About Sarah Stacey

Sarah Stacey is the Health Editor of the Mail on Sunday YOU magazine and is co-author (with Jo Fairley) of the world’s bestselling series of beauty books, The Beauty Bible. She edits, with Jo Fairley, the accompanying website, www.beautybible.com

Posts by Sarah Stacey

The Danger Of Painkillers

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Q. Like most people, I take an over-the-counter painkiller for aches and pains. Now, recent headlines say that these can cause a heart attack. Can you clarify this and suggest any safe alternatives?

A. Warnings about these painkillers are not new. In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that taking common, widely available non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen (both available without prescription), increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. They may also raise blood pressure and cause heart failure.

The warning followed the revelation that Vioxx, a prescription NSAID, had caused 140,000 heart attacks in the US over five years. It was withdrawn in 2004. NSAIDs were first launched over a century ago and most of them were registered at a time when there were few requirements for safety documentation. However, since the Vioxx scandal, there has been much more research, which showed that the risk is linked to all NSAIDs. Read More…

Cold Sores

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TWO OF THE BEST LIP BALMS TO HELP PREVENT COLD SORES

  • Lysine Lip Therape with Monolaurin (£8): A natural, nourishing treatment for dry lips with two antiviral agents (l-lysine, an amino acid, and monolaurin, from coconut) to help prevent and treat cold sores, which are caused by the Herpes simplex virus.
  • Prevasore Everyday Lip Therapy (£6.95, prevasore.co.uk): A medicated product based on white, soft paraffin to keep lips hydrated and provide a barrier against the wintry environment that can reactivate a dormant cold sore virus. It also encourages faster healing if you do get one.

Q. I have just been prescribed a course of antibiotics for the stomach infection Helicobacter pylori. This is my fifth course in 16 years and they make me feel poorly each time. Should I keep taking them and is there any alternative that would help?

A. About 40 per cent of people in the UK have Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that lives in the sticky lining of the stomach, according to Core, the digestive disorders foundation. A helpful leaflet, Information About Helicobacter Pylori, is available on their website (corecharity.org.uk).

In most of those affected, Helicobacter pylori causes no problems, but about 15 per cent will develop a gastric or duodenal ulcer. These tend to cause indigestion or, occasionally, lead to a more serious condition as they can bleed or even burst. There is also a very slightly increased risk of stomach cancer.

Doctors agree that all patients with Helicobacter pylori should have antibiotic treatment if they have, or ever have had, an ulcer. However, if you do not have an ulcer (which you do not clarify), many doctors believe it is not worth the potential disadvantages of taking an antibiotic (see box, below).

Research published in the British Medical Journal in 2015 states that ‘the efficacy of standard treatment for Helicobacter pylori has decreased’, which may be the reason you still suffer from it. One option is to take a probiotic. The same study showed that ten to 14 days of probiotic supplemented treatment was one of the most effective regimes.

Other published research shows that Protexin Bio-Kult Multi-Strain Probiotic, taken with standard treatment for Helicobacter pylori, helps to increase eradication rates of the bacterium to more than 90 per cent in children aged three to 14.

Probiotics may also help with the side effects of antibiotics. This is particularly the case with broad spectrum ones such as those used to treat Helicobacter pylori, which cause diarrhoea, vomiting and tummy upsets in about one in four people. This is because antibiotics also damage the stomach’s good bacteria, according to Dr Ashton Harper, specialist medical advisor to Protexin. This may prevent patients from finishing the course and thus getting rid of the harmful bacteria. It may also lead to the rise of antibiotic resistance.


TOP UP YOUR ANTIBIOTIC AWARENESS

Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats facing us today. Antibiotics are vital medicines for treating bacterial infections, as well as a key part of routine treatments from basic operations and childbirth to chemotherapy and organ transplants.

But the more we use them, the more likely bacteria will become resistant to them. This is happening at an alarming rate as antibiotics are over-prescribed and also because – when they are necessary – patients do not take them exactly as directed.

We can all help by not badgering our doctors for antibiotics – they will not work against colds and flu, for instance, which are caused by viruses, as are most coughs and sore throats. If we do need them, we should take the whole course as prescribed.

European Antibiotic Awareness Day is on 18 November. For more information, visit nhs.uk/arc.


BOOK OF THE WEEK
Calmer Easier Happier Screen Time by Noël Janis-Norton

Several parents recommend this guide to stopping children from becoming too absorbed in the digital world. One mother said the most helpful part of the book was having guidelines for conducting the inevitable battles over the hours her children spend glued to different devices, which helped her to start limiting their screen time and managing it more positively.

 

Restore Your Inner Balance Post Cancer

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Q: I was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, had chemo- and radiotherapy and have been on tamoxifen since. I don’t feel well and struggle with my weight going up and down. Can you suggest a good diet that is not too restrictive?

A: A number of women at your stage of recovery have the same problems (and some men, as 350 to 400 are diagnosed with breast cancer annually in the UK ). Firstly, I suggest reading Karen Hockney’s Breathing Out, which covers her journey through illness and recovery and the approaches that helped her, including nutrition advice. Read More…

Psoriasis

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A reader with psoriasis says Kerecis Psoria With MOmega3, a steroid-free cream, has calmed her dry, itchy, red skin. She has spent 25 years ‘trying everything including dietary solutions and [prescription] creams when it is unbearable. This is the first cream that has healed the affected area.’ (NB This is not a cure for psoriasis, but regular use may markedly improve it.)


Hit Snooze On Gadgets

A new concept has crept into the world of sleep research. Recent surveys show that about half of us fail to get enough sleep. Now, experts say that a significant factor could be blue light – the wavelength emitted from our electronic devices. Blue light affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, so we find it hard to sink into slumber and stay there. Changes in sleep pattern can disrupt our circadian rhythm, the internal clock that tells us when to sleep, wake and eat. Scientists believe that, over time, this puts our health at serious risk. Read More…

DVT: The Dangers

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Known as the queen of endurance cycling, Jasmijn Muller, 37, a management consultant, believed she was the embodiment of health until a pain in her leg proved to be a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

In May this year, I was recceing the route for my solo Land’s End to John O’Groats record attempt in 2017. The first three days were hot and I was cycling long distances at speed, so I became dehydrated. Then I got bad food poisoning and lost any remaining fluid in my body. The next day, I felt weak and took the train, but continued cycling on days five and six. I returned home sitting in a train and a car, then spent two days working round the clock at my desk. So I had six days of relatively strenuous activity and dehydration, followed by four days of sitting down. Read More…

My Organic Life

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Helen Browning OBE, 54, is an organic tenant farmer in Wiltshire and chief executive of the Soil Association. She has been chair of the Food Ethics Council since 2002. I grew up on the 1,350-acre livestock and arable farm that I now run. I always knew I wanted to farm and did a degree in agricultural technology.

I had all the usual aspirations about getting huge yields, but then I saw the countryside changing, hedges being ripped out, wildlife disappearing and poor welfare of farm animals – especially pigs and chickens. Organic farming seemed like a possible solution, so I started to experiment. Read More…