Can Pollution affect your heart?

Air pollution, particularly breathing toxic fumes whether it is from a cigarette or a diesel lorry is bad for the lungs.

Can pollution affect your heart as well ?

Yes, it can.

A large study involving more than 8 million people across 184 major cities in China studied the effect of pollution on heart diseases.

The study reports that “short term exposure to Pollutants in air is associated with increased risk of hospital admissions for major heart problems”.

May be everyone living or working close to major roads or high traffic areas should invest in a good mask !!!


Association between ambient fine particulate pollution and hospital admissions for cause specific cardiovascular disease: time series study in 184 major Chinese cities

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 30 December 2019)

Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6572

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only. See your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant for you.

Can Hair dyes cause cancer?

Yes, there is a possible increased risk of some types of skin and breast cancer as well as ovarian cancer.

Permanent hair dyes are widely used. A recent study published in BMJ suggests that use of Hair dyes might be risky.

This large study from United States enrolled 117 200 women in the Nurses’ Health Study. The women reported on personal use of permanent hair dyes, and were followed for 36 years. So overall it is a high quality observational study.

Read the full paper and Caveats at the BMJ website.


Personal use of permanent hair dyes and cancer risk and mortality in US women: prospective cohort study

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 02 September 2020)

Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2942

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Plain English Medical Letters to Patients

Writing letters to patients in plain English without medical jargon is a gift that only a few doctors possess.

Personalising complex medical terminology in a letter dictated over a few minutes is NOT an inherent skill possessed by many doctors including those who are native English speakers.

Dictating Plain English medical letters would take considerable time and effort – particularly if letters are going to succinctly summarise everything from a medical consultation.

In UK, with regards to Cancer, we are lucky to have cancer charities who do a good job of providing information in plain English ( E.g Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Prostate Cancer UK).

Cancer Patients in UK also have the support of Cancer Nurse Specialists ( CNS ) who do a fantastic job of guiding patients through their cancer journey and clarify all medical jargon to patients.

Other specialities might not have the resources that are available to cancer patients. But, on the whole, Clinic Time slots are precious. Many UK specialists have long waiting lists.

So if further time and effort is to be expended in busy clinics for dictating plain English Letters – in addition to the usual Medical letters to GP – good clinical evidence is needed to demonstrate that separate plain English letters do benefit patients in a meaningful way.

Please do read the BMJ article and put forward your views in the rapid response section.

Access the article at:

Toll-free link:


The views expressed here are my personal views and do not represent the views of any other professional organisation I am associated with…

Is whole milk harmful ?

In years gone by , many viewed milk as a wholesome healthy food. Government encouraged consumption of milk by providing free milk.

But in recent years, milk is viewed with suspicion.

Vegans shun milk and diary products.

Perhaps the Vegans got it right all along at least as far as whole milk is concerned.

A very large study involving 168 153 women and 49 602 men was published recently in British Medical Journal. The study found that whole milk intake is associated with increased risk of death from heart problems and from some cancers such as lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer.

Interestingly “Cheese and yogurt intake was NOT associated with increased risk of death”.

The risk was also less with “skimmed or low fat milk”.


1. Government Cheap Milk Scheme. Br Med J 1940; 2 doi: (Published 07 December 1940)

2. Vegetarian diets. BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 08 July 2009)

3. Associations of dairy intake with risk of mortality in women and men: three prospective cohort studies. BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 27 November 2019). Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6204

“Think Positive “ and live longer !

People with sunny disposition seems to live longer.

Having a positive outlook on life seems to protect heart.

Is it a case of “chicken vs egg” in that what came first. Do healthy people have a optimistic outlook and pessimistic people have lot of social, personal and health problems. Do life problems make people pessimistic or being optimistic makes one do better?

Researchers have adjusted the data for confounding factors. Evidence so far is very intriguing.

And the next question is – can one learn to be optimistic, change personality and have beneficial health effects. We don’t know at present.


1. Guardian. Optimists have lower risk of heart problems and early death.

2. Guardian. Optimism may hold secret to longer life, study suggests.

3. The association of optimism and pessimism with inflammation and hemostasis in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)

4. JAMA. Association of Optimism With Cardiovascular Events and All-Cause Mortality

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only. See your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant for you.

Dietary advice: take it with a pinch of salt

Official dietary advice as well as various “Diets” promoted by various celebrities tend to be very prescriptive. They often give the impression that the evidence behind everything they promote is very clear cut.

But truth is far more murkier ( I might say more “mish mash “).

A new study analysis of old data comes to a different conclusion about “red meat”. This is in fact not surprising as the evidence for various Dietary guidelines and “Diets” are not usually robust and watertight and involves lot of assumptions.

What is the take home message:

Eat “everything you like” in moderation and try to make it as balanced as possible with substitutes for things you avoid !!

Avoid processed food as much as possible and eat fresh.

Don’t be surprised if the next two studies on this topic reach three different conclusions.


1. BBC news. Is red meat back on the menu?

2. New York Times. Eat Less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice.

3. The original study article from Annals of Internal Medicine. Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations From the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium.

4. Daily Mail. You DON’T need to cut out red meat: Scientists say official advice on eating less beef, pork and lamb is based on bad evidence and having it four times a week poses ‘NO cancer risk’ 

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only. See your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant for you.

Is Vegan diet the most healthy ? Are there any risks from Vegetarian diet?

Life would be very simple if we can have clear cut answers with regards to the best diet for everyone’s health.

A recent study published in BMJ indicates that while Vegan diet reduces risk of heart problems it can increase the risk of strokes.

The results might seem confusing and scientists would be certainly seeking more answers. But don’t be surprised if another study from some other research group comes up with a contradictory result. That’s normal in science.

What’s most important is to realise that there are no easy scientific answers to most scientific questions. Research quite often shows unexpected results. What is a logical scientific question quite often throws up unexpected answers.

Overall, the message is “have a well balanced diet” without omitting essential nutrients.


1. BBC news. Plant-based diets ‘linked to higher stroke risk‘ Vegan and vegetarian diets ‘link to higher stroke risk’ Sept 2019.

2. BMJ. British Medical Journal.

Risks of ischaemic heart disease and stroke in meat eaters, fish eaters, and vegetarians over 18 years of follow-up: results from the prospective EPIC-Oxford study

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 04 September 2019)

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only. See your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant for you.

Can milk cause cancer?

blur calcium close up dairy

Photo by Pixabay on

A vegan group’s recent advertisement claimed that “cow’s milk contains 35 hormones, including oestrogen … some of these are linked to cancer”.

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in U.K banned the vegan group’s advert  as it found the groups claims misleading.

Does the evidence stack up?

First of all, I have to emphasize that “Human Mothers milk” is the best nutrition a new born baby can have…even though it might have various natural hormones.

But “mass produced diary milk” is a different matter.

A large observational study from ” Central Sweden”  found that “High milk intake was associated with higher risk of death and higher fracture incidence in women”. The paper was published in the prestigious BMJ journal in 2014. I suspect the substances used in mass production of diary milk might be the culprit rather than natural milk itself.

So the jury is out on this question. In the mean time, moderation is the key as Cows’ milk does contain many beneficial substances.  Switching to sugary, fizzy drinks or other artifically produed milk alternatives is not sensible either.

Related Links

Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies

BMJ Letter: S Sundar. Milk and mortality: the potential effects of modern milk production

Telegraph: Vegan group’s advert wrongly linking cow’s milk to cancer is banned.

Independent: Vegan group’s advert wrongly linking cow’s milk to cancer gets UK ban