Perfumes and aftershaves pose hospital asthma risk say doctors

perfumeThink twice before you next go to visit a friend or relative in hospital whilst doused in your favourite smelly, for perfumes and aftershaves could be triggering asthma attacks and allergies within hospitals and should be banned from them, doctors have argued.

An estimated three in ten people claim they are sensitive to the artificial scents worn by those around them, with around 25% of asthmatics saying that their asthma condition was is worsened by being exposed to perfumes and aftershaves.

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Could Erectile Dysfunction treatment Viagra also help for slimming?

scalesAt Medical Specialists® Pharmacy we know that losing weight can sometimes be a hard task. We know this due to the thousands of patients that come to us for weight loss treatments such as Xenical or Alli, after previously struggling to shed the pounds.

However, according to researchers in China, erectile dysfunction drug Viagra may actually be a radical method of losing weight.

Laboratory and animal studies have discovered that ‘the little blue pill’ – as Viagra is often labelled – produces alterations in body fat, causing calories to be burned for energy as opposed to being stored.

As animals have only been assessed, a trial has now begun to see if the same premise holds true for humans. A group of men will be administered either a Viagra tablet or an ineffective placebo, to be taken three times daily for a duration of seven days, with any possible fluctuations in body-fat analysed.

Public Health England say that two-thirds of British adults and a quarter of children between the ages of two and ten can be classified as overweight or obese. The risks from being obese are well-known and include serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and pressure placed onto the joints, leading to osteoarthritis.

Fat accumulates within the body when we consume more calories than we burn, however not all fats are generated in the same way. Most of the typical adult’s bodily fatty tissue is white fat, linked to the storage of excess calories. The body also has a smaller amount of brown fat, which actually work to burn calories to generate heat, so the body is kept warm.

Brown fat is most prominent in new-borns, as they need to be kept warm but are less capable of regulating body temperature. Unfortunately, we lose most of this brown fat as we get older, except for small amounts (particularly around the neck and shoulders) which are used to keep a constant core body temperature.

As we grow into adults, we lose most of our brown fat. But small amounts – teaspoonfuls – remain, particularly around the neck and shoulders, where it is needed to help maintain a constant core body temperature.

Whilst white fat can comprise of around 20 to 25% of a person’s bodyweight, brown fat only takes up between 3 and 7.5% of bodyweight, however, some scientists are looking at methods of boosting the prowess of brown fat – or even ways of producing more of it.

They discovered that exposure to cold temperatures can help to induce a process called ‘browning’ – the conversion of the unhealthy white fat into energy-burning, heat-generating brown fat, and research would suggest erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra can actually kick-start browning.

Viagra (generic name sildenafil) works in erectile dysfunction patients by helping to relax the smooth muscles of the penis and boosting blood flow. However, trials have shown that mice administered the drug over lengthy periods of time were less prone to obesity, despite having a high-fat diet.

With that in mind, researchers based at the University of Bonn in Germany decided to give mice Viagra for a week to see any potential effects on their fat cells.

Remarkably, the researchers discovered that Viagra manage to change white fat cells into ‘beige’ fat – which, similar to brown fat, burns the energy from food and converts it to heat. Writing in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the researchers say that Viagra basically is able to ‘melt’ away the unhealthy fat, but precisely how it does that is unclear at this moment in time, but it is generally thought that sildenafil increases levels of compound cGMP.  This compound passes signals between cells and is thought to be linked to fat browning and speeding up metabolism.

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Stoptober is Back! Medical Specialists® Pharmacy urge the nation’s smokers to join the annual stop smoking attempt

StoptoberLet’s be honest – there is never a bad time to stop smoking. Smokers can kick the habit on any given day or week, but if there is an ideal time to try and with a boosted chance of giving up for good, the month of October is a great time of the year to start.

The 1st October will see the launch of what is now a regular addition to the calendar – the annual 28-day Stoptober campaign, created and funded by Public Health England as an effective drive to encourage more of the nation to kick smoking into touch.

Last year saw over a quarter of a million smokers make the pledge to try and stop smoking, with a huge increase in the number of patients coming to Medical Specialists® Pharmacy for information about obtaining the popular smoking cessation treatment Champix (Varenicline), and the pharmacy expects a similar sales surge for 2015, if not much bigger.

Data from the Office for National Statistics show that 18.7% of adults in the UK smoked in 2013 – down from 19.8% in 2012. After the conclusion of last year’s Stoptober, Public Health England say its latest figures indicated that smoking rates had continued to fall during the last few months of 2014.

A 4 week duration is used for the Stoptober challenge due to the fact that research has shown those who manage to abstain from smoking for 28 days are actually 5 times more likely to quit for good. In addition, it is often said for every 28 days a smoker quits for, they could add an extra week onto their lifespan.

At Medical Specialists®, we know that making the leap into tobacco-free territory can be difficult and stressful, but those deciding to stop smoking should realise they are not alone. Literally thousands of others have made the same pledge to stop too, which should provide a welcome boost to willpower.

In addition, those that decide to sign up to this year’s Stoptober will receive a personal helping hand in their efforts, courtesy of some of the UK’s favourite comedians, such as Al Murray, Bill Bailey, Rhod Gilbert and Shappi Khorsandi. Quitters that register for the service can expect to be inundated with light-hearted and humorous messages of support and encouragement, sent straight to the participant’s phone and email during the 28 day period of Stoptober.

