Health News: A pacemaker to stop premature births, a method to tackle chest pain and how milk and cabbage may prevent cancer
19:27 GMT, 17 September 2012
Scientists have developed a birth ‘pacemaker’ to help prevent premature arrivals.
The device, which has just completed a clinical trial, consists of electrodes that deliver mild bursts of electricity to stop muscles in the womb contracting.
An estimated six to eight per cent of pregnant women begin labour early — between weeks 20 and 37 of their pregnancy — resulting in a premature birth. This can lead to a wide range of health problems for the baby, some of which can last a lifetime, including heart, lung, and learning disorders.
A new device could help prevent premature births by using electrical pulses to block the natural signals that tell the womb to contract
The causes of pre-term birth are not well known, but as a result the womb starts contracting too soon.
The new device uses electrical pulses to block the natural signals that tell the womb to contract.
In the early stage study, five women in preterm labour were given a ten-second burst of current just before each expected contraction.
Results show that this reduced the number of premature contractions by 23 per cent.
Could hypnosis ease your chest pains
Hypnosis is being tested as a way to tackle ‘phantom’ chest pain. In a new clinical trial, researchers at the Royal Brompton Hospital, London, will assess its benefits for people with cardiac syndrome X.
This causes pain similar to angina, although the patient’s heart is, in fact, perfectly healthy.
Cardiac syndrome X is more common in women, especially those who have gone through the menopause. Three per cent of adults may be affected at some stage in their life. Results from an earlier study show that 80 per cent of patients given hypnotherapy experienced a reduction in pain, compared to 23 per cent of a comparison group.
Just how it works is not clear, but doctors say one theory is that it may reduce ‘catastrophising’. This is a tendency to exaggerate the threat from pain, worry about it, and feel unable to do anything about it.
In the trial, 40 patients will undergo ten one-hour sessions of hypnotherapy.
Milk and cabbage may prevent cancer
Drinking milk and eating cabbage may help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Researchers in Shanghai analysed the diets of 3,443 women with breast cancer and 3,474 healthy women and found that those who regularly drank milk had a 20 per cent lower risk of the disease.
High intakes of citrus fruits and so-called rosaceae fruits such as plums, apples, peaches, raspberries and strawberries were also shown to reduce the risk, as was regularly eating eggs. A high intake of meat and fish was linked to an increased risk.
Another study by the same Shanghai team found that eating cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli every day was linked to a 62 per cent reduced risk of dying from breast cancer, and 35 per cent lower risk of breast cancer recurrence, compared to women with the lowest intake.
The researchers say the antioxidants in fruit and vegetables may help reduce the risk of cells turning cancerous, but it is unclear why milk and eggs might have a protective effect.