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Does eating breakfast help or hinder weight loss?

12/02/2019

People all over the world routinely sit down to eat breakfast every day. And while menus and traditions vary depending on where you are, many people are in agreement that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day.” That’s because it provides the body with the energy and nutrients needed to start the day. But what bearing does eating breakfast each day have when you are trying to lose weight? Well, according to a new study – the findings of which were published in the BMJ - the answer is not a lot at all. In fact, not only did the study find no evidence that eating breakfast aids weight loss, it also found that skipping breakfast doesn’t have a negative effect and isn’t linked to people feeling hungrier. For the study, the team from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, analyzed 13 randomized controlled trials. They found that daily calorie intake was higher in individuals who ate breakfast than in those who didn’t. The authors concluded: “Although eating breakfast regularly could have other important effects, caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it may have the opposite effect.” In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Eating or skipping breakfast has different effects depending on the person’s unique metabolism.

The seven dementia risk factors: How many are you aware of?

07/02/2019

A new study has revealed that half of UK adults cannot name a single dementia risk factor. If asked, how many could you name? The study by Alzheimer's Research UK found that just 1% of UK adults could name the seven known dementia risk or protective factors. Heavy drinking, smoking, genetics, high blood pressure, depression and diabetes are the six dementia risk factors, while physical exercise is a protective factor. According to the study, more than half of UK adults know someone with dementia, yet only half also recognised that the disease is a cause of death. Furthermore, a fifth of people quizzed for the report incorrectly said that dementia is an inevitable part of getting old. Right now, there are more than 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and that number is expected to top one million by 2025. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for around two-thirds of all cases. Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It is a sad truth that more people are affected by dementia than ever before and half of us now know someone with the condition. Yet despite growing dementia awareness, we must work harder to improve understanding of the diseases that cause it.” You can read the full Alzheimer’s Research UK report here: https://www.dementiastatistics.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Dementia-Attitudes-Monitor-Wave-1-Report.pdf#zoom=100

Study finds popular fitness trackers overestimate calories burned

29/01/2019

Do you use a fitness tracker to monitor your levels of physical activity and keep an eye on how many calories you’re burning from day to day? If you do, you could be relying on overestimated information, according to the findings of a new study. Researchers at Aberystwyth University in Wales found that many popular fitness trackers often overestimate the number of calories burned while walking by over 50%. In fact, all products tested by the research team ranging between £20 and £80 in price were inaccurate during walking and running tests. Surprisingly, some fitness trackers gave polarising results. For example, the Fitbit Charge 2, the best-selling fitness tracker on the market, scored very well when it came to estimating calories burned while running, underestimating by just 4%. However, when measuring walking, the same device overestimated calories burnt by more than 50%. Other less expensive devices, namely the Letscom HR and the Letsfit – significantly underestimated the number of calories burned while running by 33% and 40% respectively. However, both were more accurate than the Fitbit Charge 2 in estimating calories burned while walking, overestimating by 15.7% and just 2% respectively. One of the researchers, Dr Rhys Thatcher, said that while fitness trackers can be great as motivational tools, people need to be cautious in the data they provide. “If you want to know the exact number of calories that you are burning during an exercise session then it doesn't matter which device you use, you have to interpret the data with some caution,” he said.  

Stair-climbing ‘exercise snacks’ can boost cardiorespiratory health

24/01/2019

Most people understand the important role exercise plays in maintaining and boosting your health. But expensive gym memberships coupled with the busy lives many people lead mean that getting enough exercise is often a non-starter due to the associated expenses and/or a lack of time. The good news though is that new research shows stair climbing, at short intervals that last just a few minutes throughout the day, can improve cardiorespiratory health. For the study, researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, led by Martin Gibala, Ph.D., observed two groups of sedentary youngsters. One group climbed three flights of stairs three times a day and had recovery sessions of between one and four hours in between, while the other group did not exercise. At the end of the study period, the cardiorespiratory health of both groups was assessed. The group that performed the stair climbing each day had higher cardiorespiratory fitness than the group that did no exercise. Moreover, the stair climbers were also found to be stronger at the end of the intervention. Jonathan Little, Ph.D., an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of British Columbia in Okanagan, Canada, and study co-author, said: “We know that sprint interval training works, but we were a bit surprised to see that the stair snacking approach was also effective. “Vigorously climbing a few flights of stairs on your coffee or bathroom break during the day seems to be enough to boost fitness in people who are otherwise sedentary.” So there you have it. You can boost your cardiorespiratory health by simply adding ‘exercise snacks’ into your daily routine.

Could a simple breath test detect cancer?

08/01/2019

A clinical trial is underway in Cambridge to determine whether a breath test can accurately detect the presence of cancer. Scientists from Cancer Research UK want to see if any cancer signatures can be picked up in breath samples. If they can, the hope is that such breath tests could be used alongside current blood and urine tests help doctors detect cancer at an early stage going forward. However, we won’t know the results of the trial for at least two years. When cells in the human body carry out biochemical reactions, molecules known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released. But if cancer is present, a different pattern of molecules is produced. The team is trying to determine if these different signatures can be detected in a person’s breath. The ultimate goal would be to develop a test that can not only detect cancer cells, but accurately pinpoint where they are i.e. what type of cancer. For the trial, breath samples from some 1,500 individuals will be analysed – some of who have cancer. Dr David Crosby, head of early detection research at Cancer Research UK, said breath tests had the potential "to revolutionise the way we detect and diagnose cancer in the future".

Mediterranean diet Linked to healthy brain aging

03/01/2019

The New Year is here and for many that means attempting to stick to one or a bunch of resolutions. Eating more healthily, doing more exercise and quitting smoking will be at the top of the list for many people. If one of your goals for 2019 is eating more healthily, perhaps you should consider following a Mediterranean diet. While it varies depending on where you go, a Mediterranean diet, in a nutshell, is one that incorporates all of the healthy eating habits of people who live in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Greece, Italy and Spain - so more vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, grains, cereals, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. And less meat and dairy foods. As well as being linked with better health, including a healthier heart, a Mediterranean diet also promotes healthy brain aging, according to new research. A recent study involving 116 healthy adults aged 65–75 years, conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, found that participants who ate a Mediterranean diet performed better in memory, general intelligence, and executive function tests. “Our study suggests that diet and nutrition moderate the association between network efficiency and cognitive performance,” said Aron Barbey, a psychology professor at The University of Illinois.

Commercial drone successfully delivers vaccine to remote island

20/12/2018

For the first time ever, a commercial drone has been used to deliver an important vaccine to a remote island. Unicef arranged for the drone to carry the vaccine 40km (25 miles) across rugged mountains in Vanuatu, a small Pacific island. The vaccine was given by local nurse Miriam Nampil to 13 children and five pregnant women. While it’s not the first time that a drone has been used to deliver medicine to remote areas, it is a first for a country to reach out to a commercial drone company to help with vaccine delivery. Approximately 20% of all children in Vanuatu do not receive vaccines because getting them there is too difficult. Following the successful trial flight at the beginning of December, Unicef now hopes that drones will play an important role in facilitating remote vaccination programmes going forward. “Today's small flight by drone is a big leap for global health,” said Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore. “With the world still struggling to immunize the hardest to reach children, drone technologies can be a game changer for bridging that last mile to reach every child.” Vaccines have to be kept cool, which presents several challenges when transporting them long distances. If undertaken on foot, the journey would have taken several hours. By drone, however, with the vaccine stored in a styrofoam box with ice packs and a temperature logger to monitor conditions, the delivery took just 25 minutes. Follow this link to Twitter to see some footage of the drone in action: https://twitter.com/UNICEFPacific/status/1070603704414298112

