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Sex link to older people's brain power, says study
Conclusion This study got widespread and enthusiastic coverage in the media, as many studies about sex do. But the findings are limited and it's difficult to draw conclusions from them. As the researchers point out, we already know that a healthy social life and staying physically active seem to help keep people's cognitive abilities sharper as they age. It's not a surprise that sexual activity, which has elements of both social and physical activity, is also linked to better cognitive function. But this small observational study only provides a snapshot in time of how sexual activity may link to brain function. We can'...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 22, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Mental health Older people Lifestyle/exercise Neurology Source Type: news

'Contaminated air' on planes linked to health problems
Conclusion These findings indicate that on rare occasions, pilots have not been able to perform as usual due to poor air quality in the cabin. Also poor air quality has been linked to health problems in the long term. However, there are some limitations of the study that need to be considered: The authors claim they have demonstrated a cause-and-effect relationship based on certain criteria. But with the exception of the acute air toxicity incident investigation reports in the second study, these types of study cannot prove causality. While it is likely that exposure to chemicals is toxic, this study did not link many o...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 21, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Heart/lungs Lifestyle/exercise Neurology Source Type: news

Cholesterol-lowering jab 'shows promise' for heart disease
Conclusion This mouse study evaluated the potential of the AT04A vaccine to lower cholesterol levels and potentially reduce or prevent heart disease. The results were promising, showing that mice given the vaccine produced antibodies against the enzyme that stops LDL cholesterol being cleared from the body. This resulted in reduced total and LDL blood cholesterol levels, as well as reduced atherosclerosis. No major safety concerns or side effects were reported. Following this research, AT04A has now moved on to a phase I clinical trial. A small number of people will be given the vaccine to see if it's safe for use in huma...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 20, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Heart/lungs Source Type: news

Blood test may show if prostate cancer treatment is working
Conclusion This pre-planned analysis of blood samples collected as part of a trial for metastatic prostate cancer suggests that looking at circulating tumour DNA could act as a form of biopsy to inform whether the cancer is responding to treatment. The findings indicate that a decrease in tumour DNA could suggest treatment is working, while the development of new DNA mutations could suggest the cancer is becoming resistant to treatment. But there are several points to bear in mind. Though the findings show promise, this study only looked at blood samples taken from a relatively small sample of 46 men. Only six of these m...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 19, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Source Type: news

Is a new flu pandemic just three mutations away?
Conclusion This laboratory study analysed an H7N9 strain of bird flu. Researchers wanted to explore whether a particular change to the surface proteins of a virus was capable of allowing the strain to bind to human tissue. This would theoretically lead to human-to-human transmission of the flu virus. It is worth noting that this ability to attach to human cells does not necessarily mean a mutated bird flu virus will be able to infect, replicate and transmit between humans. Other changes would also be required. However, they were unable to further investigate whether this surface change could lead to human-to-human transmis...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 16, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Heart/lungs Medical practice Source Type: news

Obese mums more likely to give birth to babies with birth defects
This study used data on 1,243,957 births and maternal information recorded on the Swedish medical birth register. Maternal BMI during early pregnancy was calculated using measured weight and self-reported height at the first prenatal visit, which took place at 14 weeks. Using the BMI, mothers were categorised into the following: underweight (BMI
Source: NHS News Feed - June 15, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Obesity Source Type: news

Vegetarian dieting may lead to greater weight loss
Conclusion This research appears to show that there's some association between following a vegetarian diet and a greater reduction in body mass and subfascial fat. But this study has a number of limitations, and the conclusions drawn by the researchers should be interpreted cautiously. There was lower adherence to the diet in the conventional diet group than the vegetarian one. This means the finding of a greater reduction in body mass in the vegetarian group is unsurprising. The thigh was the only part of the body where fat measurements were taken. It could be the case that reduction in abdominal fat – a big ri...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 15, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Obesity Diabetes Source Type: news

