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Wednesday, 2 June, 1999, 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK
Body building supplement 'could be dangerous'
A study of androstenedione, the steroid-like food supplement used legally by professional athletes, has found it may not build muscles and could pose adverse health effects.

Researchers from Iowa State University studied 30 men, aged 19 to 26, of whom 20 underwent eight weeks of resistance body building training.

Of those, 10 were given daily doses of 300 mg of the non-prescription food supplement popularly known as "andro," a level that is lower than some advertisements for the product recommend.

The report said muscle strength did not differ in the men given the supplement, compared to others in the study who were given a placebo.

In addition, it said, the men given andro had a significant lowering of so-called "good" cholesterol, which protects against heart disease.

The supplement was also found to increase blood oestrogen levels, something that could lead to enlarged breasts and an increased risk of heart disease and pancreatic cancer.

Booklet on sex risks for young people

A cartoon booklet has been launched which aims to educate young people about the risks of sexually transmitted diseases which have risen hugely in recent years.

The booklet, Love S.T.I.N.G.S., gives advice on how to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), how to treat them and what the long-term effects are of leaving them untreated.

It is published by the Family Planning Association and aimed at young people. Research shows that the rate of one STI, chlamydia, rose by 32% among 16 and 19 year olds in England between 1996 and 1997.

But experts think the rate could be higher since chlamydia, which can cause infertility, has no obvious symptoms.

The booklet is a cartoon strip whodunnit - who gave what to whom - but the FPA says its message is serious: protecting against STIs is simple and effective.

Plant oils reduce cholesterol

A diet including a plant oil derived from wood pulp can more than double the cholesterol reduction achieved by a healthy diet alone.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men with high cholesterol levels put on a normal, healthy diet reduced levels by 8.9 per cent - but those on a "phytosterol enriched" diet reduced cholesterol levels by a quarter.

High cholesterol levels are a factor in the development of heart disease.

Benecol, which includes this ingredient, has been marketed as a cholesterol-reducing food in this country.

Depression awards for GPs

Patients are being asked to nominate their GPs for awards for treating depression.

The annual awards, organised by the Depression Alliance, are part of an effort to raise awareness of depression and improve treatment.

The alliance says it estimates that about half of people with clinical depression do not receive proper diagnosis and treatment from their doctor.

It hopes that, by highlighting good practice, it can improve the situation.

The awards have been running for four years and are being expanded this year to include eight regional finalists as well as a national winner.

Nominees are being judged by Claire Rayner, who has suffered from depression, and Dr Andre Tylee, director of the Royal College of GPs' unit for mental health.

For the first time, the awards will be presented by a government minister in a ceremony in October.

Nominators are asked to contact the Depression Alliance on 0171 633 9929 for a nomination form, which must be returned by 31 July.

Coronary combination could save lives

Heart attack patients who took a combination of two well-known drugs could dramatically reduce their risk of another attack, researchers have found.

ReoPro, which helps prevent blood clots, was taken with Activase, a "clotbuster" drug.

The team at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital tested 888 heart attack patients with both drugs, and found that in 72 per cent, blood flow was at the right level within an hour.

Dr Eugene Braunwald said: "We know from many studies that there is a correlation between improving blood flow in the coronary artery and survival."

See also:

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