Sunday, April 01, 2012

Color-coded surgery

Color-coded surgery

Surgeons are taught from textbooks which conveniently color-code the types of tissues, but that's not what it looks like in real life -- until now. At TEDMED Quyen Nguyen demonstrates how a molecular marker can make tumors light up in neon green, showing surgeons exactly where to cut.

Quyen Nguyen uses molecular probes that make tumors -- and just the tumors -- glow, as an extraordinary aid to surgeons. Full bio »

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Varicose veins? Cold sores? The answer's easy peasy, lemon squeezy

Varicose veins? Cold sores? The answer's easy peasy, lemon squeezy

Sunshine yellow, eye-wateringly tangy and smelling like a summer in Italy . . . no wonder most people like lemons.

Now, in a new book, a former GP proclaims lemons are  nothing short of a

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miracle, capable of soothing and stopping an array of  ailments. Read on to discover how lemons could help you...

Lemons on tree

Lemons can help with an array of ailments such as cold sores, weight gain, gallstones, urine infection, indigestion, muscle pain and constipation


Lemon contains a compound, limonene, which has antiviral properties. It is found mainly in the peel, but also in the juice. Lemon oil can also help by excluding air from a sore.

ACTION: Apply lemon juice to a cold sore several times a day, using a clean cotton pad each time, or add a drop of lemon oil to two teaspoons of sweet almond  oil and apply this to the cold sore.


Lemons contain pectin, a natural fibre and gelling agent, which mops up fat stored by the body, and reduces absorption; researchers in Texas also found that pectin helps you feel full.

Lemon acids and pectin can slow the absorption of sugar after a meal. So cooking with lemon juice or sprinkling it on food can prevent low blood-sugar dips, which can trigger hunger pangs and overeating.

The vitamin C in lemons also helps us to produce carnitine — an amino acid that helps our body burn fat.

Studies at Arizona State University found that volunteers with adequate vitamin C burned 30 per cent more fat during exercise than those with low levels. In a separate study of obese women trying to lose weight, those who took vitamin C lost twice as much.

ACTION: Include the zest and juice of a lemon in your daily diet.


Most gallstones are made up of cholesterol, formed when the liver or gall- bladder do not successfully expel it. A lack of stomach acid (as caused by ageing, stress, or medications such as antacids or acid-suppressants) discourages gallbladder contractions.

Acidic foods such as lemon juice before a meal can mimic stomach acid, and encourage the gallbladder to  contract and expel small stones.

Lemons are also rich in anti-oxidants, which studies have found to  discourage gallstones.

ACTION: If you have stones, take one tablespoon each of lemon juice and olive oil an hour before breakfast each day.


Wasp stings irritate because they are alkaline, so lemon acids may help. They may also ease irritation from mosquito and gnat bites.

ACTION: Apply a cotton pad soaked in lemon juice, and repeat if necessary.


If infection is making your urinary tract inflamed and sore, overly acidic urine — for example, from an unhealthy diet — will worsen the pain. The urine’s normal pH (acid–alkaline balance) varies from 4.5 to 9, the ideal perhaps being 5.8 to 6.8. Surprisingly, the metabolism of lemon juice in the body has a mildly alkalising effect that can help restore your urine to its normal state.

ACTION: Consume the juice of half a lemon two or three times a day, neat or sprinkled on food.


Potassium in lemons helps to regulate body fluids, and their magnesium relaxes arteries. They also contain flavonoids — nutrients known to promote healthy vessels. Lemons also add flavour to foods, so can be used as a healthy alternative to salt.

One small lemon’s vitamin C can boost levels of nitric oxide, a gas which sends a signal to the body to relax and widen blood vessels.

Finally, lemon juice resembles some hypertension medications known as ACE-inhibitors — it inhibits the production in the kidneys of the hormone angiotensin, which is known to raise blood pressure by constricting blood vessels.

ACTION: Include the zest and juice of a lemon in your daily diet.


Lemons can act as a venous tonic as they have strengthening, tightening and anti-inflammatory effects on vein walls.

ACTION: Massage your legs with a mixture of two drops of lemon, two of lavender and three of cypress essential oils in two tablespoons of sweet almond or other carrier oil.


Lemon juice makes fried food more digestible because its acids emulsify fats so that they don’t lie on the stomach.

