Breast is Best

21/09/2017 HealthFeed 0

New moms face a variety of choices after giving birth. One of the most important is how to feed their newborn.

The Danger of Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea

21/09/2017 Dr. Mercola 0

By Dr. Mercola

Lack of sleep and poor quality of sleep have been linked not only to absentmindedness and accidents, but also to serious health risks such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. More than ever, Americans are sleeping less and suffering because of it. Of the many reasons you may be sleep deprived, one of the most dangerous is sleep apnea.

If you are among the 22 million Americans suffering from mild to moderate sleep apnea,1 your sleep may be punctuated by loud snoring, snorts or choking sounds that result from periodic disruptions to your breathing. Depending on the severity of your condition, these breath interruptions may occur just a few times — or hundreds of times — an hour. During these moments without breath, your brain and the rest of your body is literally being starved of oxygen.

Typically, normal breathing starts again as you gasp for air, resulting in the loud snorts or choking sounds often reported by your sleep partner. While most people consider snoring to be a normal occurrence, or a source of entertainment given the funny noises associated with it, sleep apnea is no laughing matter.

It is a serious health disorder that can be dangerous, and even life-threatening, when untreated. Notably, an estimated 80 percent moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea cases go undiagnosed.2 If you think you or someone you love may be suffering from sleep apnea, take action today to pursue a diagnosis and treatment. In doing so, you will be on your way to a better night’s sleep and significantly improved health.

The Importance of Sleep

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,3lack of sleep is a major public health problem, and insufficient sleep has been linked to a wide range of health problems. After reviewing more than 300 studies to determine how many hours of sleep most people need to maintain their health, an expert panel concluded that most adults need around eight hours per night to function well. Children and teenagers require even more.

About 1 in 3 Americans gets less than seven hours of sleep a night, and more than 83 million adults in the U.S. are sleep-deprived.4,5 If you work long hours, have a sleep disorder or spend a lot of time in front of your computer, phone or TV, chances are you may be getting five or fewer hours of sleep per night. Such little sleep can trigger a wide range of health repercussions — from an increased risk of accidents, weight gain and chronic diseases, to reduced sex drive and decreased sexual satisfaction.

It’s important to note the time you spend in bed is rarely equal to the time you actually spend sleeping. You may want to use a tracking device to better understand the quantity and quality of your sleep. If you do you will find on good nights you will not be sleeping for 30 minutes and on bad nights it could be two to three times that or more.

Sleep also plays an important role in in memory formation, and sleep dysfunctions such as sleep apnea have been shown to accelerate memory loss. While I previously disregarded the value of sleep, rarely getting more than five or six hours each night, I now typically average more than eight hours. After changing my habits, I have come to appreciate sleep’s value in supporting my overall health and longevity.

Dr. Paul Mathew, neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), who holds clinical positions at three HMS-affiliated institutions, also believes sleep is vital to your well-being. He states:6

“Sleep is a critically important component of human existence. On average, humans spend about 25 to 35 percent of their lives sleeping. Sleep allows both the body and brain to rest and recover from the stress of daily life. As such, trouble sleeping can cause a range of health problems, and, if left untreated, dire consequences.

Even if sleep duration is good, sleep quality can be quite poor. People who wake up many times during the night can have some nights with zero hours of deep, restful sleep. Poor sleep quantity and/or quality can cause excessive daytime drowsiness … chronic fatigue, headaches, mood issues, irritability, poor memory and cognitive dysfunction.”

Three Types of Sleep Apnea and Their Effects on Your Body

The American Sleep Apnea Association classifies sleep apnea in three categories as follows:7

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when your tongue collapses against your soft palate, and your soft palate and uvula fall against the back of your throat, blocking your airway while you sleep. The frequent collapse of your airway during sleep makes it difficult to breathe for periods lasting as long as 10 seconds. Breathing usually resumes with a gasp, jerk or snort, which disturbs sleep for the OSA sufferer and his or her sleep partner. OSA can also reduce the flow of oxygen to vital organs and cause irregular heart rhythms.
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA) is more of a mechanical problem characterized by a blocked airway and your brain’s failure to signal your muscles to breathe. Specifically, your diaphragm and chest wall do not receive the proper signals from your brain to pull air in and regulate your breathing. CSA may occur due to conditions such as heart failure and stroke, as well as sleeping at a high altitude.
  • Complex sleep apnea is a combination of the earlier two conditions, resulting in your brain rousing you during each apneic event, usually only partially, to trigger you to resume breathing.

