Medical notes

If you're drinking orange juice for the health benefits, don't waste your money on the freshly squeezed stuff; the long-life variety is just as good. Spanish scientists found that there were no significant differences, in terms of antioxidant capacity, between commercial pasteurised orange juices and freshly squeezed ones. Flavour, of course, is a different matter.

The colour of your hair can affect how well painkillers work for you, and female redheads respond best. The pain pathways in the brain are, apparently, linked to the red-hair gene. Jeffrey Mogil, the "professor of pain studies" who led the US research team, says that the ability to feel pain is the same in women of all hair colours, but that the study showed women with red hair responded better to the pain-killing drug than anyone else - including men.

New research has cast doubt on the effectiveness of energy bars as part of diet plans. The theory behind several plans - such as the Atkins diet - is that foods with low levels of carbohydrate cause less of an insulin "spike" in the blood after meals, which helps fat-burning and thus weight loss. But the Ohio university study found that energy bars don't reduce insulin levels as much as expected. "None of the manufacturers has the data to support the claim that their products keep after-meal insulin levels low," says the study's lead author.

Scientists are developing soft contact lenses that release drugs to treat eye diseases into the eyeball. The drugs are implanted as small particles into the lens and slow-released more efficiently than by eye drops. The treatment could be used for diseases such as glaucoma.

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