variety of reasons.

The team found that the number of seizures per day in the ketogenic diet group dropped to 62% of the level before the change, while the control group's seizures increased by 37%. Twenty-eight children in the diet group had a more than 50% reduction in their seizures compared with four in the control group. The results are reported in the journal Lancet Neurology. Cross said it was important to have confirmed that the ketogenic diet is effective by the gold standard scientific method. "At the present time it is a treatment that is really reserved for the really intractable. It's available in only a minimal number of centres," she said.

She added that parents should only consider trying the diet after consultation with a doctor and dietician. "Children are growing and need the right number of calories... so it does need to be monitored and calculated individually," she said.

As yet, scientists are unsure what changes occur with the diet, although it is possible that it prompts a physiological shift that affects the brain. "There's all sorts of theories from a basic science point of view that have been put forward, but we haven't got the exact reason why it works," said Cross.

The study is important because it is the first time the question of whether the diet works has been tackled using a randomised clinically controlled trial - widely acknowledged as the best method for assessing whether medical interventions are effective.


Health | Diet | Children | Kids | Carb Diet | Epileptic Fits | Meningitis | Drugs | Protein | Fat

Friday, May 2, 2008

Fresh fears over mobile phone risk to kids' health

NEW research has triggered fresh fears for the long-term health of children and teenagers who use mobile phones today.

The study warns that the risks are little lower than those alcohol and tobacco pose to youngsters’ health and could also last a lifetime.

It suggests mobile phone use exposes youngsters to the risk of early memory loss and sleep problems, then brain tumours in their 20s followed by the early onset of dementia in their 50s.

Welsh experts claim this latest evidence should force the Government to update and strengthen its warnings on phone use.

They are calling for the issue of new official guidelines urging children to avoid health risks by making their calls shorter than 20 minutes – the time limit when they claim brain damage may start.

Roger Coghill, a Pontypool-based expert on mobile phones and an adviser on the subject to the Department of Health, said: “This latest report joins many thousands of others worldwide that have confirmed mobile phones and their electro-magnetic field definitely has an adverse effect on the brain.

“Yet despite the research I’m not for banning mobiles for children. I live in the real world and know this would be impossible. What youngsters should know is not to make long calls. The longer the phone call goes on the more damage is done and this will be irreversible.”

Recent UK studies have suggested that up to one in 10 children under the age of 16 spends 45 minutes a day talking on mobile phones and it is estimated that up to 90% of under-16s now own a mobile phone.

This latest research was done in Moscow and follows similar alarming reports from scientists in France and Sweden. The Russian study claims the health hazards likely to be faced by young mobile phone users in the future are:

Memory disruption;

Decline in attention spans;

Diminished learning ability;

Increased irritability;

Sleep problem; and,

Increased stress.

It claims this can be followed by 20 to 25-year-olds getting brain tumours and then Alzheimer’s and depression, and 50 to 60-years-olds developing other brain degeneration problems. In their report the Moscow scientists warn these risks are not much lower than the risk to children’s health from tobacco or alcohol.

It states: “We appeal to society to pay closest attention to this coming threat and to take adequate measures in order to prevent negative consequences to the future generation’s health.”

The Department of Health currently recommends that children under 16 should be “discouraged” from using mobile phones for “non-essential calls”.

Responding to the Russian report a spokesman for the Government’s Health Protection Agency, which deals with radiation issues, said: “A review in 2005 by the National Radiological Protection Board concluded there is no hard evidence at present that the health of the public, in general is being affected adversely by the use of mobile phone technologies but uncertainties remain and a continued precautionary approach to their use is recommended.

“A report of the UK mobile telecommunications and health research programmes last year stated that mobile phones have not been found to be associated with any adverse health effects according recent and large UK investigation.”