Comedian Rhod Gilbert decided to throw his support behind the annual Stoptober campaign after being a smoker himself for 25 years, toiling for 23 years of those attempting to quit. He says: “I know first-hand that it can be hard to find the motivation to quit, but Stoptober is the perfect time to give it a go,” he says.

There are countless benefits to ditching cigarettes. For example, quitters can expect to notice many physical improvements such as a boosted sense of taste and smell, increased energy levels, reduced signs of facial aging and wrinkles, whiter teeth, fresher breath and even better sex due to the improved blood flow and stronger erections for men.

Moreover, people that successfully quit smoking will have much serious longer term benefits, such as a lower risk of suffering from heart disease and a wide range of cancers such as lung cancer, not to mention protecting the health of those in the surrounding vicinity as there will now be no secondhand smoke for them to inhale.

Despite the fact smoking rates have come down in recent years, smoking remains the biggest factor behind preventable illness and premature death in the country – responsible for nearly 80,000 deaths per year in England alone.

Smokers aged 18 or above that want to quit, can use the support Stoptober as a foundation for doing so, along with help from Medical Specialists®.

Begin the road to a smoke-free future today by obtain the smoking cessation medication Champix following an online consultation with one of Medical Specialists’ GMC registered doctors. Champix works out from as little £26.95* a pack. The treatment works by mimicking the effect of nicotine on the body, reducing the urge to smoke and relieving withdrawal symptoms. It can also decrease the enjoyment you experience of smoking if you are still smoking whilst on the treatment.

(*based on private prescription price)

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European alcohol, smoking and obesity rates are ‘alarming’ says WHO

cigaretteThe United States is often branded the fattest country in the world (technically true depending on which statistics are used), however Europe is doing its best to take over this unwanted mantle from America, with “alarming” rates of drinking, eating and smoking found throughout Europe in a new report conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the United States, a staggering 78 million people, or 33% of the adult population, are classified as obese, whilst 74.1% of the people aged 15 and over are either overweight or obese (i.e. with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or above).

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Over-70s still sexually active…But STIs are on the rise

elderly coupleThe majority us probably think that people tend to lose all trace of a sex life as they get older, and certainly the thought of our grandparents being intimate would be the last thing on our mind…but it seems more and more people into their 70s, 80s and beyond, are maintaining fairly active sex lives.

The findings of a recent study suggest that adults over the age of 70 are having sex at least twice each month. In addition to this, rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis and genital warts seem to be spiralling amongst older people.

Reporting in ‘The Conversation’, Sharron Hinchliff, Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sheffield, argues that sex amongst older adults should be more openly discussed, given the statistics.

She says: “A report published earlier this year found that those with a sexual partner tended to rate their quality of life as higher than those without one, although some studies have placed greater emphasis on relationship status and social engagement. When I interviewed a number of over-50s about their (heterosexual) sex lives for a qualitative study, I found that many who were still in sexual relationships rated them as very or extremely important.

The reasons for the participants’ emphasis on sex included strengthening their relationship with their partners but also pleasure. For some women, sex had improved with age, which they related to feeling more relaxed because they had more sexual experience and no longer feared becoming pregnant.”

Sharron also argues that sexual health campaigns tend to primarily focus on the younger demographic, as these are the ones at risk from not only sexually transmitted infections, but unplanned pregnancies following the failure to use condoms.

Between the years 2009 and 2013, STI rates within the the over-45s increased across different diseases, with an 11% rise in genital warts amongst men aged 45-64, and a staggering 500% rise in syphilis cases for women over the age of 65. According to Sharron, “The majority of diagnoses of all STIs in the older age groups were in men, but gonorrhoea and syphilis were highest among heterosexual women and men who have sex with men.”

She continued: “As a result, some sexual health campaigns are now being aimed at older people.

This year’s Sexual Health Week in the UK is focused on sexual pleasure and well-being – and one of the campaign’s five strands is aimed at educating professionals and the public about the sexual well-being of older people.

Campaigns that promote sexual pleasure are new, even though the idea of incorporating pleasure into sexual health materials is not.

Young people in the UK are only just seeing such messages so it’s great that the sexual pleasure of older people is now being recognised too. But infectious disease is only one factor that can affect pleasure and well-being.

Long-term conditions and some sexual difficulties are more likely to be diagnosed in our 50s or later.

These include erectile dysfunction, which affects around 30 per cent of men aged 65-74, and uncomfortable vaginal dryness, experienced by 20 per cent of women in the same age group.”

Previously, it could be assumed that the older generation may struggle to meet prospective new partners for sex, particularly after experiencing poor health or becoming widowed, but Sharron sheds light on this.

“There is evidence that some older people are embracing technology and going online to meet potential partners for a sexual relationship. One survey found that 38% of people aged 50-59 and 37% of those aged 60-69 had met their partners online.

We should perhaps also reconsider what we think about as sexual activity when it comes to older people. For one thing, many older people engage in masturbation for sexual pleasure, countering the notion that it is a sexual act pursued only by the young. But there is also evidence that ideas about what activities count as sexual become broader as we age. For some, actions such as playing footsie under the breakfast table can give the intimacy that sexual activity previously had.

While research into the sexual well-being of older people is growing, there are gaps that wait to be filled, particularly the ways that ageing intersects with gender identity, sexual orientation, social class, disability and ethnic group. Exploring these areas will develop our understanding of sexual pleasure in older age, and better inform services for those to whom sex is important.”

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