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Sept 12th 2018


Do you feel most productive in the middle of the day, or are you someone who works best in the wee hours? Whether you're a lark or a night owl actually has very little to do with personal preference and everything to do with your circadian rhythm.

A circadian rhythm is an internal body clock that dictates a person’s sleep/wake cycle; it’s what enables us to feel sleepy at night and energised during the day and offers fundamental insight into how someone’s body functions.

Now, a team of scientists have found a way to measure a person’s circadian rhythm via a computer algorithm calls TimeSignature, which uses blood samples and artificial intelligence data to identify a person’s physiological time i.e. what 'time it is' in their body. 

 Plenty of research has gone into understanding circadian rhythms as this can help identify when someone will feel fatigue and when certain hormones are released in their body. 

A measurement tool such as TimeSignature may also help prevent the disruption of one’s circadian rhythm, which can lead to a series of health problems such as insomnia and heart disease.

“Before we didn’t have a clinically feasible way of assessing the clock in healthy people and people with disease,” explains the study’s co-author Ravi Allada, professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University.

“Now we can see if a disrupted clock correlates with various diseases and, more importantly, if it can predict who is going to get sick."

In order to work, TimeSignature requires patients to take two blood tests 10 to 12 hours apart.

The algorithm then analyses 7,000 genes in the blood samples, examining when these genes peak throughout the course of the day.

This allows it to identify 40 genes which make up the patient’s circadian rhythm.

From there, scientists can predict how strongly those genes will be expressed at different times of the day; comparing this to the actual times that the blood samples were taken allows them to understand what 'time it is' in their body.

If TimeSignature is as effective as the authors believe it to be, physicians could use it to detect the times of the day that certain medications should be taken in order to be most effective, which could be hugely beneficial for treating an array of major and minor illnesses.

“Knowing what time it is in your body is crucial to getting the most effective benefits,” said co-author Dr. Phyllis Zee, chief of sleep medicine in neurology at Northwestern University.

“The best time for you to take the blood pressure drug or the chemotherapy or radiation may be different from somebody else


Measuring one's circadian rhythm doesn't just offer physical health benefits, but possibly mental ones too that could significantly boost professional performance.

For example, a recent study found that night owls are far more productive later on in the day, advising these people to actually start their work in the afternoon as opposed to the morning. 

Meanwhile, another study of more than 14,000 students revealed that night owls often perform worse academically; experts suggested that these people avoid taking early morning classes.


Aug 30th 2018

Don’t hide the menopause – celebrate its creative power

traight out of university, landing a job as a junior curator at the Royal Museum of Scotland, I was lucky enough to have a female boss. Clever, confident and with one eye determinedly fixed on her progress up the steep incline of the civil service ladder, she was everything I aspired to be. She leaned in, decades before Sheryl Sandbergthought to do the same.

Although desperate to impress her, I quickly lost any professional credibility in her eyes when I was forced to petition her for time off because my periods were abnormally heavy. Once a month, I would appear at her office, deathly pale, practically passing out as a result of extreme blood loss, yet she begrudged sending me home. One time, she explicitly told me I was letting the feminist side down. That stung.

This was in the late 1980s. I am thrilled that today my former boss’s mind-over-matter brand of feminism looks distinctly shabby for failing to take account of women’s lived experience – their bodily reality. Today’s feminists are much more inclined, if not to make a virtue of biology (personally I stop short of an out-and-out celebration of monthly bleeds, or a revelling in labour pains), then at least to make political grist of the practical accommodations that our bodies demand.

I was reminded of my former boss when I read about Andrea Davies’s initiative to make menopause a regular topic of conversation with male colleagues: the female body – once a source of shame, its outlaw flesh forever misbehaving, oozing, bleeding, backfiring and renegading – at long last accorded a little respect. Davies, an academic at Leicester University, wants to encourage men to mention menopause several times a day, as a female-friendly mantra designed to overcome their natural shyness. In the interests of solidarity, she has instituted a Menopause Cafe at work, where co-workers gather over cake to compare notes about the way hot sweats, aphasia(language problems), insomnia, dry vaginas and the ins and outs of HRT might affect women’s sense of wellbeing at work. Male colleagues wanting to better understand how to support their female partners are warmly welcomed.

