If people washed their hands regularly, social distanced, and wore face masks most COVID-19 outbreaks could be prevented, even without a vaccine or additional treatments, a new study has found. According to the research published in the journal PLoS Medicine, which created a COVID-19 prevention and spread model, the steps should work in most western countries. The research found that government-imposed social distancing measures, such as closing business establishments, cancelling in-person events, and advising people to stay at home whenever possible, can delay the peak of a COVID-19 epidemic by up to seven months on their own. However, when coupled with regular handwashing and wearing masks, the peak of the epidemic can be delayed by a further few months. Furthermore, the earlier people adopt such measures, the greater the positive impact. The researchers from the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands said in a country where 90% of the population uses multiple actions, such as hand washing and social distancing, a large outbreak of COVID-19 or a second wave could be averted. Speaking about the findings of the research, Ganna Rozhnova, an infectious disease modeler at the University Medical Center Utrecht, said: “If nearly all [the] population adopted self-imposed measures we would not have to confront the possibility of secondary lockdowns as well as the possibility that we may find our medical systems overwhelmed during the peaks of epidemics.”
It took more than 200,000 years for the world’s population to reach one billion, but only 200 years for it to top seven billion. Today, the population of the world is estimated to be just under 7.8bn. However, new analysis predicts that the number of people in the world will peak in 2064 at around 9.7 billion. Then, we will see a decline to around 8.87 billion by the end of the century. If this prediction is correct, the world’s population would be two billion below UN forecasts by 2100. The reasons behind the predicted decline include widening access to contraception and improvements in educating women and girls. According to the research led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington's School of Medicine, the findings of which are published in The Lancet, some countries, including Japan, Spain and Italy, will witness their populations halve in the next 80 years, while sub-Saharan Africa’s population will triple. Furthermore, the number of older people in the world will overtake the number of young, with estimates saying there will be 2.4 billion people over the age of 65 forecast by 2100, compared with 1.7 billion under the age of 20. Speaking about the findings of the research, IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray, who led the study, said: “Continued global population growth through the century is no longer the most likely trajectory for the world's population. This study provides governments of all countries an opportunity to start rethinking their policies on migration, workforces and economic development to address the challenges presented by demographic change.”
Young people with COVID-19 who are obese are at greater risk of being hospitalised and experiencing more severe symptoms, new research has found. According to the study of 3,615 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19, while being overweight didn’t appear to have any negative impact on individuals aged 60+, it did in younger patients. Compared to those with a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), which is less than 30, patients with BMIs of 30-34 were twice as likely to need hospitalisation and twice as likely to need acute care. Meanwhile, while younger COVID-19 patients with BMIs of 35 or higher were also found to be twice as likely to require hospitalisation, they were three times more likely to end up in the intensive care unit. One of the study co-authors, Jennifer Lighter, MD, a hospital epidemiologist in New York City, said the findings are significant, especially in the US where 42% of the population has a BMI over 30 and is considered obese. “Our hospital was one of the first to find the association between obesity and coronavirus, but I think it will soon become very common,” Lighter said. It is important for frontline health workers to understand how being obese potentially changes a patient’s clinical outlook and consider such patients as high-risk.
Gaining weight in later years has a detrimental impact on lung health, a new study suggests. People’s lungs naturally deteriorate as they age and lose functionality as the years go by. But now new research has linked moderate or significant weight gain to an even sharper decline in lung health. According to the study of 3,700 individuals in Europe and Australia, who were recruited between the ages of 20 and 44, and were studied for 20 years, people who gained weight throughout the course of the study – regardless of whether they were a healthy weight or overweight/obese to begin with – had accelerated lung function decline. Furthermore, overweight/obese individuals who lost weight during the study saw their lung functionality decline slow. Publishing their findings in the journal Thorax, the researchers said large amounts of fat in the abdomen and chest can limit the space lungs have when people inhale. It was also suggested that fat produces inflammatory chemicals that can reduce the diameter of airways and damage lungs. Speaking about the findings of the research, study leader Judith Garcia Aymerich, head of the non-communicable diseases and environment program at Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), said: “Although previous research has shown that weight gain is linked to lung function decline, ours is the first study to analyze such a varied population sample over a longer period of time.”
Scientists from Cardiff University in the UK have discovered a part of our immune system that could be harnessed to kill all types of cancer. Despite their work being at an early stage, the team says the newly-discovered technique killed prostate, breast, lung and other cancers in lab tests. The findings of their research, which are published in the journal Nature Immunology, have not yet been tested in humans, but, nevertheless, the researchers say they hold “enormous potential.” The scientists made their potentially game-changing discovery while looking for “unconventional” ways the immune system naturally attacks tumours. They found a T-cell in blood that could find and kill a wide range of cancers, while leaving normal tissues untouched. Speaking about their findings, researcher Prof Andrew Sewell said: “It raises the prospect of a 'one-size-fits-all' cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population.” While T-cell cancer therapies are nothing new, with treatments like CAR-T already being used to seek out and destroy cancer, the Cardiff researchers’ discovery is exciting because it could lead to treatments being developed that are more effective against solid cancers (those that form tumours). The researchers say their discovery has the potential to lead to a "universal" cancer treatment.