Lemon juice and pulp from the fruit is broken down in the body to make potassium carbonate, which helps reduce stomach acid.

And limonene, the major component of lemon oil which is found in lemon peel, may help to prevent heartburn. It’s thought to coat the gullet lining, protecting it from acid. A U.S. study of 19 adults found that taking 1,000mg of limonene every day or other day relieved heartburn and acid reflux.

ACTION: Drink one tablespoon of lemon juice in a glass of warm water.


Lemon essential oil is an expectorant — this is a type of ingredient often used in cough medicines which encourage the airways to expel mucus.

A five-year study of 63,257 people in Singapore found that a diet high in fruit fibre discouraged chronic coughs. Researchers suggested that flavonoids — which have antioxidant properties — may protect the lungs from inflammation and tissue damage.

ACTION: To soothe a cough, drink homemade lemonade, or put two tablespoons of cracked linseeds — another known expectorant — and half a lemon, sliced, into a pint of water, simmer for 20 minutes, then strain and sweeten with honey.

Alternatively, put two drops each of lemon essential oil, eucalyptus oil and tea-tree oil into a bowl of just-boiled water; put a towel over your head and inhale the vapour.


Psoriasis refers to patches of thick, flaking skin, often on the knees, elbows, scalp or elsewhere. It sounds unlikely but citric acid in lemon juice can ease dryness and flaking — it helps the skin retain water and encourages the exfoliation of dead skin cells.

In addition, the juice of a lemon contains psoralens, a natural chemical found in many plants which is highly sensitive to the sun’s UVA rays and reacts on the skin’s cells.

Many dermatologists prescribe psoralens orally or to be applied to the skin, combined with UVA therapy for psoriasis.

ACTION: Smooth lemon juice over psoriasis patches several times a day, then expose them to sunlight for a few minutes a day, increasing the time over several weeks.


Lemons are rich in pectin, a type of fibre which forms a gel in the bowel that encourages easier bowel movements. Another fibre in lemons is cellulose, which attracts water. This makes stools bulkier and softer and reduces their transit time.

ACTION: Include the zest and juice of a lemon in your daily diet.


Pain and stiffness experienced after exercise respond to anti-inflammatories such as nobiletin in lemon oil.

ACTION: Put one teaspoon of lemon oil in your bathwater or add three drops of lemon oil and a few drops of ginger oil (an analgesic and local circulation booster) to three tablespoons of sweet almond or other carrier oil, and massage the muscles with the mixture.

Extracted from The Miracle Of Lemons, by Dr Penny Stanway, published by Duncan Baird on February 3 at £6.99.

© Dr Penny Stanway 2011. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting   0845 155 0720 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Common garden weed 'cures skin cancer', say scientists

By Jenny Hope  

Last updated at 4:41 AM on 26th January 2011

From The Mail Online

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A common weed could help cure skin cancers, claim researchers.

The sap from a plant known as petty spurge or milkweed - found by roadsides and in woodland - can 'kill' certain types of cancer cells when applied to the skin.

It works on non-melanoma skin cancers, which affect hundreds of thousands of Britons each year.

Milkweed miracle: You can find this weed invading gardens beds across the UK, but it has great cancer-fighting properties

They are triggered by sun damage and, although not usually fatal, can be disfiguring without treatment.

The plant has been used for centuries as a traditional folk medicine to treat conditions such as warts, asthma and several types of cancer.

But for the first time a team of scientists in Australia has carried out a clinical study of sap from Euphorbia peplus, which is related to Euphorbia plants grown in gardens in the UK.

The study of 36 patients with a total of 48 non-melanoma lesions included basal cell carcinomas (BCC), squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) and intraepidermal carcinomas (IEC), a growth of cancerous cells confined to the outer layer of the skin.

Patients had failed to respond to conventional treatment including surgery, or they refused or were unsuitable for surgery because of their age.

The patients were treated once a day for three consecutive days by an oncologist using a cotton bud to apply enough of the E.peplus sap to cover the surface of each lesion.


The initial results were impressive, says findings to be released this week in the British Journal of Dermatology.

After only one month 41 of the 48 cancers had completely gone.

Patients who had some of the lesions remaining were offered a second course of treatment.

After an average of 15 months following treatment, two thirds of the 48 skin cancer lesions were still showing a complete response.