 The answer to the menopause taboo? Start with a cafe

Libby Brooks


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Menopause Cafes are a thing. Already this year 14 have been set up by working women across the UK, from Perth to Petersfield, following the lead of their founder, Rachel Weiss, a counsellor who was inspired to emerge from the menopause closet after watching Kirsty Wark’s televised struggles with her own suddenly wayward biology. But do Menopause Cafes do enough? Wark is not alone in coming forward to discuss menopause. Kate Garraway, Gillian Anderson and Emma Thompson are among a small army of high-profile women who have made a point of outing menopause. Kim Cattrall became a poster girl for menopause with her series Sensitive Skin, as did Angelina Jolie after publicising the elective double mastectomy and oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) that plunged her into early menopause.

Jolie, 39 at the time, remarked: “I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong, but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared.” I thought this statement perfectly picked up on women’s apprehensions over menopause while at the same time dismissing simple-minded notions of female empowerment. As I argue in my memoir The Middlepause, the kind of cheerleading that insists we can become strong by embracing menopause does women few favours, since it makes those of us who suffer and struggle with it feel cowed by failure and self-recrimination. We have a right to complain, damn it.

Still, a combination of top-down and grassroots activism, combined with renewed awareness of women’s vulnerability in the workplace – a byproduct of the #MeToo movement – goes a long way towards improving the treatment of menopausal women in professional life. The key is understanding that accommodating women’s biology does not equate with compromise. Men, your female colleagues are not operating under a handicap!

The next step perhaps is to recognise that we are all of us embodied. It is the human condition. But we are not just meat machines, our bodies mere locomotive vehicles for carrying our minds around. Our physical selves interact with the world at every level.

Should men say 'menopause' three times a day to help working women?


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They are the prime sensors of pleasure and pain, heat and cold. We learn about our environment through our bodies, acquiring a sense of the world we inhabit – how it invites or inhibits our interaction. Our bodies “remember” how to play the piano or ride a bike; they “know” when to cross a busy road. We possess a bodily understanding of whether we have enough spring in our jump to take that narrow bend in a stream. And anyone whose hand has unconsciously caught a falling object dropped from a table top has direct experience of the mysterious way the body navigates its immediate surroundings, without us being the least aware of its proprioceptive talents.

The philosophical underpinnings of the new materialism may not have yet trickled into everyday feminist thinking, but there are plenty of vocal and visible women on the comedy circuit and in popular culture, from Hannah Gadsby to Loose Women, making bodily functions a part of ordinary conversation.

Every woman is individual, of course, and will experience menopause differently. But in my experience, most feel a surge of creative energy in midlife that is directly at odds with the physical and psychological debilitations of menopause. Multitasking like dynamos from dawn to dusk, they are receptive, inventive and curious, while bringing a depth of knowledge to whatever problems work throws their way. It is a shortsighted employer indeed who does not capitalise on this energy surge (what the anthropologist Margaret Mead termed “zest”) that their silverback staff are riding high on – into their 60s and beyond.


Aug 29th 2018

Brazilian butt lifts are the deadliest of all aesthetic procedures – the risks explained

The desire for a larger bottom is becoming more popular, with the number of so-called Brazilian butt lifts more than doubling in the last five years.

However, a recent high-profile case involving a doctor in Miami who was banned from operating after the death of a patient during surgery, highlights the risks associated with having this procedure. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the Brazilian butt lift (BBL) has the highest rate of death of all aesthetic procedures.

What is a Brazilian butt lift?

Some people have a BBL for aesthetic reasons, but many have it after losing lots of weight, serious disfigurement after pelvic trauma or practical problems, such as holding up trousers.

The procedure involves taking fat from areas of the body where it’s not wanted and transplanting it into the glutes to enlarge them.