Experts say that food label warnings about the amount of physical exercise needed to burn off the calories contained in the product work. According to the researchers from Loughborough University in the UK, who looked at 14 separate studies to reach their conclusions, a simple label advising the consumer that it would take four hours to walk off the calories contained in a pizza, or 22 minutes of running to burn off a chocolate bar are effective in making people think twice about purchasing certain foods. They say the labels help people indulge less and could encourage healthier eating habits to fight obesity. Right now, it is estimated that two-thirds of the UK adult population are overweight or obese. Publishing their findings in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the researchers say this simple type of labelling could help cut about 200 calories from a person's daily average intake. The reason it works is because people don’t really appreciate calories when they see them as just numbers. But by elaborating and highlighting how much exercise is needed to burn off a particular food product, the consumer is able to make a much more informed decision. Lead researcher Prof Amanda Daley said: “We know that the public routinely underestimate the number of calories that are in foods. So if you buy a chocolate muffin and it contains 500 calories, for example, then that's about 50 minutes of running.”
While it’s been known for quite some time that increased exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays increases a person’s chances of developing skin cancer, no link has ever been found between precipitation and cancer risk, until now… A new study has revealed a potential link between living in cold, wet regions and increased cancer prevalence. The study, the results of which are published in the journal Environmental Engineering Science, is the first in the United States to check if a relationship exists between cancer rates, precipitation, and climate zone. To find out, the scientists collated data on breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer. They also used county-level data relating to cancer incidence, climate, and demographics. Having adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, income level, population age, and diversity, the scientists identified a strong association between increased precipitation and an increase in incidence of all cancers. While it is important to note that not all cancer types were included in the analysis, the findings are still significant and strongly suggest climate zone is a risk factor for many cancers.
New research suggests cancer patients are at higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than the general population. According to the study, the results of which are published in the European Heart Journal, more than one in 10 cancer survivors die from heart and blood vessel problems, rather than their initial illness. Among the 3,234,256 cancer patients studied for the research, 38% died from cancer, while 11% died from cardiovascular diseases. Among the deaths from cardiovascular diseases, 76% were due to heart disease. The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was also highest in the first year after a patient’s cancer diagnosis and among patients younger than 35. Among those cancer patients diagnosed before the age of 55 and who went on to survive their illness, the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was more than 10 times higher than that for the general population. Meanwhile, patients with breast, prostate or bladder cancer were most likely to die from heart disease – but this is simply because these are the most common types of cancer. It is still unclear as to why cancer patients have a seemingly higher risk of heart disease, but their treatment itself or lifestyle factors, such as being overweight, drinking too much and not exercising, could be to blame, experts say.
Obesity is worryingly common across the world today. World Health Organization statistics from 2018 show that global obesity has almost tripled since 1975 and most of the world’s population now live in a country where being overweight or obese kills more people than being underweight. But while obesity is known to increase a person’s risk of certain health conditions, new research has revealed that it does not seemingly affect men and women in the same way. According to the study from Oxford University in the United Kingdom, the findings of which are summarized in the journal PLOS Genetics, the risks of developing different health problems as a result of being obese are different for men and women. For example, obese women are at higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes than men. Meanwhile, obese men have a higher risk of chronic kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The team says their findings add to the existing evidence that preventing and treating obesity is a crucial step in countering the emergence of other health conditions. “This study shows just how harmful carrying excess weight can be to human health, and that women and men may experience different diseases as a result,” said first author Dr. Jenny Censin. For the study, the team from Oxford University analyzed genetic information and three different obesity measures in a cohort of 195,041 men and 228,466 women.
A fungus that has been genetically modified (GM) to produce spider toxin can rapidly kill 99% of mosquitoes that carry and spread malaria. Following trials of the fungus – known as Metarhizium pingshaense – in Burkina Faso, 99% of malaria mosquito populations were wiped out in just 45 days. Metarhizium pingshaense was used because it naturally infects Anopheles mosquitoes (the ones that carry and spread malaria). Scientists then enhanced it using genetic engineering so the fungus would start creating its own version of a venom found in a species of funnel-web spider. For the trials, scientists built a fully-enclosed ‘mosquitosphere’ that mimicked a small village community. They introduced 1,500 mosquitoes. When the insects were left alone, their numbers soared, but when the fungus was introduced, just 13 mosquitoes remained after 45 days. The researchers say their aim is not to destroy all mosquitoes, simply to cull the spread of malaria – a disease that kills more than 400,000 people every year (mostly children). Speaking about the trials, Dr Tony Nolan, from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said: “These results are encouraging. “We need new and complementary tools to augment existing control methods, which are being affected by the development of insecticide-resistance.” The results of the GM fungus trials are published in the journal Science.