Le Nobel de médecine 2018 récompense l’immunothérapie contre le cancer

30/11/2018

  Les lauréats du Nobel de médecine 2018, James Allison et Tasuku Honjo, ont révolutionné l’approche pour traiter les tumeurs, en trouvant le moyen d’activer la réponse du système immunitaire. Le Prix Nobel de médecine 2018 récompense l’Américain James Allison et le Japonais Tasuku Honjo, deux chercheurs qui ont développé une approche totalement innovante contre les cancers. De manière isolée, les deux hommes ont trouvé le moyen d’activer le système immunitaire de l’organisme pour l’aider à éliminer lui-même des tumeurs, une technique en plein essor appelée immunothérapie. Cancer: l’immunothérapie cherche à repousser ses limites Jusque-là, les médecins avaient accès à trois voies majeures pour lutter contre les cancers: la chirurgie, la radiothérapie pour irradier les tumeurs et les médicaments s’attaquant aux cellules tumorales, comme la chimiothérapie. Les travaux de James Allison, du centre MD Anderson de l’université du Texas et Tasuku Honjo, de l’université de Kyoto, apportent ainsi une quatrième approche, en stimulant le système immunitaire. Lymphocytes T La clé de l’approche inventée par les deux scientifiques, de manière totalement indépendante l’un de l’autre, repose sur le fonctionnement les lymphocytes T, les cellules responsables de la réponse immunitaire de l’organisme. Dans le cas de la plupart des tumeurs, les lymphocytes T n’arrivent pas à percevoir les cellules cancéreuses comme une menace, et n’essaient même pas de les détruire. Immunothérapie et chimio, une combinaison gagnante contre certains cancers James Allison a découvert un récepteur sur les lymphocytes T, appelé CTLA4, qui agit comme un frein sur leur fonctionnement. Avec un anticorps spécifique ciblant ce récepteur, un anti-CTLA4, Allison a prouvé qu’il pouvait guérir des souris victimes de tumeurs. Un succès spectaculaire qui a par la suite été reproduit chez l’homme, d’abord pour des mélanomes, puis pour bien d’autres types de tumeurs par la suite. De son côté, Tasuku Honjo a découvert une protéine, PD1, qui pouvait elle aussi agir comme un frein pour empêcher les lymphocytes T d’agir. Indépendamment des travaux d’Allison, le chercheur japonais a lui aussi trouvé un moyen d’inhiber PD1, permettant aux cellules du système immunitaires de s’attaquer efficacement à des mélanomes, puis à de nombreuses autres tumeurs. Cyrille Vanlerberghe, Le Figaro France

UK university students are increasingly seeking mental health support

30/10/2018

There’s been a worrying increase in the number of university students in the UK seeking mental health support over the past five years, a new analysis by the BBC has found. Between 2012 and 2017, the number of students seeking mental health support rose from 50,900 to 78,100 (an increase of 53.44%). This is despite the number of people going to university actually dropping slightly over this period. Furthermore, at the same time, budgets for student mental health support services actually increased by more than 40%. According to the National Union of Students (NUS), young people attending university are under increasing pressure to do well. Eva Crossan Jory, Vice-President of the NUS, said: “There is a growth in demand [for mental health services] over the last decade, in part, because the reality of studying in the UK has changed so much. “Many are balancing work, study and caring responsibilities. With fees so high, and the job market so competitive, students feel they have to continually push themselves, perhaps more so than before.” One university in the UK in particular, the University of Bristol, hit the headlines because of its high suicide rates. Since October 2016, 11 students have taken their own lives at the university. A spokesperson for the university said it had adopted an institution-wide approach to help identify vulnerable students as early as possible and get them the right support.

Sit-stand desks boost work performance, study suggests

16/10/2018

Workers who utilise standing desks are less tired and more engaged, new research suggests. For the research, led by a team from Loughborough University and experts from Leicester, NHS workers were given new height-adjustable desks and set goals for the amount of time they spent standing up. At the start of the year-long study, a group of 146 mainly sedentary NHS staff were split into two groups. One group were given height-adjustable workstations, also known as sit-stand desks, while the other group continued to use their traditional sitting desks. After a year, the research team assessed the amount of time workers spent sitting and working. They found that sitting time was lowered in the group with sit-stand desks by 82.39 minutes per day at 12 months. The same group also reported that they were less tired and more engaged in their work. According to the research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the sit-stand group also reported improvements in musculoskeletal problems and a better quality of life. The sedentary lifestyles many office workers today lead are often cited as one of the primary reasons for the increasing number of obese individuals. Could something as simple as a sit-stand desk be the answer to combatting this epidemic and help us start leading healthier lives?

Less screen time linked to better cognitive performance

02/10/2018

Tablets, mobile phones and other handheld devices are extremely popular among children (and their parents). The former get visual stimulation, while the latter get some peace and quiet. But how does screen use affect a child’s cognitive ability? Well, according to a new study by researchers at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, less screen time results in better cognition. Specifically, children aged eight to 11 who used screens for fun for more than two hours every day performed more poorly in cognition tests than their counterparts who got less screen time. Moreover, the researchers found that less screen time, nine to 11 hours of sleep every night and at least one hour of physical activity led to even better results. Nevertheless, less than two hours screen time each day was the factor linked with the best performance results. Speaking about the findings of the study, Dr Jeremy Walsh, from the CHEO Research Institute, said: “Based on our findings, paediatricians, parents, educators, and policymakers should promote limiting recreational screen time and prioritising healthy sleep routines throughout childhood and adolescence.” The study, which looked at data from 4,500 children aged 8-11 from 20 locations across the U.S., is published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

Smokers told not to go cold turkey when wanting to quit

27/09/2018

A new report from Public Health England (PHE) shows that smokers who take advantage of local support services and stop smoking aids, like e-cigarettes, inhalers and nicotine patches, stand a much greater chance of successfully kicking the habit. Quitting smoking using willpower alone, often referred to as ‘going cold turkey,’ only works for a small number of people who try it, with just 4% remaining smoke-free after 12 months. Nevertheless, of the six in 10 smokers in England who want to quit, the majority try to do so using the cold turkey method. But by turning to a combination of local support services and nicotine replacement therapies, smokers could witness much better success, according to PHE. In fact, PHE says that 51% of smokers who utilised local support services successfully quit and this figure rose to 63% for those who incorporated an e-cigarette or similar into their efforts. To further boost the stop smoking drive in England, PHE has created the Stoptober campaign. In addition to increasing awareness about the most effective ways to quit smoking, the campaign also has its own free online personal quit plan. This plan provides personalised stop smoking advice based on a smoker’s answers to three quick questions. There’s even an official Stoptober app to help smokers stay on track and get stop smoking advice while on the go. The Stoptober campaign centres on three really good reasons to kick the smoking habit: feel healthier, save money and protect your family – can’t really argue with that!

France Surgery and Sancheng Digital sign partnership

17/09/2018

Sancheng Digital, Europe to China marketing company and France Surgery, France's leading medical tourism company signed a partnership deal this week. The signing took place at TBSeeds - Toulouse Business School's start-up incubator.   (Sancheng Digital and France Surgery have strong links to Toulouse Business School, the founders of both companies having studied at the institution.)  Chinese outbound medical tourism is growing year on year as Chinese consumers seek to access medical treatment unavailable to them in their home country. Hanya Cao co-founder Sancheng Digital: "Sancheng Digital are excited to be working hand in hand with France Surgery to enable them to strengthen their position in the Chinese market." Carine HILAIRE co-founder France Surgery: "Sancheng Digital's expertise in China focused marketing made them a perfect business partner for France Surgery in our quest to build strong relationships with Chinese clients." Annexe: “Chinese outbound tourism figures continue to grow. Estimates show 500,000 outbound Chinese medical travellers spend at least $10 billion a year, lucrative for medical tourism destinations in Southeast Asia, Europe and the USA.” https://www.imtj.com/news/130m-chinese-holiday-abroad-outbound-medical-tourists-estimated-05m/ Sancheng Digital和France Surgery签署战略合作协议      2018年9月11日,Sancheng Digital 和 France Surgery 在法国图卢兹商学院创业孵化中心签署了一项重要合作协议。Sancheng Digital立足法国南部,致力于中欧贸易合作和国际市场营销服务。在协议签署后, France Surgury 将在其助力下进一步打开中国境外医疗旅游市场。     据报道,随着中国经济稳步增长,中国出境医疗旅游市场也成为各国看好的新蓝海。医疗体检和疗养旅游深受中国中产阶级青睐,除此之外,在癌症等恶性疾病治疗领域,欧美等国往往拥有更充足的医疗资源和更先进的研发治疗手段,因此也吸引着越来越多的中国患者前往海外接受治疗。      France Surgery的创始人凯莉.希拉里 (Carine HILAIRE) 说: "目前我们已经为许多来自欧美,中东,北非地区的病患提供了系列帮助,中国将会是我们的下一站,很高兴我们能和Sancheng Digital成为战略合作伙伴,相信在他们的支持下,我们能更好的了解中国病人的需求,推广法国的医疗旅游品牌,帮助更多中国病患在法国接受相关治疗,重获健康。"

