Anti-depressant 'helps in menstrual disorder'

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DOCTORS in New Zealand have found that women with severe premenstrual syndrome can be relieved of their worst symptoms by treatment with an anti-depressant drug which boosts the production of a chemical in the brain.

Their findings suggest that the chemical, known as serotonin, plays a key role in severe cases of PMS which affects up to 10 per cent of women of a reproductive age. Symptoms range from headache, backpain and breast tenderness to irritability, fatigue and uncharacteristic violent behaviour.

Many theories have been put forward for PMS, ranging from hormonal imbalances to nutrient deficiences. Few previous studies have investigated the use of serotonin-enhancing drugs in PMS, according to the report in the British Medical Journal, although its levels are known to be altered in some cases of depression. Many of the symptoms associated with depressive illness are also experienced by women with PMS.

People in middle age who eat a diet rich in spinach and supplement it with vitamin C can dramatically reduce their risk of serious cataracts - a 'clouding' of the eye lens resulting in poor vision - in later life.

American researchers claim in a report in tomorrow's issue of the British Medical Journal that substances in spinach known as carotenes which are converted to vitamin A by the body, together with vitamin C, may slow down chemical changes in the eye lens.