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Cancer treatment response may be affected by gut bacteria
Conclusion This early-stage study gives us some insights into factors that might influence people's responses to a specific type of cancer treatment (immunotherapy with monoclonal antibodies). The findings are of interest, but don't have any immediate implications for cancer treatment. We don't know what the conditions that required antibiotic treatment were and whether these could have affected the response to immunotherapy. We don't know whether the antibiotics themselves influenced how well the immunotherapy worked, or whether it was their effect on gut bacteria. We also don't know whether having high levels of part...
Source: NHS News Feed - November 3, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Source Type: news

Could a blood test in middle age predict dementia risk?
Conclusion Inflammation in the body is a response to injury or disease. But if the body is constantly in an inflammatory state, it can harm blood vessels and lead to heart disease. This study suggests high levels of inflammation over the long term might also damage the brain. That's not surprising – what's good for the heart is usually good for the brain, and we already know exercising, avoiding high blood pressure and eating healthily may help protect the brain. Studies like this will help researchers work out more precisely what's happening in the brain when people experience memory loss or dementia. But this study...
Source: NHS News Feed - November 2, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

Acid reflux drugs linked to increased stomach cancer risk
Conclusion PPIs are commonly used medicines for acid reflux. This may seem like alarming news for the many people in the UK who take them, but it's important to remember that the overall risk of stomach cancer is still very low. This study has several limitations that mean we should be cautious about the results: This type of study can't prove PPIs caused the increased risk of cancer. The increased risk could be down to other factors. Researchers were unable to adjust their figures to take account of some relevant confounding factors, such as alcohol and tobacco use, as these weren't routinely recorded. Almost all the pati...
Source: NHS News Feed - November 1, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Source Type: news

Nutrient drink for Alzheimer's has disappointing result in trial
Conclusion This trial provides valuable evidence about the effects of a nutrient drink, Souvenaid, on memory in individuals with early signs that they may develop Alzheimer's disease. Importantly, the researchers found no significant effect on the main outcome their study looked at (memory). They did find less brain shrinkage and slightly better cognitive scores in the experimental group, but this still didn't lead to any reduction in the number who were diagnosed with dementia by the end of the study. This trial therefore provides no evidence that Souvenaid/Fortasyn Connect can help to prevent or slow Alzheimer's developi...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 31, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Neurology Source Type: news

Marriage may help lower dementia risk
Conclusions The general findings that marriage and having more social relationships seem to be linked to better health and wellbeing is in line with the results of much previous research. But there are several important things to keep in mind: Although the study followed people who didn't have dementia at the start of the study, it can't prove that marital status or the number of close relationships directly increased or decreased dementia risk. Biological, health, lifestyle and environmental factors may all influence a person's risk of dementia (particularly the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, which...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 30, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Neurology Source Type: news

Afternoon open heart surgery 'leads to fewer complications'
Conclusion This study found evidence of an effect that's worth investigating further to see if there are real differences in heart muscle function and risk of complications from heart surgery at different times of the day. However, there were some limitations: It took place at a single hospital, with a relatively small number of people undergoing operations. The laboratory study found differences in gene activity that suggested the body clock may play a role in making the heart better able to tolerate loss of oxygen and subsequent re-oxygenation. However, there may be other explanations for these differences. For example, ...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 27, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Heart/lungs Source Type: news

Report calls for better mental health support in the workplace
"Up to 300,000 people with long-term mental health problems have to leave their jobs each year, a report says," writes BBC News. This was just one of the UK media outlets that published the findings of a report looking at the extent of mental ill health in the workplace, and the related economic and social costs. Most of the media led with headlines stating that 300,000 people with long-term mental health conditions leave work each year – twice the rate of those without mental health conditions. The loss to the economy was estimated to be up to £99 billion a year, including lost productivity output, t...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 26, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Mental health Source Type: news

Blood-thinning drugs may reduce dementia risk in people with irregular heartbeats
Conclusion If you’ve been diagnosed with AF and you have been prescribed anticoagulant treatments such as warfarin or clopidogrel, we already know they protect you against having a stroke. This study suggests they may also help to protect you against dementia. Cutting the risk of dementia for people who have a raised risk because of AF would be an exciting step forward. Unfortunately, we can’t tell from this study whether the protection against dementia was down to the anticoagulants, because of the possible effect of unmeasured confounding factors. Usually, we would want to see a randomised controlled trial (R...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 25, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Neurology Source Type: news