Mental health apps could be contributing to overdiagnosis

04/09/2018

There’s a mobile application (app) for just about everything nowadays, including helping us deal with our wellbeing. These so-called mental health apps often provide help and comfort for the people who use them, but new research suggests they could be missing the mark by quite some way. According to researchers from The University of Sydney and The University of Adelaide, both in Australia, there could be some major problems with how mental health apps frame mental illness (diagnose it) and the advice they give for dealing with it. For the research, a qualitative content analysis of 61 mental health apps from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia was conducted. The main problem that was identified was a tendency to promote medicalization of normal mental health states, leading to overdiagnosis. Furthermore, the apps encouraged people to use them frequently and promoted “personal responsibility” for improvement of conditions. While any form of medical self-help, including apps, can be useful, they should only form part of an overall plan for coping with mental illness. The bottom line is that people should never rely solely on apps and seek help from a therapist if they are concerned about their mental health. Relying on technology, unfortunately, does have its limitations.

How computers are being used to fight cholera in Yemen

30/08/2018

Computers and technology have been revolutionising the healthcare industry for many years. Whether it’s something simple like managing patient records or super-advanced robot-assisted surgery, computers and technology are now engrained in all aspects of medical care. Now, exciting and much-needed progress is being made (using computers) to tackle the cholera epidemic in Yemen. The computer system predicts where outbreaks will occur, allowing aid workers to focus their efforts on prevention in advance. As a result, the number of new cases has plummeted. Last year, a staggering 50,000 new cholera cases were reported in Yemen in just one week. This year, that number has dropped considerably to 2,500. The system - the implementation of which was coordinated by the UK's Department for International Development - monitors rainfall and identifies areas where sewage systems are likely to be overwhelmed, leading to the infection spreading. The forecasts are used, sometimes up to four weeks in advance, to deploy Unicef resources on the ground to potential cholera hotspots, where they distribute hygiene kits, jerrycans and chlorine tablets. Speaking about the new computer system, Prof Charlotte Watts, chief scientific adviser at the UK Department for International Development, said: “What this technology enables us to do is really home in to where we're going to get new outbreaks, and respond really effectively.”

L’Institut Pasteur veut ressusciter le BCG avec des souches centenaires

29/08/2018

  Les chercheurs espèrent retrouver l’efficacité du vaccin originel contre la tuberculose. Avec beaucoup de minutie, le Dr Philip Supply enfile ses gants en latex bleu et sa surblouse. Concentré, il s’installe devant son isolateur, passe ses deux bras dans les manches en caoutchouc et enfile une nouvelle paire de gants. Après un petit temps de pause, le microbiologiste saisit délicatement l’un des trois tubes à essais disposés devant lui. Le stress se lit sur son visage. Il a entre ses mains les souches originelles du BCG. Celles qui ont permis le développement du vaccin contre la tuberculose il y a plus de cent ans. Celles qui devraient permettre aujourd’hui de créer un nouveau vaccin indispensable en raison de la perte d’efficacité du vaccin actuel. Ces tubes n’avaient jamais été ouverts depuis les années 1920. Un trésor. «Les souches vaccinales actuellement utilisées ne permettent pas d’enrayer l’épidémie mondiale de tuberculose» Dr Philip Supply, directeur de recherche  à l’Institut Pasteur de Lille «C’est une grande responsabilité», glisse le directeur de recherche CNRS Institut Pasteur de Lille, qui confie que la pression a quelque peu perturbé son sommeil ces dernières nuits. «Ces souches appartiennent au patrimoine historique de l’Institut. Elles sont très précieuses», poursuit-il. L’Institut Pasteur de Lille est, en effet, le berceau du vaccin contre la tuberculose. Maladie la plus mortelle, devant le sida et le paludisme Mais aujourd’hui, le vaccin le plus utilisé au monde n’est donc plus aussi efficace. Il s’est affaibli au fil du temps. «Les souches vaccinales actuellement utilisées ne protègent pas contre les formes les plus fréquentes de la tuberculose, qui sont malheureusement les formes contagieuses. Elles ne permettent donc pas d’enrayer l’épidémie mondiale de tuberculose», explique le Dr Supply. Encore aujourd’hui, 10 millions de personnes sont contaminées dans le monde tous les ans et 1,7 million en meurent. «La tuberculose est la maladie la plus mortelle devant le sida et le paludisme», relève le microbiologiste. Alors, à l’aide des souches originelles du BCG, l’Institut Pasteur aimerait mettre au point une nouvelle version du vaccin, plus proche de l’originel. «Au cours de leur culture, les nouvelles souches vaccinales ont accumulé un grand nombre de mutations génétiques qui expliqueraient l’atténuation du pouvoir protecteur du vaccin. Nous souhaitons identifier les modifications responsables et ainsi améliorer l’efficacité du vaccin», explique le chercheur. Sur plus de 500.000 personnes atteintes de tuberculose multirésistante dans le monde, près de 160.000 sont mortes, faute d’un traitement efficace

Too much exercise can negatively impact mental health - study

14/08/2018

A large-scale study has found that just 45 minutes of physical exercise three to five times a week can improve mental wellbeing. [Related reading: People who abstain from alcohol in middle age may have higher risk of dementia] According to the US study of 1.2 million people, people who exercised regularly had fewer “bad days” a month than their non-exercising counterparts. Furthermore, while activities such as cycling, aerobics and team sports had the greatest positive impact, all types of physical activity, including things like doing household chores and looking after kids, were found to improve mental health. Moreover, people who had previously been diagnosed with a mental health condition like depression were found to afford the greatest benefits. The optimal routine identified by the researchers was being physically active for 30 to 60 minutes every second day. More interesting is the researchers’ finding that too much exercise can have a negative impact. Dr Adam Chekroud, study author and assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University, said: "Previously, people have believed that the more exercise you do, the better your mental health, but our study suggests that this is not the case. "Doing exercise more than 23 times a month, or exercising for longer than 90-minute sessions is associated with worse mental health." The findings of the study are published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal.

