Health News

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'Contaminated air' on planes linked to health problems

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 21/06/2017
"Toxic fumes in aircraft cabins could cause serious health problems, scientists warn," reports The Sun. This is based on a UK study investigating air contamination on aircraft and its possible effects on the health of pilots and cabin crew. The researchers say the air supply on planes can become contaminated by leaks of oil or other chemicals from the engines and they wanted to find out if this was associated with any health problems.

Cholesterol-lowering jab 'shows promise' for heart disease

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 20/06/2017
"Cholesterol-lowering jab to help prevent heart disease," reports BBC Online. The headline refers to a recent mouse study that aimed to see whether a new vaccine could reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. Mice bred to develop heart and vascular disease were given the AT04A vaccine or a control vaccine, and were then fed a high-fat diet for 18 weeks. The research found that, compared with the control, the vaccine reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels in the mice, as well as reducing signs of fatty build-up in the arteries.

Blood test may show if prostate cancer treatment is working

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 19/06/2017
"Prostate cancer blood test helps target treatment," BBC News reports. A study found a blood test could detect which men with advanced prostate cancer would benefit from new drug treatment. Researchers analysed blood samples from nearly 50 men taking part in a trial of a new drug (olaparib) for prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. They wanted to see whether changes to tumour DNA circulating in the men's blood could indicate whether the treatment was working or not. 

Is a new flu pandemic just three mutations away?

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 16/06/2017
"Just three mutations are needed to make bird flu a potential pandemic strain that could kill millions," is the alarming headline from the Mail Online. However, the chance of all three mutations occurring has been described as "relatively low".

Obese mums more likely to give birth to babies with birth defects

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 15/06/2017
"Women who are obese when they conceive are more likely to have a baby with serious birth defects," The Guardian reports. Swedish researchers looked at more than a million health records and found a link between excess body mass index (BMI) and the risk of a child being born with birth defects. The researchers found there was a sliding scale of risk: the heavier the mother, the higher the risk.

Vegetarian dieting may lead to greater weight loss

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 15/06/2017
"Dieters who follow a vegetarian eating plan lose nearly twice as much weight," the Daily Mail reports following the results of a new study. Researchers randomly assigned two groups of people with type 2 diabetes to either a vegetarian diet or a standard weight loss diet. They found those on the vegetarian diet lost more weight and more body fat.

Risk of aspirin-related bleeding is higher in the over-75s

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 14/06/2017
"People over 75 taking daily aspirin after a stroke or heart attack are at higher risk of major – and sometimes fatal – stomach bleeds than previously thought," BBC News reports. Aspirin can help thin the blood, so it is often given to people thought to be at risk of blood clots, which could trigger a heart attack or stroke. A potential downside is that it can trigger bleeding in the digestive system or brain.

Being overweight, not just obese, still carries serious health risks

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 13/06/2017
"Four million people died in 2015 as a result of being too tubby, struck by cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other killer conditions," reports The Sun. This is based on a global study that looked at how the proportion of people who are overweight and obese has changed over time. This was determined by recording body mass index (BMI), where a BMI of 25-29.9 means being overweight and 30 or above is being obese.

Antibiotics and vitamin C could kill cancer cells

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 12/06/2017
"Vitamin C and antibiotics could be up to 100 times more effective than drugs at killing cancer cells – without the side effects," reports the Mail Online. The news comes from the results of a study that found a new two-pronged approach using the antibiotic doxycycline followed by vitamin C could kill cancer cells. Doxycycline killed many cancer cells, but others became resistant. The resistant cells were then destroyed by vitamin C.

Owning a dog may encourage older people to exercise

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 09/06/2017
"NHS should prescribe dogs to keep over-65s fit," the Daily Mail reports. The headline was prompted by the results of a new study with the rather unsurprising finding that older adults who own dogs walk more than those who don't. The study included around 80 adults with an average age of 70 from three regions in the UK, half of whom owned dogs. They wore activity monitors for three one-week periods spread over the course of a year.

