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Are good neighbours really life-savers?

“Having good neighbours can help cut heart attack risk,” reports The Independent.The paper reports on a nationally representative US study of over 5,000 adults over the age of 50. People were asked about how they rated their neighbourhood social cohesion, then followed up for four years to see if they had a heart attack.Social cohesion refers to how “neighbourly” people feel, and relate

Targeted brain stimulation 'could aid stroke recovery'

"Stimulating the part of the brain which controls movement may improve recovery after a stroke," BBC News reports after researchers used lasers to stimulate a particular region of the brain with promising results in mice.The researchers were looking at a sub-type of stroke known as ischaemic stroke, where a blood clot blocks the supply of blood to part of the brain. With prompt treatment a

Bone marrow drug could treat alopecia

“Alopecia sufferers given new treatment hope with repurposed drug,” The Guardian reports. Alopecia is a type of autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune cells start to attack the hair follicles for an unknown reason, leading to hair loss. This new research actually involved two phases, one involving mice and one involving humans. The researchers identified the specific type of i

Depression 'common' in early Parkinson’s

“Depression more common in early Parkinson’s,” BBC News reports, as a new study investigates the impact this degenerative condition can have on mental health.Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition caused by a lack of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Alongside the characteristic movement symptoms such as involuntary shaking, mental health symptoms including depression, anxiety and

Caution urged over CT scan radiation doses

BBC News reports on a sharp rise in the number of CT scans being performed, exposing people to the potential health risks of radiation. However, as The Daily Telegraph says, it is not possible to calculate the cancer risk due to exposure to CT scans because there is a lack of data.These media stories follow the publication of a report by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the

Macmillan finds cancer survival 'postcode lottery'

“Cancer postcode lottery ‘costs 6,000 lives a year’,” reports The Times.This, and similar headlines, are based on cancer survival figures compiled by Macmillan Cancer Support. The cancer charity’s report suggests that the proportion of people who die within a year of a cancer diagnosis is two-thirds higher in poor-performing areas, compared with high-performing areas.These are shocking sta

High-salt diet linked to 1.6 million heart deaths

"Salty diet 'causes 1.6 million deaths worldwide each year'," reports The Daily Telegraph. It goes on to quote a researcher saying this is "nearly 1 in 10 of all deaths from cardiovascular causes worldwide".This scary-sounding headline has a grain of truth in it, but the science it's based on doesn't prove that salt is causing these deaths. In fact, the news is based on a modelling study.T

Is UK obesity fuelling an increase in 10 cancers?

“Being overweight and obese puts people at greater risk of developing 10 of the most common cancers,” reports BBC News.The news is based on research using information in UK GP records for more than 5 million people, to see whether body mass index (BMI) was associated with 22 types of common cancers.The researchers found that increasing BMI was associated with increased risk of several type

Anti-obesity drugs 'may still work in middle-age'

“Drug to halt the dreaded spread of middle age,” reports The Daily Telegraph, with similar headlines on the Daily Express and Daily Mail websites. However, these claims are rather premature given the research they’re based on anti-obesity drugs that aren’t licensed for use in the UK. Also, the study in question involved mice, not people. Researchers compared middle-aged, obese mice to heal

Salt injections: not a cure for cancer

“Salt injection ‘kills cancer cells’ by causing them to self-destruct,” reports the Mail Online.Despite this headline, there is no new treatment for cancer using salt. The Mail Online reports on an early phase of experiments in laboratories that have worked out how increasing the amount of sodium chloride (salt) within a cell causes it to die.The researchers did not inject cancer with salt

Growth of newborn babies' brains tracked

"Scans chart how quickly babies' brains grow," reports BBC News Online.The headline follows a fascinating study that shows newborn babies' brains are about a third the size of an adult's at birth, and rapidly grow to just over half the size of an adult's within three months.The study involved 87 healthy babies who were given an MRI brain scan within the first week of life. Most then had a

Toothbrushing advice 'conflicting'

"Teeth-brushing advice unacceptably inconsistent," reports The Guardian, while the Mail Online states that a "simple, gentle scrub is best".These headlines relate to a small literature review that found diversity in the methods of manual toothbrushing recommended by dental associations, toothpaste and toothbrush companies, dental textbooks, and experts in 10 countries. The study authors concl

Exercise may cut breast cancer risk, study finds

"Exercise lowers risk of breast cancer after menopause," reports The Independent. This and similar headlines were sparked by a large study of postmenopausal teachers that found increased recreational activity was associated with a 10% decrease in the risk of breast cancer.The risk reduction eroded among some women who became less active over the years, suggesting keeping up a certain level of

'Safe' stem cell therapy may help stroke recovery

BBC Online today reports that "Stem cells show promise in stroke recovery". This accurate headline comes from a study showing how a new technique using a patient's own stem cells to aid recovery from severe ischaemic stoke is feasible and appears to be safe.But the study was tiny – just five people had the treatment. The study was also not designed to test whether the technique was effecti

Restaurant dining 'as calorific as fast food'

"Eating in restaurants no better than fast food for health," reports The Daily Telegraph after the publication of a study on the calorie intake of eating out. The US study found people who enjoyed dining at a full-service restaurant consumed just as many calories as those who ate fast food.Researchers looked at the diets of more than 12,500 Americans and found those who dined out at non-fa

