Thanks - but no thanks
While emergency medicine can be a lifesaver, heart-attack victims may do better with general care instead. A controversial study found that 14 per cent more heart-attack patients died from complications after emergency interventions, such bypass or catheterisation, compared with those who had gone to a general hospital (BMJ online, 21 January 2005).
Chamomile soothes the blues
Five cups of chamomile tea for two weeks can beat the common cold and menstrual cramps, say researchers from London's Imperial College. The tea increases levels of glycine, which can ease muscle spasm, and hippurate, a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory. What's more, glycine and hippurate levels remained high for a further two weeks after the tea-drinking stopped (J Agric Food Chem prepublication; BBC website).
The drugs don't work
A US study has revealed that commonly prescribed dementia drugs, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants, were of little, or modest, benefit to the patient. Moreover, some antipsychotics increased the risk of stroke (JAMA, 2005; 293: 596-608).
A sunshine cure?
The sun can fight malignant melanoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), according to two separate studies.
These findings go against the conventional wisdom that the sun is a cause of skin cancer. However, scientists in New Mexico have found that people who had high exposure to the sun were less likely to die from skin melanomas. The key may be the healthgiving benefits of vitamin D, which triggers the body's own immune system
In Sweden, researchers have found that the UV rays in sunlight and from sunlamps can actually reduce the risk of cancer - especially NHL - by up to 40 per cent (J Natl Cancer Inst, 2005; 97: 195-9 (melanoma study), 199-209 (lymphoma study).