New genetic variants associated with breast cancer identified
Conclusion This large analysis of data has identified 65 more SNPs associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. These variations hadn't previously been associated with overall breast cancer risk. A second, smaller study published at the same time identified another 7 variations specifically associated with an increased risk of oestrogen receptor negative breast cancer, a type of breast cancer that's notoriously hard to treat. In total, these studies bring the number of SNPs associated with breast cancer to about 180. Although these are interesting findings, there are a few points to bear in mind: The vari...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 25, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Source Type: news

Eating mushrooms at breakfast may help you feel fuller
Conclusions Though of interest, this study doesn't provide strong evidence that you should eat mushrooms if you want to lose weight. The study has a number of limitations: It's a short-term study that didn't look at effects on weight. It showed that people reported feeling fuller after eating mushrooms, but there were few signs this actually led to them eating less. As the researchers openly acknowledge, there could be other explanations for the findings. To match the protein content in mince required a much larger volume of mushrooms, and therefore a larger sandwich that would have taken more time and effort to chew. ...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 23, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Source Type: news

Men who perform oral sex on women 'more at risk of mouth and throat cancers'
Conclusion This study uses a large amount of national data to give us an idea about which groups of people have the greatest risk of carrying potentially cancer-causing oral HPV . But while oral HPV may increase people's risk of mouth and throat cancers, the actual number who would go on to develop cancer is extremely small. This study has limitations, which are worth bearing in mind: It only looked at whether people had oral HPV at a single point in time. This makes it difficult to know at what point they became infected and how much this could be down to other risk factors such as smoking, oral sex and number of partne...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 20, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Source Type: news

Worrying rise in reports of self-harm among teenage girls in UK
Conclusions This valuable study raises concerns about the large increase in rates of self-harm among young teenage girls, and the apparent inequality in both rates of self-harm and recognition of risk between areas of greater and lesser deprivation. It is also notable that alcohol or drug overdose was recorded in the majority of self-harm cases. These suggest, as the researchers rightly say, areas to target public health attention. There are though, a few points to consider: It can be difficult to distinguish between self-harm without intention of suicide and a suicide attempt. This distinction is usually made by discussin...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 20, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Mental health Source Type: news

HIV prevention drug could save NHS £1 billion over 80 years
Conclusion Evidence to support the use of Prep is building. Studies have shown that it is very effective at reducing the chances of becoming infected with HIV, for men at risk of infection through unprotected sex with men. The question is more about the cost of treatment – and who should fund it – than whether it works. NHS England previously went to court to say that it should not be responsible for funding Prep, as it is a preventive treatment, and therefore should come under health promotion budgets held by local authorities. The High Court ruled that the NHS was able to fund the drug. NHS England has since ...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 19, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Medication Source Type: news

Thousands of studies could be flawed due to contaminated cells
This study shows why it is important for researchers to consistently take these steps. The authors of the current research make a number of suggestions for additional improvements to the current situation, including that: papers reporting on the discovery of misidentified cell lines need to be clearly labelled so that other researchers can easily find them to make sure they don't "spread" misleading research in their own publications those aiming to clean up the contamination problem should write about the contamination, using social media campaigns and general media coverage to highlight the issue and insp...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 19, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Source Type: news

'Magic mushrooms' may help 'reset' depressive brains, study claims
Conclusion For people with depression who are not helped by conventional treatment such as antidepressants and talking therapies, studies such as this one may offer a glimmer of hope. This and previous studies on psilocybin suggest it may one day become a treatment option for people with a range of psychiatric conditions. It's important to note that this is experimental, early-stage research. The study lacked a control group, so it's hard to know whether the improvement in mood, or the changes seen on MRI scans, can be attributed to the drug. The study is very small and we should bear in mind that half of those taking part...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 16, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Mental health Neurology Source Type: news

Pregnant women 'should avoid sleeping on back in last trimester'
Conclusion This observational study suggests a mother's sleep position may influence their baby's activity in late pregnancy. Most mothers sleep on their left side, but babies were found to be slightly more likely to be actively awake if women slept on their right side. If they slept on their backs, babies were slightly more likely to be quietly asleep. These are interesting findings, but there are a few points to note: In all maternal sleeping positions, the foetuses were in a state of active sleep more than 80% of the time. Although there was a statistically significant difference in the amount of time babies spent qui...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 13, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Source Type: news

