- Authorities are warning of the risks of unproven stem cell treatments available in Australia and overseas after the death of an Australian woman in Russia.
- As the number of humans on Earth has nearly doubled over the past four decades, the number of bugs, slugs, worms and crustaceans has declined by 45 per cent, say researchers.
- A recent review of 16 studies concluded valerian might improve sleep quality without side effects. But a newer analysis of 37 studies found it ineffective for insomnia, while a small review conducted in 2010 concluded valerian might help improve quality of sleep in people with insomnia.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 30th July 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.
Authorities are warning of the risks of unproven stem cell treatments available in Australia and overseas after the death of an Australian woman in Russia.
Brisbane mother-of-two Kellie van Meurs travelled to Moscow for treatment for a rare neurological disorder called Stiff Person Syndrome but died from a heart attack while undergoing the controversial treatment on July 19.
Her death – and the continued marketing of stem cell tourism by groups including Adult Stem Cell Foundation – prompted warnings that many of the therapies on offer are untested and not accepted by mainstream science.
Stem Cells Australia’s head of education, ethics, law and community awareness Megan Munsie said a proliferation of private clinics combined with a growing consumer base was a potentially dangerous mix.
She also cautioned that treatment decisions should be based more on the advice of medical professionals than the experiences outlined in social media, which was flush with success stories and often failed to reflect reality.
In December the country’s main medical research funding body, the National Health and Medical Research Council, released a guide for patients and doctors highlighting the risks associated with unproven stem cell treatments in Australia and overseas.
There are more than 200 registered clinical trials underway around the world investigating the role stem cells may play in the various systems of the human body, including lung and kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, type 1 and 2 diabetes, prostate and liver cancer.
Risks of unproven stem cell treatments include allergic reaction or rejection of the cells by the patient’s immune system and the development of cancer, both of which can be fatal.
According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, the only stem cell treatment currently considered safe and effective is blood stem cell transplantation to treat certain blood and immune system disorders.
As the number of humans on Earth has nearly doubled over the past four decades, the number of bugs, slugs, worms and crustaceans has declined by 45 per cent, say researchers.
Meanwhile, the larger loss of wildlife big and small across the planet may be a key driver of growing violence and unrest, said another study in the journal Science as part of a special series on disappearing animals.
Invertebrates are important to the Earth because they pollinate crops, control pests, filter water and add nutrients to the soil.
The decline of invertebrates is similar to that of land-based vertebrates, according to an analysis of scientific literature by an international team including Ben Collen of University College London.
Among animals with backbones that live on land, 322 species have disappeared in the past five centuries, and the remaining species show about a 25 per cent decline in abundance.
The researchers blame the decline of animals on two main factors: the loss of habitat and the changing global climate, but say solutions to the problem are complicated.
Immediately reducing rates of habitat change and overexploitation would help, but these approaches need to be tailored to individual regions and situations, says study lead author, Rodolfo Dirzo, a professor of biology at Stanford University.
Dirzo hopes that raising awareness of the ongoing mass extinction — and not just of large, charismatic species — and its associated consequences will help spur change.
“We tend to think about extinction as loss of a species from the face of Earth, and that’s very important, but there’s a loss of critical ecosystem functioning in which animals play a central role that we need to pay attention to as well,” he says.
Early research into valerian’s sleep-enhancing properties was promising, with some research suggesting it was as effective as sedatives (benzodiazepine drugs) for insomnia, however other studies are more negative.
A recent review of 16 studies concluded valerian might improve sleep quality without side effects. But a newer analysis of 37 studies found it ineffective for insomnia, while a small review conducted in 2010 concluded valerian might help improve quality of sleep in people with insomnia.
There is some evidence that valerian alone or in combination with lemon balm can help sleep disturbance during menopause.
A review conducted in 2006 showed there was not enough evidence to determine if valerian is helpful for anxiety disorders.
Occasional side effects include headache and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Studies suggest it is generally safe to use short term (four to six weeks), but no information is available regarding its long-term safety.
Caution is urged in pregnant and breastfeeding women and in infants, due to lack of studies confirming safety.
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