Une bactérie est responsable de 90% des cas de cancer de l’estomac

10/08/2018

Par  Martine Lochouarn Publié le 17/06/2018 à 06:00   INFOGRAPHIE - Un diagnostic précoce de ce cancer permettrait d’améliorer la prise en charge. Au cinquième rang mondial par sa fréquence, le cancer de l’estomac figure en troisième place par le nombre de morts, près de 9 % de tous les décès par cancer. Son incidence varie selon les régions du globe, les ethnies et le niveau de développement. L’Asie de l’Est, Japon, Corée et Chine surtout, est fortement touchée, mais aussi l’Amérique du Sud. «Intermédiaire en Europe de l’Est, son incidence est plus faible en Europe de l’Ouest, à l’exception du Portugal, fortement touché», explique le Pr Tamara Matysiak-Budnik, gastro-entérologue et cancérologue (CHU Nantes). En France, de 6000 à 7000 nouveaux cas sont diagnostiqués chaque année, pour 4500 décès. C’est un cancer du sujet âgé, de pronostic médiocre. En quelques décennies, les progrès de l’hygiène alimentaire ont beaucoup réduit son incidence, qui est aujourd’hui assez stable.   «L’association démontrée entre infection par H.pylori et cancer gastrique est aussi forte que celle entre tabac et cancer du poumon.» Pr Tamara Matysiak-Budnik,  gastro-entérologue et cancérologue (CHU Nantes) La forme la plus fréquente, qui touche le corps et la partie basse de l’estomac, diminue encore peu à peu, mais les cancers de la jonction estomac-oesophage (cardia) plus rares, augmentent avec l’épidémie d’obésité qui favorise le reflux gastro-œsophagien. Moins de 5 % des cancers sont d’origine génétique. Il s’agit souvent de cancers «diffus», infiltrant l’estomac, de très mauvais pronostic, qui touchent des sujets jeunes. Mais le premier facteur de risque de cancer de l’estomac, c’est l’infection par Helicobacter pylori, responsable de près de 90 % des cas. Cette bactérie acquise dans l’enfance colonise la muqueuse gastrique, le plus souvent sans symptôme. «L’association démontrée entre infection par H. pylori et cancer gastrique est aussi forte que celle entre tabac et cancer du poumon», explique la gastro-entérologue. En France, de 20 à 30 % des individus sont infectés, mais 80 % le sont en Afrique et 10 % dans les pays nordiques.   Parmi les personnes infectées, de 2 à 20 % auront un ulcère, et parmi elles 1 % aura un cancer gastrique. «Ce processus complexe de carcinogenèse s’étend sur des décennies et passe par une cascade d’étapes, dont la première, la gastrite superficielle, ne survient pas sans infection par H. pylori, ce qui ne signifie pas que cette infection est suffisante», explique le Pr Matysiak-Budnik. L’excès de sel, de viande rouge, d’aliments fumés, le tabac favorisent aussi ce processus, les fruits et légumes ayant un effet protecteur. Les antibiotiques pour éradiquer la bactérie «L’éradication par antibiotiques de l’infection à H. pylori guérit et fait régresser les gastrites superficielles et la plupart des gastrites atrophiques, prévenant ainsi le cancer de l’estomac.» Comme l’incidence de ce cancer est faible en France, un dépistage sur toute la population ne paraît pas adapté. Mais il existe au Japon, et la Slovénie l’envisage. En revanche, la recherche de H. pylori et son éradication sont indispensables dans les formes héréditaires, chez les parents au premier degré de personnes ayant un cancer gastrique, chez les personnes ayant un ulcère, une gastrique atrophique, précancéreuse, ou ayant subi une ablation partielle de l’estomac pour cancer, et chez celles traitées au long cours par certains médicaments anti-acide, les IPP (inhibiteurs de la pompe à protons). La lésion peut être retirée par endoscopie Si le cancer gastrique a un pronostic médiocre, c’est d’abord à cause de son diagnostic tardif, les cancers précoces ne donnant pas de symptômes. Parfois, une lésion précoce est découverte par des signes très généraux comme une anémie. «Mais le plus souvent ils sont détectés à un stade évolué, parce que surviennent une hémorragie digestive, des douleurs qui ressemblent à un ulcère, un amaigrissement, des difficultés d’alimentation… C’est l’examen endoscopique et la biopsie des lésions qui confirment ce diagnostic, explique le Pr Thomas Aparicio, gastro-entérologue et cancérologue (hôpital Saint-Louis, Paris). Si la lésion est petite et superficielle, elle est parfois enlevée par endoscopie dans des centres très expérimentés. Mais la laparoscopie est moins utilisée que dans le cancer du côlon, et l’ablation chirurgicale se fait le plus souvent en ouvrant l’abdomen.» Le principal progrès de ces quinze dernières années dans l’amélioration de la survie, c’est la chimiothérapie périopératoire, avec en général deux mois de chimiothérapie préopératoire pour réduire la tumeur et éliminer les micrométastases, et deux mois de chimiothérapie postopératoire. Les 30 % de cancers métastatiques d’emblée ne sont pas opérés. Comme pour d’autres tumeurs, ces formes métastatiques commencent à bénéficier des avancées des thérapies ciblées et de l’immunothérapie. Mais, globalement, les progrès sont modestes et les essais souvent décevants. «Notre arme principale reste la détection, le plus précoce possible, qui a un peu progressé puisqu’on identifie 10 % de cancers superficiels précoces, contre 4 % il y a dix ans», insiste le Pr Matysiak-Budnik. De nouveaux tests en cours d’évaluation pourraient aider à améliorer ce dépistage…        

Une piste pour traiter les kystes des ovaires

06/08/2018

Le syndrome des ovaires polykystiques (SOPK) est la cause la plus fréquente des troubles de l’ovulation. Son nom jargonneux ne vous dit peut-être rien, mais c’est pourtant une pathologie féminine très répandue. Le syndrome des ovaires polykystiques (SOPK) est la cause la plus fréquente des troubles de l’ovulation, d’infertilité et d’hyperandrogénie (surproduction d’hormones masculines) chez les femmes. Plus d’une sur dix est concernée. Malgré sa fréquence, ce trouble hormonal comporte encore beaucoup d’inconnues pour le monde médical. On sait par exemple qu’une mère atteinte de SOPK a 70 % de risque de transmettre la maladie à sa fille. Beaucoup de recherches ont donc porté sur la génétique de cette maladie, «mais ce qui a été découvert ne suffisait pas à en expliquer toute l’héritabilité», explique Paolo Giacobini, directeur de recherche Inserm/Université de Lille, qui vient de publier dans Nature Medicine un article sur une autre piste de recherche.   Syndrome des ovaires polykystiques: quand les ovaires se masculinisent Son équipe s’est intéressée à la vie in utero du fœtus fille dont la mère est atteinte de SOPK. Sachant que le syndrome est induit par une exposition anormale du bébé à la testostérone, ils ont cherché ce qui pourrait en être l’élément déclencheur. Leurs analyses ont ainsi montré qu’une hormone des ovaires, l’AMH, continue à être produite pendant la grossesse chez les femmes SOPK minces, au contraire des femmes non atteintes. «En résumé, on suggère que l’AMH pourrait être responsable de la masculinisation du cerveau des petites souris femelles» Paolo Giacobini, directeur de recherche Inserm/Université de Lille Poursuivant leur travail sur des rongeurs, ils ont ensuite vérifié que la production anormale de cette hormone pendant la grossesse induit, par un effet domino propre au système hormonal féminin, le syndrome SOPK chez les petites souris femelles, en exposant leur cerveau à un taux élevé de testostérone. «En résumé, on suggère que l’AMH pourrait être responsable de la masculinisation du cerveau des petites souris femelles. À l’âge adulte, certains de leurs neurones auront une activité anormale, à l’origine d’une surproduction de testostérone par les ovaires», explique Paolo Giacobini. Or cet excès d’hormones masculines est la cause des troubles de l’ovulation observés chez les femmes ayant un SOPK, pouvant conduire à une infertilité. Poussant plus loin leur investigation, les chercheurs sont même parvenus à rétablir la fertilité des souris malades avec un médicament, une molécule déjà utilisée depuis des années sur la femme dans le cadre des fécondations in vitro. Prise en charge codifiée Responsable de l’unité de gynécologie endocrinienne du CHRU de Lille, Geoffroy Robin salue un «très beau travail» qui renforce l’idée que «l’hormone AMH a un rôle important dans les mécanismes à l’origine du SOPK», même si ces conclusions doivent encore être confirmées pour l’espèce humaine. «De là à en déduire qu’il y aura un jour un traitement contre le SOPK que l’on pourrait donner pendant la grossesse et sans risque pour le bébé, c’est peut-être un peu rapide», met-il en garde. «Une autre piste à explorer consisterait à traiter la petite fille à la naissance, pour éviter qu’elle ne développe la maladie une fois adulte» Paolo Giacobini, directeur de recherche Inserm/Université de Lille Une prudence partagée par Paolo Giacobini, qui souligne qu’il est délicat de tester un traitement sur les femmes enceintes, par crainte d’effets secondaires inattendus sur le bébé à naître. «Une autre piste à explorer consisterait à traiter la petite fille à la naissance, pour éviter qu’elle ne développe la maladie une fois adulte», indique-t-il. En attendant, le Dr Robin rappelle qu’aujourd’hui la prise en charge de l’infertilité liée au SOPK est de «très bon pronostic», même si la route est parfois longue et éprouvante pour le couple. «La prise en charge est bien codifiée: on débute par des traitements inducteurs d’ovulation par voie orale, puis, si ça ne marche pas, des injections de gonadotrophines. Si cela ne suffit toujours pas, on a recours à la fécondation in vitro. Les couples finissent dans la grande majorité des cas par avoir un bébé.»          