In 1906, a German doctor called Alois Alzheimer performed an autopsy on a 55-year-old lady who had profound memory loss. What he discovered was that she had an abnormally shrunken brain, as well as abnormalities in and around her nerve cells. It was the first time that such brain abnormalities had been witnessed and led to the coining of the term “Alzheimer’s disease.” At the time of Alzheimer’s discovery, dementia was rare and something that wasn’t subsequently studied for decades. Fast-forward to today and someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease every three seconds, making it the number one cause of dementia. In some wealthier nations today, Alzheimer’s is one of the biggest killers – mainly due to the fact that it’s completely untreatable. In England and Wales, one in eight death certificates nowadays lists dementia as the cause of death, while it is estimated that 50 million people globally are living with the condition. However, as populations in developing countries age, the number of people living with dementia globally is set to soar to 130 million by 2050. But why is dementia more common today? Simply because we are all living longer and age is the biggest risk factor for dementia. Speaking to the BBC recently, Hilary Evans, chief executive of the charity Alzheimer's Research UK, said: “Dementia certainly is the biggest health challenge of our time. It's the one that will continue to rise in terms of prevalence, unless we can do something to stop or cure this disease."
Children in Italy have been told not to go to school unless they can prove they have been properly vaccinated. Any children under six who cannot show that they have received mandatory vaccines will be turned away from school, while parents of older kids (six to 16) risk being fined up to €500 ($566) if they send their unvaccinated children to school. The policy comes as a worrisome decline in vaccines has been seen across Italy and a measles outbreak was witnessed last year. Speaking about the new policy, Health Minister Giulia Grillo said the rules were now simple: “No vaccine, no school.” She added that parents have had adequate time to ensure all their children’s vaccines were up to date by now. Under Italy’s so-called Lorenzin law, children must receive a range of mandatory immunizations before attending school. These include vaccinations for chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella. Italian officials say the compulsory vaccine law has led to inoculation rates for measles reaching the 95% population coverage rate recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) – the threshold for “herd immunity.” The deadline by which children had to be vaccinated was March 10 (after a previous delay). And despite calls for it to be extended, the Health Minister has stood firm on the issue.
Strength training exercises benefit the heart more than aerobic activities, such as walking and cycling, new research suggests. The survey of more than 4,000 American adults found that static exercise, like lifting weights, is more effective at reducing the risk of heart disease than cardiovascular exercise. Specifically, while undertaking both static and dynamic exercise was associated with a 30% to 70% reduction of cardiovascular risk factors, the link was strongest for younger individuals who did static exercises. Nevertheless, any amount of exercise brings benefits and doing both static and dynamic types is still better than focussing on just one kind, the researchers from St. George's University in St. George's, Grenada said. Speaking about the findings of the research, Dr. Maia P. Smith, assistant professor at the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at St. George's University, said: “Both strength training and aerobic activity appeared to be heart healthy, even in small amounts, at the population level.” Current American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines recommend that American adults should undertake at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity every week. The same guidelines also stipulate that said activity should be spread across the week and not completed in just one or two days. Are you doing enough physical activity each week? If not, you could be increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. [Related reading: Why being overweight increases your risk of cancer]
A new study, one of the largest of its kind, suggests being the wrong weight i.e. overweight or underweight cold knock four years off a person’s life expectancy. According to the study, the findings of which were published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal, from the age of 40, people towards the higher end of the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range (a healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 to 25) had the lowest risk of dying from disease, including cancer and heart disease. In contrast, individuals who had BMI scores of less than 18.5 or more than 30 had life expectancies that were 4.4 years and 3.85 years shorter respectively. BMI scores, which are calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in metres squared), are still considered by health professionals to be the simplest and most accurate way to work out if someone is overweight or underweight. For the population-based cohort study, researchers analysed anonymised data on 3.6 million adults from the U.K. Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). Dr Krishnan Bhaskaran, lead author of the study, said: “The most striking thing about our findings was how widely BMI was linked to different causes of death. BMI was associated with deaths from nearly all major causes.” He added that the research reinforces the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that people who have low BMI scores are at as much risk, if not more, of reducing their life expectancies.
