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Apathy unproven as early warning sign of dementia

“Elderly who lose interest in pastimes could be at risk of Alzheimer's,” reports The Daily Telegraph, with other papers reporting similar headlines.These incorrect headlines are based on the results of a study that looked for a link between symptoms of apathy and structural brain changes (on brain scans) in over 4,000 older adults who did not have dementia.The researchers were interested i

NICE highlights how hand washing can save lives

“Doctors and nurses should do more to stop hospital patients developing infections, an NHS watchdog says,” BBC News reports. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has highlighted how basic hygiene protocols, such as hand washing, may be overlooked by some health professionals, which may threaten patient safety. NICE points out that one in 16 people being treated on t

PET scans may improve brain injury diagnosis

“PET scans could predict extent of recovery from brain injury, trials show,” The Guardian reports. Evidence suggests that the advanced scanning devices may be able to detect faint signs of consciousness in people with severe brain injuries.The paper reports on a study that examined how accurate two specialised brain imaging techniques were at diagnosing the conscious state and chances of reco

Cannabis linked to brain differences in the young

“Using cannabis just once a week harms young brains,” the Daily Mail reports. The newspaper reports on an US study that took one-off brain MRI scans of a group of 20 young adult recreational cannabis users, and a comparison group of 20 non-users. They compared their brain structure, focusing on regions that are believed to be involved in addiction. They found differences between users and

Eating chocolate probably won't save your marriage

“As blood glucose levels plummet, aggression levels rise, and people take it out on those closest to them,” The Daily Telegraph reports. This news is based on an American study into blood glucoses levels and aggression.Researchers aimed to find out whether people’s blood glucose levels predicted aggressive impulses and aggressive behaviour in married couples. The thinking behind the stu

Salt cuts have 'saved lives,' says study

"Cutting back on salt does save lives," is the good news on the front page of the Daily Mail. The headline is based on a study of data obtained from the Health Survey for England, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, and the Office for National Statistics between 2003 and 2011. The researchers chose 2003 as the start date because this is when the Department of Health launched its salt redu

New hepatitis C drug treatment 'shows promise'

"A new treatment for hepatitis C 'cured' 90% of patients with the infection in 12 weeks, scientists said," BBC News reports after a new drug protocol designed to target the protein that assists the spread of the virus through the body has shown promising results. The study the BBC reports on involved 394 people with hepatitis C who had not responded to previous standard treatment, or who had

Could statins also protect against dementia?

“Heart pills taken by millions of people in Britain could dramatically reduce the risk of dementia,” the Daily Express reports. A study from Taiwan has found an association between the use of statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) and reduced dementia risk.In this large study of older adults, researchers recorded people’s first prescription of statins and looked at their later development of

No way to reliably identify low-risk prostate cancer

“Men with prostate cancer being given 'false hope',” The Daily Telegraph reports. UK researchers have examined the accuracy of different methods that have sometimes been used (mostly outside the UK) to identify “clinically insignificant” prostate cancers – those that would not be expected to affect a man during his lifetime (meaning he is likely to die of something else). There has been co

Lab-grown vaginas successfully implanted

"Doctors implant lab-grown vagina" is the headline on the BBC News website, reporting on the latest breakthrough in the increasingly exciting field of tissue engineering.In this latest study, tissue engineering was used to develop a vagina for reconstructive surgery in four teenage girls who had the rare condition Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome. In this condition, the vagina and uter

Effectiveness of Tamiflu and Relenza questioned

“Ministers blew £650 MILLION on useless anti-flu drugs,” the Daily Mail reports. The paper cites a large study, which investigated the effectiveness of the antiviral drugs Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir). These drugs, called neuraminidase inhibitors, have been stockpiled in many countries, including the UK, to prevent and treat large influenza outbreaks. The systematic review

Removing copper from body could slow cancer

"Copper can block growth of rare cancer," is the rather unclear headline in The Daily Telegraph. Researchers have found that a drug that reduces the amount of copper in the body may also be able to lessen the growth of some kinds of tumours. These tumours – such as melanoma – have a mutation in the BRAF gene. BRAF helps create a protein that's vital for a biochemical pathway necessary for cel

Home HIV testing kits now legal in UK

“Kits allowing people to test themselves for HIV at home can be bought over the counter in the UK for the first time,” BBC News recently reported.The UK government has amended the law so “do it yourself” home testing kits for HIV are now legal to be sold over-the-counter.Can go I out and buy a test?No – at least not yet. No companies have applied for a license to sell self-testing kits w

Does paying drug users boost hep B jab uptake?

"Heroin addicts are being 'bribed' with £30 in shopping vouchers for agreeing to undergo vaccinations," The Daily Telegraph reports, while the Daily Mail said addicts were to get a "£10 supermarket 'bribe' to stay clear of drugs and £30 to have a hepatitis B jab".Some of the reporting makes it sound as if drug users will soon be awash with NHS cash. In fact, there are two studies being covere

Painkiller use linked to irregular heartbeat

“Painkillers used by millions of Britons have been linked to higher risk of an irregular heartbeat that could trigger a stroke,” the Mail Online reports. This headline follows the publication of a long-term study that aimed to find out whether older adults developed atrial fibrillation. The researchers looked at whether adults who had developed the condition had used non-steroidal anti-inflam

Could a blood test be used to detect lung cancer?