Hormonal fertility tests 'waste of time and money'
Conclusion Anxiety about getting pregnant, especially at older ages, is common, and women may feel pressured into taking so-called fertility "MOT" tests to see whether they've left it too late. But the results of this study strongly suggest that these tests don't predict how easily or quickly a woman will be able to get pregnant. Some women may use the tests to find out whether they can delay pregnancy, and take a result showing a high ovarian reserve to mean that they have plenty of time to get pregnant. But the tests only give a snapshot of ovarian reserve at one point in time – they don't tell you how qu...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 12, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Source Type: news

Childhood obesity soars worldwide
Conclusion This is a huge report with data from around the world. It found that, while obesity among children has clearly increased globally, the picture is variable from one country or region to another. It's encouraging that the report found obesity levels among countries such as the UK are levelling off. However, that still leaves millions of children obese or overweight, which could put their health at risk in years to come. More needs to be done to reduce those numbers. More urgent is the situation in countries that have seen a rapid rise in childhood obesity that shows no sign of slowing. It is also important not to ...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 12, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Obesity Source Type: news

Youngest children in school year 'more likely' to get ADHD diagnosis
Conclusion Previous studies have provided mixed findings on whether age in the school year is linked with ADHD. This new study benefits from its use of a large quantity of data. It found some interesting trends, and suggests younger children in any given school year are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. This finding seems plausible. You can imagine that younger children may find it harder to keep up in a class with those almost a year older than themselves and may therefore get distracted more easily. However, it is unclear how well these trends apply to the UK population for several reasons: In Finland the school yea...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 10, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Source Type: news

Is schizophrenia risk 'around 80% genetic'?
Conclusion This study explores how much of the risk of developing schizophrenia or related disorders may be explained by genetics. It shows that schizophrenia and related disorders are quite rare – affecting about 1% of the general population. Their observed co-diagnosis rate in both twins – about a third for identical and less than 10% for non-identical twins – was lower than has been observed in other studies. This seems to suggest that while a high proportion of an individual's susceptibility may come down to hereditary factors, environmental factors must still be play a substantial role. This type of ...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 9, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Mental health Source Type: news

Three quarters of honey samples contain pesticide traces
Conclusion As the researchers made clear, the concentrations of neonicotinoid pesticides measured were far below the maximum level allowed in food products. Some previous studies have suggested these levels could harm bees and other pollinators that directly harvest the nectar, but we are not small insects. There's no evidence that the level of pesticides reported in this study would pose any harm to human health. There are two other points to note, if you are concerned: No particular brands or varieties of honey were found to be more at risk than others: it was a global sweep of honey samples. Before singling out honey...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 6, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Source Type: news

Vitamin D may prevent asthma worsening for some
Conclusion This review gathers the available trial evidence to address the specific question of whether giving people with asthma vitamin D supplements could have an effect on how many asthma exacerbations they have. The review has many strengths. It only included double-blind trials, where participants and assessors didn't know if people were taking vitamin D or a placebo. Researchers also made careful attempts to gather all relevant data and information on confounding factors, and all but one trial had a low risk of bias. But there are some limitations to bear in mind: With the relatively small number of trials and par...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 5, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Heart/lungs Source Type: news

Many new cancer drugs show 'no clear benefit', argues review
Conclusion Most of us assume that when a drug has been approved by a regulator for use, that means it has been shown to work. This study suggests that is not necessarily the case, or that even if it works they might not make a meaningful difference. The absence of evidence about the two outcomes that matter most to patients and their families – how long they will live, and how good their quality of life will be during that time – from half of the cancer drugs approved during a five-year period, is worrying. Patients cannot be expected to make informed decisions about which treatments to take, without good quali...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 5, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Source Type: news

Study links vegetarian diet in pregnancy to substance abuse in offspring
Conclusion While having too little vitamin B12 in your diet during pregnancy can affect a baby's development, it remains to be proven whether a vegetarian diet in pregnancy can cause substance abuse problems in teenage offspring. The findings do not mean that vegetarian pregnant women need to start eating meat. It is already recommended that vegetarian and vegan mums-to-be take special care to ensure they get enough of certain nutrients that are found in meat and fish, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D and iron. The study identifies a possible link between having little or no meat consumption in pregnancy (which may have led ...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 4, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Source Type: news

