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Breastfeeding voucher scheme 'shows promise'

"Initial results of a controversial scheme offering shopping vouchers to persuade mothers to breastfeed have shown promise," BBC News reports.The scheme, which has attracted controversy since it was announced, aimed to tackle the problem of low rates of breastfeeding in the UK compared with other developed nations. Mothers who live in the poorest areas of the country have been found to be mor

Air dryers 'blown away' by paper towels in germ tests

"Hand dryers 'splatter' users with bacteria," The Daily Telegraph reports.The headline is prompted by an experimental study that compared the potential transfer of germs to the surrounding environment, users and bystanders when using three methods of hand drying:*paper towels *warm air dryers – the sort you see in most public toilets *modern "high-tech" jet air dryers, such as the Dy

Cancer guidelines may improve diagnosis rates

“Doctors to get more help to spot cancer early,” The Guardian reports. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced new revised draft guidelines that may help GPs pick up on possible early warning signs of cancer. The aim of the draft guidelines is to improve early cancer diagnosis in children, young people and adults of all ages. The draft guidelines have been pr

Is growth in ADHD 'caused by marketing'?

"The global surge in ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] diagnosis has more to do with marketing than medicine, according to experts," the Mail Online reports. But these experts are sociologists, not clinicians, and they present no new peer-reviewed clinical evidence. That said, they do highlight some interesting interconnected trends about ADHD that are worth attention.The

Have antibiotic changes upped heart infections?

"Rates of a deadly heart infection have increased after guidelines advised against giving antibiotics to prevent it in patients at risk," BBC News reports. But there is no evidence of a direct link between the two.In 2008, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produced guidelines regarding the use of antibiotics to prevent infective endocarditis – a potentially fatal in

Report links obesity to advanced prostate cancer

"Being overweight raises risk of men developing aggressive prostate cancer," The Guardian reports. A major new report from the World Cancer Research Fund has found strong evidence obesity increases the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.This report, which considered the results from 104 studies involving more than nine million men, looked at diet, nutrition, physical activity, weight and t

Does being poor make your teeth fall out?

"People with lower income end up with eight fewer teeth than the rich," The Independent reports.The headline is prompted by a new study based on a 2009 national dental health survey of adults over the age of 21 in England. It found strong links between socioeconomic status (how well off a person is) and oral health. The most extreme result was that the poorest fifth of elderly people had u

Triclosan soap linked to mouse liver cancers

“A chemical ingredient of cosmetics, soaps, detergents, shampoos and toothpaste has been found to trigger liver cancer,” reports The Independent. The chemical in question, triclosan, is used in many products as an antibacterial.Should you be worried if you have just washed your hands? Probably not. The link was found in mice, not humans, and the mice were given a much larger comparable dose t

'Food environment' needs changing, doctors argue

"A Mediterranean diet may be a better way of tackling obesity than calorie counting, leading doctors have said," BBC News reports. In a recently published editorial, they also argue the NHS should do more to encourage its staff to eat more healthily. As this was an editorial, and not new evidence, it cannot prove the Mediterranean diet, which is characterised by vegetables, fruits, beans,

Just one kiss 'spreads 80 million bugs'

"A single 10-second kiss can transfer as many as 80 million bacteria," BBC News reports. Dutch scientists took "before and after" samples from 21 couples to see the effect an intimate kiss had on the bacteria found in the mouth.By studying the couples, the scientists discovered the bacteria found on the tongue are more similar among partners than unrelated individuals, but are not correlated

'Good ways to pop a pill'

“Just a spoonful of water helps the medicine go down: Scientists discover the best way to swallow tablets,” explains the Mail Online today.In fact, scientists haven’t necessarily discovered the “best” ways to take your medicine, they have simply tested two options and found that they work well – and neither involves just a spoonful of water.The best ways to swallow medicine – according to

Do people who take weight loss pills eat unhealthily?

"Are slimming pills fuelling the obesity epidemic?" asks the Mail Online, reporting on research that suggests dieters "mistakenly believe they can eat whatever they want" after taking weight loss drugs.There is nothing in the research to prove the Mail's headline. In fact, its headline was prompted by US experiments on the effects of marketing a weight management treatment as a "drug" or a "s

Sex with funny, rich men linked with more orgasms

“Women have stronger orgasms if their partner is funny – and rich”, says the Mail Online.This headline is wrong. And the research it’s based on, while fascinating, is rather inconclusive.The study in question asked a small group of female students, who were in sexual relationships with men, to anonymously rate their sex lives and certain features of their partner, including estimates of we

'Smart drug' modafinil may not make you brainier

“Smart drug ‘may help improve creative problem solving’,” is the headline in The Daily Telegraph. The media reports have been prompted by a new study on the effects of modafinil –a drug licensed to treat narcolepsy. Modafinil’s claim to fame is that it’s been touted as a so-called “smart drug” that can help brain performance, and is reportedly very popular among university students.Resea

Long-term mobile phone use and brain cancer

"Do mobile and cordless phones raise the risk of brain cancer?" asks the Mail Online.There are now more mobile phones than people in the UK, so you would expect the commonsense answer to be a resounding "no". But, as we never get tired of saying, it's a bit more complicated than that.The Mail Online reports on the latest study looking for evidence of a link between mobile and cordless phon