If you have a severe case of sleep apnea, your body may awaken you literally hundreds of times a night. The most intense time for this brief rousing to occur is late in your sleep cycle, during the rapid eye movement (REM) period. When your REM sleep is fragmented and of poor quality, you may suffer many ill effects. In addition, the continuous reduction of the oxygenation of your blood will put further stress on your mind and body.

How Can You Tell if You Have Sleep Apnea?

According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:8

Abnormal breathing patterns during sleep

Abrupt awakenings with shortness of breath

Chest pain at night

Difficulty concentrating

Hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness)


Mood changes

Morning headaches

Shortness of breath that is relieved by sitting up


Stopped breathing during sleep

Although it is not necessarily a conclusive indicator of the disorder, snoring is often an early warning sign of sleep apnea. Snoring usually occurs when your breathing is partially obstructed in some way while sleeping. Not only is snoring a nuisance to others, but the majority of people who snore regularly have OSA. If you or someone you know is affected by two or more of these symptoms, ask your doctor for help in determining if sleep apnea may be the root cause. Here is a simple test you can perform to check whether or not you’re breathing properly:

  • Stand with your back against a wall
  • Make sure your buttocks, head, heels and shoulder blades are touching the wall
  • Say “Hello,” swallow and then breathe

If you are able to speak, swallow and breathe easily and comfortably in this position, then your mouth and throat are clear of obstructions. If you cannot perform these three functions easily and comfortably, your breathing may be obstructed. If you are having trouble breathing while standing up, you can imagine the situation will be exacerbated when you are lying down to sleep.

How Sleep Apnea Puts Your Health at Risk

Sleep apnea promotes poor health and chronic disease by:

  • Reducing the amount of oxygen in your blood, which can impair the function of your internal organs and/or exacerbate other health conditions you may have
  • Slowing down or preventing critical detoxification of your brain tissue, as your brain’s waste removal system, known as the glymphatic system, onlyoperates during deep sleep
  • Disrupting your circadian rhythm, resulting in reduced melatonin production and the disruption of other bodily chemical processes

A number of studies have highlighted the health risks associated with sleep apnea. For example, sleep apnea may promote:

  • Alzheimer’s disease and other memory-related issues9
  • Gout
  • Heart disease
  • Pre-diabetes or diabetes
  • Tumor growth

In addition, sleep apnea can contribute to feelings of depression. Sometimes, sleep apnea is actually misdiagnosed as depression.10 The more severe your sleep apnea, the greater your likelihood of feeling depressed, mainly due to lack of quality sleep. Despite the negative bodily effects, many sufferers may be unaware of the tremendous health risks associated with sleep apnea, and therefore resist getting it checked out. Said Mathew:11

“In the case of a female patient whose husband refuses to get evaluated despite showing signs of sleep apnea … If improvement of headaches, mood, energy, wakefulness, memory and cognition are not motivation enough, I also advise that untreated sleep apnea leads to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and dementia … That usually gets people’s attention.”

Sleep Apnea and Children: What You Need to Know

While sleep apnea is most often associated with adults, children are increasingly at risk for sleep apnea and its associated health problems. This is mainly due to the decline in breast-feeding and diets laden with processed food. You may be surprised to learn that sleep apnea, in both its obstructive and central forms, is fairly common among children, including infants. It is particularly prevalent among kids between 2 and 8 years old.  Left untreated, pediatric sleep apnea can lead to:12

  • Behavior issues such as hyperactivity and poor impulse control
  • Cognitive dysfunction and inattentiveness
  • Heart disease later in life, especially if the child is, and continues to be, obese
  • Mood problems

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association,13 studies suggest as many as 25 percent of children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) could be suffering from OSA. As such, many of the behavior problems and learning difficulties attributed to ADHD might actually be consequences of chronic fragmented sleep. In addition, experts suggest bedwetting, failure to thrive, retarded growth, sleepwalking and some hormonal and metabolic problems can be linked to sleep apnea.