The physical health problems associated with diabetes are well understood and publicised. For example, diabetics have an increased risk of developing cancer, kidney disorders and cardiovascular disease. But what about the mental impact of living with diabetes? It’s not something that gets a lot of attention, but the findings of a new study could see it thrust under the spotlight. That’s because the study by researchers from Finland found a worrying connection between diabetes and the risk of someone dying by suicide or alcoholism. According to the study, diabetics are more than 10 times more likely to die as a result of alcoholism – predominantly cirrhosis of the liver – and 110% more likely to commit suicide than the general population. The highest risk was seen among diabetes patients who rely on regular insulin injections to avoid serious health complications. Professor Leo Niskanen, of the University of Helsinki, who led the study, said diabetes patients who have to monitor their glucose levels and administer insulin frequently suffer tremendous mental strain. “This strain combined with the anxiety of developing serious complications like heart or kidney disease may also take their toll on psychological well-being,” he said. Is it time we started talking about the mental health implications of living with diabetes? [Related reading: Type-2 diabetes could actually be detected up to 20 years in advance, researchers say]
What’s the fittest country in the world? Would you have any idea if you were asked? Even hazard a guess? Hint: It’s a country in Africa. According to a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report, Uganda is the world’s most physically active country. Published in the medical journal The Lancet, the study findings are from a compilation of surveys completed in 168 countries. Just 5.5% of Ugandans do not do enough physical activity. People living in Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania and Togo are also getting plenty of exercise, too. In comparison, people living in Kuwait (the least active nation) have far more sedentary lifestyles, with 67% of the population not active enough. The report highlights a distinct divide between the levels of physical activity in poorer countries vs. wealthier countries. People in poorer nations are more likely to walk to work and/or have jobs that see them being physically active throughout the day. Recommended exercise guidelines for 19- to 64-year-olds Here’s what the UK’s NHS recommends: At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as cycling or brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (such as running or a game of tennis) every week Strength exercises that work all the major muscles at least two days per week Long periods of sitting should be broken up with light activity Are you getting enough physical activity? Could a small lifestyle change enable you to? [Related reading: Open-plan offices could improve health, reduce stress]
One in five men and one in six women will develop cancer in their lifetime. That’s one of the stark predictions revealed in a new report from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is based in Lyon, France. This year alone, there will be 18.1 million new cases of cancer and 9.6 million people will die with the disease worldwide. This represents a significant increase from 14.1 million cases and 8.2 million deaths in 2012. The report also predicts that by the end of the century, cancer will be the number one killer globally and the single biggest barrier to people living long lives. Looking closely at data from 185 countries, the researchers focussed on 36 different types of cancer. Lung cancer, colorectal (bowel) cancer and female breast cancer are thought to be responsible for a third of all cancer cases worldwide. Researchers have attributed the rise to the world’s growing and ageing population. That’s because more people equals more cancer, and as people get older their cancer risks grow. Moreover, as countries become wealthier, more of the people living in them develop lifestyle-related cancers. Speaking about the report, Dr. Christopher Wild, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said: “These new figures highlight that much remains to be done to address the alarming rise in the cancer burden globally and that prevention has a key role to play.” “Efficient prevention and early detection policies must be implemented urgently to complement treatments in order to control this devastating disease across the world.”
So-called ‘good bacteria’ that are contained in many popular probiotic drinks are “quite useless,” according to a group of scientists in Israel. Until now, probiotics have been seen as healthy and good for the gut, but the findings of the team from the Weizmann Institute of Science show otherwise. Their study is among the most detailed analyses to date of what happens when we consume probiotics. For their research, the team created a cocktail containing 11 common good bacteria and gave it to 25 healthy volunteers. Samples were then taken from each of the volunteer’s stomachs, as well as their small and large intestines. The scientists were looking to see where the bacteria successfully colonised and whether any changes in the activity of the gut were evident. Publishing their findings in the journal Cell, the scientists said that in half of cases the good bacteria literally went in one end and out the other, without providing any benefits whatsoever. In the rest, they hung around for a bit before being overwhelmed by the bacteria that commonly frequents our bodies. Speaking about the research, Dr Eran Elinav said people should not expect off-the-shelf products to provide them with definitive health benefits. He suggested that the future of probiotics lies in creating bacteria cocktails that are tailored to the specific needs of individuals. “And in that sense just buying probiotics at the supermarket without any tailoring, without any adjustment to the host, at least in part of the population, is quite useless,” he said.
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…
France is still woozy with World Cup fever and rightly so (Allez Les Bleus), which makes today’s blog post particularly topical. That’s because a new study has set out to discover whether repeatedly heading a football can cause damage to the brain and lead to long-term health problems. Involving 300 former professional footballers, the study plans to put the ex-players through a series of tests that are designed to assess their physical and cognitive capabilities. Clinical examinations will be performed on the players, all aged between 50 and 85, while additional data relating to their playing careers and lifestyle choices will also be sourced. This is so the study researchers can differentiate between the players’ former positions and draw more accurate comparisons. The footballers’ results will then be compared to available population data relating to individuals born in 1954 who have had their ageing processes monitored since birth. The researchers hope this will allow them to discover if mild concussions in football that often occur when a player heads the ball can have long-term effects. The study will be carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Queen Mary University of London and the Institute of Occupational Medicine. Lead researcher Prof Neil Pearce, from LSHTM, said: “This study will provide, for the first time, persuasive evidence of the long-term effects on cognitive function from professional football.”
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.
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.
