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Healthy older adults carry leukaemia mutations

BBC News reports that, according to researchers, “It is ‘almost inevitable’ that your blood will take the first steps towards leukaemia as you age”.Researchers analysed the blood of 4,219 people, looking for DNA errors (mutations) linked to blood cancers (leukaemia). The number of mutations in healthy older people without the disease was higher than expected. The research focused on 15 gen

Does deadly diet drug DNP defeat diabetes?

"A chemical [DNP] which caused munitions factory workers to lose weight inexplicably in the First World War could cure diabetes," The Daily Telegraph reports. The banned weight loss drug looked effective and safe when given in a modified form to rats bred to have diabetes.The potential benefits of DNP surfaced in WW1 munitions workers who lost a lot of weight after being exposed to it. DNP sp

Over two hours screen time a day may raise a child’s blood pressure

"Watching TV for more than two hours a day increases the risk of raised blood pressure in children," The Daily Telegraph reports. A large study, involving more than 5,000 children who were followed up over two years, found a link between time sitting in front of a screen and an increase in blood pressure rates. It found that a worryingly high number of children – more than one in 10 – deve

Longer sleep linked to stroke

“Too much sleep could kill you,” is the baseless and needlessly alarmist headline on the front cover of today’s Daily Express.The study it is reporting on actually showed that people who sleep for more than eight hours a night had a 46% increased risk of stroke over the following 10 years, compared with people sleeping six to eight hours.While these results certainly warrant further invest

'Game changer' HIV drug cuts infection risk by 86%

"Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%," The Independent reports. The drug, Truvada, has proved very successful in a "real-world" trial involving 545 participants. Truvada is currently used as part of a treatment plan for people with HIV. It stops the virus from replicating, which helps protect the immune system. Researchers wanted

Depression linked to violent crime

"Depressed people are three times more likely to commit a violent crime," the Daily Mirror reports. Research into Swedish crime and medical data found that depression was linked with an increased risk of a person committing a violent crime. It is important to stress from the outset that while the number of depressed people involved in a violent crime was above average, it was still small.3

Anger possibly linked with non-fatal heart attacks

"'Plate-throwing rage' raises heart attack risk nearly 10 fold," The Daily Telegraph reports, slightly inaccurately. This headline reports on a study that found that just seven out of 313 people had felt "very angry" in the two hours before a heart attack – compared to their normal levels of anger. Despite the headline, none of the participants had felt furious or angry to the point of throwi

Peanut butter for non-allergic babies may reduce later allergies

"The cure for peanut allergy – peanuts, from the age of four months," says The Guardian. This is dangerous headline advice, potentially leading parents to think they can simply give peanuts to an allergic child and cure them. This is irresponsible. Parents are also advised not to give peanuts – or any whole nuts – to children under the age of five, because of the risk of choking.There are

Many deaths of mentally ill in custody 'avoidable'

“Hundreds of deaths in mental health units ‘were avoidable’,” says a report on the front page of today’s Independent. The Guardian highlights 662 mentally ill detainee deaths from 2010 to 2013.Both stories follow an inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into the deaths of people with mental health conditions while detained in police custody, prisons or psychiatric hospita

Media overstates dementia benefits of Mediterranean diet

“New diet to fight dementia,” claims the Sunday Express, while The Independent reports: “Mediterranean diet could help beat dementia”. Despite the media focus on the Mediterranean diet, this was only a small part of a review which aimed to discover whether some modifiable risk factors (such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure) were linked to the risk of developing dementia in people wi

New HPV vaccine may protect against 90% of cervical cancers

"New HPV vaccine stops 90% of cervical cancers," the Mail Online reports. The vaccine, which protects against nine common strains of the cancer-causing human papilloma virus (HPV), has proved both safe and effective in a study involving 14,000 women. HPV is one of the major causes of cervical cancer, as well as genital warts.The current HPV vaccine, Gardasil, which the NHS offers to all girls

Sunlight UV damage to skin persists even after dark

“Moving immediately into the shade does not stop sun damage, as UV rays can continue damaging skin cells hours after exposure,” The Guardian reports. Ultraviolet (UV) light is known to cause damage to DNA in skin cells, which increases the risk of the most serious type of skin cancer: melanoma. This study aimed to examine the biological mechanisms that may be involved in this process. Rese

Nanoparticles used to treat damaged arteries

“New trials suggest microscopic stealth drones could be used to seek and repair damaged arteries," The Daily Telegraph, somewhat overexcitedly, reports. A study in mice has found promising results for a targeted treatment where nanoparticles are used to deliver a "repair protein" to sections of arteries affected by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when fatty material collects in the

Researchers may have unmasked mystery of cannabis 'munchies'

"Cannabis 'munchies' explained by new study," The Guardian reports. "Munchies" is widely used slang for a common effect of cannabis: sudden hunger pangs, even if a user has just eaten. A new study set out to find why cannabis causes increased appetite. Previous studies have shown certain pathways of nerve cells in the hypothalamus of the brain (called pro-opiomelanocortin, or POMC) have a rol

Menopausal symptoms 'last longer' than previously thought

"Menopause lasts 'up to 14 years'," the Daily Mail reports, with The Daily Telegraph reporting a similar figure – but according to The Guardian, it's "12 years". All three headlines are prompted by a new US study, which does suggest that, at least in some women, symptoms such as hot flushes can persist for more than a decade.Menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats are coll

