Champix heart risk
A MAJOR review of the smoking cessation drug varenicline (Champix) has found that those taking the drug faced a 72% higher risk of serious cardiovascular problems compared to those who took placebo or tried other methods to quit, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. A report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal said that GPs should “carefully balance” the risks associated with varenicline against its benefits before prescribing it. Champix is available only on prescription and is subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Salt safe?
A NEW study has shown that lowering salt intake doesn’t reduce the risk of cardiovascular events or dying prematurely, ABC Science reports. A Cochrane review published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that while sodium reduction did produce a small decline in blood pressure, there was insufficient evidence to determine whether this reduction in salt intake increased or decreased cardiovascular mortality.

Floss for baby
AUSTRALIAN researchers have found that gum disease affects the chances of conception, The Australian reports. The WA study found that Caucasian women with gum disease took more than 7 months to become pregnant, compared with an average of 5 months for women with healthy gums. For non-Caucasian women with gum disease, the period increased to a year. This is the first time inflammation caused by oral bacteria has been identified as having a possible knock-on effect on tissue in the reproductive system.

Environment cause in autism
ENVIRONMENTAL factors, including conditions in vitro, may be as important as genes in causing autism, the New York Times reports. A study of twins, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that autism spectrum disorders occurred in both children in 77% of male identical twins and in 50% of female identical twins. The rates among fraternal twins were lower. Surprisingly, mathematical modelling found that 38% of the cases could be attributed to genetic factors while shared environmental factors appeared to be at work in 58% of the cases.

Synthetic “cannabis” ban
EIGHT synthetic cannabis-like substances have been prohibited in Australia, WA Today reports. “There is a lack of evidence of any therapeutic value for these substances and their use poses potential health risks”, federal parliamentary secretary for health and ageing Catherine King said. The prohibited chemicals are found in retail products known as Kronic, Spice, Karma, Voodoo, Kaos and K2. The restrictions will still allow access to the banned substances for use in controlled medical and clinical studies.

Posted 11 July 2011

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