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Marmite to beat MRSA, the impact of being healthy on blood pressure and why cannabis is 'risky for under-18 brains'

A round-up of the health news headlines on Tuesday 28 August

It is not to everyone's taste but marmite may be the key to combating the MRSA superbug, the Daily Telegraph reports. In fact, it is one of the ingredients of marmite, vitamin B3 which scientists say boosts the body's ability to kill off different strains of the bacteria. In a study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, US researchers found that very high doses of vitamin B3 increased the concentration and effectiveness of neutrophils in mouse studies and tests on human blood samples. Although the doses used were higher than those that could be achieved through diet alone, Professor Adrian Gombart, Oregon State University, said the results were potentially ‘very significant'. ‘It's a way to tap into the power of the innate immune system and stimulate it to provide a more powerful and natural immune response.'

For anyone who balks at the idea of taking long-term medication to reduce their blood pressure, the Daily Mail may have just the motivation they need to get healthy. Regular exercise, keeping the weight off, drinking in moderation and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables can cut the chance of developing hypertension by two-thirds, say Finnish researchers. A 16-year study of 20,000 people without hypertension presented at the European Cardiology Congress showed just having two of those key lifestyle factors reduced the risk of hypertension by nearly 50 per cent in men and by more than 30% in women. And the findings may well extend to those already with the condition, the researchers added. Professor Pekka Jousilahti, Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare said patients could ‘reduce their blood pressure by modifying the four lifestyle factors alone, or by making these modifications while taking blood pressure-lowering medication'.

The Guardian is among those reporting today on a study showing that adolescents who regularly use cannabis could be damaging their intelligence, attention span and memory. The international study of a 1,000 people in New Zealand followed from birth to 38 years showed the five per cent who used the drug at least once a week as teenagers dropped an average of eight points on their IQ. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper reported that it was the age at which people used the drug rather than whether they had since given it up. Co-author Professor Terrie Moffitt, King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, said: ‘It's such a special study that I'm fairly confident that cannabis is safe for over-18 brains, but risky for under-18 brains.'

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