Impact of daytime naps on children's sleep quality uncertain

“Daytime naps ‘should stop at the age of two’: Children have poorer quality sleep if they rest during the afternoon,” is the inaccurate headline on the Mail Online.Researchers have pooled all of the available evidence on the effects of napping in childhood. As they acknowledge, many of the studies were of a poor quality due to lack of reliable evidence.Out of the 26 studies, just one lo

Plain packaging 'may help smokers to cut down'

"Plain packaging reduced unconscious triggers to smoke," BBC News reports.This claim is based on two related experiments where smokers were either exposed to a picture of a branded pack of cigarettes, a picture of a plain pack (containing a graphic health warning), or nothing at all, and were asked to choose a reward of either chocolate or a cigarette.Researchers found people exposed to th

Molecule could protect against Alzheimer's disease

"Alzheimer's breakthrough: scientists home in on molecule which halts development of disease," The Daily Telegraph reports. The so-called "chaperone molecule", known as "Brichos", helps prevent the clumping of proteins, which can lead to the death of brain cells.Scientists don't know what causes Alzheimer's disease, but people who have the condition tend to have abnormally high amounts of str

Media heralds the discovery of 'infidelity gene'

“Women are more likely to cheat on their partner if they carry the ‘infidelity gene’,” reports the Mail Online. They say that this gene “only has an impact on women”.The headline is based on a study by Finnish researchers who were interested in a long-standing evolutionary puzzle: why do some women cheat on their partners? From an evolutionary perspective, the more partners a man has the more

Super-strength 'skunk' cannabis linked to psychosis

" 'Skunk-like cannabis' increases risk of psychosis, study suggests," BBC News reports after a new study found high-potency strains of "skunk" cannabis – infamous for both its strength and its pungent smell – could be linked to one in four cases of new-onset psychosis. Psychosis is a mental health condition characterised by symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. The study compared can

When Minnie met Mickey: is rodent romance all in the mind?

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the Mail Online thoughtfully cushions its readers against possible rejection ahead of time: “You may have lit the candles, opened the wine and dimmed the lights. But, inexplicably, your partner still doesn't want to have sex ... Don't worry, it's not you – it’s your partner's hormones”.Unless Mail Online readers are amorous hairy-backed rodents with grou

HRT increases ovarian cancer risk by small amount

“HRT nearly doubles the risk of ovarian cancer,” The Daily Telegraph reports. While this may sound alarming, the actual increase in risk for individual women is small, because ovarian cancer is rare. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) uses synthetic versions of hormones to relieve symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes. Concerns have been raised that HRT could also increase the risk of

Could a 30-minute 'power nap' make up for a bad night's sleep?

"Indulging in a power nap can repair the damage caused by a lack of sleep," the Daily Mail reports. But the study that prompted the headline is very small – involving just 11 healthy young men.It has long been known that a lack of sleep at night can have a negative impact on the immune system and stress levels.Researchers wanted to see if two short naps during the day, each lasting 30 minu

Long-term smoking 'may cause' brain shrinkage

“Smokers have thinner brain cortex and could have impaired thinking,” The Independent reports. MRI scans of long-term smokers show signs that the cerebral cortex – the grey matter of the brain – which plays a key role in thinking and memory, was thinner than expected.The study looked at brain scans of more than 500 people aged 73 to see if there were any noticeable differences between smokers

Obesity damage to eggs may be reversible

“Damaging effect of obesity on a woman’s eggs can now be reversed,” is the potentially misleading headline from the Mail Online today. The over-egged headline refers to a mouse study showing that signs of lower fertility due to obesity could be reversed using experimental drugs. This was not tested in humans, however.Maternal obesity is known to lower the chance of successful conception, a

Unemployment and job insecurity linked to increased risk of suicide

“Unemployment causes 45,000 suicides a year worldwide,” The Guardian reports. The story comes from a study that looked at the association between suicide rates and unemployment in 63 countries across the world.It found that between 2000 and 2011, one in five of an estimated 233,000 annual suicides were linked to unemployment.The study cannot prove that unemployment causes suicide, although

'Smart insulin' could be used to treat type 1 diabetes

The Guardian today reports that “smart insulin” may ease the burden on type 1 diabetes – a condition that means the body cannot produce insulin.This means that those with the condition require frequent insulin shots to stabilise their blood glucose levels. However, this can be a difficult balancing act, as glucose levels can fluctuate throughout the day. Fluctuations can also be potentially

1980s fat guidelines 'lacked evidence,' study argues

"Butter isn't bad for you after all: Major study says 80s advice on dairy fats was flawed," is the headline on the front of the Daily Mail as a new study argues dietary fat guidelines introduced in the 1980s lacked a rigorous evidence base. The study in question looked at guideline advice on saturated fat published in 1983 in the UK and in 1977 in the US. The researchers wanted to see if the

Do men have greater chewing power than women?

"Why men wolf down their meals while women take their time: The sexes have different chewing patterns," the Mail Online reports, after a Korean study found men had "greater eating power" than women. This small study compared the chewing behaviours of 48 young Korean men and women in controlled laboratory conditions. It found men took bigger bites, had greater chewing power, and ate faster

Type 1 diabetes 'more dangerous' in women

"Type 1 diabetes is more dangerous for women than men, study finds,” The Daily Telegraph reports. A large review found gender inequality in overall deaths among people with type 1 diabetes, and also deaths due to heart disease.These results come from a systematic review of studies looking at how risk of death in men and women with type 1 diabetes differs from their counterparts without the di


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