Une maladie sanguine guérie par thérapie génique

11/07/2018

INFOGRAPHIE - Un essai clinique a permis de soigner 22 personnes souffrant de bêta-thalassémie, une anémie d’origine génétique. Une collaboration majoritairement franco-américaine a obtenu un beau succès thérapeutique contre une pathologie sanguine, la bêta-thalassémie. Cette maladie génétique est rare en France, avec environ 600 malades, mais elle est bien plus fréquente au sein de certaines populations dans le pourtour méditerranéen, en Asie ou encore en Afrique noire. Elle est provoquée par un défaut dans un gène qui perturbe la production de l’hémoglobine, et qui se traduit par des globules rouges qui ne font plus assez bien leur travail et provoquent des anémies plus ou moins sévères, qu’il faut compenser par des transfusions. Les premiers résultats d’un essai clinique publiés le jeudi 19 avril dans la revue New England Journal of Medicine prouvent l’efficacité d’un traitement de thérapie génique, où les mutations qui provoquent la maladie ont été corrigées dans les cellules des malades. En 2010, un premier malade avait été soigné avec cette technique, et l’essai clinique qui vient de se dérouler sur 22 malades prouve que ce succès n’était pas un cas isolé. Douze d’entre eux n’ont plus du tout besoin de transfusion sanguine, et trois autres ont pu réduire la fréquence de ces injections de globules rouges. Gène correcteur dans les cellules souches L’idée de la thérapie génique, insérer un gène «réparé» dans l’organisme du patient pour soigner sa maladie, a été très largement mise en avant depuis des années, notamment par le Téléthon, mais les vrais succès sont encore rares. «Pour la bêta-thalassémie, j’ai eu l’idée de ce traitement il y a déjà une vingtaine d’années, mais la mise au point a été très longue, très difficile», reconnaît le Pr Philippe Leboulch, haut conseiller pour l’innovation médicale de la direction de la recherche fondamentale du CEA. Les premiers tests réussis sur des souris avaient été publiés il y a dix-sept ans dans la revue Nature, et le passage à une technique efficace chez l’homme a été long. La bêta-thalassémie était dès le départ une cible intéressante, car elle est provoquée par la mutation d’un seul gène. Mais la grande difficulté a été de réussir à corriger ce gène dans le corps du malade, et plus précisément dans les cellules souches dites hématopoïétiques, les «usines» qui produisent en continu les cellules sanguines de l’organisme. Traitement moins lourd pour le malade C’est ce scénario idéal qui s’est produit pour 12 des 22 patients traités, dont certains dans le service du Pr Marina Cavazzana à l’hôpital Necker-Enfants malades à Paris, en collaboration avec l’institut Imagine (AP-HP/Inserm/Université Paris-Descartes). Les cellules génétiquement corrigées qu’ils ont reçues se sont bien implantées, et ont permis de produire suffisamment d’hémoglobine saine pour qu’ils n’aient plus besoin de recevoir des transfusions sanguines régulières. « J’ai bientôt 24 ans et j’ai bénéficié d’une autogreffe il y a quatre ans, témoigne une patiente du Pr Marina Cavazzana. Grâce à ça, aujourd’hui, je n’ai plus de transfusion mais surtout plus de Desféral, qui était mon traitement afin de descendre ma ferritine.» Le Desféral est un  traitement contre l’effet délétère des dépôts de fer causés par ces transfusions. Dernier avantage, ce traitement est moins lourd pour le malade que les greffes de moelle osseuse, qui ne sont d’ailleurs possibles que dans 25 % des cas.    

Vivre en ville nuit à la qualité de notre peau.

10/07/2018

Une étude coréenne montre que la pollution atmosphérique est néfaste pour la flore cutanée. Depuis quelques années, les études sur la flore intestinale (ou microbiote intestinal) se multiplient. Côlon irritable, maladie de Crohn, 

VIH/sida : toujours 6000 contaminations chaque année en France

09/07/2018

Un trop grand nombre de personnes sont séropositives sans le savoir et risquent de transmettre à leur tour le virus. En 2016, 5,4 millions de sérologies VIH (virus de l’immunodéficience humaine) ont été réalisées en France par des laboratoires de biologie médicale, dont 300.000 anonymement. Un chiffre considérable qui a conduit à la découverte d’environ 6000 nouvelles contaminations. Un chiffre désespérément constant depuis une petite dizaine d’années. L’une des explications vient sans doute de l’épidémie cachée, c’est-à-dire des personnes contaminées (séropositives) sans le savoir. Ils seraient 25.000 en France selon une modélisation de l’Inserm. On comptait pourtant beaucoup ces dernières années sur l’arrivée de nouveaux outils de dépistage pour réduire ce foyer occulte. Hélas, ni le dépistage communautaire possible depuis septembre 2011 en France par test rapide d’orientation diagnostiques (Trod), 56.300 réalisés l’an dernier, ni les 75.000  autotests vendus en pharmacie en 2016 (disponibles depuis septembre 2015) n’ont amélioré sensiblement la situation. ls ont néanmoins l’intérêt d’atteindre une population particulièrement exposée au VIH, principalement les hommes ayant des rapports avec des hommes (HSH) et les migrants. Ces deux groupes constituaient les deux tiers des personnes dépistées par des tests rapides. «Plus on connaît tôt son statut sérologique, plus le bénéfice est grand» François Bourdillon, le directeur général de Santé publique France Les experts de Santé publique France, qui ont publié un bulletin épidémiologique hebdomadaire entièrement consacré à l’épidémie d’infection à VIH/sida, soulignent deux enjeux de santé publique: le retard diagnostic et la dynamique de l’épidémie dans certains groupes de population (HSH, migrants originaires d’Afrique subsaharienne). Le retard diagnostic reste important, «Plus on connaît tôt son statut sérologique, plus le bénéfice est grand, rappelle François Bourdillon, le directeur général de Santé publique France. Le bénéfice est individuel mais aussi collectif car le risque de transmettre le VIH à un partenaire pour une personne traitée avec une charge virale indétectable est quasi nul.» Même dans le groupe des HSH, pourtant sensibilisé au VIH/sida et bien informé sur les moyens de protections tels que la PrEP (prophylaxie pré-exposition), seulement la moitié des infections font l’objet d’un dépistage précoce et 18 % des infections sont découvertes à un stade avancé. La majorité des nouvelles contaminations concerne toujours les hétérosexuels (3200), devant les HSH (2600). Cependant la découverte de séropositivité diminue d’année en année (-9 % entre 2013 et 2016) chez les hétérosexuels, avec une baisse plus marquée chez les hommes que chez les femmes, alors qu’elle reste stable chez les HSH.  

Eating nuts regularly could improve a man's sperm quality

05/07/2018

A new study suggests that eating nuts regularly can improve both a man’s sperm count and the quality of the sperm produced. Experts say the finding is significant given that sperm counts across the Western world are in decline, a reality that’s been attributed to pollution, smoking and diet. At present, around one in seven couples have difficulty getting pregnant and figures show that 40-50% of infertility cases are attributable to men. For the study, scientists randomly split 119 healthy men between the ages of 18 and 35 into two groups. One group had 60 grams (2oz) of nuts added to their normal diet each day, while the other continued to eat as they always had done. The group that had the nuts added to their diet were found to have improved sperm – 14% greater count, 4% better vitality, 6% better motility (movement) and 1% better morphology (shape and size) – all of which are considered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be measures of  sperm quality. Dr Albert Salas-Huetos, from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain, who led the study, said: "Evidence is accumulating in the literature that healthy lifestyle changes such as following a healthy dietary pattern might help conception”. The results of the study were recently presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona.

