A review of a historical study from 1848 reveals that cod liver oil was an effective treatment for tuberculosis, says Professor Sir Malcolm Green in the Christmas issue published on bmj.com today.
In the study, carried out by physicians at the Hospital for Consumption, Chelsea (now the Royal Brompton Hospital), 542 patients with consumption (tuberculosis) received standard treatment with cod liver oil. These patients were compared with 535 'control' patients who received standard treatment alone (without cod liver oil).
While improvement rates were similar in the two groups, the disease was stabilised in 18% of the patients given cod liver oil, compared with only 6% of those in the control group. Deterioration or death occurred in 33% of patients given standard treatment alone, but in only 19% of those given cod liver oil, a reduction of 14%.
Professor Green says that some children are still given cod liver oil today and perhaps this relates back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when cod liver oil was widely used to treat and prevent tuberculosis.
He adds that the steady fall in tuberculosis deaths in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is often attributed to better living conditions. While a reduction in overcrowded living might have reduced transmission, Green believes improved nutrition was probably as important. "It could well be that the widespread use of cod liver oil encouraged by doctors played a significant part," he writes.
Cod liver oil is a rich source of Vitamin D, which we now know is important in fighting infections, as well as preventing conditions such as rickets, says the author.
He says: "A role for vitamin D in combating tuberculosis gives a rational basis for sunshine therapy, which was widely practised for patients in sanatoriums before chemotherapy became available, as vitamin D is synthesised in the skin when exposed to the sun. Patients were put out on their beds to lie in the sun in summer and winter, and many were sent to Switzerland and other sunny countries for treatment." He adds that today many patients who develop TB in the UK are found to be Vitamin D deficient.
Green concludes that since tuberculosis is still a common infection, accounting for millions of deaths annually across the world, there may yet be a role for vitamin D supplements in combating this terrible killer.
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Campaigns & Issues
National Award Scheme Launched
THE ELDERLY Accommodation Council (EAC) National Housing awards for Older People 2013 are now in full swing
This year will be the fourth year that the awards have been held, and they aim to put residents in older peoples housing right at the centre of the assessment and award process.
A new formula for the awards has been launched this year which combine an entertaining nomination process with a Resident Consultation and already it is proving to be a great success.
Top designer and celebrity chefs join Prostate Cancer UK in leading the fight against the disease
Prostate Cancer UK is urging the nation to dust off their vintage tea cups, grab their rolling pins, get baking and hold a 1940s themed Tea For Victory party in order to raise vital funds to help the 250,000 men in the UK living with prostate cancer.
One of Britain's most acclaimed designers and vintage supporters, Wayne Hemingway, has exclusively designed 40s-style materials, including bunting, table cloths and cake stands, available for people to use at their tea parties.
Top class celebrity chefs, including Nigella Lawson, Rick Stein, Levi Roots, Ken Hom, Thane Prince, Jo Pratt, Angela Hartnett and BBC Masterchef winner Mat Follas are also showing their support for Tea For Victory by creating recipes to inspire the nation. People can read these and hear more from the chefs about why they are getting involved, by visiting www.prostatecanceruk.org/tearecipes.
Competitions & Fun
Win a set of Quartet goodies - plus the DVD and Soundtrack!
Discover a warm, fun and bittersweet look at growing old disgracefully, orchestrated by a British ensemble of acting maestros, as the number one UK box office smash hit comedy QUARTET comes to Blu-Ray, DVD and digital download on 6 May 2013.
To celebrate the release, we are offering four lucky winners the chance to win a Quartet merchandise bundle which includes: a DVD, a soundtrack by Decca records, a branded gardening set and 4 packs of plant and vegetable seeds! Each pack of seeds is matched to a character. Varieties include Cayenne pepper, Tomato, Sunflower and Poppy.
Win a prize at home or away in this month's prize draw with Silver Travel Advisor!
Enter now and you could win a prize at home or away! How about a 7 night break for 2, with flights included, in beautiful Slovenia? Or a trip to London’s glitzy theatreland, staying in a 4* hotel? Both fabulous treats which must be won!
Silver Travel Advisor is a friendly website packed with advice, tips, information and honest reviews written by and for silver travellers (aged over 50). A team of advisors are on hand to answer queries (for free), and you can share your own experiences too.
Health & Wellbeing
Active life for a healthier you
Active Life is a collective of friendly, knowledgeable and experienced health and fitness professionals, all of whom share a passion for helping people develop and maintain a healthier lifestyle.
Based in Southend on Sea, Essex, our activities range from gentle yoga, relaxation and pilates to circuit training, exercise to music, keep fit, dance classes, running groups and Nordic walking.
We cater for all abilities, working mainly with Adults aged 50 and over but also tots to teens, mums, dads, and whole family groups.
Property & Finance
New EU Tax Would Hit Millions Of Pensioners And Investors
The EU's controversial Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) would "hit the pensions and investments of millions of hard working people" and would not exclusively target "so-called City fat cats," warns the boss of the world's largest independent financial advisory firm.
Leisure and Lifestyle
Take the 20p test for safe motoring
Most UK motorists are pretty clueless when it comes to tyre tread safety, a new survey has revealed.
The vast majority of motorists are simply unaware of the absolute minimum legal tyre tread depth for their cars or vans.
In a new nationwide survey by the breakdown service Autonational Rescue, just 38% of motorists knew that the correct minimum legal tyre tread depth is in fact 1.6 millimetres.
Flying the flag for the best English beaches
Keep Britain Tidy names England’s 147 award-winning beaches for 2013
From Whitley Bay to Clacton, Margate to Torbay, England boasts some of the best and cleanest beaches in the world.
Today, Keep Britain Tidy is announcing the winners of the 2013 Blue Flag and Seaside Awards. In total 55 beaches have gained the Blue Flag and 113 have picked up the new Seaside Award (formerly Quality Coast Award).
Have you noticed that that those advocating rises in pension levels to absurd levels like this are all very much younger and have no experience of the ageing process?