Diet pills no substitute for healthy lifestyle


London: Pharmaceutical diet pills which go on sale in the UK for the first time later this week are no substitute for a healthy lifestyle, according to medical experts.

One of the drugs, Alli, can help those to take it lose 3lb a week, according to its manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline. This is more than three stones over four months.

The drug, is a milder version of prescription-only Xenical, works by reducing the body’s ability to process fat by about 25 per cent. The fat passes straight through the body, creating a need to go to the toilet frequently.

Professor Gareth Williams, professor of medicine at the University of Bristol and the author of Obesity: Science To Practice, said in the British Medical Journal that the side-effects are so severe that “possibly few users will even finish their first pack of Alli, let alone buy a second”.

More seriously, he said: “The drug may cause only a small and transient downward blip in the otherwise inexorable climb in weight.

“Selling anti-obesity drugs over the counter will perpetuate the myth that obesity can be fixed simply by popping a pill and could further undermine efforts to promote healthy living, which is the only long-term escape from obesity.”

He said that real-life weight loss may not be as dramatic as in clinical trials.

“Dieters in these trials are highly motivated and under medical supervision,” he said. “People … taking it without medical supervision may achieve an average daily energy deficit of only 100kcal – equivalent to leaving a few French fries on a plate, eating an apple instead of ice cream, or (depending on enthusiasm and fitness) having 10 to 20 minutes of sex.”

The second drug is Appesat, which claims to cause weight loss of just under 2lb per week. It is a seaweed extract, which swells in the stomach and tricks the user into feeling that they are full.

Its long-term benefits were even questioned by Dr Jason Halford, the director of the Study of Human Ingestive Behaviour University of Liverpool, who is paid to advise the drug’s manufacturer.

“The cure for obesity and being overweight will never be found in a pill, packet or a wonder drug,” Dr Halford said. “That can only come from enormous changes to our food and physical environment, which are going to take a long time to achieve.

“Drugs don’t necessarily deal with reasons why people become obese, which are largely psychological.”

About two-thirds of adults and a third of children are obese, according to the Health Survey for England. Last year the number of prescriptions for “fat pills” rose 16 per cent to 1.23 million.

Last week a BBC television investigation by Professor Lesley Regan of St Mary’s Hospital in London found that women taking a placebo starch pill, who thought they were taking a diet pill, lost up to half a stone in six weeks.

Extreme grapefruit diet may interfere with the pill


New York: A woman who went on an intense grapefruit-based diet developed a blood clot in her leg and risked losing the limb, US doctors have reported.

The unusual case, written up in the Lancet medical journal, occurred in Washington state in November last year.

Medics concluded grapefruit had affected the way the 42-year-old’s body processed her contraceptive pill.

In November 2008, the woman came to the casualty department of the Providence St Peter Hospital in Olympia, Washington state.

The day before, she had gone on a long car journey, after which she felt pain radiating from her lower back down to her left ankle.

When she arrived at the hospital she was experiencing difficulty walking, shortness of breath, and light-headedness.By the next day her left leg had turned purple.

The woman was generally in good health but was slightly overweight and had decided to diet.

Three days before falling ill, she had begun a crash diet which included eating 225g of grapefruit each morning, after rarely eating the fruit in the past.

When doctors examined her, an ultrasound scan confirmed the woman had a large blood clot within the veins of her left leg, which stretched from her hip down to her calf and she was deemed to be at risk of losing her leg because of gangrene.

The woman was given clot-busting treatment and had a stent, a kind of tube, fitted in order to widen her vein.

The doctors treating her said a number of risk factors had contributed to the woman developing the clot.

She had an inherited disorder which increased her risk, as did being on the combined Pill. Being immobile in a car probably also contributed to the clot forming.

Writing in the Lancet, the authors led by Dr Lucinda Grande, called it a “constellation of potential risk factors”.

But they added: “The increased [oestrogen] serum concentration due to her three days of grapefruit for breakfast may well have tipped the balance.”

They suggest the fruit blocked the action of a key enzyme that normally breaks down the form of oestrogen in her contraceptive.

A spokesman for the Florida Department of Citrus – an executive agency of Florida government which markets, researches and regulates the state’s citrus industry, said: “The Lancet report looks to be inconsistent with published scientific studies which indicate grapefruit does not cause a clinically significant interaction with oral contraceptives.

