In this newsletter we cover a wide range of subjects but the common theme is we are reporting on current research results from WHO,Universities or larger clinical trials.

The significance of a clear decision  to quit smoking

Most people quit smoking unaided -this is the message that Professor Simon Chapman is trying to spread. The key is to be coming from a place within you that you want to quit , not just thinking you have to.  You may or may not need help to get to that point of decision, detox or get clarity about your obstacles or triggers. However,  Professor Chapman and we want you to know, you do have more power within you than you realise. Your clear decision releases it to support you.

A Month off alcohol could help prevent serious illnesses in later life, according to a new study.

Patients who gave up for four weeks saw benefits for their liver function, blood pressure and cholesterol levels and were also at lower risk of developing diabetes and liver disease, research from University College London suggested. Those who took part in the month of abstinence also lost weight and reported improvements in their concentration and sleeping. 

Professor Kevin Moore, who co-authored the study, told the Press Association: “If you took a drug that reduced blood pressure and improved cholesterol and insulin resistance it would be a blockbuster drug that would be worth billions.” 

Researchers, funded in part by London’s Royal Free Hospital, monitored 102 relatively healthy men and women in their 40s taking part in a “dry January” campaign.  
The women had been drinking an average of 29 units of alcohol a week, equivalent to more than four units a day, while the men were typically on 31 units – both above government guideline levels. After four weeks their “liver stiffness” – an indication of damage and scarring – had been reduced by 12.5 per cent, and their insulin resistance – a measurement of diabetes risk – had come down by 28 per cent. Prof Moore, a liver specialist, said: “These subjects were probably average drinkers – they drank in excess of the guidelines. We studied them before and after the dry month. “There was certainly substantial improvement in various parameters of the liver. The other parameters, blood pressure, cholesterol, how well the subjects slept were also substantial.” Prof Moore added public health bodies should be “very interested” in the study but said more work needed to be done to establish the lasting effects of abstinence.

“Does it have a sustained impact? We think we will find people drink less going forward. Source: AAP

Bleach bath soothing solution to reduce eczema severity.  

A Melbourne study comparing bleach and emollient baths found children bathed in half an adult bath (50l) containing 62ml of 4.2% White King, three times a week, for 12 weeks, had significantly greater improvement in eczema severity than those washed in bath oil with liquid paraffin.  The 19 children in the study ranged in age from 6 months to 18 years. They all improved. The study was presented at the Australian College of Dermatologists’ annual scientific meeting.  One of the hardest aspects of conducting the study was parents reluctance to use White King in their children’s baths, according to lead author Liz Leins, a paediatric eczema nurse practitioner at Epworth clinic, but all were relieved by the result. (courtesy MO)

It demonstrates the impact of reducing the load of detrimental bacteria.

From the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews of pain relief in labour.

The Cochrane review  divided interventions/ support into evidence for what works -but including some cost impacts, what may and not sure yet.

Epidural analgesics provided effective relief “but at the cost of increased medical intervention including increased incidence of instrumental vaginal birth” they said. “In comparison with other opioids more women receiving pethidine experienced adverse effects including drowsiness and nausea.”

The what may work list included- water immersion, acupuncture, relaxation, massage and local anaesthetic nerve blocks and non opioid drugs.

The don’t know yet were hypnosis, biofeedback, sterile water injection, aromatherapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and parenteral opioids.

Magnesium’s importance in pregnancy

Obstetricians and Neonatologists are trying to find ways to get the message out that magnesium sulphate can be used to protect preterm birth babies from cerebral palsy. (

WHO warns to limit the consumption of processed meat as it increases colon cancer risk. 

Eating sausages, ham and other processed meats causes colorectal cancer, and red meat “probably” too, the World Health Organisation’s cancer research agency says.

The findings support “recommendations to limit intake of meat”, said the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which compiled a review of more than 800 studies on the link between a meat diet and cancer.

For an individual, the risk of getting cancer from eating processed meat was statistically “small”, said the agency, but “increases with the amount of meat consumed”. “Each 50g portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.”

The report was compiled by 22 experts from 10 countries.  The evaluation revealed “strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect” for red meat consumption – mainly for cancer of the colon and rectum, but also the pancreas and prostate. As for processed meat, including hot dogs, sausages, corned beef, dried meat like beef jerky or South African biltong, canned meat or meat-based sauces, there was “sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer”.

Smoking’s impact on Crohn’s disease

Quitting smoking when diagnosed with Crohn’s disease significantly reduces the chance of developing more advanced disease.  The study involved 1115 patients with Crohn’s disease for 5 or more years at 6 centres in Australia and NZ.   There is a significant drop in the incidence of fibrosis and perforations compared to patients who continued to smoke (20 % vs 43%).

The protective effect of watermelon 

Researchers at Universities in Florida and Spain are exploring the effects of watermelon on blood pressure as well as faster recovery from exercise or hard labouring work. It turns out there are important amino acids in the white part of the watermelon.

High dose fish oil good for arthritis 

Prof Susanna M Proudman, Rheumatology Unit, Royal Adelaide Hospital conducted a randomised trial with 140 people recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis combining high dose fish oil with “contemporary best -practice therapy” of 3 medications. After one year of treatment 10.5% of patients needed a fourth medication compared to 32% of those taking low dose fish oil. Patients also achieved remission faster when taking the adjunctive high dose fish oil compared to the control group of low dose.

Unsalted raw mixed nuts help improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels. 

Canadian researchers found snacking on nuts as part of a balanced diet decreased Hemoglobin A1c levels and LDL cholesterol. 117 people with type 2 diabetes were randomised to eat either 75gms of mixed nuts a day, muffins or half portions of each as part of a 2000kcal diet for 3 months. These was a similar protein content in both groups. Only eating the full nut dose had a significant effect, reducing these significant parameters by 7-8%.