To be successful, a fat graft needs nutrition and so has to be injected into tissue that has a blood supply. Fat can survive if injected into other fat, but up to 90% of it can be absorbed if it is. Fat has more chance of staying in place if it is inserted into muscle – but this is where the risk lies.

Injecting fat into the buttock can easily lead to serious problems if done incorrectly. These include a fat embolism, when fat enters the bloodstream and blocks a blood vessel. In the lungs, for example, it blocks oxygen from entering the bloodstream, while in the brain it can cause a stroke – both can be fatal.

The volume of fat is also important. Most surgeons consider 300ml – slightly less than a can of soda – to be a safe amount. However, some more experienced surgeons use a much larger volume of fat that may be measured in litres.

Why is the mortality rate so high?

2017 survey of 692 surgeons from across the world investigated the rate of mortality among patients undergoing BBL. Throughout their careers, the surgeons reported 32 cases of death from a fat embolism and 103 non-fatal cases, but there are probably many more that remain unreported.

Fat embolism was recently identified as the leading cause of death in aesthetic surgery. The estimated death rate from fat embolism may be as high as one in 3,000 for BBLs. A 2015 study of deaths from BBL surgery concluded that they probably occur as a result of gluteal blood vessels becoming damaged during the procedure, allowing fat to enter the bloodstream. The authors recommended that “buttocks lipoinjection should be performed very carefully, avoiding injections into deep muscle planes”.

Deaths in the US have caused concern. In one recently reported case in the US that led to death from a fat embolism, surgeons believed injections had been made into superficial fat, but at post-mortem fat was found in the heart and lungs. There was also some evidence of damage to gluteal blood vessels.

However, it should be noted that fat is also injected into muscle for some breast enhancement surgery, with no reported deaths. This suggests that there are other factors involved in the high mortality rate among BBL patients.

Most of these deaths appear to have been caused by inappropriately qualified practitioners working in non-approved facilities, including homes and garages.

Other post-surgery problems, such as gangrene and sepsis, can also be fatal.

Is it worth the risk?

The potential risk of death from a fat embolism has to be weighed against the benefits, especially in cases where there are physical and functional benefits to having the surgery. In the case of the Brazilian butt lift, perhaps the risks outweigh the benefits.

Nevertheless, in a celebrity and beauty obsessed society, the procedure remains popular, despite the risks. So it is important that surgeons make the risks of the procedure very clear to anyone considering it. Patient safety should always be the top priority. And surgeons need to do more to increase the safety of the procedure and lower the unnecessarily high mortality rate.


June 6th 2018

The truth you need to know about eggs

The egg has something of a chequered past. In the 1950s and 1960s, they were heralded as the best way to start your day with the famous "go to work on an egg" advertising slogans. But by the 70s, received wisdom had almost flipped on its head: eggs were the bad boys of nutrition, carrying a dangerously high level of cholesterol, which had been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Limit your intake to three a week, was the thinking - and never have two at once.

So you'd be forgiven for thinking twice before cracking open your egg in the morning. However, despite those decades of negative PR, the macro-history of eggs is very positive. They've long been seen as a reliable, nutritious, cheap and tasty form of nourishment. In many cultures and religions, eggs are a symbol of life and rebirth - and who can deny their replenishing properties on a particularly heavy hangover?

This century, as our understanding of nutrition improves, eggs are firmly back on the menu. No longer a culinary outcast, eggs, particularly poached, scrambled or baked, are a brunch staple, and have become one of the most instagrammed foods around.

Indeed, a new study has revealed that eating an egg a day may reduce the risk of strokes and heart disease.

Researchers from Peking University Health Science Centre in China observed the egg-eating habits of 416,213 participants. Those who reported daily consumption of eggs at the beginning of the nine-year study were found to be at lower risk of the diseases than those who never or rarely ate eggs.

* So eggs actually lower your risk of heart disease? It's time we unscramble this confusing story.

