MidMeds Social – July 2016



MidMeds Social | July 2016




Links to articles featured throughout the MidMeds social media network.


Friday 29th July:

An hour's "brisk exercise" each day offsets the risks of early death linked to a desk-bound working life, scientists suggest.

The analysis of data from more than a million people is part of a study of physical activity published in the Lancet to coincide with the Olympics.

Watching TV was found to be worse than sitting at a desk, probably because of associated habits like snacking.

Current NHS guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.

Being inactive is known to increase the risk of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

It has been linked to 5.3 million deaths globally a year - compared with 5.1 million linked to smoking.

Read more: here (External link)

Thursday 28th July:

GSK is to invest £275m at three of its UK factories with the creation of new jobs, as the pharmaceutical group insisted the country is still an attractive place to invest despite the Brexit vote.

However, GSK’s outgoing chief executive Sir Andrew Witty warned that if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) relocates from London as seems likely and the UK creates its own regulatory body, the company’s regulatory burden would double. All new medicines have to be approved by regulators who check their safety and efficacy.

“Just to be blunt you would have to file two different submissions so it is obvious that you have doubled the amount of work,” said Witty. “Might the new UK organisation be able to do things differently and more quickly than Europe? Maybe... Those discussions haven’t started yet

Read more: here (External link)

Wednesday 27th July:

A University of Cambridge team has identified the areas of the brain that change the most during the teenage years.

Brain scans showed that they are the areas associated with complex thought processes.

The scientists also discovered a link between teenage brain development and mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The team from Cambridge's department of psychiatry scanned the brains of 300 people between the ages of 14 and 24.

While the areas associated with the basic functioning of the body such as vision, hearing and movement are fully developed by adolescence, the areas associated with complex thought and decision making are still changing.

Read more: here (External link)

Tuesday 26th July:

When it comes to height, Dutch men and Latvian women tower over all other nationalities, a new study confirms.

The average Dutchman is now 183cm (6ft) tall, while the average Latvian woman reaches 170cm (5ft 7in).

The research, published in the journal eLife, has tracked growth trends in 187 countries since 1914.

It finds Iranian men and South Korean women have had the biggest spurts, increasing their height by an average of more than 16cm (6in) and 20cm (8in).

In the UK, the sexes have gone up virtually in parallel by about 11cm (4in). "Mr Average" in Britain is now 178cm (5ft 10in) tall; Ms Average stands at 164cm (5ft 5in). This contrasts for example with men and women in the US, where the height of the nation's people started to plateau in the 1960s and 1970s. Over the century, they have seen increases of just 6cm and 5cm (a couple of inches), respectively. Indeed, Americans have tumbled down the rankings. Back in 1914, they had the third tallest men and fourth tallest women on the planet. Today they are in 37th and 42nd place.

Read more: here (External link)


Monday 25th July:

"Even one glass of wine a day raises the risk of cancer: Alarming study reveals booze is linked to at least seven forms of the disease," reports the Mail Online. The news comes from a review that aimed to summarise data from a range of previous studies to evaluate the strength of evidence that alcohol causes cancer. The main finding was that existing evidence supports the link between alcohol consumption and cancer at seven sites, including the throat, gullet, liver, colon, rectum and female breast.s."

Read more: here (External link)


Thursday 21st July:

Canadian scientists have developed a promising vaccine prototype against chlamydia, a study in mice suggests.

Research, published in the journal Vaccine, shows that mice given the immunisation are more likely to fight off the infection.

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the UK and globally. There is currently no vaccine approved for human use.

Experts say condoms are currently the best form of protection.

A team of researchers at McMaster University in Ontario gave mice two doses of the prototype vaccine, delivered through the nose.

When the animals were later exposed to chlamydia, vaccinated mice had fewer copies of the bacteria replicating in their systems.

Mice in the vaccinated group also had fewer signs of damage to their reproductive organs.

Prof James Mahony described the results as "very promising".

He added: "We will trial the vaccine on other animal models before moving on to human trials."

Read more: here (External link)


Wednesday 19th July:

Public Health England has looked at the issue in the UK and believes "the risks to public health from exposure to emissions from shale gas extraction are low if operations are properly run and regulated".

The US has already pushed ahead with fracking, which is now a big industry. The UK, however, has remained cautious and paused its pursuit following a couple of small earthquakes near a test drilling site in the Blackpool area.

US researchers, funded by the National Institutes of Health, set out to study the impact of fracking on the population of Pennsylvania - a region which has seen more than 6,000 shale gas wells drilled in the last decade or more.

Using local electronic health records, they identified asthma patients and checked if fracking activity might be linked to disease flare-ups over a six-year period.

Read more: here (External link)


Monday 18th July:

Local councils in England are warning that government cuts to public health funding could hamper their efforts to tackle obesity.

Local Government Association figures show that councils will have spent £505m by 2017 on fighting obesity.

Councils use the money to measure children's weight at primary school, help people lose weight and offer free or cheaper leisure facilities.