If your child has chronic sleep issues, is a mouth breather or snores, you most definitely want to get him or her evaluated by a medical professional to see if he or she may be suffering from sleep apnea. You might also consider Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy. A few years ago, I interviewed Joy Moeller, a leading expert in this form of therapy in the U.S., where she has been practicing for 38 years and is affiliated with the Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy.

Myofunctional therapy involves the neuromuscular re-education or repatterning of your oral and facial muscles. It includes facial and tongue exercises and behavior modification techniques to promote proper tongue position, improved breathing, chewing and swallowing.

Proper head and neck postures are also addressed. I used this therapy to overcome tongue tie, and endorse it wholeheartedly as a potential solution for both children and adults who suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea. Check out Moeller’s short video below to learn more about the benefits of orofacial myofunctional therapy.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea

If you suspect you may be suffering from sleep apnea, you will want to seek the help of a qualified sleep specialist. Ask your general practitioner for a recommendation, but don’t be afraid to look beyond the conventional treatments. It’s worth doing your homework, as some sleep doctors offer solutions that treat only your secondary issues. You want to uncover and treat the root problem(s).
Potential treatment options include:

  • Buteyko Breathing Method: Named after the Russian doctor who developed it, the Buteyko technique can be used to reverse health problems caused by improper breathing, including sleep apnea
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): CPAP is a special type of sleeping mask prescribed for severe sleep apnea that mechanically restores your breathing by using air pressure to open your airway
  • Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy: mentioned above
  • Oral appliance: If your mild to moderate sleep apnea is related to jaw or tongue issues, specially trained dentists can design a custom oral appliance, similar to a mouth guard, that you can wear while sleeping to facilitate proper breathing
  • Weight loss: If you are obese, you can dramatically improve the effects of sleep apnea by losing weight, which will reduce pressure on your abdomen and chest, thereby allowing your breathing muscles to function more normally

You might be surprised to learn that when it comes to how you breathe, your diet may play a bigger role than you may have imagined. Processed foods, which tend to acidify your blood in an attempt to maintain normal pH, cause you to breathe more heavily and can lead to chronic overbreathing. The reason for this is because one of the roles of carbon dioxide, which is in your blood, is to regulate your pH. Water has the least impact on your breathing, followed by raw fruits and vegetables, then cooked vegetables. Processed, high-protein and high-grain meals have the greatest adverse effects on the way you breathe.

Five Ways Poor Sleep Affects Your Body and What You Can Do About It

Even if you do not suffer from sleep apnea, you may experience less-than-optimal health due to poor quality or quantity of sleep. According to Authority Nutrition, consistently getting less sleep than your body needs can cause some or all of these effects:14

  • Decreases your resting metabolism
  • Diminishes your interest in physical activity
  • Hampers your ability to fight cravings by increasing your appetite
  • Increases your calorie intake, raising your risk for weight gain and obesity
  • Increases your risk of insulin resistance

If you identify with any of these outcomes, I encourage you to take action today to get your sleep back on track. Even small adjustments to your daily routine and sleep area can make a big difference. A few of my top recommendations are shown below.

  • Address mental states that may interfere with sleep: Use the Emotional Freedom Techniques to deal with emotional or physical issues that may be interfering with your sleep, including health and relationship problems
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other drugs, including nicotine: Be aware of the effects these substances, particularly if used every day and close to bedtime, are very likely having on your sleep
  • Develop a relaxing pre-sleep routine: Creating a consistent sleep ritual, involving meditation, music, reading, stretching or taking a warm bath, will help cue your body to begin preparing itself for sleep
  • Optimize your light exposure during the day, and minimize light exposure after sunset: Get at least 30 to 60 minutes of outdoor light exposure and minimize artificial light exposure at night; sleep in complete darkness, using a sleep mask or blackout shades
  • Turn off the TV and other electronics at least one hour before going to bed: Electronic devices emit blue light can trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, potentially interfering with your body’s melatonin-secretion process

For additional tips on improving your sleep, check out my “33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep.”