Risk of aspirin-related bleeding is higher in the over-75s
Conclusion This valuable cohort study helps to quantify the extent of bleeding risk in people taking aspirin for secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Aspirin is well known to carry bleeding risk – particularly in older adults – but this study suggests the risk may be higher than previously thought. The researchers say that for adults under the age of 75, the annual bleeding risk at around 1% is similar to that suggested by previous trials, as is the ratio of bleeds to the number of cardiovascular events. However, this risk increases for older adults, especially for major bleeds of the stomach and upp...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 14, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Medication Older people Source Type: news

Being overweight, not just obese, still carries serious health risks
Conclusion This impressively large global study demonstrates that the prevalence of obesity is increasing worldwide among both children and adults. It supports what has long been thought, that increased body mass index (BMI) contributes to a range of illnesses and is ultimately responsible for a large number of deaths, particularly from cardiovascular disease. One potential limitation is the use of self-reported BMI or health outcome data in some of the studies, although the majority used a specific independent measurement so this is unlikely to have biased results too much. It is also always difficult from observational d...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 13, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Obesity Source Type: news

Antibiotics and vitamin C could kill cancer cells
Conclusion This isn't the first time vitamin C has been studied for use against cancer: it has previously been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory and stop cancer growth in mice. This new two-pronged approach may well prove to be useful in eradicating cancer stem cells in humans, but robust clinical trials are necessary first as cells can behave very differently in a laboratory environment. Although all the drugs and natural products used in this study are already approved for use in humans, we don't know for certain what concentration would be required to obtain similar effects without being toxic. This study ...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 12, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Source Type: news

Owning a dog may encourage older people to exercise
Conclusion This relatively small observational study shows that dog owners over the age of 65 walk more than matched controls who don't own dogs. This finding is perhaps not surprising, given that dogs need to be walked every day. People without dogs may not have this sort of incentive to get out walking. So, it could be assumed that the dog is the direct cause of the increased walking time. But it's also possible that more active people who enjoy spending time outdoors may be more likely to own dogs. For all we know, the dog owner group may have been more active even if they didn't have dogs. There are some...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 9, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Older people Source Type: news

An egg a day may prevent stunted growth in infants
Conclusion This study sounds like good news for undernourished children in parts of the world where stunted growth or being underweight are common, such as the Andean mountains of Ecuador. The study showed that eggs seem to be a safe and practical way of boosting children's nutrition in this population. But this research has some limitations. Adding one food to a diet is likely to affect the rest of the diet, too. And caregivers for the children may have given them different foods in addition to the eggs, or treated them differently in some ways. The children in the control group may also have eaten more eggs than they ...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 8, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Food/diet Source Type: news

Is white bread just as healthy as brown?
Conclusion Studies that suggest "everything you thought you knew about healthy eating is wrong" create great headlines, but rarely stand up to much analysis. There are many reasons why you might choose wholemeal bread over white bread, and results from a week-long study in 20 people aren't going to change all of those. The main measure of interest in the study is glycaemic control, a measure of how quickly the body can process glucose consumed in the diet. Poor glycaemic control is seen as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, where the body can't process glucose properly, leading to high blood sugar, which can da...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 8, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Source Type: news

Even moderate drinking may damage the brain
Conclusion The results in this study indicate a link between alcohol intake – even moderate intake – and structural changes in the brain and decline in the ability to list words beginning with the same letter. The majority of cognitive functioning tests showed no association with alcohol intake. This 30 year-long study has the ability to investigate changes in cognitive ability over a long period of time but does have some limitations: The participants are all people who were civil servants in the 1980s and were mostly male and more middle class and higher IQ than the general population, meaning res...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 7, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Lifestyle/exercise Neurology Source Type: news

