Health News

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High-dose vitamin D 'doesn't prevent colds and flu in kids'

NHS Choices (UK) - 19/07/2017
"Vitamin D will not protect your child from a cold: myth-busting study says 'more isn't always better' to help toddlers stay healthy," says the Mail Online. The story is based on a study that looked at whether giving healthy young children high doses of vitamin D in the winter protects them from colds and flu better than the standard recommended lower dose.

Benefits of artificial sweeteners unclear

NHS Choices (UK) - 19/07/2017
"Artificial sweeteners linked to risk of weight gain," the Daily Mirror reports. Researchers looking at data gathered in previous studies reported a link between artificial sweeteners – ironically often associated with diet drinks – and weight gain. They also found a link with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.

Some types of vegetarian diet can raise heart disease risk

NHS Choices (UK) - 18/07/2017
"Being vegetarian isn't always healthy: Plant-based diet may raise the risk of heart disease," the Daily Mail reports. A US study found a vegetarian diet based on less healthy food options, such as refined grains, could increase the risk of heart disease. The researchers behind the latest study made the point that many previous diet and health studies "lumped together" all types of vegetarian diets as plant-based, without considering the actual content of specific diets. And not all plant-based diets are healthy and nutritious.

'Regular sex keeps you younger' claims are unsupported

NHS Choices (UK) - 17/07/2017
"Scientists have found you can hold back the hands of time with a regular romp," is The Sun's typically colourful headline. While a healthy sex life may be a good thing, the research in question isn't exactly mind blowing. The study included 129 mothers from San Francisco, half of whom had a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and were considered to have high stress levels.

Long working week 'may increase risk of irregular heartbeat'

NHS Choices (UK) - 14/07/2017
"Long working days can cause heart problems, study says," The Guardian reports. Researchers found people who work 55 or more hours a week had an increased risk of developing a type of irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation, where the heart can beat very fast.  Complications of atrial fibrillation include stroke and heart failure.

House dust linked to obesity – but only in mice

NHS Choices (UK) - 14/07/2017
"Bad news for those who hate cleaning: dusty homes could make you obese," reports the Mail Online. Scientists in the US tested extracts of household dust on mouse "pre-fat" cells grown in a laboratory. These are cells known to develop into fat cells when exposed to fat-causing chemicals.  The researchers found the cells were more likely to divide into fat cells and accumulate more fat after being exposed to most samples of dust.

Face-to-face bullying much more common than cyberbullying

NHS Choices (UK) - 13/07/2017
"Children suffer significantly more face-to-face bullying than online abuse," reports the Mail Online. UK researchers questioned nearly 300,000 15-year-olds about their experiences of bullying in the biggest study of the subject to date.

Does coffee make you live longer?

NHS Choices (UK) - 12/07/2017
"Drinking three cups of coffee a day could add years to your life, suggest studies," reports the Metro. It follows the results of European and US studies that looked at the relationship between how much coffee people drink and death. The European study included more than 450,000 people. Researchers found men who drank the highest amounts of coffee had a 12% overall reduced risk of death at follow-up from causes including cancer and cardiovascular, digestive and respiratory conditions.

Old meningitis B vaccine 'may also protect against gonorrhoea'

NHS Choices (UK) - 11/07/2017
"Meningitis vaccine may also cut risk of 'untreatable' gonorrhoea, study says," is the headline in The Guardian. The news comes from the results of a study in New Zealand that found people who'd been given an old version of the meningitis B vaccine were less likely to be diagnosed with gonorrhoea. But no protective effect was found for chlamydia, which is often diagnosed at the same time as gonorrhoea.

Does having a 'sense of purpose' in life help you sleep better?

NHS Choices (UK) - 10/07/2017
"Sense of purpose aids sleep, US scientists find," The Guardian reports on a new study that explored the relationship between having a sense of purpose in life and quality of sleep in older adults. The study analysed data from 800 older adults with an average age of 80 in the US.

