No rocket science required to live a longer, disease free life

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help you live disease free for longer as you age. Publishing in The BMJ researchers looked at five “low-risk” healthy habits – never smoking, a healthy body mass index (BMI), moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day (including brisk walking), moderate alcohol intake and a healthy diet. They found women who adopt 4 or 5 of the low risk healthy habits can expect 34.4 disease free years after age 50 while those with an unhealthy lifestyle can expect just 23.7. Men can expect 31.1 years compared to 23.5 years for those who don't adopt healthy habits. It’s never too late to start making changes to futureproof your health as you age. 

Austrian regulators chill out over CBD

December 2018 saw Austrian regulator’s crack down on sales of CBD containing products following the classification of cannabis extracts as novel foods by the European Commission. After a change in government it would appear Austrian regulators’ appetite for proactive enforcement has diminished. However, despite its long history of safe use, confusion around the legal status of cannabis derived products in many countries continues presenting the category with a minefield of regulatory, scientific and supply chain obstacles to negotiate. Rob Verkerk PhD will be joining an international line-up of speakers in March at the CBD Global Summit to explore the issues surrounding a booming industry. He has also been appointed as an expert advisor to the magazine New Food that carried an in-depth focus on cannabis, CBD and hemp in its September 2019 edition.

Is your mental health being harmed by your meds?

A new report from the BBC Future team highlights the underreported and frequently sidelined, often hugely damaging, effects of commonly used drugs, such as statins, paracetamol, antihistamines, asthma medications and antidepressants, on our mental health. Based on the work of Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego (UCSD), Beatrice Golomb the report underlines the shortcomings of pharmaceutical drugs to deal with modern chronic disease.

BPA exposure greater than previously thought

Our exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disrupting chemical used as a plasticiser, has been found to be much higher than originally thought. Using a new evaluation method, researchers publishing in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology Journal suggest levels of BPA in humans has been drastically underestimated. Found in a wide range of everyday products the often controversial, adverse health impacts of BPA are considered to be many and varied. Endemic in the environment, the concerns over its health impacts have resulted in a race to find replacements, but the safety of such substances are already being questioned. This new method could mean current regulations around the use of BPA will need to be revised given they are based on the assumption that overall exposure is low.

Is UK sugar tax the success it’s claimed to be?

A new study published in BMC Medicine claims success for the UK sugar tax. Although the analysis showed a 30% reduction in sales of sugar from soft drinks in the last 4 years, this was found to be mainly due to product reformulation. The study also highlights an increase in total sugar sales due to products not subject to the tax. Since the introduction of the tax, sales of artificially sweetened drinks have soared exposing consumers to ever greater levels of non-nutritive sweeteners known to be bad for our health. Rather than eliciting behaviour changes, the tax appears to have traded one harm for another.

NHS brings in the big guns to tackle cholesterol

The NHS is set to launch a trial in partnership with Novartis to assess the effectiveness of its PCSK9 inhibitor, Inclisiran. The announcement looks set to pave the way for fast-track approval of the drug in the UK along with aggressive prescribing in efforts to drive cholesterol levels ever lower in those whom statins ‘fail’. The news flies in the face of a recent study published in The BMJ where researchers found people with higher LDL levels (so called ‘bad’ cholesterol) had a reduced risk of dying following a heart attack.