Les vaccins destinés aux nourrissons sont très rarement remis en question mais ceux contre la grippe saisonnière et l’hépatite B suscitent des réticences. En 2016, trois Français interrogés sur quatre se sont déclarés favorables à la vaccination en général, selon une étude de Santé publique France rendue publique mercredi. L’enquête, menée en métropole en 2016 auprès de près de 15.000 personnes, montre toutefois que plus de 40% des personnes sont défavorables à une ou plusieurs vaccinations en particulier. Alors que 90% des personnes interrogées étaient favorables à la vaccination selon les enquêtes de 2000 et 2005, elles n’étaient plus que 60% en 2010. La vaccination avait ensuite retrouvé ses lettres de noblesses en 2014, année où 79% des Français étaient convaincus de son intérêt. Cette confiance s’est légèrement érodée dans les deux années qui ont suivi, puisque 75% des personnes interrogées en 2016 ont déclaré être favorables à la vaccination. Seulement 2,4% de la population interrogée est défavorable à la totalité des vaccins, un taux stable depuis 2010. La défiance, héritage des polémiques passées La vaccination contre la rougeole, les oreillons et la rubéole (vaccin ROR), le BCG et la vaccination contre la diphtérie, le tétanos et la poliomyélite (DTP) suscitent peu d’avis défavorables (moins de 2% des personnes). «Les réticences concernent très peu les vaccinations pour nourrissons, mise à part celle contre l’hépatite B qui cristallise encore des réticences», relève le Dr Christine Jestin de l’agence sanitaire Santé publique France qui publie ce numéro du BEH consacré aux vaccinations. Par contre, la vaccination contre la grippe saisonnière est celle qui recueille le plus d’opinions défavorables (15% de l’ensemble des personnes interrogées âgées de 18 à 75 ans), devant la vaccination contre l’hépatite B (13%) et celle contre les infections à papillomavirus (5,8%). «En France, les différentes polémiques touchant certains vaccins au cours des deux dernières décennies - hépatite B en 1998, grippe A(H1N1) en 2009 et, dans une moindre mesure infections à papillomavirus humains (HPV) en 2013 - ont sans doute contribué à faire de la France un pays où l’innocuité des vaccins est mise en doute par la population», notent les auteurs de l’étude. Une confiance variable selon le type de vaccin Les avis défavorables à la vaccination contre l’hépatite B sont plus nombreux chez les 55-64 ans. «Le souvenir de la polémique autour des effets secondaires du vaccin contre l’hépatite B, qui avait notamment entraîné fin 1998 la suspension de la campagne de vaccination à l’école, pourrait expliquer ce résultat», indiquent les chercheurs. Concernant la vaccination contre les infections à papillomavirus humains, les réticences sont plus nombreuses chez les 18-24 ans, qui ont vécu la controverse de 2013. Les 25-34 ans y sont beaucoup plus favorables. «Il est possible que les femmes de cette tranche d’âge, qui ont commencé à bénéficier du dépistage du cancer du col, comprennent aussi beaucoup mieux les enjeux de cette vaccination», analysent les auteurs. L’étude montre que la confiance dans les vaccins diffère selon l’âge. Ainsi, les personnes les plus favorables à la vaccination sont les 18-24 ans, tandis que les jeunes adultes (25-34 ans) comptent la proportion la plus importante de personnes qui y sont défavorables. L’adhésion à la vaccination diffère également en fonction de la catégorie socioprofessionnelle. En 2016 comme en 2010, les personnes les plus défavorables sont celles avec les niveaux de diplômes et de revenus les plus faibles. Selon les auteurs, il est nécessaire de poursuivre «les efforts d’information et de pédagogie auprès de la population générale (...) pour que la vaccination demeure ce qu’elle a toujours été: une des meilleures interventions en santé publique pour améliorer la santé de la population.»
How often do you pack to go on holiday and include some prescribed medicines in your luggage? While it might not seem like a big deal, you could actually be breaking the law in the country you’re visiting and that’s why the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising British citizens to check the rules ahead of time. Even painkillers that are commonly prescribed in the UK are classed as “controlled drugs” in some countries, which means holidaymakers could unwittingly find themselves in hot water abroad. In Japan, for example, some common cold remedies are banned, while certain types of sleeping pills require a special licence in Singapore. The FCO warned that travellers could be slapped with a fine or even imprisoned if they break the rules. With nearly half of the UK population currently taking prescribed medication, millions of individuals could potentially fall foul of foreign laws. In China and Costa Rica, visitors are required to show an accompanying doctor’s letter with any medication they bring, while in Indonesia, codeine, sleeping pills and treatments for ADHD are illegal. The FCO recommends that travellers check destinations on its own website’s travel advice pages or the Department of Health’s TravelHealthPro website.
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.