Regularly skipping breakfast linked to hardening of the arteries
Conclusion This study found a link between skipping breakfast and fatty tissue build-up in the arteries – an early sign of heart disease. However, because it assessed people's diets and artery health at the same point in time, and fatty deposits build up gradually in arteries, we can't say their breakfast habits directly influenced their artery health. Also, as breakfast habits were only assessed over 15 days, we can't be sure they were representative of lifelong patterns. It looks like people who skip breakfast tend to have other unhealthy habits, such as smoking and eating more. While the researchers did try to acc...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 3, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Source Type: news

People with type 2 diabetes should 'save carbs for last'
Conclusion This crossover trial investigated the optimal time to eat carbohydrates during a meal to lower blood glucose levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes. It generally found that consuming carbohydrates last was better at lowering glucose levels and reducing insulin secretion when compared to having carbohydrates first or all nutrients together. The researchers say that suggesting people with type 2 diabetes follow this advice may be an effective behavioural strategy to improve glucose levels after meals. Although the findings are interesting, there are a few points to note: Most importantly, this study was very s...
Source: NHS News Feed - October 2, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Diabetes Source Type: news

Bedbugs thought to 'hitchhike' on dirty holiday laundry
Conclusion This experimental study suggests a likely way that bedbugs get into luggage and travel long distances to spread between countries. It found that bed bugs are more attracted to dirty laundry than clean laundry, highlighting that it is probably human body odour – regardless of whether a human is present or not – that is the magnet for bed bugs. The researchers suggest that worn clothing left out in the open – even just in an open suitcase – is likely to attract any bedbugs that may be present in a hotel room or hostel, and be transported back home by holidaymakers. But don't worry: a laundr...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 29, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

Has measles really been 'eliminated' in the UK?
"Measles eliminated in the UK for the first time," reports The Telegraph. This and other stories in the media are based on a new World Health Organization (WHO) report confirming the UK is now one of 33 countries in Europe to have "eliminated" measles. "Elimination" is the official term used once a country has reduced the number of cases of a disease to a low enough level to stop it spreading through the general population for at least three years. It doesn't mean that measles has been wiped out or eradicated in the UK. In 2016 there were more than 500 cases in England and Wales. However, the ...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 28, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Source Type: news

Rates of newly diagnosed HIV increasing in over-50s
Conclusion This was a well-conducted study and the results are likely to be reliable, though there are some limitations, including missing data. For example, the researchers had no information on the migration status or CD4 count (an indicator for stage of the disease) for a quarter of cases. This study found that although the overall rate of infection is higher in younger people, this has remained stable over the last 12 years while the rate of infection in older people has increased. Some of the media stories focused on the finding that older people are most likely to have become infected through heterosexual sex. Wh...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 27, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Older people Source Type: news

High-precision radiotherapy for prostate cancer 'shows promise'
Conclusion This study shows some promising results for targeted pelvic lymph node radiotherapy for men with advanced localised prostate cancer. However, these results can only be treated as preliminary findings for now. This was an early-stage trial that aimed to investigate whether the treatment approach is safe and to get an idea of what doses may be suitable for assessment in further trials. Although it can give an indication of effectiveness, this was not the main aim of the study. Men were not randomised to a treatment group, which means there may have been some differences in the cancers or patient characteristics of...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 26, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Source Type: news

Sexual harassment in the workplace linked to depression
Conclusions This study in general supports the understanding that sexual harassment can have harmful effects on mental health – regardless of whether it comes from clients or colleagues. It's also perhaps unsurprising that health or care workers were more likely to report sexual harassment from clients or customers, as they generally have more close interaction with members of the public than many other professions. The researchers also pointed out that sexual harassment by clients or customers should not be normalised or ignored by employers. This study has advantages in its large sample size and thorough assessmen...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 25, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Mental health Source Type: news

Any type of physical exercise is good for the heart
Conclusion This study shows that all physical activity, in any form, is good for us. This includes both recreational and non-recreational activities. Don't be misled by some of the media: non-recreational activities like housework are not "better" than recreational activities like playing sports or going to the gym. The fact that reduced risk was seen with non-recreational activity across all countries, but only seen with recreational activity in high-income countries was probably just because fewer people in lower-income countries play sports or go to the gym. The researchers estimate that 8% of all deaths and...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 22, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