For years, eggs were to be avoided because they were high in cholesterol. A large egg contains roughly 185mg of cholesterol, and the American Heart Association used to recommend a maximum of 300mg of cholesterol per day - so two eggs would see you over the limit. As cholesterol was linked to heart disease, it was logical that eating too much would be dangerous. Warnings were issued, and egg-phobia was disseminated.

Cholesterol is a substance found naturally in the body and produce by the liver. It plays a crucial role in how our cells work, and is required to make Vitamin D, hormones and bile. Too much cholesterol in your blood can accumulate on artery walls, which increases risk of heart attacks and strokes.

But here's the thing: the cholesterol in food has "very little effect on the cholesterol in your blood. It's much more to do with the saturated fat in food" says nutritionist Fiona Hunter. A boiled egg has about 3.3g of saturated fat per 100g; for butter, the figure is 51g per 100g.


Saturated fat, found in meat and dairy products as well as foods containing coconut or palm oil, will up the levels of cholesterol in the blood. Unsaturated fats (oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, vegetable oils) can actually lower cholesterol levels.

To understand how this works, you have to know that there are two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), otherwise known as "bad" and "good" cholesterol. HDL is considered good as it transports excess cholesterol to the liver, where it can then be expelled by the body, rather than stick to your arteries. LDL ushers the cholesterol to your arteries which can build up causing potential blood clots (and by extension lead to heart attacks or strokes).

How do eggs effect LDL and HDL cholesterol levels? A study from the University of Connecticut found that those eating three eggs a day for a month registered no change in ratio between the two types of cholesterol, implying no difference in risk to heart health. A later investigation at the same institution, in 2012, discovered that LDL cholesterol did not rise in middle-aged people who had eaten three eggs per day, though levels of good cholesterol were boosted.

The recent findings are the latest in a line of research suggesting the health risks of eggs have been overplayed in the past. In 2013, an investigation published in the British Medical Journal claimed that an egg a day, if not keeping the doctor away, would not negatively impact heart health.

So does it keep the doctor away? "Nutritionists and dietitians have always known that eggs are a very nutritious food, for lots of reasons," explains Hunter. "They're a very good source of several vitamins and minerals, some of which, like iodine and Vitamin D, are difficult to find in other foods. They're a real powerhouse of nutrients and protein."

A medium egg contains, among other nutrients:

• 63pc of recommended intake of Vitamin D, useful in a country where most people are deficient.

• 36pc daily requirements of Vitamin B2, vital for growth and bodily repair.

• 108pc required daily Vitamin B12, essential for the body's nervous system and blood cells, as well as producing DNA.

• 39pc daily requirements of biotin, for metabolism, nerve, and digestive and cardiovascular functions.

• 71pc of necessary daily Choline, important for liver function and brain development.

"They've also got iodine and selenium," says Hunter. "One medium-sized egg would provide 42pc of your recommended daily amount of selenium and 34pc recommended iodine." Iodine is especially important for pregnant women, as it's linked with your baby's IQ. "As people turn away from milk our iodine levels are dropping, so eggs are a good way to get it into the diet."

“They're also incredibly convenient, quick and versatile. I'm a big fan of eggs, and would probably eat them for lunch two or three times a week. The smashed avocado on toast with a poached egg on top has introduced a whole new generation to the joy of eating eggs. And they're an excellent source of protein for vegetarians too."

› Should we be limiting our egg intake, then? "I haven't seen any recent research suggesting we should," Hunter continues. "Having said that, we need to eat a variety of foods. I don't think there's any harm in having eggs every day, but the only caveat is your diet would not be hugely varied."

And, of course, the way we eat them can have a big impact on how healthy or unhealthy they are. A fried egg with lots of salt is evidently not as wholesome as a boiled egg. "A boiled egg is a very good snack that isn't too calorific but still very filling."

May 3rd 2018

Eating fish and legumes 'could delay menopause by three years'

A diet rich in fish and legumes may help to delay the menopause, while eating lots of refined carbs, such as pasta and rice, may hasten it, researchers have found.