Babies put into their own room at six months 'sleep longer'
Conclusion The study shows an association between infant and parent room-sharing at 4 and 9 months and infants sleeping for less both in the short and longer term. It also showed a link between room-sharing and unsafe practices such as leaving objects such as blankets in the cot. However, the results of this study need to be treated cautiously as there are some limitations to the research: The findings do not prove that putting babies in their own room helps them sleep for longer. It might be that some parents of infants who were not sleeping very well anyway decided to keep their baby in the room with them. The data c...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 6, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Source Type: news

TV in bedroom 'risk factor' for child obesity
Conclusion This analysis used data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study to assess for long-term associations between television and computer use and body fat in children. It found that compared to children who didn't have a TV in their bedroom at age seven, children who did had a significantly higher BMI and FMI at the age of 11. The association was higher for girls than boys. This is an interesting study however there are a few points to note: Although the researchers adjusted for potential confounding factors, diet and physical activity were not adjusted for. An unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity are two of th...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 5, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Obesity Pregnancy/child Source Type: news

'Everyday chemicals' linked to cancer
Conclusion This valuable laboratory study gives a further insight into how BRCA2 mutations could lead to cancer development. Aldehydes could further reduce the amount of DNA repair protein that people with an abnormal BRCA2 gene copy are able to produce. However, we shouldn't jump to any conclusions from this. For one thing, aldehydes are naturally present in the environment, as well as included in diverse products, from cosmetics to fossil fuel. We can't lay the blame on individual products and it's difficult to completely eradicate exposure to aldehydes. This study alone can't inform on a safe or toxic exposure level, ei...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 2, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Source Type: news

Cold water 'just as good as hot' for handwashing
Conclusion This experimental study aimed to assess handwashing techniques by testing the most effective soap volume, water temperature, and lather time for getting rid of bacteria. Contrary to current guidelines, which recommend using hot water when we wash our hands, this study found using colder water (15C) was just as effective at getting rid of bacteria. It also found washing your hands for longer – 30 seconds – was found to be more effective than washing for 15 seconds. The researchers hope their study will help policymakers such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make evidence-based recomm...
Source: NHS News Feed - June 1, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

Link between stress in pregnancy and ADHD unfounded
Conclusion Despite the media headlines and scaremongering, ADHD is never mentioned in the study. The researchers cite animal studies which suggest increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol may speed up development before birth. They say this may prevent proper maturation of the organs and so could cause any "mental or physical illness" occurring later in life, such as ADHD. However, for ethical reasons, the levels of stress hormones in the amniotic fluid were only measured once in this study. This means we are unable to tell whether they changed during periods of maternal stress or during the pregnancy. Tho...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 31, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Mental health Source Type: news

Parents' phone addiction may lead to child behavioural problems
Conclusion The findings of this study suggest that when mothers and fathers report being distracted by digital technology, this causes interruptions in interactions with their children. These interruptions in mothers – but not fathers – seem to have an impact on child behaviour. The authors suggest that the poor behavioural outcomes might only be found for mother-child interactions because children might react differently to maternal versus paternal responsiveness. It could also be that children simply spend more time with their mothers on a daily basis in this sample so there were more opportunities ...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 31, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

Beta-blockers 'useless' for many heart attack patients, study reports
Conclusion This study aimed to see whether beta blockers reduce mortality in people who've had a heart attack but who don't have heart failure or systolic dysfunction. It found no difference between those who were and those who were not given beta-blockers on discharge from hospital. The authors say this adds to the evidence that routine prescription of beta blockers might not be needed for patients without heart failure following a heart attack. Current UK guidelines recommend all people who have had a heart attack take beta blockers for at least one year to reduce risk of recurrent events. Only people with heart failure ...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 30, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Heart/lungs Medication Source Type: news

