Quitting smoking at any age associated with lower risk of death

Smoking cessation reduces mortality at any age, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

young man smoking

The study look at data on more than 160,000 people over the age of 70 in the US, who had completed a questionnaire on their smoking habits in 2004 to 2005. This group were followed up until the end of 2011.

Results showed that people still smoking at the time of the follow-up were three times more likely to die before the end of the study than those who had never smoked .

Furthermore, people who had smoked but quit at any age reduced their mortality significantly. The rate of mortality halved in those who stopped smoking between age 40-49, by a third in those aged 50-59 and by nearly a quarter for 60-69 year-olds.

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FHT Vice President contributes to article on ‘no more winter colds’

 FHT Vice President, Mary Dalgleish has written an article about the use of aromatherapy oils to help cure the winter cold.Natural Health November
“Essential oils are aromatic plant extracts that can be easily added to a bath or gently inhaled, to boost the immune system and help ward off colds and flu during the colder months,” Mary Dalgleish, Vice President of the FHT (fht.org.uk), explains.
By stimulating our immune system and promoting healing, the right sort of essential
oils can have a profound impact on the way we feel.
“A warm bath combining Epsom salt and essential oils at the first sign of a
cold or flu can often stop symptoms developing,” Mary says. “The best
oils to use have antiviral and antiseptic properties, such as ravensara,
eucalyptus, niaouli or tea tree. Mix together up to five drops of your
chosen essential oils with a teaspoon of sunflower oil, then stir
through a large mug of Epsom salts and add to bathwater.
“A steam inhalation is also great when you have a cold,”
she adds. “Add two to three drops of your chosen essential
oils to a bowl of hot (not boiling) water and inhale for five to
10 minutes. Drape a towel over your head to keep the steam
in but keep your eyes closed, as essential oils can cause a
burning sensation to the eyes.
“Gently inhaling ravensara or eucalyptus is another
quick and easy way to clear the sinuses when you are out and
about. Simply add one to two drops of essential oil to a tissue
and inhale.”

Read the full article

Open access study on self-help techniques in support of natural childbirth

Interventions during labour and childbirth are on the rise in most developed countries[1]. In addition, use of an epidural block, while providing pain relief, has been identified as a contributing factor to assisted births, including caesarean section.


A randomised controlled trial recently published in the BMJ Open[1] evaluated the effectiveness of a birth preparation course, covering a range of self-administered complementary medicine techniques (in addition to standard medical care), in support of natural birth for first-time mothers.

The trial involved 176 women with low-risk pregnancies. Those in the intervention group attended a two-day course with a birth partner and were taught support techniques that could be self-administered during pregnancy and childbirth, alongside standard care: visualisation, breathing, massage and yoga, to enhance relaxation; yoga and acupressure to facilitate labour progression; and breathing, acupressure and visualisation to aid pain relief. Those in the control group received standard care alone.

Different measures were completed and the results showed a significant reduction in epidural use and caesarean section in the intervention group compared to the control group.

  1. Levett KM, Smith CA, Bensoussan A, et al (2016). Complementary therapies for labour and birth study: a randomised controlled trial of antenatal integrative medicine for pain management in labour, BMJ Open 2016;6:e010691. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010691

GP workload pressures undermining patient safety

Eighty-four per cent of GPs in England believe that unchecked and growing workload pressures are ‘undermining their ability to provide safe and quality care’ to patients, according to the findings of a recent survey by the British Medical Association (BMA).


More than 5,000 GPs responded to the survey, with more than half describing their daily workloads as ‘unmanageable’ and over a quarter saying ‘excessive pressures are directly impacting standards.’

GPs are said to be ‘struggling’ with the ‘alarming impact’ of ‘spiralling levels of demand’ placed on them.

More than half called for more mental health workers and nearly 60 per cent suggested that more resources should be invested to empower self-care.


NICE publishes updated guidelines on low back pain

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published its updated guidelines on low back pain and sciatica.


NICE guidelines make recommendations on a wide range of topics, including preventing and managing specific conditions, to promote integrated care where appropriate.

We’re pleased to report that the updated guidelines still recommend manual therapies and make a specific mention to :

‘Consider manual therapy (spinal manipulation, mobilisation or soft tissue techniques such as massage) for managing low back pain with or without sciatica, but only as part of a treatment package including exercise, with or without psychological therapy’ (1.2.7. NG59).

In addition, mind-body approaches also form part of the recommendations:

‘Consider a group exercise programme (biomechanical, aerobic, mind–body or a combination of approaches) within the NHS for people with a specific episode or flare-up of low back pain with or without sciatica. Take people’s specific needs, preferences and capabilities into account when choosing the type of exercise.’

Sadly, however, acupuncture is no longer recommended in the guidelines, despite objections from a number of registered stakeholders, including the FHT, who highlighted during the consultation period that:

  • a number of data errors were present in the draft guidelines and appendices in relation to the acupuncture studies included in the review;
  • a large and potentially significant acupuncture study was not included in the review;
  • sham acupuncture is not a ‘best comparator’ to prove whether acupuncture has treatment-specific effects, as sham acupuncture can produce similar physiological and therapeutic outcomes as acupuncture;
  • it is disappointing that NICE stated in the draft guideline that ‘cost-effectiveness was not considered relevant’ as ‘there was insufficient evidence of an overall treatment-specific effect to support a recommendation for acupuncture’.

For more information and to view the guidelines visit https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/NG59

Use of pain medicine differs between people with and without Alzheimer’s

Approximately one third of people with Alzheimer’s disease use prescription medicines for pain after their diagnosis, reports a recent study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland. The use of analgesics was as common among people with Alzheimer’s disease as it was among those of the same age without the disease, but there were significant differences in the types of medicines used. The results were published in European Journal of Pain.

10506792 - pill bottle with white pills on a white background.

The researchers found out that 35% of those with Alzheimer’s disease and 34% of those without used a prescription analgesic in the first six months after the disease diagnosis. Paracetamol was the most common medicine in both groups, but it was significantly more frequently used by people with Alzheimer’s disease. People with Alzheimer’s disease also used less anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen, and mild opioids for their pain. During a six-year follow-up, the use of paracetamol and opioids increased significantly, while the use of anti-inflammatory drugs became less common.

Pain is a common symptom among older adults, but its treatment with medicines demands careful weighing of benefits and risks. According to this study, people with Alzheimer’s disease are commonly treated with paracetamol, which is the preferred first-line analgesic for older people. The treatment of pain among older adults and people with cognitive disorders requires regular assessment of pain and the benefits and risks of used analgesics.

The study is part of the MEDALZ cohort, which included 67,215 people with Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed during 2005-2011, along with people of the same age, gender and region of residence without the disease. Data for the study was derived from Finnish nationwide registers.