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News: July 2019

Vitamin D may help support cancer sufferers

The words Vitamin D written in the sand with the sea coming in

Supplementing with vitamin D on a daily basis could boost the chances of surviving cancer suggests a recent US study[i]. Researchers from Michigan State University analysed data from 10 randomised trials looking at the effect of dietary supplements on cancer. They found that although taking vitamin D does not reduce the risk of developing cancer it does seem to reduce the risk of dying from it by around 13%. Previous studies have shown vitamin D plays a role in regulating cell growth and it’s now thought it may help make cancer cells less aggressive.

Honey may be an effective treatment for cold sores

A pot of natural honey

Honey has been used for centuries to treat infection and now a recent study[ii] suggests that medical grade honey made from New Zealand kānuka (Kunzea ericoides) blossoms may be just as effective as a tube of virus-busting acylovir cream for helping to heal cold sores.

The researchers combined kānuka honey with glycerol and compared the mix with a cream of 5% acyclovir. Each topical treatment was then given randomly to 952 volunteers, who were asked to use the treatment within the first 72 hours of the first symptoms appearing, repeating it five times a day until the blisters had healed.

The results showed that, the group using the acyclovir experienced symptoms for around eight to nine days and had an open blister for about two. Meanwhile, the outcome was similar for those on the honey treatment suggesting that it was just as effective. More research is needed but watch this space.

Consultation started on the potential for adding Folic Acid to flour

Wholewheat bread loaf with a scoop of flour

The Government has started a 12-week consultation on fortifying flour with folic acid in an attempt to reduce birth defects such as spina bifida (abnormal development of the spine) and anencephaly, which affects the brain[iii]. In the UK, there are around 1,000 diagnoses of neural tube defects, every year. It is thought fortification will prevent around half of these defects.

Women are advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day for at least a month before conception and up to the 12th week of pregnancy, but about 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, and women are not always aware they should take the supplement – or forget to.

More than 60 countries already add folic acid to flour. When Canada introduced mandatory fortification in the late 1990s, neural tube defects halved. And when the same change was made in Australia, neural tube defects fell by 14%.


[i] Role of vitamin D supplementation for primary prevention of cancer: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2019; 37 (15_suppl): 1534 DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2019.37.15_suppl.1534

[ii] bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/5/e026201

[iii] www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-48608653


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