Dieting leaves some people 'feeling depressed'

"It's official; dieting does make us depressed," laments the Mail Online, following the publication of a study on how losing weight affects a person’s mood. A study of 1,979 overweight and obese people found that those who lost 5% of their bodyweight were nearly twice as likely to feel some symptoms of depression, compared with those who stayed a similar weight.As expected, it found that l

Lack of vitamin D may 'raise dementia risk'

People lacking in vitamin D have a higher risk of developing dementia report several media outlets, including BBC News and The Independent. A study found people severely lacking in the sunshine vitamin were twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's disease compared with people with healthy levels (50nmol/l or more).The findings are based on a study of more than 1,650 people aged

Salt content in cheese 'too high', say campaigners

"Halloumi and blue cheese saltier than seawater,” reports The Daily Telegraph, following the publication of research on the salt content of cheeses sold in the UK. Researchers looked at 612 supermarket cheeses and found that salt levels were high. They also found a wide variation in salt content within the same types of cheese.Halloumi and imported blue cheese contained the highest average

Saturated fat in dairy 'may protect against diabetes'

Saturated fat in cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products may protect against diabetes, report the Mail Online, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent. A study has found that people with higher levels of the types of saturated fatty acid found in dairy products were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.Saturated fat – found in butter, cheese and red meat – is generally considered un

Daily aspirin 'reduces cancer risk', study finds

Taking aspirin every day could cut your risk of developing cancer, report BBC News and The Daily Telegraph among other news outlets, after the publication of a large-scale review of the evidence.People aged between 50 and 65 who take aspirin every day for 10 years could cut their risk of bowel cancer by 30% and cancers of the throat and stomach by 25%, according to the study published in the

Steep rise in antibiotic use for coughs and colds

GPs are still giving out antibiotics to treat coughs and colds, the Mail Online, The Daily Telegraph and BBC News report, as a study reveals efforts to curb antibiotic use has had "mixed success".The study found the proportion of people with coughs and colds given antibiotics rose from 36% in 1999 to 51% in 2011: an increase of around 40%. The rise comes amid warnings that the over-prescri

Could HIV drugs help treat multiple sclerosis?

"Could MS patients be treated with HIV drugs?" ask the Mail Online and The Independent, after a new study discovered people with HIV were almost two-thirds less likely (62%) to develop multiple sclerosis (MS) than those who did not have the virus. The study was prompted by the case of a patient who had HIV and MS, but stayed clear of any MS symptoms for more than 12 years.Data from the med

Phone consultations do not reduce GP workload

Over-the-phone medical consultations “don’t cut the pressure” on busy GP surgeries, BBC News and The Daily Telegraph report.They were reporting the findings of a two-year study into the effectiveness of phone consultations with a GP or a nurse instead of face-to-face appointments.Telephone consultations, or triage, are increasingly used to try and manage workload in general practice and cu

Video games 'beneficial' for children

Children who play video games for up to an hour a day are more sociable, happy and less hyperactive, The Telegraph and Daily Mail report after the publication of a study on the links between gaming and behaviour.The study involved around 5,000 young people aged 10 to 15 who were asked to report their use of computer games, as well as complete a questionnaire assessing sociability, life satisf

Combined Pill may raise breast cancer risk

"Some contraceptive pills double risk of breast cancer," The Daily Telegraph reports, as a new US study found an increased risk of 50% with use of the combined oral contraceptive pill, commonly called "the pill".The combined pill contains oestrogen and, as it is known oestrogen can stimulate breast cancer cells to grow, the potential for extra oestrogen to increase the risk of breast cancer h

Study probes effect of NHS Health Checks

"Health MOTs routinely offered to over-40s on the NHS may be a waste of time," the Mail Online reports. The report says researchers have found no difference in the prevalence of diseases such as diabetes in GP practices that offer NHS Health Checks and those that don't. NHS Health Checks were introduced in 2009 and are designed to act as a midlife "MOT" (as the Mail describes it). This

Warning over waistline link to type 2 diabetes

“Belly fat clearest sign of type 2 diabetes risk,” The Guardian reports. This comes as Public Health England publishes a report highlighting the links between bulging waistlines, obesity and type 2 diabetes risk.According to a new report, men whose waist size is over 102cm (40.2 inches) are five times more likely to develop diabetes than those with a smaller waist size. Women with a waist ove

Could a blood test screen for suicide risk?

"People with certain gene mutation 'may be more likely to end their life'," reports the Mail Online. A postmortem study found a gene called SKA2 was less active in the brains of people with mental illness who had committed suicide. They also found lower activity of this gene in blood samples taken from people who had suicidal thoughts. However, the study was conducted on a small number of

Ebola virus threat to the UK is 'very low'

Health news has been dominated in recent days by the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, with more than 1,700 confirmed cases and 932 deaths. Cases have been confirmed in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. The World Health Organization estimates the current outbreak has a mortality rate of 56%.It is important to note there is currently no direct threat to people in the UK f

'Morning sickness' linked to healthier babies

“Morning sickness isn't all bad news: Women battling the condition may have 'healthier, more intelligent babies’,” the Mail Online reports.The news is based on the results of a systematic review that looked at the effects of “morning sickness”. Health professionals prefer the term “nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP)” because, as many pregnant women can attest, symptoms can occur at any ti


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