Painkiller may affect fertility

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Think twice before taking painkillers during pregnancy as researchers have found that they could affect the fertility of the unborn child in later life.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, showed that these drugs could affect the fertility of both unborn boys and girls.

They may also affect the fertility of future generations, by leaving marks on DNA, said the study which adds to a growing body of evidence that certain medicines, including paracetamol, should be used with caution during pregnancy.

“We would encourage women to think carefully before taking painkillers in pregnancy and to follow existing guidelines — taking the lowest possible dose for the shortest time possible,” said lead researcher Rod Mitchell from University of Edinburgh in Britain.

The researchers looked at the effects of paracetamol and ibuprofen on samples of human foetal testes and ovaries.

They found similar effects using several different experimental approaches, including lab tests on human tissue samples and animal studies.

Human tissues exposed to either drug for one week in a dish had reduced numbers of cells that give rise to sperm and eggs, called germ cells, the study found.

Ovaries exposed to paracetamol for one week had more than 40 per cent fewer egg-producing cells. After ibuprofen exposure, the number of cells was almost halved.

Experts say this is important because girls produce all of their eggs in the womb, so if they are born with a reduced number it could lead to an early menopause.

Painkiller exposure during development could have effects on unborn boys too, the study found.

Testicular tissue exposed to painkillers in a culture dish had around a quarter fewer sperm-producing cells after exposure to paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Previous studies with rats had shown that painkillers administered in pregnancy led to a reduction in germ cells in female offspring. This affected their fertility and the fertility of females in subsequent generations.

The scientists found that exposure to paracetamol or ibuprofen triggers mechanisms in the cell that make changes in the structure of DNA, called epigenetic marks.

These marks can be inherited, helping to explain how the effects of painkillers on fertility may be passed on to future generations.

Painkillers’ effects on germ cells are likely caused by their actions on molecules called prostaglandins, which have key functions in the ovaries and testes, the researchers found.

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Avoid caffeinated beverages

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Are you an ardent coffee or tea lover, but advised to avoid caffeinated beverages due to your heart conditions Cheer up, drinking up to three cups of coffee or tea a day is safe as well as reduce irregular heartbeat and stroke risk, a study says.

A single cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine. It acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and works to block the effects of adenosine — a chemical that causes atrial fibrillation (AFib).

AFib is the most common heart rhythm disorder, causes the heart to beat rapidly and skip beats, and if left untreated, can cause strokes.

The results suggest that caffeine intake of up to 300 mg per day may be safe for arrhythmic patients.

“There is a public perception, often based on anecdotal experience, that caffeine is a common acute trigger for heart rhythm problems,” said lead author Peter Kistler, Director at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital.

But, “caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea have long-term anti-arrhythmic properties mediated by antioxidant effects and antagonism of adenosine,” he added.

For the review, published in the journal JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology, the team analysed multiple population-based studies.

A meta-analysis of 228,465 participants showed that AFib frequency decreasing by 6 per cent in regular coffee drinkers, and an analysis of 115,993 patients showed a 13 per cent reduced risk.

Another study of 103 post-heart attack patients who received an average of 353 mg of caffeine a day showed improvement in heart rate and no significant arrhythmias — or abnormal heart rhythms, that cause the heart to beat too fast, slow or unevenly.

However, in two studies, where patients drank at least 10 cups and nine cups of coffee per day, showed an increased risk for ventricular arrhythmias (VAs) — a condition in which the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) beat very quickly.

On the other hand, patients with pre-existing heart conditions who consumed two or more energy drinks — that contains concentrated caffeine — per day reported palpitations within 24 hours.

The Luisenbad library

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Libraries are among my favourite places on the planet, and I’m lucky that one of Berlin’s best, the Luisenbad library, is in the northern suburb of Wedding, where I live. It’s reached by a dark path between a burger joint and a kebab shop, or by a walk along the Panke river. Both lead to a bright courtyard with an impressive neo-baroque building dating from 1888, the old tile lettering Kafe Küche still visible to the left of the entrance.

As the name – literally (Queen) Luise’s Bath – indicates, it was originally a public pool named after a Prussian queen; over the years it has been a restaurant, a coffee shop and a cinema. A protected building since 1978, it was extensively refurbished in 1995 by award-winning architects Rebecca Chestnutt and Robert Niess.

Today’s library is a friendly and bright space, with a large reading garden, a stucco-decorated “Cherub Hall” that dates from 1912 and is now used for readings and events, and a children’s library with books in 40 languages. The new design also pays tribute to the chequered history of the area: the side of the building opposite the new glass-and-concrete reading room was left as found, displaying layers of history in the form of tiles from the old pool and raw brick penetrated by bullet holes from 1945’s Battle of Berlin.

Perton, UK

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A competitor falls in mud during the Tough Guy. The 30th anniversarry of the annual event raises money for charity and challenges thousands of international competitors with a cross country run followed by an assault course consisting of 20 obstacles including water, fire and tunnels.