Watching 'Dad's Army' won't stop you going blind

"Fancy an episode of Dad's Army? How watching TV and films can save your eyesight," is the curious headline in the Daily Express. Its headline is a rather abstract interpretation of research testing the potential for new computer eye-tracking software to help diagnose chronic glaucoma.In glaucoma, pressure in the eyeball rises, damaging the optic nerve and threatening sight. Chronic glauco

Health workers 'neglect hygiene late in their shifts'

“Visit hospital in the morning to be sure of a doctor with clean hands,” reports The Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph cites a US study which found healthcare workers often fail to wash their hands and are more likely to wash their hands as advised at the beginning of their shift (not necessarily the morning) than at the end.Researchers used electronic ID tags for healthcare workers with dete

Genes tweaked to 'starve' prostate cancer cells

"Prostate cancer could be 'halted' by injections," reports The Independent.While this headline rather simplifies the research findings, the research it's based on demonstrates an interesting way to stop prostate cancer – for mice, at least.In the research, mice with a "model" of prostate cancer were treated with chemicals that inhibit a protein called SRPK1. As a result, the growth of thei

Claims cannabis 'rewires the brain' misleading

"Cannabis use 'shrinks and rewires' the brain," reports The Daily Telegraph, with much of the media reporting similar "brain rewiring" headlines.The headlines are based on a study that compared the brain structure and connections of cannabis users with those of non-users.The researchers identified several differences between cannabis users and non-users in a region of the brain called the

Are pollution and attention problems related?

“Could ADHD be triggered by mothers being exposed to air pollution while pregnant?,” asks the Mail Online.Pregnant women have enough to worry about, without going round in a gas mask or moving to the country. Fortunately, the study that this news relates to doesn’t find a connection between exposure to pollution while pregnant and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).In fact, th

Anxiety affects children in different ways

"Teenage anxiety: Tailored treatment needed," BBC News reports, saying a "one-size-fits-all approach to treating teenagers with anxiety problems may be putting their futures at risk." The news is based on research that looked at the diagnoses of a group of children and a group of adolescents – it did not look at how they were treated or how effective any treatment was.But this research hig

Stem cells could repair Parkinson's damage

"Stem cells can be used to heal the damage in the brain caused by Parkinson's disease," BBC News reports following the results of new Swedish research in rats. This study saw researchers transplant stem cells into rats' brains. These cells then developed into dopamine-producing brain cells.Parkinson's disease is a neurological condition associated with the loss of dopamine-producing brain

Norovirus returns: advice is to stay away from GP

After Halloween and Bonfire Night, we have the return of another, much less welcome, winter tradition: the norovirus. Or, as The Times reports, “Tis the season for winter vomiting bug”.The body responsible for public health in this country, Public Health England, has issued a bulletin reminding everyone experiencing symptoms of norovirus to stay at home and to telephone 111 for advice, if nec

Fruit chemical may prevent organ damage

"Could fruit help heart attack patients? Injection of chemical helps reduce damage to vital organs and boosts survival," reports the Daily Mail – "at least in rodents," it should have added.When tissues are suddenly deprived of oxygen-rich blood (ischaemia), which can occur during a heart attack or stroke, they can suffer significant damage. Further damage can occur once blood supply is resto

Does having a hobby help you live longer?

"Having a hobby can add YEARS to your life," The Daily Express reports. The headline is prompted by an international study that looked at ageing and happiness.The study found older people who reported the greatest sense of purpose in life survived longer than those who reported having little sense of purpose, suggesting that having a meaning in life might play a role in protecting people's he

Smoking 'increases risk of chronic back pain'

"Smokers are three times more likely to suffer from back pain," the Mail Online reports. The headline was prompted by the results of a recent study, which involved observing 68 people with sub-acute back pain (back pain lasting for 4 to 12 weeks with no back pain in the previous year) over one year. The participants completed repeated questionnaires about their level of back pain and had four

'Elite controllers' may provide clues for HIV cure

“Scientists have uncovered the genetic mechanism which appeared to have led two HIV-infected men to experience a 'spontaneous cure’,” the Mail Online reports. The men are what is known as “elite controllers”: people thought to have high levels of immunity against the virus, as they do not develop any symptoms of HIV, despite going untreated. Both men had no trace of HIV in blood tests that

Short height 'linked to dementia death risk'

"Short men more likely to die from dementia," The Daily Telegraph reports, though the results of the study it reports on are not as clear cut as the headline suggests. Researchers combined the results of 18 surveys, which included more than 180,000 people. They aimed to see whether reported height was associated with deaths from dementia over 10 years of follow-up. They found decreasing he

Shift work 'ages the brain', study suggests

“Shift work dulls your brain,” BBC News reports. In a French study, researchers assessed 3,232 adults using a variety of cognitive tests and compared the results between people who reported they had never performed shift work for more than 50 days per year with those that had. They analysed the results, comparing the number of years of rotating shift work performed and how long ago the shift wor

Weight loss surgery cuts diabetes risk in very obese

“Weight loss surgery can dramatically reduce the odds of developing type 2 diabetes,” BBC News reports. The underlying research identified a group of 2,167 obese adults without diabetes, the majority of whom were severely obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above. This group had undergone weight loss surgery, so researchers compared them with a comparison group matched for age, se


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