Heat-stable drug could prevent thousands of women dying every year during childbirth

03/07/2018

Each Year, around 70,000 women die due to postpartum haemorrhages, excessive bleeding following the birth of a baby. These haemorrhages also pose a risk to babies, increasing their chances of dying in the first month of life. Until now, there have been drugs available to help prevent these haemorrhages. However, the hot humid conditions found in many of the countries that would benefit from them the most are thought to stop the lifesaving medicines working. That’s why a revamped drug that can withstand extreme heat and remain effective for up to 1,000 days has been hailed as revolutionary by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Experts say the medicine, known as heat-stable carbetocin, should be offered to all women giving birth vaginally across as many as 90 countries around the world. Speaking about the development of heat-stable carbetocin, WHO expert Dr Metin Gulmezoglu said it was “very good news for the millions of women who give birth in parts of the world without access to reliable refrigeration”. He added: “It will help to save many lives of mothers in lower income countries where most deaths occur”. The drug is currently available for other uses ad regulators will now assess whether it can be approved for wider use going forward.

Babies are most likely to be born at 4am, study finds

21/06/2018

Expectant mothers should prepare themselves for an early morning birth, as a new study has found that most babies are born spontaneously between 01:00 and 07:00, with 4am being the most likely time for new babies to be brought into the world. Overall, more than 70% of births took place outside regular working hours, according to the analysis of five million births conducted by researchers from University College London, City, University of London and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT). Planned C-sections tend to happen on weekday mornings, which is understandable, while births after induced labours are more likely to occur around midnight. With just 28% of births occurring between 09:00 and 17:00 on weekdays, the researchers said their findings could be used to determine the staffing of midwives and doctors. Dr Peter Martin, lead author of the paper, who conducted the research while at City, University of London, said the fact more births are likely to occur at night or in the early hours “may be part of our evolutionary heritage. Our ancestors lived in groups that were active and dispersed during the day and came together to rest at night. So a night-time labour and birth probably afforded the mother and new-born baby some protection”.

Bottle feeding is a woman’s right, midwives advised

12/06/2018

A lot of stigma faces mothers who choose not to breastfeed and instead raise their children using formula milk from a bottle. And while the phrase ‘breast is best’ is one that’s commonly quoted when talking about raising babies, the Royal College of Midwives in the UK has issued a new position statement making it explicitly clear that bottle feeding is a woman’s right. While breast is still considered best, some women struggle to produce breast milk and have a torrid time breastfeeding, which is why, the college says, an informed choice must be promoted. The reality, though, is that new mothers feel unfairly pressured however they feed their babies. Mothers who breastfeed often feel constrained when it comes to whether, where, how often and how long they breastfeed. Likewise, mothers who go down the bottle route feel judged or guilty. Experts recommend that babies are exclusively breastfeed until the age of six months, after which time solid foods should also be introduced. But compared to the rest of Europe, the UK has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding. While nearly every new mother attempts to breastfeed at the start, less than half are still exclusively breastfeeding their baby after six weeks. This drops to just 1% after six months. Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "The RCM believes that women should be at the centre of their own care and as with other areas of maternity care, midwives and maternity support workers should promote informed choice. "If, after being given appropriate information, advice and support on breastfeeding, a woman chooses not to do so, or to give formula as well as breastfeeding, her choice must be respected.

Voyages : se protéger contre les maladies

07/06/2018

Paludisme, vaccination et trousse à pharmacie, pour éviter les risques de maladies pendant un voyage il est vital de bien se préparer. À l'approche des vacances d'été, il est important de rappeler que voyager n'est pas sans danger. D'après le dernier rapport de l'Institut de veille sanitaire (InVS), paru le 9 juin dernier, le risque de décès dans le cadre d'un voyage est estimé dans le monde à 1/100.000 par mois. Si ce taux de mortalité peut être considéré comme faible, le risque de contracter une maladie est en revanche beaucoup plus important: il varie de 15 % à 70 % en fonction de la destination, des conditions de séjour et des antécédents médicaux du voyageur. Parmi les maladies les plus fréquemment contractées, la diarrhée devance les infections des voies aériennes supérieures, les dermatoses et la fièvre. Quelques précautions comme la vaccination et une bonne hygiène peuvent radicalement diminuer les risques de contracter ces maladies. Selon l'InVS, quelques points méritent une attention particulière pour mieux voyager cette année: • Le paludisme: une maladie importée en augmentation Le paludisme, transmit par les moustiques, se caractérise par la manifestation d'épisodes aigus de fièvre avec des conséquences parfois mortelles. En France, le rapport de l'InVS évoque une augmentation de 8 % du nombre de cas en 2014 par rapport à 2013, avec 2.299 nouveaux malades. Contrairement au reste du monde où le nombre de contaminés a baissé de 30 % entre les années 2000 et 2013. Pour les autorités sanitaires, cette augmentation s'explique en partie par les opérations militaires à l'étranger, mais aussi par le nombre croissant des cas d'importation parmi la population. Le paludisme sévit principalement dans les zones tropicales, subtropicales ou tempérées chaudes d'Asie, d'Amérique latine et du Moyen-Orient. Cette maladie qui, au niveau mondiale, tue plus de personnes que le sida ne bénéficie d'aucun traitement assurant une protection totale. Pourtant, la prise préventive et journalière de médicaments antipaludiques - non remboursés et délivrés sur ordonnance - ainsi que l'utilisation de moustiquaires et de produits répulsifs ou d'insecticides, permettent de réduire les risques de contamination. • La diarrhée du voyageur: la maladie la plus répandue Le risque de diarrhée peut dépasser les 50 % pour un séjour de trois semaines et se guérit en 1 à 3 jours dans les cas les plus bénins. L'origine de l'infections peut être virale (rotavirus), bactérienne (Escherichia coli) ou parasitaire (Giardia intestinalis). En cas de diarrhée, il est recommandé de boire abondamment des liquides salés et sucrés en alternance et/ou d'utiliser des sels de réhydratation orale (sachets à diluer) pour éviter une perte importante de sels minéraux. Les précautions à prendre sont avant tout des mesures basiques d'hygiène : se laver souvent les mains et consommer de l'eau en bouteille capsulée. Pendant un voyage, le corps n'est pas habitué aux produits locaux: les autorités sanitaires préconisent donc d'éviter les glaçons, les jus de fruits frais, les crudités, les coquillages et de bien cuire les aliments. • Respecter les vaccinations: un rempart contre la plupart des maladies La plupart des maladies liées aux voyages peuvent être prévenues par la vaccination. Pour l'administration du vaccin et des conseils, il vaut mieux se tourner vers son médecin traitant ou vers un centre des voyageurs. - Vaccins nécessaires en France: vérifier la mise à jour des vaccins est essentiel avant de planifier un départ pour des maladies comme la diphtérie, le tétanos, la poliomyélite, la coqueluche et la rougeole. D'autres vaccins plus circonstanciels comme la grippe, l'hépatite A et les pneumocoques sont recommandés si l'on doit côtoyer des foules. - Vaccins nécessaires à l'étranger: ces recommandations dépendent des régions du monde, des conditions de séjour et des facteurs de risque individuels (âge, antécédents médicaux…). Les autorités sanitaires du pays peuvent demander un certificat de vaccination pour l'entrée sur le territoire: international pour des maladies comme la fièvre jaune, ou national pour des infections à méningocoques dans les pèlerinages en Arabie Saoudite. • Les comportements à risque: des conséquences parfois mortelles - Risques sexuels : différents types de maladies peuvent êtres contractés par voie sexuelle: qu'elles soient mortelles et incurables comme le VIH et l'hépatite B ou curables mais hautement contagieuses comme la syphilis, gonococcie, l'herpès etc. - Risques du tourisme médical : dans la plupart des pays aux structures sanitaires insuffisantes, les transfusions sanguines présentent un risque de transmission d'agents pathogènes allant des hépatites B et C jusqu'au VIH. Une hospitalisation peut, dans les pays en développement, provoquer des infections nosocomiales à partir de bactéries multirésistantes comme le staphylocoque doré. - Risques liés aux tatouages et piercing : ils présentent un risque majeur de transmission par le sang d'agents pathogènes des hépatites B et C et du VIH. - Risques liés aux drogues : en plus de favoriser une potentielle contamination par le sang, intoxication ou trouble du comportement, la juridiction de certains pays peut entraîner une condamnation à la peine de mort. • Trousse à pharmacie: prendre soins de ses médicaments Même si la composition de la trousse à pharmacie varie selon la destination et les pathologies personnelles, quelques conseils peuvent être appliqués. Ainsi les médicaments doivent être: dans leur emballage pour éviter les erreurs, accompagnés des ordonnances pour les contrôles et un éventuel achat sur place. Mieux vaut éviter des médicaments sous formes liquides ou en suppositoire. Ils doivent être préservés des variations de température dans un contenant hermétique, accompagnés d'un certificat en règle pour être acceptés en cabine sous forme de seringues, d'aiguilles ou de stylos injecteurs. Enfin, il est nécessaire de prévoir des doses pour tout le voyage, à garder dans le bagage à main, afin d'éviter d'acheter des contrefaçons, nombreuses dans certains pays.