Fitness trackers' calorie measurements are prone to error
Conclusion This study assessed how accurately seven fitness trackers are able to measure the heart rate and calories burned of individuals taking part in several different activities. The data was compared against clinically approved medical devices to test the accuracy of data obtained by the fitness trackers. It found that although all seven trackers were fairly accurate at measuring heart rate, there was a high level of error when measuring the number of calories burned. The researchers hope this study will help individuals and physicians be aware of potential errors when interpreting the measurements obtained by fitnes...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 26, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Lifestyle/exercise Heart/lungs Source Type: news

Does meditation carry a risk of harmful side effects?
Conclusion Many people around the world find meditation can be helpful. However, as with most things, there can be downsides. Some people – especially if they practice intensive meditation for many hours, such as on a retreat – have challenging or difficult experiences. Some religious teachers within Buddhism say these can be part of the path of the religious experience. However, for people doing meditation hoping to experience health benefits, without a religious context, these experiences can be unexpected and difficult to deal with. There are limitations in this study that mean we shouldn't try to apply it t...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 26, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Mental health Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

Expanding waistline linked to an increased risk of cancer
Conclusion This study provides more evidence of the link between excess body fat and 10 cancers. Though the percentage increases sound large, it's important to put these results into context. For example, the baseline risk of postmenopausal cancer was 2.2% – it occurred in 555 of the 24,751 women in the study. For women who hadn't used hormone therapy, this would increase to a risk of 2.7% if they had a BMI of 30 compared with 26, or a waist circumference of 95cm compared with 84cm. This accounts for only an extra 5 cases in every 1,000 women. This large study involved older adults from European countries, so ...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 25, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Obesity Source Type: news

'Chocolate good for the heart' claims sadly too good to be true
Conclusion Health stories that suggest eating or drinking something we like, whether it's chocolate or wine, are always popular. But they don't really tell us anything we don't know already. Certain foods may have a small impact on certain types of diseases, but it's the overall diet that counts. Previous studies have already suggested that the antioxidant properties of cocoa could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, so it's surprising that this study focused on one particular cardiovascular disease, atrial fibrillation. AF is a common condition that affects heart rate, often causing a faster than normal, irregular ...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 24, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Heart/lungs Source Type: news

Just half a glass of wine a day may increase breast cancer risk
"Just half a glass of wine a day ups the risk of breast cancer by nine per cent, experts warn," The Sun reports. A major report looking at global evidence found that drinking just 10g of alcohol a day – 1.25 units – was linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. The report was produced by the World Cancer Research Fund which reviews the global evidence on the link between diet, weight, physical activity and breast cancer. Overall, this report supports what is already known, that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for breast cancer. The report found that for each 10g of pure alcohol consumed each ...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 23, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Food/diet QA articles Source Type: news

Dementia saliva testing 'shows early promise'
Conclusion The researchers are appropriately cautious in their conclusions. These findings have potential, but this is an early stage pilot – a starting point for further study. The tests were carried out in small samples of healthy people and those with cognitive impairment. They would have to be validated in much larger groups, in which it's possible the test would give different findings. The researchers calculate that they would need at least 100 people per group to develop models that could reliably detect significant differences in biomarkers between the groups. Even among this small sample, we don't know from ...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 22, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Neurology Medical practice Older people Source Type: news

Instagram 'ranked worst for mental health' in teen survey
Conclusion This timely report should be welcomed, given that almost all young people use social media, and it undoubtedly can affect their wellbeing. It also offers well-considered recommendations. However, the study does have some limitations. Researchers gauged the potential positive and negative effects of different social media platforms by asking young people to answer whether they felt better or worse by using them. This can't prove that social media is directly responsible for increasing rates of depression and anxiety. It's difficult to explore all the various ways the social media sites may make people feel ...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 19, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Mental health Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

Swallowable gastric balloon could help with weight loss
Conclusion This research investigated whether treatment with a swallowable gastric balloon is a safe and effective option to help obese people lose weight. Overall, the study found the gastric balloon led to weight loss when used alongside a low calorie diet, with a mean weight loss of 15.2kg by the end of the 16-week treatment period. However, the rate of weight loss declined after 12 weeks of treatment, before going up again in the last month with the introduction of a very low calorie diet. This is an interesting piece of research, but it has a number of limitations. This is a very small study, and the findings would...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 18, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Obesity Source Type: news