The study of women from England, Scotland, and Wales, which is the first of its kind in the UK, found the average age of menopause to be 51 and certain foods seemed to be associated with its timing. 

The researchers found having a high intake of oily fish and fresh legumes - such as peas and beans - was associated with a menopause delay of more than three years. Higher intakes of vitamin B6 and zinc were also associated with later menopause.

In contrast, each eating lots of refined carbs - specifically pasta and rice - was associated with reaching the menopause 1.5 years earlier.

To explore the links between menopause and diet, the researchers drew on participants from the UK Women’s Cohort Study, involving more than 35,000 women between the ages of 35 and 69. 

The women provided information on potentially influential factors such as weight history, physical activity levels, reproductive history, and use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

They also estimated the quantities of 217 foodstuffs they ate every day by completing a food frequency questionnaire. The food items were collated into groups according to their culinary uses. Further information on when the women had gone through the menopause naturally was gathered four years later.

In all, around 14,000 women provided information at both time points, and the final analysis included the 914 who had gone through the menopause naturally after the age of 40 and before the age of 65.

The researchers said each additional portion of oily fish and fresh legumes a woman ate per day was associated with a delay of menopause of 3.3 years. Speaking to HuffPost UK, study author Professor Janet Cade was keen to point out this does not mean menopause is delayed by 3.3 years each time you eat a portion of fish. Instead, the research looks at women’s habitual intake. For example, a woman who routinely eats two portions of fish per day will experience menopause on average three years later than a woman who only eats one portion per day.

Following the same principle, each additional daily portion of refined carbs - specifically pasta and rice - was associated with reaching the menopause 1.5 years earlier, after taking account of potentially influential factors such as weight. 

Omega 3 fatty acids, which are abundant in oily fish, stimulate antioxidant capacity in the body and legumes are also high in antioxidants. The researchers have suggested antioxidants may preserve menstruation for longer by impacting the release of eggs. 

In contrast, refined carbs boost the risk of insulin resistance, which can interfere with sex hormone activity and boost oestrogen levels, both of which might increase the number of menstrual cycles and deplete egg supply faster, they said. 

They stressed though that the findings were taken from an observational study, and as such, more research is needed to see if food does definitely cause changes to a woman’s menstrual cycle. 

April 28th 2018

How can we stop ageing or at least slow it down?

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April 16th 2018

These are some of the top signs of getting old

Forgetting people’s names, groaning when you bend down and falling asleep in front of the TV are among the signs you’re getting old, according to research.

A poll of 2,000 adults also found needing an afternoon nap, finding it tricky to sit cross-legged and choosing comfort over style are indicators you’re getting on a bit.

Complaining more often, declaring you’re ‘gasping’ for a cup of tea and feeling flattered when you get asked for ID when visiting a bar also made the list.

Other warnings include preferring a night in with a board game, knowing your alcohol limit and struggling with technology.


The study, commissioned by Future You to highlight the benefits of Turmeric+ tablets, also found feeling stiff and talking about your joints a lot featured in the top fifty signs you’re growing old.

A spokesman said: “It’s fascinating to see nearly half the nation considers joint pain and stiffness a sign of growing age.

“In fact, knees came out as one of the most common body parts giving Brits physical discomfort so it’s important you take care of yourself regardless of your age.”

Researchers named 41 as the age adults typically start exhibiting these signs, with 57 the point at which people consider themselves to be ‘officially old’.

While waving goodbye to their youth, 47 per cent said losing their memory is their biggest worry about getting old, with 29 per cent concerned about the impact ageing will have on their fitness.

More than one third are fretting about becoming lonely as they get older and one in five are agonising over whether they will retain their looks with age.

And nearly half agreed they feel ‘old before their time’.

But the saying “you’re only as old as you feel” is true for three in four, with more than half of adults feeling younger than their actual age.

Millions also admit to making significant lifestyle changes to try and increase their lifespan, typically pulling their finger out by age 40.

Making changes to their diet is the most popular lifestyle change with others cutting back on bad habits such as drinking and smoking or even giving them up all together.