Of the three types of skin cancer tested, the final outcome was a 75 per cent complete response for IEC lesions, 57 per cent for BCC and 50 per cent for SCC lesions.

Side-effects were low, with 43 per cent of patients in no pain as a result of the treatment and only 14 per cent reporting moderate pain, and only one patient encountered severe short-term pain.


Latin name: Euphorbia peplus

Occurrence: Petty spurge is a small, branched annual, plentiful in gardens and arable fields.

It is native and common throughout the UK, in any kind of soil. The plant exudes a milky sap when damaged, which is a severe irritant if applied to the skin.

Biology: Petty spurge flowers from April to November. The seed number per plant ranges from 260 to 1,200.

Petty spurge may be found in fruit for eight months of the year. Seedlings emerge throughout the year except for in winter but the main flush is from April to May. Most seed germinates within a year of shedding.

Just a few seedlings emerge in the following 5 years. Germination occurs at 5 to 10 mm depth in soil.

Persistence and Spread: Seed recovered from house demolitions and archaeological digs and dated at 20, 25, 30 and 100 years old has been reported to germinate.


In all cases of successful treatment the skin was left with a good cosmetic appearance.

The researchers, from a number of medical institutions in Brisbane, attribute the benefit to the active ingredient ingenol mebutate which has been shown to destroy tumour cells.

British experts said further studies were needed and people should not try this at home as the weed sap can be harmful to the eyes and should not be eaten.

More than 76,500 people are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer in the UK each year, with 90 per cent caused by ultraviolet light exposure.

Lesions usually appear on the areas most exposed to the sun, such as the head, neck, ears, and back of the hands.

Kimberley Carter of the British Association of Dermatologists said: 'This is a very small test group so it will be interesting to see what larger studies and the development of the active ingredient in E. peplus sap will reveal.

'Whilst it would not provide an alternative to surgery for the more invasive skin cancers or melanoma, in the future it might become a useful addition to the treatments available to patients for superficial, non-melanoma skin cancers.

'Any advances that could lead to new therapies for patients where surgery is not an option are definitely worth investigating.

'It is also very important to note that this is definitely not a treatment people should be trying out at home.

'Exposure of the sap to mucous producing surfaces, such as the eyes, results in extreme inflammation and can lead to hospitalisation.

'The concentration of the active ingredients in the sap also varies between different plants, with high doses able to cause very severe and excessive inflammatory responses.'

Monday, December 01, 2008

10 Reasons Not to Skimp on Sleep

10 Reasons Not to Skimp on Sleep

Too busy to go to bed? Having trouble getting quality sleep once you do? Your health may be at risk.

By Sarah Baldauf, U.S. News & World Report

You may literally have to add it to your to-do list, but scheduling
a good night's sleep could be one of the smartest health priorities you
set. It's not just daytime drowsiness you risk when shortchanging
yourself on your seven to eight hours. Possible health consequences of
getting too little or poor sleep can involve the cardiovascular,
endocrine, immune and nervous systems. In addition to letting life get
in the way of good sleep, between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer
from a chronic sleep disorder—insomnia or sleep apnea, say—that affects daily functioning and impinges on health. Consider the research:

1) Less may mean more. For people who sleep under seven hours a night, the fewer zzzz's they get, the more obese
they tend to be, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine (IOM)
report. This may relate to the discovery that insufficient sleep
appears to tip hunger hormones out of whack. Leptin, which suppresses
appetite, is lowered; ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, gets a boost.

You're more apt to make bad food choices. A study published in the
October 15, 2008 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found
that people with obstructive sleep apnea or other severely disordered
breathing while asleep ate a diet higher in cholesterol, protein, total
fat, and total saturated fat. Women were especially affected.

3) Diabetes
and impaired glucose tolerance, its precursor, may become more likely.
A 2005 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that
people getting five or fewer hours of sleep each night were 2.5 times
more likely to be diabetic, while those with six hours or fewer were
1.7 times more likely.

4) The ticker is put at risk. A 2003 study found that heart attacks were 45 percent more likely in women who slept for five or fewer hours per night than in those who got more.

Blood pressure may increase. Obstructive sleep apnea, for example, has
been associated with chronically elevated daytime blood pressure, and
the more severe the disorder, the more significant the hypertension, suggests the 2006 IOM report. Obesity plays a role in both disorders, so losing weight can ease associated health risks.