'Fat but fit' still at higher risk of heart disease
Conclusion The question of whether someone can be "fat but fit" has been much debated. If you're obese but exercise, eat well and don't have metabolic risk factors, the theory goes, you could be just as healthy as someone of recommended weight. This study suggests that may not be true. It is definitely worth adopting a healthy lifestyle, whatever your weight. The study found that, the more metabolic risk factors people had, the more likely they were to develop heart disease, cardiovascular disease and so on. Metabolic risk factors do make a difference. But in this large study, on average, people who wer...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 17, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Obesity Source Type: news

Lack of sleep knocks your social appeal, says research
Conclusion Most people who have looked in the mirror after a sleepless night won't be surprised to hear that a poor night's sleep makes you look less attractive and healthy. It may not be particularly welcome news that your appearance could also put people off talking to you. But the study results show only a very small impact of sleep deprivation on people's perceptions of appearance. While the results are statistically significant, it's hard to know how you would notice a 2% drop in a stranger's willingness to socialise with you. And studies like this, which include only a limited demographic (in this case Swedish stu...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 17, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

Hope for plant-based contraceptive, study claims
Conclusion This laboratory study aimed to investigate a variety of steroid hormones and plant compounds to look at their effect on sperm activation and ability to fertilise an egg. The researchers confirmed that the hormone progesterone present in the female reproductive tract seems to be needed to activate sperm and make them able to fertilise an egg. The also found that two plant compounds, pristimerin and lupeol, were able to block the sites on the sperm that are activated by progesterone. This means these two compounds could have a potential contraceptive action. But it's far too early to say whether new contraceptiv...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 16, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Source Type: news

Can fizzy water make you fat?
Conclusion There seemed to be a clear distinction in this study between fizzy and non-fizzy-drink consumption in terms of weight gain, appetite and ghrelin production. These findings were further supported by the study in healthy adult volunteers, which similarly showed that the fizzy drinks increased ghrelin production. But does this mean that carbonation and ghrelin production provide the whole answer to why soft drink consumption is linked with obesity? But this doesn’t account for the link between weight gain and diet drinks which don’t contain sugar’They suggest carbonation could be the common lin...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 15, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Obesity Food/diet Source Type: news

Keyhole knee surgery is 'waste of time' review finds
Conclusion This expert panel review provides compelling evidence against the use of knee arthroscopy for degenerative knee conditions/osteoarthritis. This procedure often has varied and inconsistent use in clinical practice. As part of their review the researchers also considered what other government organisations currently recommend about the procedure. NICE already says knee arthroscopy (with washout – flushing the joint with fluid) should not be performed for people with osteoarthritis. The only indication NICE currently gives for the procedure is people who have a clear history of mechanical locking symptom...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 12, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Medical practice Older people Source Type: news

Yoga may bring long-term benefits for people with depression
Conclusion The study will have to be interpreted in the context of other research into yoga and depression. But taken in isolation, it doesn't provide firm evidence that yoga is beneficial for depression. The findings are applicable to a very specific population group: people with moderately severe depression who took antidepressants (often alongside other psychological therapy) and had no other mental health illness. They also hadn't previously practised yoga, but must have had an interest in doing so as they responded to advertisements. This means the groups by no means represent all people with depression symptoms.&nb...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 12, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Mental health Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

Life expectancy for people with HIV now 'near normal'
Conclusion This study is good news for anyone affected by HIV. It shows that people who start on modern HIV treatments can now live almost as long as people without HIV. The study is a demonstration of the enormous transformation in life expectancy for many people with HIV since the 1980s. However, the study can't tell us why these improvements have come about. We know that drug treatments have improved greatly since 1996, when the study began, so it's reasonable to think that drug treatments play an important role. However, there are other factors that might be important, such as earlier diagnosis and treatment, quick and...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 11, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Medication Medical practice Source Type: news