By the time they reach middle age, seven in 10 UK millennials (people born between the early 1980s and mid-90s) will be too fat, health experts say. In fact, millennials are on course to be the fattest generation ever since records began. In comparison, only about half of the so-called “baby boomer” generation (those born just after the Second World War) were fat at middle age. It’s a worrying revelation, especially as being fat as an adult is linked to an increased risk of developing 13 different types of cancer, according to Cancer Research UK who conducted the research. The charity said only 15% of the UK population are aware that being fat puts them at increased risk of breast, bowel and kidney cancer. Even more sobering is the fact Britain is now the most obese country in Western Europe and its obesity rates are rising faster than any other developed nation. In 1993, obesity prevalence was 15%, but that figure had almost doubled risen to 27% in 2015. Professor Linda Bauld from Cancer Research UK said: "Extra body fat doesn't just sit there; it sends messages around the body that can cause damage to cells. "This damage can build up over time and increase the risk of cancer in the same way that damage from smoking causes cancer.”
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.
Calcium is well-known for its role in promoting healthy bones, but a new study suggests it could also be beneficial for heart health too. Cardiac arrest, or heart attack, is one of the leading causes of death in the United States today. In fact, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), approximately 350,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests (SCAs) occur in America every year. Furthermore, almost 90% of people who experience SCA die as a result. The primary cause of SCA is coronary heart disease. However, around 50% of women and 70% of men who die from SCA have no medical history of heart disease, suggesting other significant risk factors are at play. For the study, researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, CA, analysed data from the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study. They found that the risk of SCA was increased by 2.3-fold for people who had the lowest blood calcium levels (under 8.95 milligrams per deciliter). More importantly, this risk remained after confounding factors, including demographics, cardiovascular risk factors and medication use, were accounted for. Dr. Hon-Chi Lee, of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, said: “This is the first report to show that low serum calcium levels measured close in time to the index event are independently associated with an increased risk of SCA in the general population”.
A team of researchers have successfully culled mosquito populations in nine West African villages by cutting off their food supply, reducing the risk of malaria in those areas. By removing flowers from a common plant that has become a horticultural bully – the Prosopis juliflora shrub – the researchers were able to kill off lots of the older, adult, female, biting insects that transmit malaria. Experts believe that by reducing the amount of nectar (energy) available to these older “granny” mosquitoes, the cycle of malaria transmission can be stopped. That’s because it’s only these Anopheles mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite in their saliva and transmit it to people when they bite and draw blood. An infected person can then pass the parasite on to other younger, biting, female mosquitoes, increasing the spread of the parasites further. In the villages where the flowers of the Prosopis juliflora shrub were removed, mosquito numbers were seen to drop by almost 60%. While there is no direct proof, the researchers believe the mosquitoes died of starvation. Reporting the team’s findings in the journal Malaria Research, Prof Jo Lines, a malaria control expert from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the novel approach held amazing potential, alongside other malaria prevention strategies.
People with non-O blood could be at greater risk of stroke and heart attack, research suggests. Scientists say it's because A, B and AB blood contains higher levels of a blood-clotting protein. The research, which was presented at the 4th World Congress on Acute Heart Failure, analysed studies involving 1.3m people. It found that people 15 in 1,000 people with non-O blood suffered a heart attack, compared to 14 in 1,000 people with O blood. While these figures don't sound that startling at first, when applied to a whole population the numbers become more important. It is hoped that the findings will help doctors better identify who is at risk of developing heart disease. However, Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said the findings would not have a large impact on the current advice issued by the charity. "Most of a person's risk estimation is determined by age, genetics (family history and ethnicity) and other modifiable risk factors including diet, weight, level of physical activity, smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. "People with a non-O blood group type - AO, BO and AB - need to take the same steps as anyone wanting to reduce their CVD risk." So regardless of your blood type, the advice remains the same: improve your diet, weight, level of physical activity and don't smoke. In addition, manage blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes too. There's nothing you can do about your blood group, but you can make positive lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
In 2015 alone, 6.4 million deaths worldwide were attributed to smoking, according to a major new study, the results of which were published in The Lancet medical journal. Even more eye-opening is the fact that half of those deaths occurred in just four countries - China, India, USA, and Russia. The study by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in the US found a staggering one in 10 deaths globally is caused by smoking, despite decades of tobacco control policies in many countries. Furthermore, mortality rates could rise even more as tobacco companies aggressively target new, emerging markets. Interestingly, the number of people that smoked daily in 2015 was one billion (one in four men and one in 20 women), which is actually a reduction from the one in three men and one in 12 women who did in 1990. However, population growth has meant there were actually more people smoking in 2015 than 1990. "Despite more than half a century of unequivocal evidence of the harmful effects of tobacco on health, today, one in every four men in the world is a daily smoker," said senior author Dr Emmanuela Gakidou. "Smoking remains the second largest risk factor for early death and disability, and so to further reduce its impact we must intensify tobacco control to further reduce smoking prevalence and attributable burden."