‘Spectacular’ results seen in prostate cancer immunotherapy trial

07/06/2018

In the UK, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. It’s also overtaken breast cancer in recent years to become the third most common type of cancer. That’s why any news when it comes to potential prostate cancer breakthroughs is always exciting. Immunotherapy has been revolutionising the treatment of cancer and now a team from the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital in London have conducted a trial, the results of which they say are "spectacular" and a "big deal". The trial focussed on drugs that boost a patient’s immune system, saving the lives of some men with terminal prostate cancer. Immunotherapy works by helping a person’s immune system recognise and subsequently attack cancer cells. One of the study participants, Michael English, 72, was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005. Radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone-based therapies did not kill his cancer, however. Then, two years ago, he started taking the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab. Today, he is effectively cancer free, with scans no longer showing any signs of the tumour.   However, it’s an approach that will not, unfortunately, help all men. In fact, only between 10% and 15% of patients had any response to the therapy at all. This is not something that’s unusual for immunotherapy. Nell Barrie, from Cancer Research UK, said: "The next step will be to find out how to tell which men will benefit from taking this drug. "This is important as although immunotherapy is exciting, it can have severe side effects".

A million French smokers quit in a year, study finds

29/05/2018

It seems the slew of anti-smoking measures introduced in France have had a dramatic impact on the number of smokers in the country. According to a study conducted by Public Health France, one million people in France quit smoking in the space of a year, with initiatives such as neutral packaging, higher prices and anti-smoking campaigns being praised for attributing to the decline. In 2017, 26.9% of 18- to 75-year-olds smoked every day, compared to 29.4% a year earlier. This equates to a drop of a million smokers, from 13.2 million to 12.2 million over the period. Such a drop has not been seen in a decade and Public Health France says the results are “historic”. The study also revealed a notable decline in daily smoking habits “among the most disadvantaged”, including low-income earners and the unemployed for the first time since the year 2000. French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn welcomed the decline in smoking among those on low incomes, saying that "tobacco is a trajectory of inequality, it weighs particularly on the most disadvantaged and it gets worse". Buzyn plans to raise the price of a pack of cigarettes from around €8 today to €10 by 2020. [Related reading: Cleaning products as bad as 20-a-day cigarette habit for women – study]

Cranberry juice for UTIs: ‘Not enough evidence’ says NICE

17/05/2018

Cranberry juice has long been used by people to provide relief from and even treat urine infections. But new draft guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) say there is not enough good evidence, despite people’s experiences, to recommend it as a treatment. Even though some studies have concluded that cranberry juice may be beneficial for people with urine infections, NICE says people should drink plenty of water or fluids and take painkillers instead. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria, which is why some people may be prescribed antibiotics to treat them, but these drugs are not always necessary. NICE says that when antibiotics are required, the shortest course possible should be prescribed to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance. Prof Mark Baker, director for the centre of guidelines at NICE, said: "We recognise that the majority of UTIs will require antibiotic treatment, but we need to be smarter with our use of these medicines. "Our new guidance will help healthcare professionals to optimise their use of antibiotics. "This will help to protect these vital medicines and ensure that no one experiences side effects from a treatment they do not need."

Drinking alcohol affects the bacteria in a person’s mouth

26/04/2018

Individuals who routinely drink more than one alcoholic beverage every day have an overabundance of bad bacteria and less good bacteria in their mouths, a new study has found. Compared to their non-drinking peers, drinkers have less good, such as Lactobacillales that help protect your gums, and more bad bacteria, such as certain Actinomyces, Bacteroidales, and Neisseria species that can lead to gum disease, heart problems and even some cancers. [Related reading: Regular excess drinking found to shorten life expectancy] Publishing their findings in the science journal Microbiome, the study authors said the acids found in alcoholic drinks could make the oral environment hostile for certain bacteria to grow, hence the lower number of so-called good bacteria. For the study, a group of more than 1,000 individuals had their saliva tested. The group included 270 non-drinkers, 614 moderate drinkers and 160 heavy drinkers. The results show that the drinkers had more Bacteroidales, Actinomyces and Neisseria species of bacteria, all potentially harmful, as well as fewer Lactobacillales, a family of bacteria associated with a reduction of gum inflammation. Talking about the findings of the study, Jiyoung Ahn, the study's senior investigator and an epidemiologist at the NYU School of Medicine, said: "heavy alcohol intake is a known risk factor for multiple chronic diseases, including cancers (head and neck, esophagus, colon and breast), liver disease and cardiovascular diseases."

UK hit by weight-related fatty liver disease epidemic

19/04/2018

One in eight middle-aged UK adults is at risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure and death because they have a potentially serious form of liver disease. The primary cause of this disease? Being overweight, according to new research. Scans of almost 3,000 people from the UK Biobank research project showed that 12% had inflamed, fatty livers. What’s particularly alarming is the silent nature of this disease epidemic, with symptoms often not presenting themselves until permanent damage has been done. However, the condition is reversible if caught in time. The good news is that a new type of MRI scan is showing lots of promise, offering a non-invasive way to evaluate the nature and severity of liver disease. Developed by Perspectum Diagnositics, a spin-off company from the University of Oxford, the new scan utilises smart health technology called LiverMultiScan. Dr Rajarshi Banerjee, CEO of Perspectum Diagnostics said: "LiverMultiScan is a great example of a smart health technology discovered and developed by UK clinicians and scientists with clear benefits for patients, the NHS, and taxpayers. Until now, needle biopsies have been the gold standard for assessing liver disease, but they are costly, invasive, painful and carry some health risks. Meanwhile, LiverMultiScan can be used in any MRI scanner, but it is not part of routine practice yet. David Breen, associate professor of radiology at University Hospital Southampton, said: "The scan gives a map of the entire liver as opposed to a needle-core biopsy which samples just one area and can be unpleasant. "It also allows us to re-scan patients over time and see if they improve."

NHS England to introduce one-stop cancer shops

05/04/2018

NHS England is in the process of introducing ‘one-stop cancer shops’ across the country, the aim of which is to afford quicker diagnoses for patients. At present, patients often face delays as they are sent for several tests to check for different forms of the illness. Despite cancer survival rates having increased over recent decades, patients who do not display obvious signs of cancer often face treatment delays. For example, individuals who have experienced unexplained weight loss, reduced appetite or abdominal pain can be referred several times for different tests, which delays valuable opportunities to begin treatment. The approach NHS England is now adopting was first introduced in Denmark and allows patients to undergo all the necessary tests under one roof. Cally Palmer, national director for cancer at NHS England, said: "Early diagnosis is crucial to saving lives and providing peace of mind for patients, which is why we are driving forward plans to revolutionise our approach to cancer in this country. "These new one-stop shops represent a real step change in the way people with unclear symptoms are identified, diagnosed and treated." The bottom line is that the rapid diagnosis and subsequent fast treatment of cancer is vital for saving lives. Initially, there will be 10 such centres spread across England at the following locations: Royal Free Hospital, London North Middlesex Hospital, London, University College Hospitals London Southend University Hospital Queens Hospital, Romford St James University Hospital, Leeds Airedale General Hospital, West Yorkshire University Hospital, South Manchester Royal Oldham Hospital, Greater Manchester Churchill Hospital, Oxford More centres will be added if the project is a success.