“We are aware of no validated evidence that grapefruit affects oral contraceptives, and they are generally considered to be safe to consume with grapefruit.”

UK pharmas call for debate on drug access


London: The pharmaceutical industry today called for a public debate on access to modern medicines, and how society determines the value of new treatments.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is inviting NICE, patient groups, medical professionals, the NHS and leading healthcare charities to debate the issues amid continuing controversy on the availability and cost of innovative medicines to NHS patients.

“A frank, open and honest debate is clearly in the interests of patients,” said Chris Brinsmead, President of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

“We are calling for the patient groups, healthcare charities, doctors, Government, NICE and the NHS to join with the pharmaceutical industry to debate these crucial issues to hammer out a lasting solution. The time has come to discuss how we best resolve the issue, and where better than on a public platform?”

The pharmaceutical industry spends approximately £3.9billion a year in the UK researching and developing new medicines for patients. This investment has delivered over 90 per cent of the medicines available today and has led to new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease and HIV to name but a few, Mr Brinsmead added.

He said: “The UK pharmaceutical industry – along with other healthcare professionals and NICE – is committed to developing innovative approaches to pricing, ensuring that patients receive the medicines that they need. Taking the recent example of the four kidney cancer medicines, all these medicines are widely available to patients throughout Europe – where the prices are higher than in the UK.”

Mr Brinsmead said: “We are looking forward to hearing NICE’s response and welcome their contribution to what will be one of the most important debates in the history of modern healthcare.”

Image – Boy and Medicine: courtesy of MedicImage

Careers and Conception – the race against time


Careers and Conception – The race against time

David Alpert, founder of the International Institute for Anti-Ageing (iiaa) was recently invited to present a lecture for the Newborn and Maternity Forum at the Royal Society of Medicine in London.

The theme of the event was the trend by society to delay motherhood, balanced against the problem of biology that has not kept up with this trend. David Alpert presented iiaa evidence-based research to show that certain lifestyle changes and simple actions can maximise a woman’s fertility potential and help her to conceive at a later age.

The trend towards women putting career before family and choosing to have their children later in life may mean mothers are past the period of optimal fertility and into the period of reduced fertility by the time they decide ton start a family. This will inevitably find more and more women facing difficulties conceiving. The average age of motherhood has increased by 5 years since 1970 and over the last 10 years the number of women conceiving over the age of 40 has doubled.


Women are born with a finite number of egg follicles in their ovaries and the iiaa anti-ageing fertility approach looks at reducing factors that decrease fertility and increasing factors that increase fertility and health of remaining eggs in the ovaries.

For example, fertility can be positively affected by exercise and nutrition (eating a low GI diet can increase fertility) whereas environmental factors can impede and reduce fertility (stress, the presence of chemicals and heavy metals as well as the huge rise in sexually transmitted diseases).

Unfortunately the biggest obstacle for women over 35 is their fertility age denoted by the quality and quantity of eggs remaining in her ovaries. On average, a woman hits her peak fertility between the age of 18-30 and after 35 fertility starts to decrease quite sharply.

Applying the iiaa anti-ageing pyramid to your lifestyle can make a difference when it comes to conception:

Environment/Social : factors that contribute to unhealthy environment

Endocrine Disrupting Pollutants
Sexually Transmitted Diseases:
Increase in gonorrhoea by 46%
Increase in Chlamydia by 116%

Nutrition: a high GI intake, increase in trans fats and high animal proteins are more likely to cause fertility problems. Studies have also shown that those with the highest GI intake are 92% more likely to have ovulatory fertility problems.

Exercise: Excessive weight decreases fertility
Moderate exercise increases fertility
Nutritional Supplements: Supplements can increase fertility as food has significantly dropped in nutritional value over the last 50 years. Certain minerals such as Zinc and Selenium are essential for healthy reproductive systems.

Positive Mental Attitude: According to Professor Sarah Berga, Emory University Atlanta, many women suffer from sub-clinical forms of stress and fail to ovulate properly. A study showed that 80% on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) started to ovulate again normally as opposed to only 25% on randomised control.

Many women can improve the health of their reproductive systems, and thereby their conception potential as they get older, by making key lifestyle and diet choices.