Ibuprofen linked to increased risk of heart attacks
Conclusion This study is a useful addition to our knowledge about the links between NSAIDs and heart attack risk. The study suggests all commonly-used NSAIDs are linked to a similarly-raised risk of heart attacks, that the risk generally rises with the dose, and that it is highest in the first month of treatment. The researchers did a good job at taking account of potential confounding factors that could have affected the results. Even so, we don't know for sure that the NSAIDs were the direct cause of the problem. For example, if you are prescribed NSAIDs for a painful condition, and have a heart attack two weeks later, i...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 10, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Heart/lungs Medication Source Type: news

Review finds no link between dairy and heart attack or stroke risk
Conclusion This large meta-analysis of cohort studies demonstrated no increased risk to cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease or all-cause death from eating dairy products. The review has strengths in its large size and the fact it was able to analyse different types of dairy product, such as high and low-fat and everyday products such as cheese and yoghurt. However, there are a number of factors to consider: The results of a systematic review are only as good as the quality of the underlying studies. These are all observational studies and it's possible that unadjusted health and lifestyle factors are having an...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 9, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Heart/lungs Neurology Source Type: news

Evidence behind reports of new baldness cure is a little thin
Conclusion The current study identified a group of cells in the hair follicles of mice which are important both in forming the hair shaft to allow hair growth, and also in maintaining hair colour. So far this research has been in mice, but the basic biology of cells in mammals is very similar, so it seems likely that the findings would also apply to humans. Researchers are also likely to want to perform tests on human cells in the laboratory to confirm their findings. The findings represent an advance in what is known about how hair grows and maintains its colour. However, this doesn't automatically mean the researchers ar...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 8, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Genetics/stem cells Older people Source Type: news

Concerns about alleged 'harmful' arsenic levels in baby rice cakes
Conclusion Arsenic is found in the earth's crust and is naturally present in the environment. Certain countries – including India, China and Bangladesh – are known to have higher levels of arsenic in ground water than others. Water supplies in the UK are low in arsenic, but we may be exposed to arsenic through foods – such as rice and other crops – that have been exposed to contaminated water. This study shows that babies tend to have higher levels of arsenic metabolites in their urine when exposed to food – including formula milk and rice – and that rice contains higher than recommend...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 5, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Pregnancy/child Source Type: news

Blood test may lead to targeted therapy for prostate cancer
Conclusion Genetic testing is becoming more common in cancer treatment as a way of tailoring treatment to the individual cancer. It's already used in breast cancer, for example. This test could help identify which men that have not responded to hormone treatment are most likely to benefit from two of the newer prostate cancer drugs. It is good news, because men could then be spared treatment that is unlikely to help them, and directed towards more suitable treatment options. Also, both of these newer drugs are very expensive, so a suitable test could save the NHS a great deal of money. Meanwhile, those men who are likely t...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 5, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Medication Source Type: news

Low-gluten diet linked to heart attack risk
Conclusion This study has found that while overall gluten consumption in people without coeliac disease may not be related to heart disease risk, avoiding whole grains (wheat, barley and rye) in order to avoid gluten may be associated with increased heart disease risk. This study has several strengths, including its large size, the fact that data was collected prospectively and diet assessed at several time-points, the long period of follow up, and that it took into account a wide range of potential confounders. As with all studies of this type, it is possible that other factors may affect the results. However, the researc...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 4, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Heart/lungs Source Type: news

Statins side effects 'have been overstated', says study
Conclusion This is a complex study that provides a plausible explanation for the difference in reports of adverse effects of statins in RCTs and observational studies, some of which have suggested as many as 1 in 5 people get side effects from statins. However, we need to be aware of some limitations and unanswered questions: When people knew they were taking statins, they were more likely to report muscle pain than those not taking statins. But they were less likely to report muscle pain than in the first phase of the study, when they didn't know whether they were taking statins or placebo. We don't know why this is. ...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 3, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Medication Heart/lungs Source Type: news