"Simple blood test could soon diagnose if patient has cancer and how advanced it is," reports the Mail Online. But this is a rather premature headline given the early stage of the research that the news is based on.The blood of people with cancer contains DNA from the tumour, which may enter the blood after some of the tumour cells naturally die. However, blood also contains DNA from normal n

Incorrect claims gambling is caused by brain damage

“The gambler’s fallacy explained? Misguided belief in the big win just around the corner could be down to brain damage,” The Independent incorrectly reported.The news is based on a small experimental study that assessed performance in two gambling games in healthy people, and in people with damage to specific regions of the brain. One of the games was a slot machine game, which assessed mo

Teen boy sunbed use linked to eating disorders

“Teenage men who regularly use sunbeds are more prone to eating disorders,” the Metro reports. A study has found that teen tanners are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviour, such as using laxatives and vomiting after meals, in order to lose weight or prevent weight gain.However, it shouldn't it be inferred from these findings that using sunbeds gives you an eating disorder. What it _do

Milk may slow progression of knee osteoarthritis

"Milk could be the key to beating crippling arthritis," reports the Daily Express, while the Daily Mail adds that, "A glass of milk a day keeps arthritis at bay". Both headlines are potentially misleading. The study the papers were reporting on was about slowing the progression of osteoarthritis in the knee joints, rather than preventing it occurring in the first place.The study focused on

Review recommends plain cigarette packs

“The government has announced its support for the introduction of standardised cigarette packets, following a review,” BBC News reports. The review concludes that plain packaging would have a positive impact on public health.Who produced the review?The review was commissioned by Jane Ellison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, into whether the introduction of stand

Is frequent mouthwash use linked to oral cancer?

"Experts warn using mouthwash more than twice a day can give you cancer," the Daily Mirror reports. The news comes from a European study that examined the oral health and dental hygiene of people diagnosed with cancers of the mouth, throat, vocal chords or oesophagus (collectively called "upper aerodigestive cancers"). The researchers found that people with the poorest oral health (including

Removing copper from body could slow cancer

"Copper can block growth of rare cancer," is the rather unclear headline in The Daily Telegraph. Researchers have found that a drug that reduces the amount of copper in the body may also be able to lessen the growth of some kinds of tumours. These tumours – such as melanoma – have a mutation in the BRAF gene. BRAF helps create a protein that's vital for a biochemical pathway necessary for cel

Vegetarians have 'poorer quality of life' study claims

“Vegetarians are 'less healthy and have a lower quality of life than meat-eaters’,'' The Independent reports. A study from Austria suggests there is an association between a vegetarian diet and an increased risk of certain chronic diseases.But before any meat eating readers start feeling smug, the study provides no proof that vegetarians are in poorer health than meat eaters. This was an A

Can warm-water exercise help high blood pressure?

"Working out in warm water could be a radical new cure for high blood pressure," the Mail Online reports. Results of a small study suggest that "hot aquarobics" may benefit people who had failed to respond to conventional treatment for high blood pressure.The study was a small randomised trial that included 32 people with high blood pressure that had not responded to at least three previous b

Ketamine tested as severe depression treatment

“The illegal party drug ketamine is an ‘exciting’ and ‘dramatic’ new treatment for depression,” BBC News reports. A small study found that some people with severe depression responded well to the drug.The study involved people with severe depression (including people with depression as part of bipolar disorder) who had failed to respond to conventional treatments.They were treated with int

New genetic clues about skin cancer

“Skin cancer: Genetic mutations 'warn of risk',” reports BBC News today.The science behind the headline involved sequencing the genetic material of 184 people with a strong family history of malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. The aim was to identify previously unknown genetic variations that may increase the risk of melanoma; information that could possibly have a fu

Probiotics 'no good' at treating infant colic

“Probiotics 'don't ease' baby colic,” the Mail Online reports. A small, though well-conducted, study suggests that probiotics – commonly touted as “friendly bacteria” – could actually make symptoms worse.Colic is a poorly understood condition in which otherwise healthy babies cry excessively and frequently. While not a serious threat to a baby’s health, colic can be extremely distressing for

Single men risk ignoring melanoma symptoms

“Men who live alone at greater skin cancer risk,” The Daily Telegraph reports.The headlines are based on a population study from Sweden, which followed almost 30,000 people diagnosed with malignant melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer. Despite the headline, the study did not find that men who live alone were at greater risk of developing melanoma.Rather, it found that in men

No proof Earl Grey can fight heart disease

“A cup of Earl Grey 'as good as statins' at fighting heart disease,” reports The Daily Telegraph, entirely without proof. The science behind this headline did not show Earl Grey was as good as statins (a class of drugs used to lower high cholesterol) in people.The study was early stage research on a small group of rats in a laboratory. None of the research involved humans, tea, or any asse

Call to make 5 a day fruit and veg into '7 a day'

“7 a day fruit and veg 'saves lives’” reports BBC News, while The Daily Telegraph states that “10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day” is best.The headlines have been prompted by the results of a UK-based study that used information on more than 65,000 randomly selected adults who were participating in the Health Survey for England.This is an ongoing health survey that looks at health


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