Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Health News - August 2015

  1. I Like Coffee, I Like Tea
  2. Beans For Breast Pain
  3. Cancer Link To Tattoo Chemicals: European Commission Findings Of Possible Health Effects
  4. Acupuncture Reduces Severity Of Hot Flushes

I Like Coffee, I Like Tea

The Food Police are always trying to tell us that coffee and tea are bad news. Two studies have thrown a different light on things. According to a paper presented to the American Association on Cancer Research, both could be a factor in the prevention of some cancers. It’s long been known that both green and black teas contain powerful antioxidant chemicals called polyphenols, and scientists from the University of Southern California studied the health records of 18,000 men in Shanghai. The men with the highest consumption of tea had significantly lower risk of developing stomach and throat cancers, which according to Professor Mimi Yu supports the fact that polyphenols are protective against these cancers.

When it comes to coffee a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine describes an experiment in which a thousand men were studied for more than 30 years. According to researchers, one cup of coffee a day increased blood pressure by 0.19 mm of mercury – a totally insignificant and unmeasurable amount on any normal blood pressure machine.

They also suggest that 28 percent of coffee drinkers develop high blood pressure compared with 19 percent of non-coffee drinkers. But, when the figures are adjusted for being overweight, smoking, boozing and being a couch potato, the coffee factor virtually disappears. Of course 8 or 10 cups of coffee will irritate the central nervous system, stop you sleeping, give you the shakes and produce severe withdrawal headaches if you quit. But according to Dr. David Burn, consultant neurologist at Newcastle General Hospital, three cups a day reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Beans For Breast Pain

For many women, one of the most uncomfortable problems associated with the menstrual cycle is monthly breast pain. The symptoms are triggered by hormonal changes, but are virtually unknown in women from the Far East, where soya- based foods are a daily component of their diet. There are pharmaceutical anti-oestrogen drugs which help control the symptoms, but they can all produce troublesome side-effects. A study shows that a natural supplement made from an extract of soya beans is extremely effective at reducing the pain with without side-effects.

Half the women in the experiment were given a dummy pill; the other half got the real extract of plant hormones. Only 10 per cent on the fake pills reported a reduction in pain, whereas almost half the women on the real pill were pain free. The experiment was carried out using a natural supplement made from concentrated soya extract. Ask for more info at your local health store, or you can simply add plenty of Soy based foods like tofu, bean sprouts or soya milk to your normal diet.

Cancer Link To Tattoo Chemicals: European Commission Findings Of Possible Health Effects

Tattoos could increase the risk of cancer as some inks contain car paint chemicals.

Thirteen out of 38 tested colours had nitrosamine and phenol - which can lead to the disease - and a third contained banned substances, German chemists found.

About 66% had worrying content and these will be studied in more detail by the German Chemical and Veterinary Investigation office.

The commission findings can be categorized into 5 areas: infections, allergic reactions, cancer, behavioural changes, and skin diseases. Many of the effects are delayed, sometimes up to 20 years or longer, and auto-immune in nature. In my view, this is similar to delayed problem development associated with silicone breast implants, Agent Orange exposure and Gulf War Syndrome.


Infections are associated with poor hygienic conditions and more overtly risky practices such as reuse of tattoo needles. Infections are understandably noted with surreptitious prison tattooing, but have also been commonly found with unlicensed tattoo facilities and artists.

Known infections include:

  • Viral Infections: HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, skin infections
  • Bacterial Infections: toxic shock syndrome, impetigo, tetanus and tuberculosis

Allergic Reactions
Allergic reactions associated with tattoos are almost exclusively related to tattoo inks and pigment carriers. Case reports state that allergic skin reactions are "not infrequent”.

Allergic reactions include:

  • Skin irritation and uticaria
  • Lichenoid and granulomateus reactions
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Pseudo lymphomas Sarcoidosis

Skin cancers have occurred within tattoos, and gone unnoticed until they spread beyond the boundaries of the tattoo, including malignant melanoma.

Skin Diseases like Psoriasis and Photosensitisation are also common reactions.

Nearly 40% of organic pigments used in tattoos are not approved even for cosmetic topical use. Almost 20% of pigments were cancer causing aromatic amines.

Tattoo inks travel in the body and some black pigments have been found in lymph nodes. Sometimes these pigments look like metastases in the nodes, so making the accurate cancer diagnosis more difficult.

Laser removal of tattoos has been shown to generate new chemical compounds which travel through the blood and lymph vessels. Cancer causing compounds have also been generated.

There is no such thing as a safe tattoo. There are studies and case reports describing the adverse health effects of tattoos. But the lack of extensive, definitive proof of the risks is just that, a lack of studies. It is not proof that tattoo inks are safe.

Acupuncture Reduces Severity Of Hot Flushes

Traditional Chinese acupuncture curbs the severity of hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms, suggests a small study published today in Acupuncture in Medicine.

The effects did not seem to be related to changes in levels of the hormones responsible for sparking the menopause and its associated symptoms, the study shows.

The authors base their findings on 53 middle aged women, all of whom were classified as being postmenopausal - they had spontaneously stopped having periods for a year. Their hot flushes, vaginal dryness and urinary tract infection and mood swing symptoms were measured as well as their hormone levels before, during and after the study.

Twenty seven of the women received traditional Chinese acupuncture twice a week for 10 weeks, with needles left in position for 20 minutes without any manual or electrical stimulation. The rest were given sham acupuncture.

The results showed that those women given traditional acupuncture had significantly lower scores at the end of the 10 weeks than the women given the sham treatment. The symptom showing the biggest fall in severity were the hot flushes.

Furthermore, the effects seemed to be cumulative, with stronger results seen between the first and last sessions.

The researchers think that the explanation for the reduced severity of hot flushes might be that acupuncture boosts the production of endorphins, which may stabilise the body’s temperature controls.

The authors caution that their study was small and that they did not monitor how long symptom relief lasted, but they suggest that traditional Chinese acupuncture could be an alternative for those women unable or unwilling to use hormone replacement therapy to ease troublesome menopausal symptoms.

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