Statins side effects 'have been overstated,' says study
Conclusion This is a complex study that provides a plausible explanation for the difference in reports of adverse effects of statins in RCTs and observational studies, some of which have suggested as many as 1 in 5 people get side effects from statins. However, we need to be aware of some limitations and unanswered questions: When people knew they were taking statins, they were more likely to report muscle pain than those not taking statins. But they were less likely to report muscle pain than in the first phase of the study, when they didn't know whether they were taking statins or placebo. We don't know why this is. ...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 3, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Medication Heart/lungs Source Type: news

Alternate-day fasting diets 'no better' than traditional dieting
Conclusion This study finds no difference between alternating-day fasting diets and daily calorie restriction diets in terms of weight loss and cardiovascular disease indicators. So this does not show that fasting diets don't work – people in this group did lose weight compared to the control group, just that they are no different to a calorie restriction diet. While this seems good evidence that one is not better than the other, there are some important things to consider before taking the findings at face value. Sample size and drop-out The drop-out rate was high. Ideally in a trial you would hope to see at le...
Source: NHS News Feed - May 2, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Source Type: news

Weak link between grandmums' smoking and autistic grandkids
Conclusion This study aimed to see whether smoking in pregnancy is linked with some traits of ASD in the smoker's grandchildren. Although this was based on a large cohort of children, the results give quite a confusing and inconclusive picture. To be frank, the study raised more questions than it answered. Maternal grandmother smoking was linked with ASD traits only in girls (in whom ASD is less common in any case) – and then only if their own mother did not smoke. When looking at actual diagnosed cases of autism, the link was only found in boys. The study had some important limitations to consider: Most of the dat...
Source: NHS News Feed - April 28, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Neurology Mental health Genetics/stem cells Source Type: news

Binge drinking could trigger abnormal heart rhythms
Conclusion This cross-sectional study found binge drinking is associated with an increased risk of having an irregular heartbeat. However, the type of irregular heartbeat found was mainly sinus tachycardia, which isn't life threatening but involves the heart beating at an abnormally fast rate of over 100 heartbeats a minute. This research also has some notable limitations: The ECG recordings from the acute alcohol group were taken using a smartphone application operated outside the manufacturer's recommended environment. The lively atmosphere within the beer tent may have caused inaccurate recordings. The population...
Source: NHS News Feed - April 27, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Heart/lungs Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

New glaucoma test could save millions from blindness
Conclusion Glaucoma is responsible for about 10 in 100 people registered blind in the UK. About 2 in 100 people over 40 in the UK have glaucoma, and around 10 in 100 of those aged over 75. Because there is no cure, but early treatment can often help slow or prevent damage, early diagnosis is important. Regular eye tests may pick up glaucoma, but often there's no sign of the disease until people have already begun to lose vision. That's why this test is interesting. If it can be shown to work well and safely, it could be a quick and efficient way to diagnose glaucoma before people have started to lose their sight. However, ...
Source: NHS News Feed - April 27, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Medical practice Older people Source Type: news

Regular exercise for the over-50s 'sharpens the mind'
Conclusion It's no surprise to hear that exercise has health benefits – but not everyone knows that it's good for your brain as well as your body. This study provides evidence that, even for people with some signs of declining mental function, regular moderately intense exercise has a positive effect. There are a few minor caveats, however. Although the study showed tai chi is beneficial, this was based on only four trials. And it's not completely clear how often people need to exercise. The study found any number of weekly sessions showed a benefit, but it's reasonable to think more sessions would be more benefici...
Source: NHS News Feed - April 26, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Lifestyle/exercise Older people Neurology Source Type: news