More than 20 million people in Britain are physically inactive and increasing their risk of heart disease, according to a new report by the British Heart Foundation. The charity has warned that the lack of exercise by such a large proportion of the British population is costing the NHS a staggering £1.2bn each year. Women are 36% more likely than men to be physically inactive, which the report defines as not meeting the UK government's guidelines for physical activity - 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity and strength exercises on two or more days a week. However, despite the report finding that 11.8 million women were physically inactive compared with 8.3 million men, it is actually men who sit down for longer (78 days a year compared to 74 for women). Furthermore, inactivity levels differ by region. For example, 47% (2.7 million) of people living in the North West of England were found to be inactive, whereas people in the South East had the lowest rate at 34%. Over five million deaths across the world each year are attributed to physical inactivity, making it one of the top 10 leading causes of death. In the UK, physical inactivity contributes to almost one in 10 premature deaths from coronary heart disease each year, as well as one in six deaths from any cause. Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour in the UK remain stubbornly high, and, combined, these two risk factors present a substantial threat to our cardiovascular health and risk of early death.
Despite the fact the number of people who are overweight or obese has risen over the past 30 years, fewer people are actually attempting to shed weight, according to a new study, the findings of which were published in JAMA. Around two thirds of the adult population in the United States are obese or overweight, putting them at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. However, new research has found that even though there has been a significant rise in the number of people who are overweight or obese since the 1980s, the percentage of U.S. adults who are trying to lose weight has fallen. For their research, study co-author Dr. Jian Zhang and her colleagues from the Georgia Southern University, analysed the data of 27,350 U.S. adults aged between 20 and 59 years. The analyses revealed that the rates of overweight and obesity increased by 13%, from 53% in 1988-1994 to 66% in 2009-2014. Furthermore, the researchers also found that the percentage of people who attempted to lose weight over the same period actually dropped by 7%, from 56% in 1988-1994 to 49% in 2009-2014. At present, people are deemed to be overweight or obese depending on their body mass index (BMI). A BMI of 25 to under 30 is considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese. A healthy diet and regular physical activity are proven to help curb weight gain, which is why we should all make a conscientious effort to watch what we eat and exercise more. [Recommended read: BMI Wrongly Labelling People Unhealthy, Finds New Research]
South Korean women will become the first people in the world to have an average life expectancy above 90, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The study, conducted by Imperial College London and the World Health Organisation, analysed the lifespans of people living in 35 industrialised countries. In each country analysed, the average life expectancy is expected to increase by 2030 and the gap between men and women will start to close in most countries. "As recently as the turn of the century, many researchers believed that life expectancy would never surpass 90 years," said study lead author Majid Ezzati in a journal news release. Ezzati is a professor at Imperial College London's School of Public Health in England. "Our predictions of increasing life spans," he added, "highlight our public health and health care successes. However, it is important that policies to support the growing older population are in place." The biggest issue for governments, say the researchers, will be how they overcome the challenges associated with pensions and care for elderly people. Equality of life, say the researchers, is the secret to South Korea's success, with things like education and nutrition benefitting most people in the country. Furthermore, South Korea is better at dealing with hypertension and has some of the lowest obesity rates in the whole of the world. Surprisingly, Japan, which currently has the longest life expectancy for women, is expected to tumble down the rankings going forward and be overtaken by both South Korea and France. By 2030, the US will have the shortest life expectancy of all the rich countries analysed for the research.
People who live near busy roads have higher rates of dementia, suggesting that traffic can have an impact on our mental health, according to research recently published in the Lancet. In fact, the research suggests that as many as 11% of dementia cases in people living within 50 metres of a busy road could be down to traffic. For the study, the researchers followed 2 million people in the Canadian province of Ontario over an 11-year period. They found that both noisy traffic and air pollution could be contributing to people's brain decline. UK dementia experts have called the findings "plausible", but also said more research is needed to further investigate any potential link. Over the course of the study, 243,611 cases of dementia were diagnosed. However, the risk was greater for those living near major roads. Compared with people living 300m away from a major road the risk was: 7% higher within 50m 4% higher between 50-100m 2% higher between 101-200m Dr Hong Chen, from Public Health Ontario and one of the report authors, said: "Increasing population growth and urbanisation have placed many people close to heavy traffic, and with widespread exposure to traffic and growing rates of dementia, even a modest effect from near-road exposure could pose a large public health burden." Dementia is thought to affect around 50 million people worldwide. However, its causes are still not understood.
The implant "Earfold" was tested on 7 year-old children, without any complication A new procedure to "reattach" certain ears, less invasive than conventional surgeries, is now available in France. If having peeled ears has no medical gravity, the people concerned can be the victims of mockery and afflicted with derogatory nicknames that can affect their psychological balance. Since last June, a metal implant created by Dr. Norbert Kang, an English surgeon, to correct this aesthetic defect, has been implemented in the French reconstructive surgery clinics. "An innovative technique" “Earfold”, the implant in question, is introduced under the skin thanks to a small incision in the anti-helix fold (cartilage that borders the hollow of the ear). The thin metal band made of nickel-titanium alloy (Nitinol), an elastic material used in vascular prostheses and unbreakable glasses frames, clings to the cartilage and immediately adopts its predefined shape by recreating the anti-helix crease which, when it does not exist, is responsible for some "peeling" of the ears. All people who can have a local anesthesia can benefit from this technique. It was tested on children of 7 year-old without any complication. On the other hand, it works only in individuals whose deformation is due to the absence or underdevelopment of the anti-helix fold. Individuals in whom detachment is caused by a deep shell (ear cavity) should go through more conventional and more complicated otoplasty procedures (ear surgery). In total, it is estimated that about 5% of the population is affected by detached ears, from all causes. "This technique is very innovative," says Dr. Michel Corniglion, a surgeon at the Saint-Charles Clinic in Lyon who carried out the first operation of this kind in France last June. "It has the advantage of being minimally invasive and the potential risks, such as hematomas and infections, are easily preventable if the surgeon meets the necessary hygiene conditions."
