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'Cocoa aids diabetes/stroke'

The Story

Cocoa could be used to treat diabetes, stroke and vascular disease, the Financial Times and Daily Mail claim.

The Source

Chocolate company Mars said 15-year research had shown cocoa compounds ­ known as flavanols ­ could lead to better circulation, have the same effect on

thinning blood as aspirin and lower blood pressure. Mars is in discussions with pharmaceutical companies about how to make the flavanols artificially.

Expert view

Judy O'Sullivan, medical spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation, said while the research was interesting it did not change current dietary guidelines to cut the risk of heart disease.

'Patch may restore sex drive'

The Story

A testosterone patch could be used to restore women's sexual desire after menopausal surgery, The Times reports.

The source

According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, an adhesive plaster could be used to provide doses of testosterone to help reactivate a woman's libido following surgery to remove ovaries. The randomised controlled trial found 67 per cent of women with the 300µg-a-day patch had increased desire compared with 48 per cent in the placebo group.

Expert view

Professor Mike Kirby, professor of health and human sciences at the University of Hertfordshire and a GP in Letchworth, said: 'The current use of testosterone implants probably provides an overdose of the hormone. A low-dose patch may well be a useful therapeutic approach.'

'Hormone jab can fool fat'

The Story

A hormone injection could be used to treat obesity by 'switching off' the appetite, The Sunday Times and BBC News Online report.

The source

Scientists at Imperial College London and Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust found injections of oxyntomodulin ­ a digestive hormone found in the small intestine ­ could

reduce body weight by signalling to the brain that the body is full, according to the study published in Diabetes.

Expert view

Dr Gill Jenkins, a member of the National Obesity Forum and a GP in Bristol, said the treatment approach could be appropriate in selected cases. 'I would temper that with the simple fact obesity control should be more about preventing it in the first place. It's inappropriate to spend our lives on hormone injections.'

'Pineapple combats cancer'

The Story

Pineapple stem may be able to combat cancer, BBC News Online claims.

The source

Research by the Queensland Institute of Medical Research found two molecules isolated from an extract of crushed pineapple stems could potentially fight cancer growth. One molecule, CCS, blocks a protein called Ras, and the other, CCZ, stimulates the body's own immune system to target and kill cancer cells, the report said.

Expert view

Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: 'It's early days for this research and the real test will be to see if the effects seen in the lab can be reproduced successfully in patients.'

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