Auto accidents rise. As stated in a 2007 report in the New England
Journal of Medicine, nearly 20 percent of serious car crash injuries
involve a sleepy driver—and that's independent of alcohol use.

7) Balance is off. Older folks who have trouble getting to sleep, who wake up at night, or are drowsy during the day could be 2 to 4.5 times more likely to sustain a fall, found a 2007 study in the Journal of Gerontology.

You may be more prone to depression. Adults who chronically operate on
fumes report more mental distress, depression, and alcohol use.
Adolescents suffer, too: One survey of high school students found
similarly high rates of these issues. Middle schoolers, too, report
more symptoms of depression and lower self-esteem.

9) Kids may
suffer more behavior problems. Research from an April issue of the
Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that children who
are plagued by insomnia, short duration of sleeping, or disordered
breathing with obesity, for example, are more likely to have behavioral
issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Death's doorstep may be nearer. According to three large studies
published in the journals Sleep and the Archives of General Psychiatry,
people over age 30 who slept five hours or less per night had
approximately a 15 percent greater risk of dying—regardless of
the cause—over the periods studied, which ranged from six to 14

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Diet and prostate cancer

Clinical trial results revealed exclusively to ITV News show for the first time on this scale, that changing diet and lifestyle after cancer has been diagnosed, can significantly improve a patient's outcome.

The trial, centred at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, involved men with advancing prostate cancer.

After a year of improving their diet and increasing exercise, nearly 40 per cent of them no longer required the expected surgery or radiotherapy.

Several studies show that eating certain foods may reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, reduce the likelihood of prostate cancer coming back after treatment, or help slow down progression of the disease.

In recent years, the British diet has included less fruit and vegetables and more saturated fats and meat products. These changes may increase the risk of men developing prostate cancer over many years.

Find out more about how changing your diet may lower your risk of prostate cancer here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

135 grapes a day could help lower blood pressure and minimise risk of heart attack

135 grapes a day could help lower blood pressure and minimise risk of heart attack

Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:38 AM on 29th October 2008

Grapes helped lower blood pressure and improve heart function in lab
rats fed an otherwise salty diet, U.S. researchers have said.

The findings, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, may help people with high blood pressure, they said.

findings support our theory that something within the grapes themselves
has a direct impact on cardiovascular risk, beyond the simple blood
pressure-lowering impact that we already know can come from a diet rich
in fruits and vegetables,'  said Mitchell Seymour of the
Cardioprotection Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan.

The national collection of greenhouse grapes and outdoor varieties at Reads Nursery in Norfolk.

The research showed that rats on a high-salt diet had less cardiovascular risk when they ate grape powder

a study sponsored in part by California grape producers, Seymour and
colleagues examined the effects of ordinary grapes on rats that develop
high blood pressure when fed a salty diet.

Some of the rats
ate a diet containing a powder from red, green and purple table grapes
and a high-salt diet. Others were fed the grape powder and a low-salt
diet. The powder, which contained the same nutrients in fresh grapes,
allowed the scientists to measure the rats' intake carefully.

18 weeks, the rats that ate the grape-enriched diet had lower blood
pressure, better heart function, reduced inflammation throughout their
bodies, and fewer signs of heart muscle damage than rats that ate a
salty diet but no grapes.

'The inevitable downhill sequence to
hypertension and heart failure was changed by the addition of grape
powder to a high-salt diet,' Dr. Steven Bolling of the University of
Michigan, who heads up the lab, said in a statement.

said he thinks flavonoids, beneficial chemicals found in grapes, green
tea, cocoa and and tomatoes, could be having an effect on blood
pressure. Flavonoids have been shown in other studies to have
heart-health benefits.

Food producers are keen to show the
health benefits of their products. Studies sponsored by chocolate
makers, almond and walnut producers have shown various heart benefits,
including reducing inflammation in blood vessels and lowering the risk
of heart attacks and stroke.

Grape powder comprised about
three percent of the rats' diet. For humans, that would be about nine
servings of grapes a day. One serving is about 15 grapes.

California Table Grape Commission provided financial support for the
study and supplied the grape powder. Other sponsors included the
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National
Institutes of Health.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can lead to heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney failure.