What Can Sweet Fennel Oil Do for Your Health?

21/09/2017 Dr. Mercola 0

What Is Sweet Fennel Oil?

Sweet fennel oil comes from crushed fennel seeds (Foeniculum vulgare). The plant, which is a part of the Apiaceae family including carrots or parsley, 1 has an herby, slightly spicy smell that resembles aniseed. It is native to Southern Europe, but is also now grown in parts of Northern Europe, Australia and North America. 2

Uses of Sweet Fennel Oil

Fennel was used in various ancient civilizations — by the Egyptians for food and medicine and by the Chinese as a remedy for snake bites. During the Middle Ages, it was hung over doorways to drive away evil spirits.

In present times, sweet fennel oil is used mostly for medicinal purposes, such as killing parasitic worms and their spores in the intestines and excretory tracts and as a laxative with no side effects.
It is also used for cosmetic purposes, especially as an ingredient in massage oils,3 perfumes, toothpastes and soaps.4

Composition of Sweet Fennel Oil

The chemicals found in sweet fennel oil include anethole, fenchone, estragole, a-pinene and ß-pinene, a-phellandrene and ß-phellandrene, a-Terpineol, myrcene, campfer and para-Cymol.5

Benefits of Sweet Fennel Oil

Sweet fennel oil acts as a stimulant for the nervous, digestive and excretory system and the endocrine and exocrine glands. It helps relieve dizziness, fatigue and exhaustion.6 Other benefits you can get from using sweet fennel oil include:

Carminative: eases indigestion and stomach pain

Diuretic: removes excess water, sodium, uric acid, bile salts and other toxic elements

Splenic: protects the spleen from various infections

Depurative: removes toxic substances in the blood

Expectorant: provides relief from mucus and phlegm that lead to congestion of the nasal tract, pharynx, bronchi and lungs

Emmenagogue: relieves painful dysmenorrhea and helps prevent untimely or premature menopause in women

Galactagogue: increases production of breastmilk in lactating mothers

Sweet fennel oil is also used to help treat insect bites, anorexia, hiccups, rheumatism and spasms. The oil is also helpful in preventing wounds from becoming infected with tetanus.

How to Make Infused Sweet Fennel Oil

Commercially available sweet fennel oil is made through steam distillation. However, you can make your own homemade sweet fennel oil infusion at home. Root to Fruit gives a simple step-by-step instruction on how to make infused sweet fennel oil.7

How Does Sweet Fennel Oil Work?

Sweet fennel oil can be taken topically8 or via inhalation, although I strongly recommend against taking it internally. Here are other ways to use this essential oil therapeutically:

Massages and baths: Add two to three drops into your massage oil or your bath water.

Facials: Blend a few drops with an unscented facial cream.

Direct inhalation: Dilute three to four drops into a vaporizer or diffuser.

Wounds: Apply one to two drops to the affected area.

Is Sweet Fennel Oil Safe?

Despite its many health benefits, I strongly advise you to take caution when using sweet fennel oil because it may also come with health hazards. Sweet fennel oil’s trans-anethole component boosts estrogen production, which can be harmful for women who are pregnant, have breast or uterine cancers and tumors or have a history of hormone-linked carcinoma or endometriosis.9

Likewise, if you have been diagnosed with epilepsy, peptic ulcer, hemophilia and other bleeding disorders or are taking diabetes or anticoagulant medication, I suggest that you avoid sweet fennel oil or any essential oil for that matter, to avoid serious complications.10

People with sensitive skin and children under the age of 5 should also stay away from this essential oil to prevent allergic reactions. Always check with your physician and/or take a skin patch test first to make sure that you can use sweet fennel oil without any problems.

