MidMeds Social – August 2016



MidMeds Social | August 2016




Links to articles featured throughout the MidMeds social media network.


Wednesday 31st August:

A test of how sticky a protein molecule is could help diagnose the early stages of Parkinson's disease, a study from the University of Edinburgh suggests.

Scientists said early work on a small number of samples proved very accurate.

Sticky clumps of the molecule are found in the brain cells of people with Parkinson's - and in those of some dementia sufferers.

A Parkinson's disease charity said the results were "hugely promising" but larger studies were now needed.

The study is published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

Using samples of spinal fluid from 38 patients, researchers looked for a protein molecule called alpha-synuclein using a highly-sensitive technique.

The molecule is found in healthy brains but it is only when the protein sticks together in lumps that it causes problems, making brain cells die or stopping them performing properly.

These sticky clumps are called Lewy bodies and are found in the brains of those with Parkinson's and those of some dementia patients.

In their tests, the Edinburgh researchers correctly identified 19 out of 20 samples from patients with Parkinson's and three samples from people who were thought to be at risk of the condition.

Healthy samples from 15 people were also correctly identified.

Read more: here (External link)



Tuesday 30th August:

Plans are being drawn up that could see cuts to NHS services across England.

The BBC has seen draft sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) which propose ward closures, cuts in bed numbers and changes to A&E and GP care in 44 areas.

There have been no consultations on the plans so far.

NHS England, which needs to find £22bn in efficiency savings by 2020-21, said reorganising local services is essential to improve patient care.

But the Nuffield Trust think tank said while STPs could lead to "fundamental changes", many of the plans do not meet the financial targets set by the government and will face a "dauntingly large implementation task".

Laura Townshend, director of the campaign group 38 Degrees, said the plans had received very little public or political scrutiny.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "A key concern is why it hasn't been this transparent up until now.

"These plans are due to be signed off this October - a matter of weeks away".

Read more: here (External link)



Wednesday 10th August:

Zika infection during pregnancy may cause limb joint deformities in the baby, experts now fear.

Brazilian researchers from Recife, the city at the centre of the Zika epidemic, describe seven suspect cases in the journal The BMJ.

The virus, which has been spreading across much of the Americas and has deterred some people from visiting the Olympic host country, is already known to cause a serious baby brain defect.

Read more: here (External link)




Tuesday 9th August:

Music festivals including Glastonbury have become a hotbed of measles this summer, Public Health England has warned.

It said a "significant number" of cases had been linked to the events, with 36 cases reported in June and July alone.

More infected people are expected to be discovered as the outbreaks are investigated.

People planning to attend other festivals are advised to ensure they are vaccinated against the disease.

Measles is a highly-infectious virus which causes a rash and cold-like symptoms for most people, but it can be deadly.

Public Health England describes festivals as the "ideal place" for the infection to spread because of the large numbers of people mixing together.

The cases were linked to:

  • Glastonbury festival: 16 cases
  • NASS festival: Seven cases
  • Triplicity Music and Arts Festival: Six cases
  • Tewkesbury Medieval Festival: Three cases
  • Nozstock: The Hidden Valley: Two cases
  • Noisily Festival: Two cases
  • Secret Garden Party festival: One case
  • Yeovil Show: One case

Read more: here (External link)



Monday 8th August:

Britons are under-reporting their daily calorie consumption - potentially misleading policymakers attempting to curb obesity, research suggests.

The Behavioural Insights Team points to scientific and economic data showing people eat 3,000 calories, compared to the 2,000 cited in official surveys.

It says this could explain rising obesity levels, despite decades of surveys saying people are eating less.

Government statisticians say the way calorie data is collated will change.

Several official surveys, including the National Diet and Nutrition Survey and the Living Costs and Food Survey, suggest the amount of food people eat and buy has gone down in recent decades - while obesity rates continue to rise.

But the researchers from the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) say if the calorie counts in these surveys were correct, the UK population would be losing weight overall.

Read more: here (External link)



Thursday 4th August:

Supermarkets should concentrate their price promotions on healthy food to assist in the battle against obesity, according to consumer group Which?

Analysis of 77,165 promotions across the major UK supermarkets found 53% of them were put on less healthy products.

Confectionery was much more likely to be on special offer than fresh fruit and vegetables, Which? said.

The supermarkets' trade body said a balanced diet was now more affordable than ever.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability policy at the British Retail Consortium, said: "Supermarkets offer great value in all the products they sell and it has never been easier or more affordable to choose a balanced diet."

Read more: here (External link)



Wednesday 3rd August:

The Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral in 2014 has funded an important scientific gene discovery in the progressive neurodegenerative disease ALS, the ALS Association says.

Scientists have identified a new gene contributing to the disease, NEK1.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $115m (£87.7m) from people pouring cold water over themselves and posting the video on social media.

It was criticised as a stunt, but has funded six research projects.

Read more: here (External link)




Tuesday 2nd August:

People should aim get more protein from vegetable sources rather than meat, to boost life expectancy, a study has suggested.

US researchers writing in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at 30 years' of diet data for 130,000 people.

They found a reduced risk of early death in people who ate more plant-based protein, and a higher risk in those who ate more animal proteins.

UK experts said more work was needed to find out what was behind the links.

Animal proteins include:

  • meat
  • fish
  • eggs
  • dairy products

Plant sources include:

  • cereals beans
  • nuts
  • lentils
  • soya
  • bread

Read more: here (External link)




Monday 1st August:

Five UK supermarkets have been warned to take thousands of pots of yogurt off their shelves amid concerns they may contain pieces of rubber.

The yogurts, supplied by Yeo Valley but mostly sold under own-brand labels, pose a "possible risk" to health, the Food Standards Agency said.

The products in question are sold at Asda, Co-operative, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

The FSA says customers who have bought the products should not eat them.

The supermarkets are asking customers to return the products for a full refund, or contact customer services.

Read more: here (External link)