The fight against superbugs could have a new ally in predatory bacteria, according to researchers in the UK. Animal studies, the results of which were published in the journal Current Biology, showed that an injection of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus acted like a "living antibiotic" to help clear an otherwise lethal infection. The studies also showed that there would be no side effects. Experts said the "unusual" approach should not be overlooked. Bdellovibrio is a fast-swimming bacterium that finds its way inside other bacteria and eats their insides, causing it to swell in size. Once it has finished gorging, Bdellovibrio replicates and bursts out of its now dead host. The research teams from Imperial College London and the University of Nottingham tested to see what impact Bdellovibrio would have on Shigella, a common cause of food poisoning which more than a million people each year die from. Their laboratory tests showed that Bdellovibrio devastated the population of superbug Shigella 4,000-fold. Commenting on the research, Dr Serge Mostowy, from Imperial College London, said: "It is definitely a creative approach and what is special is the inability of the host to develop resistance." Scientists continue to look for alternatives to antibiotics because of the growing levels of bacteria that are becoming resistant to them and to reduce our over reliance on them.
A new study has found that men are much more likely to suffer a cardiac arrest than women. In fact, around one in nine men will have their heart stop suddenly before the age of 70, compared to around one in 30 women. The study researchers said that by the age of 45, men have almost an 11% lifetime risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Women of the same age have just a 3% risk. According to Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of preventive medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, approximately 450,000 Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest each year, and most never have any of the usual symptoms associated with a heart problem. He explained that because heart disease tends to develop earlier in men than in women, more serious screening for risk factors in the male population needs to be undertaken. Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are all major cardiac arrest risk factors. "Know your numbers, especially your blood pressure, but also know your cholesterol or whether you have diabetes," said Dr. Lloyd-Jones. "At 50, men should also have a baseline electrocardiogram, which might reveal heart problems," he added. For the study, Dr. Lloyd-Jones and his colleagues analysed data on more than 5,200 men and women between the ages of 28 and 62 who took part in the long-running Framingham Heart Study.
A new study suggests that taking aspirin immediately following a mini-stroke significantly reduces a person's chances of suffering a major stroke. Using data from around 56,000 individuals, the study researchers found that if aspirin is taken after a mini-stroke - also called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA - the risk of experiencing a disabling or fatal stroke over the coming days and weeks is reduced, in some cases, by as much as 80 percent. Immediately following a mini-stroke, a person's risk of a major stroke is 1,000 times higher than that of the general population, the researchers noted. Lead researcher Peter Rothwell, a professor and stroke expert at the University of Oxford in England, said: "Our findings confirm the effectiveness of urgent treatment after TIA and minor stroke, and show that aspirin is the most important component. Immediate treatment with aspirin can substantially reduce the risk and severity of early recurrent stroke." He added that the findings have implications for doctors, who should give aspirin whenever a TIA or minor stroke is suspected. Mini-strokes and major strokes often exhibit similar symptoms, which include: Numbness or muscle weakness that usually affects one side of the body Difficulty speaking or understanding speech Dizziness or loss of balance Double vision or difficulty seeing in one or both eyes The study was published on May 18 in The Lancet.
People have long lauded the health benefits of eating walnuts, but now a new study has found that consuming them on a daily basis can help keep age-related health issues at bay. This week, at a health conference in San Diego, the initial findings of the two-year Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA) study were presented. Involving some 707 healthy adults - who were split into two groups - the clinical trial saw one group eating walnuts for 15% of their daily calorific intake, while the other group ate none. After a year, both groups were found to have gained a similar amount of weight and have similar levels of triglycerides and HDL (otherwise known as 'good' cholesterol). However, the walnut-eating group experienced significant LDL (or 'bad') cholesterol reductions. Dr Emilio Ros, the director of the Lipid clinic, Endocrinology & Nutrition Service at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, which carried out the research in conjunction with Loma Linda University, said: "Acquiring the good fats and other nutrients from walnuts while keeping adiposity at bay and reducing blood cholesterol levels are important to overall nutritional well-being of ageing adults. "It’s encouraging to see that eating walnuts may benefit this particular population." The researchers now want to see whether walnuts have a positive impact on other age-related health issues, such as macular degeneration and cognitive decline.