Side Effects of Sweet Fennel Oil

Sweet fennel oil can have narcotic effects such as convulsions, hallucinations and mental imbalance, especially when consumed in large doses. It may also cause vomiting, seizures and pulmonary edema. Also, excessive topical use of sweet fennel oil may put you at risk to photosensitivity or dermatitis.11

Empathy: Caring for Others Is Good for You

21/09/2017 Dr. Mercola 0

By Dr. Mercola

Empathy, the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, so to speak, and understand their feelings and point of view, is a character trait that may benefit society and individuals in multiple ways. Empathy training has been found to reduce stress levels among medical students facing intense emotional encounters with patients, for example.1 While many parents try to instill empathetic qualities in their children, there’s growing research that empathy has deep neurological roots in humans.

One of the first signs that empathy may be ingrained in all of us occurred in 1848, when a foreman named Phineas Gage working on a railroad construction project had an accident, which resulted in an iron rod going through his skull. He survived, but not without marked changes to his personality. His friends, family and physician described him as rude and inconsiderate following the accident.2

The Neurological Side of Empathy

The term empathy didn’t come to be for another six decades after Gage’s accident, but what the accident essentially took from the foreman was the ability to feel empathy. In 1994, researchers were able to take measurements from Gage’s skull and use modern neuroimaging techniques to recreate the accident and determine its effects on his brain.

“The damage involved both left and right prefrontal cortices in a pattern that, as confirmed by Gage’s modern counterparts, causes a defect in rational decision making and the processing of emotion,” researchers concluded.3

Injury was found to have occurred in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vMPFC), which is one of 10 brain regions now known to be involved in empathy. In his book “Zero Degrees of Empathy,” Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, describes the complex neurological underpinnings of empathy, revealing the many ways our brains help us to care about other people:4

  • The medial frontal cortex has been linked to social cognition, which allows people to be part of a social group and process information about others5
  • The inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) may be involved in recognizing emotions on faces6
  • More activity in the IFG when people look at emotional expressions is linked to higher scores on the empathy quotient scale7
  • The amygdala is also involved in emotions, including the ability to recognize fear on someone’s face8
  • Neurons in the caudal anterior cingulate cortex (cACC) “light up” when you’re in pain or when you observe someone else in pain9

Humans also have “mirror neurons,” which, Psychology Today explains, “react to emotions expressed by others and then reproduce them.”10 A deficit in mirror neuron receptors has been suggested as an explanation for narcissism and neurotic behaviors and thinking.11 Despite this knowledge, Medical News Today reported, British clinical psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen says, “We still know very little about individual differences in empathy … We will need elegant experimental research to solve those puzzles.”12

Why It’s Beneficial to Practice Empathy

Beyond stress relief, why is it so important to be empathetic? Chad Fowler, CTO of 6Wunderkinder, the maker of Wunderlist mobile app, shared the following reasons why he believes your most important skill is empathy:13

You will be more likely to treat the people you care about the way they wish you would treat them.

You will better understand the needs of people around you.

You will more clearly understand the perception you create in others with your words and actions.

You will understand the unspoken parts of your communication with others.

You will better understand the needs of your customers at work.

You will have less trouble dealing with interpersonal conflict both at home and at work.

You will be able to more accurately predict the actions and reactions of people you interact with.

You will learn how to motivate the people around you.

You will more effectively convince others of your point of view.

You will experience the world in higher resolution as you perceive through not only your perspective but the perspectives of those around you.

You will find it easier to deal with the negativity of others if you can better understand their motivations and fears.

Yet, people tend to feel most empathetic about those they perceive to be the most vulnerable. In one study, empathetic feels were higher toward a child, a puppy and an adult dog than they were toward an adult man.14

There’s good reason, however, to reframe the way you may compartmentalize empathetic feelings, as they have the potential to do good in an endless number of scenarios. Among dentists and their patients, for example, empathy improved communication and the dentistry experience for both the patient and the practitioner.15

Researchers found that empathy was positively associated with treatment adherence, patient satisfaction and reduced dental anxiety, sentiments that seem to be echoed among medical practitioners. Among adolescents, empathy may even go hand in hand with future success, according to licensed professional counselor Ugo Uche:16

“Teenagers who are empathetic tend to be more purpose driven and they intentionally succeed in their academics not because they are looking to make good grades, but in most subjects their goal is to understand the subject material and to utilize the knowledge as one of their ever-increasing tools …

Teenagers who are more empathetic do a much better job in embracing failure, because there is little ego involved in their tasks, and setbacks while disappointing are rarely seen as failures, but rather as a learning experience about an approach that does not work for the task at hand.”