WHO issues warning about rise of drug-resistant gonorrhoea

NHS Choices (UK) - 07/07/2017
"Gonorrhoea fast becoming 'untreatable', WHO experts warn," reports Sky News. Analysis of data from 77 countries by the World Health Organization (WHO) found antibiotic resistance exists against almost all antibiotics currently used to treat the sexually transmitted infection (STI) gonorrhoea. In the past, gonorrhoea infections were treated effectively with a one-off dose of antibiotics. Nowadays, gonorrhoea needs to be treated with both an antibiotic injection and a dose of antibiotic tablets.

Frequent ejaculation may decrease prostate cancer risk

NHS Choices (UK) - 06/07/2017
"Ejaculating at least 21 times a month significantly reduces a man's risk of prostate cancer," is the headline on the Mail Online. This is based on research from the US that asked men how often they ejaculated per month and subsequent reporting of prostate cancer. They found that men who ejaculated 21 times or more a month were less likely to report prostate cancer at follow-up than those ejaculating four to seven times per month.

Researchers try to unknot Alzheimer's protein tangles

NHS Choices (UK) - 06/07/2017
"Abnormal deposits that build up in the brain during Alzheimer's have been pictured in unprecedented detail by UK scientists," reports BBC News. Alzheimer's disease is characterised by two proteins that take abnormal forms and build up in the brain: beta amyloid plaques and tangles of tau protein, both of which are thought to contribute to the symptoms of Alzheimer's.

Toothpaste ingredient linked to antibiotic resistance

NHS Choices (UK) - 05/07/2017
"A common ingredient of soap and toothpaste could be causing antibiotic resistance and fuelling the spread of superbugs," the Mail Online reports. This news follows the results of a study that looked at whether there could be a common reason why some gut bacteria have resistance to both the quinolone class of antibiotics and the chemical triclosan.

Heartburn drugs linked to premature death

NHS Choices (UK) - 04/07/2017
"Millions of people taking common heartburn and indigestion medications could be at an increased risk of death," The Guardian reports after a US study found people taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) had a slightly higher risk of death than the control group.

Brain training app used to treat memory condition

NHS Choices (UK) - 03/07/2017
"Brain training games boost the memory and may reduce the risk of dementia, new research suggests," The Daily Telegraph reports. Researchers used an app called Game Show to treat people with amnestic mild cognitive impairment. Amnestic mild cognitive impairment, which is characterised by problems with short-term memory worse than expected for a person of that age, can be the first sign of dementia. But not everyone with this condition will go on to develop full-blown dementia.

Some women in the UK still unaware of cervical screening

NHS Choices (UK) - 30/06/2017
"Nearly a quarter of women who don't make cervical screening appointments are unaware that the process even exists, according to a UK survey," BBC News reports. Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cervix, the entrance to the womb. It's responsible for around 900 deaths a year in the UK. Regular screening appointments to check for abnormal cell growth are offered to all women aged between 25 and 64.

Can magnesium help depression – or is it just a placebo?

NHS Choices (UK) - 29/06/2017
"Over-the-counter magnesium tablets significantly improve depression in just two weeks, new research reveals," the Mail Online reports. A small study found that people taking the supplements – on top of their existing treatment – reported an improvement in depression symptoms.

Overweight teen boys have increased risk of stroke in later life

NHS Choices (UK) - 29/06/2017
"Boys who get fat in their teenage years are much more likely to suffer a life-threatening stroke as an adult, experts today warned," The Sun reports. Swedish researchers suspect the association could be down to the effects of high blood pressure, a known risk factor for strokes. The study involved almost 40,000 Swedish men, who were followed from childhood through to adulthood.

'Painless' flu vaccine skin patch shows promise

NHS Choices (UK) - 28/06/2017
"A 'painless' sticking plaster flu jab that delivers vaccine into the skin has passed important safety tests in the first trial in people," BBC News reports. Results of a small phase 1 trial were encouraging, with no serious side effects reported. The patch, around the size of a standard plaster, contains 100 "microneedles" – tiny needles containing the vaccine, which then dissolve after delivering a dose.