Lightning Process 'could help children with chronic fatigue syndrome', study claims
Conclusion The results from this very small randomised controlled trial showed that people having LP therapy in addition to usual CFS/ME care had improved physical function, fatigue and anxiety symptoms at six months, and improved school attendance and depressive symptoms at 12 months. However, there are a number of limitations to this research that need to be considered: Participants in both groups improved, so both treatments were effective to some extent. This was a very small trial, and the results analysis involved fewer than the 100 people recruited. It would need to be repeated in a much larger group to demonstr...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 21, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Medical practice Source Type: news

Many teenagers reporting symptoms of depression
Conclusion This large cohort study highlights high levels of depressive symptoms in children and adolescents. It is however important to note that these are symptoms – we don't know how many of the children would be diagnosed with depression. When parents complete the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire, it is estimated that it will accurately identify 75% of children with depression and 73% of children without depression. But it is less accurate when children complete it. Recent research suggests that it can identify 60% of children with depression and 61% of children without depression. Despite these limitatio...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 20, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Mental health Source Type: news

Single-injection vaccine device still a long way off
Conclusion Injection of a microstructure device that can give time-delayed release of a vaccine or drug could have great potential in medicine. As the researchers noted, the structures are tiny and fully biodegradable, so they shouldn't cause a foreign-body reaction. But they also mentioned the size – the lightweight device could only hold a small amount of solution. However, the researchers suggested that varying the wall thickness to create larger cores could greatly increase the device's capacity. At this stage, the device has only been tested in a single experiment in mice. Further research in mice would be nee...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 18, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Source Type: news

Women more likely than men to lose interest in sex
Conclusion This study appears to suggest that many factors increase the likelihood of both men and women reporting a lack of interest in sex. Overall, women seem to be more likely to lose interest than men. While this large study provides some insight into the possible reasons behind having a lack of interest in sex, it has a few limitations: As so many factors were considered, there were bound to be some that showed statistical significance – this could just be by chance. The cross-sectional nature of the study means we can't be sure if the specific factors reported on caused the lack of interest, or vice versa. Peo...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 15, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

Tattoo ink particles can spread into lymph nodes
Conclusion If you already have a tattoo, there's nothing in this study that should alarm you. It doesn't show that people with tattoos are more likely to get cancer, despite the scaremongering headlines. The researchers explain how tattoo pigments are picked up as "foreign bodies" by the body's immune system and are then stored in the skin and lymph nodes. But they can't tell us what effects this process has on our health. The researchers weren't told any medical information about the donor samples, such as any diseases they had (including cancer) or the cause of donors' deaths. The study also has other limitatio...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 14, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

No change to alcohol guidelines for pregnancy
Conclusion The results of this review found that low-to-moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy was linked with a slightly increased risk of having a baby small for gestational age. However, there was no evidence for any other links, including any difference in the average birth weight of babies born to drinkers and non-drinkers. There are some important limitations of the research to note: • The evidence still doesn't prove that drinking directly increases the risk of a baby born small for gestational age. Studies were observational and varied widely in accounting for the extensive number of confounding fa...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 12, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Source Type: news

Avoid eating just before your bedtime, study recommends
Conclusions Previous research suggests we may be better off consuming more of our calories earlier on in the day, when we have a full, active day ahead of us to use up the energy. It's also been observed that people who consume large calorific meals late in the evening can have a higher body weight. In a sense, the results of this study seem plausible and don't really say anything different from what's already been observed. But as this is a cross-sectional study, it can't really prove very much. The study involved a small, select sample of US university students. Their results can't be applied to everyone, as they have di...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 11, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Source Type: news

Could a Mediterranean diet be as good as drugs for acid reflux?
Conclusion The results of this relatively small cohort study seem to show that a plant-based Mediterranean diet with alkaline water is equally good as PPI medication at treating acid reflux symptoms when people also follow standard advice to cut out certain things from their diet. This might suggest that the first port of call for people with gastro-oesophageal reflux could be to try a Mediterranean diet before going on PPI medication, to avoid potential side effects. There are, however, some limitations to this research: Cohort studies can only show links and cannot prove definite cause and effect, and retrospective coh...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 8, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Source Type: news

Drinks industry accused of downplaying 'alcohol-cancer risk'
Conclusion This qualitative analysis aimed to determine the accuracy of health information circulated by the alcohol industry on the links between alcohol and cancer. It found the industry and affiliated organisations use three main approaches: denial of the link between alcohol and cancer misinterpretation of the risk distraction by focusing on other risk factors This analysis highlights how these strategies could be detrimental to public health. Of course, it's possible, given this data was collected in 2016, that some of the websites and documents analysed by the researchers have since been updated. Regardless, the...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 8, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Source Type: news

