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World’s Most Important Pain-killers.
Scientists have discovered how the opium poppy produces morphine and codeine, two of the world’s most important painkillers.
Identifying the genes involved will make it possible to manufacture the drugs more efficiently.
Codeine is the most widely used opiate drug.

It can be extracted directly from the opium poppy but is usually synthesised from morphine, which is far more abundant in the plant.
The biochemists sorted through 23,000 different genes to find the pair linked to codeine and morphine, the journal Nature Chemical Biology has reported.
“Our discovery makes it possible to use micro-organisms to produce opiate drugs and other pharmaceuticals”, said Professor Peter Facchini, from the University of Calgary in Canada.

Eat Less And Live Longer.
Eat less and you could live to 100 or beyond.
New research shows halving calorie intake can triple the lifespan of simple organisms.
And a study revealed that 30% of animals on reduced diets died of old age without getting heart disease or cancer.
The figure is normally 6% for standard diets.
Dr Luigi Fontana, of Washington University, said calories affect molecules involved in the body’s ageing process.

Banning Trans Fats Would Save Thousands Of Lives.
Banning Trans fats from the UK would save thousands of lives every year, say experts.
Trans fats are chemically altered vegetable oils which increase the shelf-life of products.
They are found in many cakes, pies and fast foods.
Cutting consumption in England by 1% would lead to 11,000 fewer heart attacks each year, say the Harvard Medical School experts.

Eating Dark Chocolate May Beat Liver Condition.
Eating dark chocolate could beat a potentially lethal liver condition, a study has shown.
Scoffing less than half a bar cuts dangerous rises in liver blood pressure, it is claimed.
But experts at London’s Imperial College found results were less successful using white chocolate.

Two Thirds Of Supermarket Chicken Carries Campylobacter Bacteria.
It is the UK’s most common cause of food poisoning.
An estimated 440,000 contract it each year.
The bacteria is contracted from contaminated poultry that has been undercooked, so the bacteria is not killed and is ingested.
It can also be caught from unpasteurised milk.
It causes lethargy, weakness, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
Vomiting is unusual.
Generally it lasts no more than five days.

Psoriasis, A Chronic Skin Ailment.
1.2 million people in Britain suffer from psoriasis, a chronic skin ailment for which there is no cure.
Psoriasis most commonly appears between the ages of 15 and 25.

It is regarded as an autoimmune condition that causes too many skin cells to be produced.
In a psoriasis sufferer, the cells renew every two to six days instead of the usual 21 – 28 days.
This produces patches or plaques of silvery white skin which is usually red and inflamed, and causes itching and pain to various degrees.
Treatment for psoriasis is divided into three basic categories, depending on the severity.
Creams and ointments rubbed into the skin, phototherapy, the use of natural and artificial light, and oral and injected medicines.
Keeping the skin moisturised is essential.
A healthy diet with plenty of water, fruit and vegetables is also recommended, and psoriasis sufferers need to take care with alcohol, as it dries the skin, which adds to the irritation.

Ovarian Cancer, The Silent killer.
Each year in the UK, nearly 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 4,500 die from the disease.
Ovarian cancer is often termed “The silent killer” because symptoms tend to appear only when an advanced stage has been reached.
More women die from ovarian cancer than from all other gynaecological cancers put together.
Risk increases with age, particularly after the menopause.

Survey findings released by ovarian cancer charity Ovacome reveal that nine out of 10  women diagnosed with the cancer hadn’t known the symptoms of the disease, while a third hadn’t even heard of it.
The symptoms are very vague at the outset, with some mild discomfort in the abdomen, followed by persistent pelvic and abdominal pain, bloating of the tummy that does not reduce, difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, needing to pass water often and a change in bowel habits.
Early detection is crucial.

Take The Pill And Live Longer.
Women who have taken the pill can expect to live longer than those who have never been prescribed the oral contraceptive, research suggests.
Experts found they are less likely to die from any type of cancer or heart disease.
The study involved more than 46,000 women.
About three million women in Britain are on the pill.
Research leader Professor Philip Hannaford said that the effects may only be true for women who have taken older-style pills rather than newer drugs.
He added, “We believe the results of the study are enormously reassuring”.

The Most Common Cause Of Rickets.
Rickets, the bone-softening disease associated with poverty and a poor diet, is starting to make a comeback.
Although rates are nowhere near the levels of the 1940s, these new cases are preventable and shouldn’t happen in modern Britain with all that we now know about health and nutrition.

Growing bones need calcium to become hard and tough, and your gut needs vitamin D to absorb calcium from your food.
So a lack of vitamin D can make bones become soft and weak.
This is the most common cause of rickets.
In rare cases children can be born with a genetic-form of the disease.
What does seem clear from the latest spate of rickets is that our kids aren’t getting enough vitamin D.
The British medical Journal says several hundred cases of preventable vitamin D deficiency occur among children each year.

Vitamin D is produced naturally in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight, and the darker your skin the more exposure to sunlight you need to stimulate production of vitamin D.
Vitamin D has also been linked to preventing many other diseases from multiple sclerosis to heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Research is currently looking into whether it can help prevent type 2 diabetes.
If children don’t get enough sunlight to let them produce the necessary amount of vitamin D, it’s vital that they eat a vitamin D rich diet, or even take a supplement if need be.
High levels of vitamin D in older people can reduce the risk of developing cardio-metabolic disorders, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to researchers at the University of Warwick.

In a review of 28 studies of nearly 100,000 participants, they discovered a significant association between high levels of vitamin D and a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (33% compared to low levels of vitamin D) and type 2 diabetes (55% reduction).

Depression Is Sadness Turned Malignant.
Three million people in the UK at any given time suffer from depression.
Figures show that middle-aged women suffer more from depression and anxiety than any other group.
But there are no good explanations why.

Before adolescence the incidence is equal.
After puberty women are twice as likely to suffer than men.
Depression is sadness turned malignant.
Sadness is a perfectly normal emotion and its function is to restore one’s emotional balance after the loss of something or someone.
But just as normal cells can become cancerous, sadness can get out of control.
Doctors diagnose depression if you have five or more of the following symptoms:
A depressed mood for most of the day.
Diminished interest or pleasure.
Significant gain or loss of weight.
Inability to sleep or sleeping too much.
Reduced control of bodily movements.
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
Inability to think or concentrate.
Thoughts of death or suicide.
The most common cure is antidepressants, which should be combined with cognitive behavioural therapy, and exercise, which releases endorphins.

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