Public health became the responsibility of local authorities in April 2013.

Before that, it was run by the NHS.

The Department of Health said it was committed to tackling obesity and the government had announced a sugar tax on soft drinks manufacturers earlier in the year.

Read more: here (External link)


Thursday 14th July:

Women over 40 are having more babies than the under 20s for the first time in nearly 70 years, official figures for England and Wales show.

The Office for National Statistics data showed there were 697,852 live births in 2015.

There were 15.2 births per 1,000 women aged over 40, compared with just 14.5 per 1,000 women in their teens.

The last time the over 40s had the higher fertility rate was in 1947, in the wake of WWII.

The figures show two key trends in who is having children and when in England and Wales.

The teenage pregnancy rate has been in long-term decline and has more than halved from the 33 births per 1,000 teenagers in 1990.

Read more: here (External link)


Wednesday 13th July:

Artificial sweeteners can boost appetite by activating hunger pathways in the body, scientists have found in animals.

In fruit flies and mice, the mismatch between sweet taste and fewer calories sends the body into "feed me" mode, the journal Cell Metabolism reports.

But UK nutritionists say this does not mean the same is true in humans.

They say low calorie sweetened foods can help people keep weight off and are better for our teeth than sugar.

The researchers, however, say more work is needed to make sure that the billions of people who regularly consume sugar substitutes don't have the same reaction as they saw in their animal tests.

Read more: here (External link)


Tuesday 12th July:

Children who suck their thumb or bite their nails are less likely to develop allergies, a study suggests.

The explanation, say the authors in the journal Pediatrics, is the hygiene hypothesis - exposure to some germs strengthens the body's immune system.

Thumb-sucking and nail-biting appeared to prevent some allergies among the 1,000 people in New Zealand assessed periodically between ages five and 32.

But the habits had no bearing on either asthma or hay-fever risk.

Read more: here (External link)


Monday 11th July:

Staffing levels within the NHS will have to be cut if the government wants to bring NHS finances in England under control, the King's Fund think tank has said.

It says the government should be honest about NHS spending plans at a time when patient demand is rising.

It comes days before a major initiative by the NHS to control spending.

The Department of Health said the government wanted to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world.

Read more: here (External link)


Friday 8th July:

A shortage of nurses in the UK will continue for years to come and could get worse, experts are predicting.

The warnings follow a report from early 2016 on the nursing workforce compiled by the Institute for Employment Studies for the Migration Advisory Committee.

The authors cite the ageing workforce, poor planning by government and the risks from Brexit as key problems.

A Department of Health spokesman said that retaining home-grown nurses was a "top priority" for the government.

The report prompted the government to relax rules and grant up to 15,000 visas for nurses from outside the European single market over the next three years.

But its publication was put off during the EU referendum, so it is only now that the full scale of the problem is revealed.

Read more: here (External link)


Thursday 7th July:

The Department of Health in England is scrapping its controversial data-sharing project - known as Care.data.

The programme, which was due to launch in 2014, faced widespread criticism - including fears the public had been left in the dark about it.

The announcement comes as Dame Fiona Caldicott and the Care Quality Commission published two reviews on data security in English healthcare.

Their reports put forward a series of proposals to safeguard data in the NHS.

Read more: here (External link)


Wednesday 6th July:

Ministers are paving the way to impose a contract on junior doctors in England after the profession rejected the deal that had been agreed between union negotiators and the government.

British Medical Association members voted 58% to 42% against the deal.

BMA leaders had urged members to accept the terms, which were announced in May after talks with the government resumed following six strikes.

Government sources told the BBC they were "minded" to impose the deal.

Officials are now assessing the government's legal position, but with an equality impact assessment already carried out that is thought to be a formality.

Read more: here (External link)


Tuesday 5th July:

One is the grandson of a schoolgirl who was the first official patient of the new NHS nearly 70 years ago.

The other is the great-granddaughter of Prime Minister Clement Attlee , who oversaw the launch of the free health service for all in post-war Britain.

And now, in an amazing coincidence, George Diggory and Katie Dormon have fallen in love and are set to be married.

The couple, both with medical backgrounds themselves, met three years ago while working in a university research lab.

Read more: here (External link)


Monday 4th July:

Misconceptions about frozen food are contributing to the seven million tonnes of waste thrown out by UK households every year, the Food Standards Agency says.

A survey for the FSA found 43% of people wrongly thought food could only be frozen on the day it was bought, suggesting confusion over food safety.

Some 38% incorrectly said food could become unsafe to eat in the freezer.

In fact, "the freezer is like a pause button", the FSA's Steve Wearne said.

Read more: here (External link)


Friday 1st July:

The vote to leave the EU risks making staffing shortages in the NHS worse, health leaders are warning.

The NHS Confederation said doctors and nurses from Europe may be put off accepting jobs after the referendum.

If that happened the NHS could face some major problems, it said.

The organisation, which represents health managers, said there were currently 130,000 EU health and care workers in the UK, including 10% of doctors and 5% of nurses.

Read more: here (External link)