Statins cut heart deaths in men by 28% finds study
Conclusion This new analysis found that men without cardiovascular disease who were prescribed a statin were less likely to go on to develop heart disease or have a major cardiovascular event. These findings from the five-year randomised controlled trial are useful – there's been a lot of debate about whether giving statins to people without any cardiovascular disease is helpful. But it's harder to draw conclusions from the longer term results, as these were from a non-randomised observational period. Potential confounding factors – such as the men's attitude to medicine, risk and health – may have influe...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 7, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Heart/lungs Source Type: news

Zika virus may be useful in treating brain tumours
Conclusion This is an interesting piece of research that shows how knowledge in one field of medicine can sometimes be applied to another field with surprising results. But it's important to be realistic about the stage of research. This is very much a "proof of concept" study, and tests on cells, tissues and mice don't necessarily translate into a safe and effective treatment for humans. The study has several limitations, but the fact the treatment so far hasn't been tested on humans is the most important. For one thing, Zika virus doesn't naturally infect mice, so researchers had to use a specially engineered v...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 6, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Source Type: news

Older babies 'sleep better' in their own room
Conclusion This study seems to show that parents of infants aged 6 to 12 months who sleep in a separate room report better infant sleep outcomes, such as sleep times and sleep duration, than parents who keep their infant in the same room or bed. These findings are similar to a study covered in June 2017, which found "independent sleepers" slept for longer aged nine months than room-sharers. But there are some considerations that need to be taken into account: This questionnaire-based study didn't follow infants over a long period of time, so we only know about their sleep behaviours and patterns at one particul...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 5, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Pregnancy/child Source Type: news

One in 10 men aged 50 'have the heart of a 60-year-old'
"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. An obese smoker in their 50s who has high blood pressure and high cholesterol could have the heart of a 60- or 70-year-old. The quick and simple test tells you the...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 4, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Heart/lungs Source Type: news

New insight into how excess belly fat may increase cancer risk
Conclusion This animal and laboratory study investigated the possible cellular relationship between excess body fat – specifically fat around the body organs – and cancer risk. It seems one key mechanism by which excess visceral fat could stimulate healthy cells to develop into cancerous ones could be through FGF2 levels. The researchers hope their study could pave the way for possible cancer prevention strategies by stopping FGF2 production in obese people with excess belly fat. They even go as far as suggesting that blocking FGF2 receptors could be one part of a treatment approach after a diagnosis of breas...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 1, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Cancer Source Type: news

Going to university may cut your risk of heart disease
Conclusion This study indicates there may be some genetic support for the idea that spending longer in education contributes to lowering the risk of CHD. The researchers also demonstrate that this may be because people who spend longer in education have a lower BMI and are less likely to smoke. However, there are some limitations to this research that need to be considered: The genetic variations identified as being associated with education may not be markers for education at all, but more basic biological pathways. The authors do not account for the fact that differences in education might be due to brain function, w...
Source: NHS News Feed - September 1, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Heart/lungs Source Type: news

Sitting for 20 minutes less a day won't make you 'more muscly'
Conclusion Despite the encouraging headlines, the study showed it isn't easy to get people to reduce their overall sedentary time. It's interesting that people were better able to make changes at home – especially when both parents had been through the programme – than in the office. Future programmes could look at whether workplace interventions, which might include group activities or changes to the office environment, are more successful at reducing time spent sitting. We don't know the clinical significance of the small changes in some of the physical and biochemical results found in the programme group. ...
Source: NHS News Feed - August 31, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Lifestyle/exercise Source Type: news

Results of global fats and carbs study not very relevant for UK
Conclusion The results of the study have been presented in the media as if they overturn all current dietary guidelines. In the UK at least, that is completely misleading. The study results support the UK guidelines, having found that people who get around 50% of their calories from carbohydrates and 35% from fat, as recommended by Public Health England, were likely to live the longest. There are some limitations to the study, not least that observational studies cannot prove cause and effect. For example, the very low fat and high carbohydrate levels of diets found among some participants in the study might simply repres...
Source: NHS News Feed - August 30, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Tags: Food/diet Source Type: news