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The benefits of exercise for the elderly, prostate cancer patients warned off calcium and misleading MMR claims online

A round-up of the health news headlines on Wednesday 8 August

Keeping active in old age is to be recommended for many reasons but a report in the Daily Mail has added reducing the risk of falls to the list. A study in the British Medical Journal of 300 over 70s who took part in the The LiFE (Lifestyle integrated Functional Exercise) programme developed by a team of researchers at the University of Sydney, showed it reduced falls by 31%. The daily round of simple balance and strength exercises also improved measures of frailty and was more effective than a structured three-times-a-week exercise programme. Study leader Professor Lindy Clemson said: ‘Fall related admissions have not declined over the past ten years, and there is an imperative to develop effective strategies for fall prevention that are acceptable and sustainable over the long term for older people.'

On a quiet day for health news, the Daily Mail also includes a warning for men with prostate cancer over-taking calcium supplements. A US review of trial data has shown recommended doses of calcium taken to protect against loss of bone density actually makes bones thinner. Reporting in The Oncologist, researchers also pointed to other studies showing a link between extra calcium and heart disease. Co-author Dr Mridul Datta said: ‘The wakeup call of these findings is that the presumption of benefit from calcium and vitamin D supplements that have been routinely recommended to these men must be rigorously evaluated.'

BBC News online is among those today reporting that a website offering parents advice on vaccinations has been ordered to remove some of its statements on MMR. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ruled that Babyjabs.co.uk must take down a claim that MMR may be causing up to 10% of autism cases in the UK, among other misleading statements. The ASA said consumers were likely to infer from the website's claims that the vaccine might have played a role in the ‘increase' of the number of children with autism.

Defending the claims, Babyjabs referred to a study from 2002 which concluded it could not be ruled out that there were some children who had an increased risk of autism if they were vaccinated.

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