Beauty spend continues to grow

London: UK women will spend nearly £40million this year on ‘beauty pills’ to enhance their appearance – twice as much as five years ago.

They are splashing out on a range of ‘magic’ potions, which claim to make hair glossier, nails stronger and even reverse the signs of ageing.

But experts claim few of the products actually work and women would stand a better chance of improving their looks by eating better, keeping out of the sun and not smoking.

Exotic ingredients in pills – such as extract of bark or protein from sea creatures – are used as little more than a marketing tool to encourage shoppers to buy, they added.

A study by market researchers Mintel revealed that spending on beauty pills is expected to top £37million this year – up 130 per cent since 2002 – and rise to £ 63million by 2012.

Almost a third of Britons, mostly women and young girls, said they use beauty supplements or would consider using them to help safeguard their looks.

Top- selling pills include supermodel Naomi Campbell’s favourite brand Imedeen, which claims to improve skin, and retails at £81.50 for three months’ supply of 180 tablets.

Perfectil Platinum, which costs £39.49 for 60 tablets, contains bark extract, blackcurrant seed oil and marine collagen and is marketed as renewing skin cells.

Other products examined contained vitamins, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which are said to keep skin clear and hair glossy.

But scientists have been quick to pour scorn on the claims. Dr Richard Weller, a dermatologist at Edinburgh University, said: ‘I’ve not heard of any evidence that supplements such as bark extract will improve your hair or your skin.

‘These pills are very lucrative for the companies that make them, but they should be coming up with proof.

‘It shows people just want a quick fix, and they like spending money on themselves. Instead, they should be thinking about prevention.

‘The things that cause ageing are excessive sunlight and smoking – and avoiding them is free and known to be effective.’

New pill to tackle obesity in UK

London: A new drug, which fights obesity by preventing food cravings, is to be made available to British patients through the country’s National Health Service.

The drug called Acomplia, is made by a French company and can cut bodyweight by up to 10 per cent in a year and significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The pill, which costs £2 a day, acts on the brain and reduces appetite and assists in loss of abdominal fat. It is licenses for those who are medically obese but will be prescribed to those who are overweight with type 2 diabetes. It will also only be given to failed dieters and exercisers.

Tests of the drug showed that 40 per cent of users lost 10 per cent of their body weight, incuding from around the waist.

In trials when overweight people took a daily 20 mg pill, up to 40 per cent of them lost 10 per cent of their body weight, much of it from around their waist, which cuts the risk of diabetes and heart problems.

The pill works by interfering with a system in the body that controls energy levels, regulates body weight plus breaks down sugars and fats.

Britain is the first country to have the drug, but manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis hopes to sell it in the USA once it wins approval from American FDA

About Elixir


Avril O’Connor is the Editor of Elixir News and Elixir magazine. It has been developed from a passion which began in 2002 when there was a proliferation of web sites selling anti-ageing products and services….but few with an independent voice.

In April 2005 Elixir News was born. It is editorially independent enabling consumers to better make informed choices about their health and anti-ageing products and services.

We do not accept payment to write endorsements of products and services or for the inclusion of experts and services in our directories. This enables Elixir News to be a credible and independent news source, as well as including all the services and professional experts that we consider relevant to our readership. Nevertheless inclusion is not an endorsement by us and should it come to our attention that any business mentioned on our site is being conducted in an illegal or unethical manner we will remove it from our directories.

Visitors to our site should also bear in mind that many claims are made for anti-ageing products and services that are not necessarily substantiated by scientific evidence and should always take the expert advice of a qualified medical doctor.

It is the intention of Elixir News to fairly report and investigate the facts. If we consider that any claims for products/services are bogus or unsubstantiated we will say so. If you have had negative experiences with businesses in this sector please let us know and we will take up the challenge. We also report on our positive experiences with products and services. Advertising or sponsorship is clearly labelled as such.

We hope that you will find our web site useful in arming you with knowledge that can help you live a longer and happier life. But once again we do advise anyone with persistent health problems to consult a qualified medical practitioner/doctor. Anyone embarking on a intensive anti-ageing programme should, in particular, seek the advice of a qualified specialist about the supplements they plan to take and in what quantities, as they may conflict with drug therapy and certain medical conditions. The doctor may advise certain blood and other tests to determine your individual needs.

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