An egg a day may prevent stunted growth in infants

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 08/06/2017
"An egg a day appears to help young children grow taller," BBC News reports. Research involving young children in Ecuador found babies given one egg a day for six months had improved growth compared with controls, as well as a reduced risk of stunted growth. Stunted growth is when a child fails to meet the expected height or weight for their age. It can lead to long-term health problems, including difficulties affecting both physical and mental development. It's caused by malnutrition, repeated infection or, in some cases, both. 

Is white bread just as healthy as brown?

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 08/06/2017
"Sliced white bread is 'just as healthy as brown', shock findings reveal," The Sun reports. A small study looking at the effects of eating different types of bread – white versus brown sourdough – found no significant differences. But the researchers also reported responses varied from person to person, depending on their gut bacteria. The study measured 20 health markers, but was mainly focused on increased blood sugar levels after eating (glycaemic control).

Even moderate drinking may damage the brain

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 07/06/2017
"Even moderate drinking can damage the brain," The Guardian reports. A new study, involving brain scans and cognitive testing, suggests that moderate drinking, over many years, could damage areas of the brain linked to memory and cognitive function. The results showed that the higher the amount of alcohol consumed a week, the higher the risk of damage to certain areas in the brain, including those involved in memory.

Babies put into their own room at six months 'sleep longer'

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 06/06/2017
"Babies moved into their own room at six months sleep better and are lower risk of obesity, poor sleep patterns and tantrums," reports The Sun. This is based on a US study looking at room-sharing of 230 mother-infant pairs and infant sleep patterns. However, despite the headlines, the study did not look at babies' ongoing sleep patterns or the risk of obesity.

TV in bedroom 'risk factor' for child obesity

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 05/06/2017
"Children who have TVs in their bedrooms are more likely to be overweight than those who do not," BBC News reports. A UK study found a link between children having a TV in their room and an increased risk of obesity. Researchers followed children from seven to 11 years old to see whether the number of hours watching TV, playing on the computer or having a TV in the bedroom influenced the risk of having higher body fat in a couple of years.

'Everyday chemicals' linked to cancer

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 02/06/2017
"Chemicals in everyday items like cosmetics linked to cancer," The Independent reports. Research involving genetically engineered human cells found that a class of chemical called aldehydes damaged a gene that prevents cancer from developing.

Cold water 'just as good as hot' for handwashing

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 01/06/2017
"Antibacterial handwash is NO better than soap – and cold water kills as many germs as hot, experts claim," The Sun reports. These were the main findings of a study looking at various methods of handwashing. But the researchers only tested for E.coli bacteria, a leading cause of food poisoning. And for safety reasons, they used a strain of E.coli that isn't infectious.

Link between stress in pregnancy and ADHD unfounded

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 31/05/2017
"Stressed mothers-to-be face an increased risk of giving birth to a child who will develop ADHD or heart disease later in life," the Mail Online reports. However, the new study it is reporting on did not look at long-term outcomes in children, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), only at stress hormone levels during pregnancy.

Parents' phone addiction may lead to child behavioural problems

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 31/05/2017
"Is our smartphone addiction damaging our children?," The Guardian asks, after publication of a recent study into "technoference" – when people switch their attention away from others to check their phone or tablet. The study, carried out in the US, involved more than 300 parents who reported on their use of digital technology, to see if they felt it affected interactions with their children and actual child behaviours. A range of technology devices were studied, including computers, television and tablets – not just smartphones.

Beta-blockers 'useless' for many heart attack patients, study reports

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 30/05/2017
"Many patients given beta blockers after a heart attack may not benefit from being on the drugs, suggesting they may be being overprescribed," The Guardian reports. Beta-blockers are drugs used to regulate the heart by making it beat more slowly and with less force. They are often used in people who have heart failure or are thought to be at risk of heart failure.