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Study reveals high levels of vitamin D inadequacy in UK adolescents

October 27, 2016

vitamindsunA study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has shown high levels of vitamin D inadequacy in UK adolescents, and – for the first time – identified the intake needed by adolescents in order to maintain adequate serum vitamin D levels during the winter time. The research was undertaken by academics from the University of Surrey’s Department of Nutritional Sciences in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Copenhagen and University College Cork. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency, and previous studies have shown that vitamin D levels decrease during puberty. With adolescents less likely to spend time outdoors than younger children, they experience less exposure to the sun, which is how we naturally obtain vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels are also a problem at northern latitudes during the winter months when the sun is not sufficient for us to make vitamin D within our bodies, so dietary intakes become more important. Vitamin D optimises calcium absorption and therefore plays an essential role in bone mineralisation and skeletal development. Since most rapid bone growth occurs during the adolescent years, it is vital that teenagers have sufficient levels

October 3, 2016

dementiaThe proportion of people dying with a recorded dementia diagnosis has more than doubled since 2001. Public Health England (PHE) has launched a range of products which examine the deaths of people recorded with dementia between 2012 and 2014. Figures show the number of deaths with a mention of dementia was:

  • 6.6% of all deaths in 2001
  • 15.8% of deaths in 2014

This is most likely due to an increase in awareness and recording of dementia. The new reports were produced by the Dementia Intelligence Network (DIN) in collaboration with the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network (NEoLCIN) and draw on national data to see if there have been changes in dementia deaths over time, who the people dying with dementia are, where they die and the cause of their death. The findings suggest that people who live in more deprived areas die with dementia at a younger age than those who live in more affluent areas. There are also considerable differences between the place of death for people who have dementia and the general population. People with dementia are considerably more likely to die in hospitals and care homes and less likely to die at home or in end of life care settings such as hospices. Professor Julia V

September 27, 2016

pregnant-woman-s-belly In the largest and most in-depth study of its type, morning sickness is found to have a protective effect on the unborn child. Despite its unpleasant nature, morning sickness appears to be a component of a healthy pregnancy. Morning sickness is incredibly common in early pregnancy. It is referred to as “morning” sickness because it tends to come on during the morning hours and steadily improve over the course of the day. In reality, it can strike at any point in the day and is a unanimously unpleasant feeling. Around 50 percent of pregnant women simply feel nauseous, but roughly half will also experience vomiting. A rare few, perhaps 1 in 100, are so sick that they require hospital treatment. Generally, the sickness eases after the fourth month of pregnancy, but – for some mothers – it can continue throughout the entire pregnancy. The reasons behind morning sickness have been debated over the years; hormonal changes in the first 12 weeks are thought to be at least partially to blame. Fluctuations in estrogen, progesterone, and human chorionic gonadotropin may all be involved.

Why does morning sickness occur?

Why morning sickness occurs is also up for deb

September 27, 2016

utiResearchers using DNA sequencing to profile antibiotic resistance in infection have achieved a turnaround time from ‘sample to answer’ of less than four hours for urinary tract infections (UTIs). The nanopore MinION device is being researched by the University of East Anglia (UEA) as a way to speed up investigation of infection including UTIs – one of the most common reasons patients are prescribed antibiotics. Traditional culture methods take two to three days to characterise bacteria and test their antimicrobial resistances from a urine sample. Early results from the UEA group’s method showed that the Oxford Nanopore Technologies device can characterise bacteria and predict their antimicrobial resistances in just 12 hours from a urine sample. This has now been shortened to as little as four hours, as published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. While most UTIs are mild, serious cases can lead to hospitalisation. At worst, bacteria can enter the bloodstream causing urosepsis, a life-threatening condition. In this case antibiotics are vital and must be given urgently. Faster prediction of whether the UTI is caused by a highly-resistant type of bacteria will allow precise tailoring of treatment. The patient wil

