Health News

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Single-injection vaccine device still a long way off

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 18/09/2017
"Scientists invent injection that could deliver every childhood vaccine in one go," reports The Independent. Various media sources have run stories on a new injection they claim could allow multiple childhood vaccines to be delivered in a single jab. This follows the development in the US of a method of making a tiny, multilayered biodegradable device, or microstructure, that can be given via injection. The device has several compartments that can be filled with solutions to be released at different points in time.

Women more likely than men to lose interest in sex

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 15/09/2017
"Women get bored of having sex with their partner after just a year together, a new study suggests," is the rather crass story in the Mail Online. The news is based on research that actually found multiple factors increased the likelihood of both men and women reporting a lack of interest in sex. The findings come from interviews with more than 10,000 men and women in the UK about their sex lives.

Tattoo ink particles can spread into lymph nodes

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 14/09/2017
"Tattoos could give you cancer, new research suggests," is the entirely unsupported claim from the Mail Online. The news come from a study that found evidence particles from tattoo ink can spread into lymph nodes – but it hasn't been proven that tattoo ink causes cancer. Researchers used samples of skin and adjacent lymph nodes taken from six donors after autopsy.

No change to alcohol guidelines for pregnancy

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 12/09/2017
"There is little evidence having the occasional drink while pregnant harms a baby," reports the Mail Online. This follows a review of international research looking at whether low-to-moderate alcohol consumption – no more than 1 to 2 units, once or twice a week – was linked with adverse pregnancy outcomes. To put this in context, a pint of low-strength lager contains about 2 units of alcohol, a small glass (125ml) of 12% wine contains 1.5 units and a single shot of spirits contains 1 unit.

Avoid eating just before your bedtime, study recommends

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 11/09/2017
"It's not what you eat, it's when you eat that matters: study shows timing your meals right is the key to beating obesity," the Mail Online reports. The headline was prompted by a small US study involving 110 university students. Researchers gave them activity monitors to wear, measured their sleep patterns, and observed how much they ate and at what time.

Could a Mediterranean diet be as good as drugs for acid reflux?

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 08/09/2017
"Why the Mediterranean diet is the best cure for acid reflux: Study found patients who ate plenty of fish and veg had fewer symptoms and avoided side effects of medication," the Mail Online reports.

Drinks industry accused of downplaying 'alcohol-cancer risk'

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 08/09/2017
"Drinks industry downplaying alcohol-cancer link," The Guardian reports as new analysis has been published looking at the accuracy of health information circulated by the alcohol industry on the link between alcohol and cancer. Many people still don't appreciate that alcohol can increase the risk of a range of cancers, such as breast, liver and mouth cancer. As part of their corporate and social responsibility goals, the UK alcohol industry shares health information to inform and encourage their consumers to drink responsibly.

Statins cut heart deaths in men by 28% finds study

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 07/09/2017
"Statins cut the risk of dying from heart disease by 28% among men, according to the longest study of its kind," The Guardian reports. Statins help reduce the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad cholesterol", in the blood. This in turn helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Current UK guidelines recommend that people with a 1 in 10 chance of developing CVD at some point in the next 10 years should be offered statins.

Zika virus may be useful in treating brain tumours

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 06/09/2017
"Zika virus used to treat aggressive brain cancer," BBC News reports. Animal and laboratory research suggests a modified version of the virus could possibly be used to target and destroy cancerous cells. The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947. It hit the headlines in 2016 when an epidemic of the virus began quickly spreading through parts of South and Central America.

Older babies 'sleep better' in their own room

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 05/09/2017
"Babies who sleep in separate rooms from their parents have earlier bedtimes, take less time to nod off and get more shut eye," the Mail Online reports on the results of an international survey looking at sleeping locations and outcomes in infants aged 6 to 12 months. The parents of more than 10,000 infants aged 6 to 12 months completed an app-based questionnaire. As this was a US-based study, the results were split into two categories: the United States and international (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand).

One in 10 men aged 50 'have the heart of a 60-year-old'

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 04/09/2017
"One-tenth of 50-year-old men have a heart age 10 years older than they are," BBC News reports. This is the finding of an analysis of 1.2 million people who used the NHS Heart Age Test. The principle behind the test is that you can "age" your heart through unhealthy behaviour such as smoking and being obese. Underlying conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which often have no noticeable symptoms, can also age the heart.

New insight into how excess belly fat may increase cancer risk

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 01/09/2017
"Belly fat releases proteins that fuel the growth of malignant [cancerous] cells," the Mail Online reports. It's long been known that obesity is an independent risk factor for a number of cancers, including breast, bowel and liver cancer. But it's less clear why this is the case. This question has become more pressing, as it's estimated obesity will soon overtake smoking as the leading preventable cause of cancer in the developed world.

Going to university may cut your risk of heart disease

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 01/09/2017
"Why gaining a degree could help you live longer," The Daily Telegraph reports. A new gene study found people with genes associated with spending longer in education had around a 33% reduced risk of developing heart disease.

Sitting for 20 minutes less a day won't make you 'more muscly'

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 31/08/2017
"Spending just 20 minutes less sitting a day reduces blood sugar levels, improves cholesterol AND even makes you more muscly," is the Mail Online's overly optimistic claim. Researchers in Finland recruited people who worked in offices and had young children for a study investigating whether training could help cut the amount of time the parents spent sitting. Regular, prolonged periods of sitting puts people at risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Results of global fats and carbs study not very relevant for UK

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 30/08/2017
"Eating a low-fat diet 'increases your risk of dying young by 25%'," is the stark but somewhat misleading report in The Sun. The study the headline is based on mainly looked at people in lower- and middle-income countries, where diets are very different, so the results may not be relevant to the UK.

Anti-inflammatory drug may help prevent heart attacks

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 30/08/2017
"Anti-inflammatory drug 'cuts heart attack risk'," BBC News reports. A major study found canakinumab – an anti-inflammatory drug originally designed to treat rheumatoid arthritis – could also reduce the risk of having another heart attack in people who have already had one. The study included more than 10,000 people who'd already had a heart attack. They were assigned to receive either injections of the drug canakinumab or a placebo.

Reports that 'women have more stamina' look a little weak

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 29/08/2017
"Women have more stamina than men," is the definitive sounding, yet entirely unsupported headline in The Times. The study the headline is based on involved just nine women and eight men. Researchers asked each participant to do an exercise similar to calf raises (where the calves are used to lift a weighted bar or similar) 200 times. It found that although men were more powerful and faster to begin with, they also became exhausted more quickly.

Could adding lithium to tap water reduce dementia levels?

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 25/08/2017
"Adding lithium to tap water could prevent thousands of dementia cases," reports The Daily Telegraph. The report is based on research from Denmark that found people who had lived in areas with higher levels of naturally occurring lithium (a type of metal) in the drinking water were slightly less likely to get dementia.

10-minute walk a day app to tackle 'inactivity epidemic'

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 24/08/2017
"Health bosses say 45 per cent of over-16s are so sedentary they do not manage the health-boosting ten-minute walk," the Daily Mail reports. The headline comes after data compiled by Public Health England (the government body tasked with improving the nation's health) found that more than 6.3 million adults aged 40 to 60 failed to achieve just 10 minutes of continuous brisk walking per month. This is of concern as physical inactivity directly contributes to one in six deaths in the UK.

C-section mums warned about dangers of 'vaginal seeding'

Behind the Headlines (NHS, UK) - 23/08/2017
What is the issue? A technique called vaginal seeding, sometimes used for babies born by caesarean section, "can give newborns deadly infections and sepsis," warns the Mail Online.