Different Types of Empathy

Empathy comes in three different varieties, and we each have varying levels of each type, which combine to influence our personal and professional lives. Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., the Henry R. Kravis professor of leadership and organizational psychology and former director of the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College, explained each type in brief:17

  1. Cognitive empathy: This type allows you to understand another person’s perspective and imagine what it would be like to walk in their shoes.
  2. Personal distress: Sometimes referred to as social empathy, this allows you to literally feel another person’s emotional state.
  3. Empathic concern: This describes not only recognizing and feeling in-tune with another person’s emotional state but also showing the appropriate concern or trying to help them as a result.

It’s common for one person to be high in one type of empathy and lower in others, with varying effects. Riggio described a study he worked on in which hospice nurses performed better when they possessed empathic concern but worse when they experienced personal distress.

“We surmised that if hospice nurses felt their patients’ pain (and family members’ distress as well), it made them less able to do their job of providing comfort to the patient and family because they had their own emotions that they had to deal with,” Riggio wrote.18

By tuning into your own empathic abilities, you can make mental notes of when perhaps you should show more empathic concern in lieu of personal distress and vice versa. Psychologist Daniel Goleman (who’s behind the theory of emotional intelligence) has stated that possessing all three types of empathy is key for strengthening your relationships.19

You Can Learn To Be More Empathetic

Because we’re all hard-wired to feel empathy, you can train yourself to be more empathetic, even when it comes to strangers. Lack of empathy is responsible for many human conflicts, particularly those that occur between people from different nationalities and cultures. A University of Zurich study showed, however, that even a few positive experiences with a stranger increase empathetic brain responses toward them.

Participants were divided into two groups (in-group members and out-group members) and received shocks to the back of their hands. Other study participants had the option of paying money so someone else could avoid the painful experience.20 When a person received help from a stranger, they had an increased brain response in empathy toward that person. According to the researchers, “[S]urprisingly few positive learning experiences are sufficient to increase empathy.”21

Beyond making an effort to share positive experiences with the people around you, you can develop your empathy simply by listening intently when people speak. This includes waiting until they’ve finished speaking to formulate your response and respond, as well as considering the speaker’s motivations behind what they’re saying and then responding with follow-up questions to further your understanding of the conversation.22 Other steps you can take to become more empathetic include:

  • Consider an ongoing disagreement you have with a family member, friend or co-worker. Try to imagine the argument from their side and recognize whether they have valid arguments, good intentions or positive motivations you may have previously missed.
  • Read more fiction. Reading literary fiction was shown to enhance a skill known as theory of mind, which is the ability to understand others’ mental states and show increased empathy.23
  • Watch and wonder. Fowler recommends an activity he calls “watch and wonder,” which you can try virtually anywhere:24

“Put down your cell phone. Instead of checking Twitter or reading articles while you wait for the train or are stuck in a traffic jam, look at the people around you and imagine who they might be, what they might be thinking and feeling, and where they are trying to go right now. Are they frustrated? Happy? Singing? Looking at their phones? Do they live here or are they from out of town? Have they had a nice day? Try to actually wonder and care.”

If you’re unsure when to really try to tap into your empathic abilities, Guy Winch, Ph.D., suggests prime times include whenever you wish you could understand someone better, when you’re having an unproductive argument with your significant other or when you want to calm your temper or better connect with the emotions of a loved one. Empathy even comes into play when you need to complain effectively.