Taking up new sports and opting to cook with healthy spices are also among the ways people try to turn back the clock.

But 28 per cent admit getting old isn’t as bad as they thought it would be.

A spokesman for Turmeric+ added: “It’s interesting to see a number of Brits are making a conscious effort to reverse the ageing process, by recognising the benefits of natural ingredients and taking food supplements.”


1. Forgetting people's names

2. Losing hair

3. Feeling stiff

4. Talking a lot about your joints/ailments

5. Groaning when you bend down

6. Not knowing any songs in the top ten

7. Misplacing your glasses/ bag/ car keys etc

8. Getting more hairy - ears, eyebrows, nose, face etc.

9. Avoid lifting heavy things due to back concerns

10. Saying 'in my day'

11. Finding it tricky to sit cross-legged on the floor

12. Hating noisy pubs

13. Choosing clothes and shoes for comfort rather than style

14. Falling asleep in front of the TV every night

15. Thinking policemen/teachers/doctors look really young

16. Falling ill more often

17. Saying "it wasn't like that when I was young"

18. Complaining about more things

19. Needing an afternoon nap

20. Feeling tired the moment you wake up

21. Struggling to use technology

22. Finding you have no idea what 'young people' are talking about

23. Having colleagues who are so young they don't know what a cassette tape is

24. Losing touch with everyday technology such as tablets and TVs

25. Complaining about the rubbish on television these days

26. Spending time comparing illnesses and injuries with friends

27. Your friends are all ill more often

28. Not knowing or remembering the name of any modern bands

29. You consider going on a 'no children' cruise for a holiday

30. You know your alcohol limit

31. Struggling to think of anything worse than going to a music festival

32. Never going out without your coat

33. Putting everyday items in the wrong place

34. You move from Radio 1 to Radio 2

35. You start driving very slowly

36. You struggle to lose weight easily

37. Buying a smart phone but having no idea how to do anything other than make phone calls on it

38. You say ‘I’m gasping for a cup of tea’

39. Spending more money on face creams / anti-ageing products

40. Falling asleep after one glass of wine

41. Feeling you have the right to tell people exactly what you are thinking, even if it isn't polite

42. You like getting asked for ID

43. Paying by cash or cheque rather than using your card

44. Preferring a night in with a board game than a night on the town

45. Being told off for politically incorrect opinions

46. Joining the National Trust

47. Your ears are getting bigger

48. Preferring a Sunday walk to a lie in

49. You think, 'maybe I'll drive instead of drink'

50. Drinking sherry 

April 5th 2018

Telomeres are parts of our chromosomes that affect how cells age. Like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces, telomeres are caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect it and allow cells to function and reproduce properly. Telomeres shorten each time a cell divides which, over time, leaves genetic DNA unprotected and causes cellular function to be compromised and ultimately leads to cell apoptosis (death) or senescence.

Every organ in the body (skin, liver, heart, etc.) is made up of cells, so telomeres are vital to good health. Slowing or stopping the shortening of telomeres can slow or stop cellular ageing.

The length of a person’s telomeres is a good indicator of their overall health status. Having short telomeres can accelerate the natural aging process on a cellular level. Some cells, like those found in the skin and immune system, are most affected by telomere shortening because they reproduce more often.

For a body to stay healthy, it is important to maintain telomere length.

Telomerase is a naturally-occurring enzyme in the body that can slow, stop or perhaps even reverse age- and lifestyle-related telomere shortening. Telomerase is produced only inside functioning cells; it is not possible to take biologically active telomerase orally.

Activating the enzyme telomerase may be the key to helping cells live longer. Scientific research has shown activating telomerase in human cells slowed cell aging and allowed older cells to begin replicating again.

TA-65® is a patented, all natural, plant-based compound which is designed to help maintain or rebuild telomeres by activating telomerase. TA-65MD® nutritional supplements are the first in a line of products based on the TA-65® compound. TA-65MD® nutritional supplements are the first research-based products that specifically target Telomerase Activation.

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