Public Health England tells Britain to 'go on a diet'

08/03/2018

As part of a new obesity drive, Public Health England is telling people in the UK to “get on a diet” and wants to cut portion sizes of some of the nation’s most popular foods. Pizzas, ready meals, takeaways and processed meat will all be targeted as part of the initiative to cut calorie consumption by 20% by 2024. In addition, the government agency has called on the food industry to start using healthier ingredients and encourage people to choose lower calorie foods. The drive to eat healthier will not only improve the health of the nation, but also reduce the burden on the NHS associated with obesity-related illnesses. Public Health England says the cost per year of obesity to the NHS is £6 billion. Combined with the sugar reduction programme that came into effect last year and the sugary drinks levy which comes into force next month, this new initiative will also help reduce the number of calories consumed by children in the UK. Talking about the new steps, Public Heath England chief executive Duncan Selbie said: "Britain needs to go on a diet. Children and adults routinely eat too many calories, and it's why so many are overweight or obese." Food manufacturers, supermarkets, takeaways and fast-food outlets have all been told they need to reduce the calories in the foods such as crisps and savoury snacks, cooking sauces and dressings, ready meals and takeaways, and food-to-go like sandwiches. If these companies do not listen to PHE, the agency said it would be willing to ask the government to legislate. Guidelines suggest that women eat no more than 2,000 calories a day, while men should limit themselves to 2,500.

New Superbug-killing antibiotics found in soil

15/02/2018

Scientists in the United States have found a new family of antibiotics living in soil and early tests show they could be effective in killing several bacterial diseases that have become resistant to existing antibiotic treatments. The compounds, called malacidins, have been shown to kill the superbug MRSA, which is caused by a type of staph bacteria that has become resistant to many of the traditional antibiotics used to treat such infections. Experts say the finding holds a huge amount of promise in the global fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. At present, they are estimated to kill around 700,000 people every year. Discovering new antibiotics in soil isn’t actually that rare. At any one time dirt is teeming with millions of different micro-organisms which produce an abundance of potentially therapeutic compounds, including new antibiotics. A team at New York's Rockefeller University, led by Dr Sean Brady, has been busy unearthing them using a gene sequencing technique to analyse soil samples taken from all over the US. The team had a hunch that malacidins might be important when they found them in many of the soil samples they analysed. Despite the potentially ground-breaking importance of the discovery, Dr Brady stressed there’s still a long way to go, saying: "It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic. It is a long, arduous road from the initial discovery of an antibiotic to a clinically used entity."

Common amino acid found in asparagus linked to spread of breast cancer

08/02/2018

The food you eat could influence the growth rate and spread of cancer, a new study has found. According to scientists at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, breast tumours in mice struggled to grow without the dietary nutrient asparagine, which is found in asparagus, poultry, seafood and many other foods. When mice with an aggressive form of breast cancer were placed on a low-asparagine diet or given drugs to block the amino acid, their tumours struggled to spread. Scientists hope to be able to take advantage of cancer’s so-called culinary addictions in the future and develop new treatments based on certain foods. Prof Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "Interestingly, the drug L-asparaginase is used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which is dependent on asparagine. "It's possible that in future, this drug could be repurposed to help treat breast cancer patients." But before you ban asparagus from your home, be aware that more research is needed, including trials in humans. Also, because asparagine is present in so many foods, it is almost impossible to avoid. Baroness Delyth Morgan, the chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said people should not drastically alter their diets as a result of this research. "We don't recommend patients totally exclude any specific food group from their diet without speaking to their doctors,” she said.

Prostate cancer deaths outnumber those from breast cancer for first time in UK

06/02/2018

New figures show that for the first time ever the number of men dying from prostate cancer in the UK has overtaken female deaths from breast cancer. While lung and bowel cancer remain the top cancer killers, prostate cancer is now third, according to figures released by Prostate Cancer UK. In 2015, 11,819 men died from prostate cancer, compared to 11,442 women from breast cancer – a reality that Prostate Cancer UK says is due to advances in diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The charity says that the UK’s aging population is one of the reasons why more men are developing and dying from prostate cancer. Angela Culhane, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, said prostate cancer survival rates could be increased by developing better diagnostic tests and using them to form a nationwide screening programme. At present, there is no single, reliable test for prostate cancer. Also, men with the disease can live for decades without showing any symptoms. Those most at risk are men with male relatives who have had the disease, black men and men aged over 50. Ms Culhane said: “It's incredibly encouraging to see the tremendous progress that has been made in breast cancer over recent years. “The good news is that many of these developments could be applied to prostate cancer and we're confident that with the right funding, we can dramatically reduce deaths within the next decade.” You can find out more about prostate cancer treatment with us here at France Surgery by visiting the oncology section of our website and selecting the prostate cancer link.

Brain implant could help Alzheimer’s patients live independently for longer

01/02/2018

Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by progressive memory loss and the deterioration of other cognitive functions. It is thought to affect around 5.4 million adults worldwide and, at present, there is no cure. As a result, treatment focuses on managing the symptoms and helping sufferers lead better lives. However, a new brain implant could help people affected by Alzheimer's to live independently for longer. A recent clinical trial at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre in Columbus investigated how deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy can help Alzheimer's patients. It involves implanting very thin electrical wires into the brain's frontal lobes and sending electrical signals, which are regulated by a device in the person’s chest, to stimulate the relevant brain networks. Following the treatment, one long-term dementia patient, LaVonne, 85, can cook meals, dress herself and organise outings. Speaking about the study, Dr Douglas Scharre, from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre, said: "By stimulating this region of the brain, the Alzheimer's subjects' cognitive and daily functional abilities as a whole declined more slowly than Alzheimer's patients' in a matched comparison group not being treated with [deep brain stimulation]." Further research will now be conducted to see whether the DBS therapy can be used in less invasive, non-surgical ways.

Exercise can help middle-aged people reverse heart risk

09/01/2018

While many people will be using the start of the New Year to kick-start certain lifestyle changes in an attempt to become “healthier”, there are some who might think it’s too late based on their age. However, a new study has revealed that it’s often not too late for many who want to improve their fitness. In fact, with exercise, even individuals who are into their late middle age can reduce or even reverse the risk of heart failure caused by years of sedentary living. But there’s a slight catch – it requires at least two years of aerobic exercise four to five days a week. According to the study, which was published in the journal Circulation, individuals aged 45-64 who followed an aerobic exercise routine for two years showed an 18% improvement in their maximum oxygen intake while exercising and a more than 25% improvement in "plasticity" in the left ventricular muscle of the heart, compared to their counterparts who didn’t follow such an exercise regime. The take-home message of the research is that exercise needs to be part of a person’s daily routine, like teeth brushing. Dr Richard Siow, vice-dean for the faculty of life sciences and medicine at King's College London, said: "I think that's a very important take-home message for those of us who may have a doom and gloom view there's nothing we can do about it. Yes there is, we can start by getting off the couch to have a more active lifestyle."

More exercise could be the key to quitting smoking

02/01/2018

It’s January 2 and for many people that means it’s time to start thinking about those New Year’s resolutions. The inevitable over-indulgence during the festive period will have triggered many of us to consider eating more healthily and exercising more this year, while others will be looking to give up smoking. The problem is that nicotine is a very addictive drug and many people struggle to give up cigarettes easily. But new research shows how exercising may reduce tobacco withdrawal symptoms. So, if you’re planning to try and quit, exercise could be the answer. Irritability, trouble sleeping and even depression are all withdrawal symptoms associated with giving up smoking. However, it’s been shown that exercise can reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms. In fact, some older studies have discovered that even 10 minutes of exercise can immediately reduce the effects of tobacco cravings. A team from St George's, University of London, led by Dr. Alexis Bailey, a senior lecturer in neuropharmacology, found that mice addicted to nicotine who undertook two or 24 hours a day wheel running displayed a significant reduction of withdrawal symptom severity compared with the sedentary group. Furthermore, in the group of mice that exercised, researchers were able to see an increase in the activity of alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine, a type of nicotine brain receptor. Most startling of all was the fact just two hours of exercise daily had as much effect on relieving the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal as exercising continuously for 24 hours. SO, if you really want to crack your smoking habit and give up this year, maybe more exercise could be the key to your success.

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