“Empathy comes more naturally to some than it does to others,” Winch says. “However, by taking time to truly paint a picture of what it is like for the other person and imagine ourselves in their place, we will gain valuable insights and forge deeper connections to those around us.”25

Why we need the welfare state more than ever

21/09/2017 Chris Renwick 0

Shocked by the ‘poverty cycle’, British reformers created a safety net for casual workers. Now precarious working conditions are back, and the welfare state is under attack. By Chris Renwick

Tucked away behind York Minster – the grand cathedral adorned with medieval stained-glass windows that dominates the North Yorkshire city’s skyline – is a cobbled street that has become an informal labour exchange. Each day, just before lunch, couriers dressed in the distinctive mint green and black uniform of Deliveroo, the online food delivery company, arrive at the end of this street, park their bikes and scooters next to a bench, and talk among themselves. Clutching their smartphones, they wait for someone, somewhere in the city, to place an order with one of the nearby restaurants and cafes. When an order comes through, one of the couriers will pick it up and deliver it in exchange for a small fee. They will then return to the bench to wait.

Plenty of people in early 21st-century Britain can identify with the experience of working for a company like Deliveroo. Drivers for the taxi firm Uber, for example, know only too well what it’s like for work to arrive in fits and starts via an app. But even more people are employed on zero-hour contracts in a wide variety of jobs, from stacking shelves to waiting tables to caring for the elderly. According to the Office for National Statistics, around 900,000 workers rely on a job with a zero-hour contract. These people start every week not knowing how much work they will get or how much money they will earn.

Related: A world without retirement

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Pills prescribed for alcoholism might not work, study finds

Review of five drugs – including one linked to deaths – says there is no body of reliable evidence behind any of them

There is no magic pill to cure alcoholism, according to a scientific review of the evidence of five drugs being prescribed by doctors.

None of the five drugs has a body of reliable evidence behind it, say the scientists, even though one of the drugs, nalmefene, has been approved for use in the NHS by Nice, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Another, baclofen, has generated huge excitement, especially in France, but has been linked to deaths.

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One in seven GP practices in England failing on safety

21/09/2017 Patrick Greenfield 0

London has highest rate of practices needing to improve, but ‘super surgeries’ fare better, says Care Quality Commission

About 7 million people are being treated at GP surgeries in England that have severe safety problems, according to the first performance review of its kind by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

One in seven GP practices are failing on safety, even after CQC inspectors have told them to improve, the report found, with smaller practices more likely to be rated “inadequate” or “requiring improvement”.

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My dwarfism

21/09/2017 BBC News - Health 0

Mary Russell, a black woman with dwarfism, set off on a 900-mile journey through Vietnam with five other disabled people but quickly learned they were far from like-minded.

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The Guardian view on children’s mental health: not an optional extra | Editorial

21/09/2017 Editorial 0

The latest research shows the crisis is even worse than anyone realised. Wellbeing must be put back where it belongs – at the heart of what schools do

Adolescence is notorious for its moments of misery that at least for the fortunate are unequalled in later life. Almost every adult looks back on the eruption of spots and the inexplicable weight gain, the exam pressures and the mishandled relationship crises with sympathy for their earlier selves. So it is no surprise to discover that in any given fortnight, many teenagers have felt low. The shock is just how low, and how many. Nearly one in four 14-year-old girls and almost one in 10 boys the same age, say they have felt inadequate, unloved, or worthless. That means that hundreds of thousands of young teenagers are experiencing a range of feelings that amount to a diagnosis of clinical depression; worst of all, the numbers are disproportionately higher in poorer families. The link between poverty and depression is well established. Now it is clear that long before children from low-income families even start their first job, they are at greater risk. The crisis in children’s mental health is even more extensive than anyone realised.

Adding colour to these findings comes a second, much smaller but still reliable survey by Girlguiding. Previously, the survey of over 1,000 girls from the ages of seven to 21 had identified high levels of anxiety about body image and the taboos associated with talking about being depressed. This year’s report looks at the pressure girls are under to conform with gender stereotypes. It is not hard to point to other pressures that show the triviality of worrying about pimple break-out: the National Children’s Bureau, a partner in the millennial cohort study, highlights relentless demands from schools and parents to achieve at the expense of a focus on wider wellbeing and emotional resilience.

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