September 13, 2016

After screening thousands of drugs already approved or undergoing clinical trials, researchers have identified two groups of compounds that can treat Zika virus infections in two ways. One way stops the virus replicating in the body, and the other way stops the virus activity in fetal brain cells that leads to birth defects in newborns. Although Zika was first identified nearly 70 years ago, we have only recently discovered the mosquito-borne virus can cause severe birth defects in humans. Although first identified in monkeys and then humans in Africa just after World War II, it is only recently that we have learned Zika virus can cause birth defects such as microcephaly and Guillain-Barr√© syndrome in humans. The new study, published in Nature Medicine, is a breakthrough because it means effective treatments for Zika could be just around the corner, without having to wait the many years it normally takes to develop a new drug from scratch. Hengli Tang, a professor of biological science at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee and one of the senior investigators on the study, explains: “We focused on compounds that have the shortest path to clinical use. This is a first step toward a therapeutic that can stop transmission of this disease.”     One of the compounds he and his colleagues discovered is the basis for a drug call

September 12, 2016

antidepressantsIn the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics an international group of investigators outlines the side effects that long-term treatment with antidepressant drugs may induce. Newer generation antidepressant drugs are widely used as the first line of treatment for major depressive disorders and are considered to be safer than tricyclic agents. In the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics an international group of investigators outlines the side effects that long-term treatment with antidepressant drugs may induce. The Authors evaluated the literature on adverse events, tolerability and safety of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors, bupropion, mirtazapine, trazodone, agomelatine, vilazodone, levomilnacipran and vortioxetine. Results showed that several side effects are transient and may disappear after a few weeks following treatment initiation, but potentially serious adverse events may persist or ensue later. They encompass gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, diarrhea, gastric bleeding, dyspepsia), hepatotoxicity, weight gain and metabolic abnormalities, cardiovascular disturbances (heart rate, QT interval prolongation, hyperte

September 6, 2016

ear-ache-girlAlthough having an earache can be annoying, it’s not usually a sign of any serious health issue. Earaches have a number of causes and many different forms of treatment. Home remedies using natural ingredients may provide some relief. However, there is no scientific evidence for their usefulness compared with over-the-counter medications. If an issue such as an infection is causing the earache, it may be better to look at remedies that target the condition at its source rather than focusing on just the earache symptom.

What is earache?

An earache is represented by a varied level of pain in the inner ear. Earaches are often caused by a bacterial or viral infection, moving into higher altitudes, or wax buildup. Earaches are not usually the cause of serious medical conditions, though they can be very unpleasant and painful. If an earache lasts for longer than 24 hours, it is best to see a doctor. They can check if there is an underlying problem that is causing the pain. Fever, swelling of the ear, weakness in the face muscles, and dizziness can sometimes occur with an earache. These symptoms may need further medical attention. Earaches can often be a

September 2, 2016

alzheimers-disease-mold   A research team, led by Cardiff University, has made a significant step towards the development of a simple blood test to predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, the group of researchers from Cardiff University, King’s College London and the University of Oxford studied blood from 292 individuals with the earliest signs of memory impairment and found a set of biomarkers (indicators of disease) that predicted whether or not a given individual would develop Alzheimer’s disease. Professor Paul Morgan, Director of Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute, said: “Our research proves that it is possible to predict whether or not an individual with mild memory problems is likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the next few years. We hope to build on this in order to develop a simple blood test that can predict the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease in older people with mild, and possibly innocent, memory impairment.” The study took blood samples from individuals presenting with very common symptoms of memory impairment and measured a large number of proteins belonging to a part of the immune system which is known to drive i

September 1, 2016

biologicsNew analysis suggests common and costly medications made from living cells can be equivalent even when manufactured by different company.

Generic forms of a biologic drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis appear to be as safe and effective as their brand-name counterparts, a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analysis suggests. Biologics, or medical products made from living cells, are the fastest growing sector of the pharmaceutical market. These drugs are complicated to manufacture and companies have argued that generic forms – while they would be cheaper for consumers and the health care system – cannot be considered interchangeable with established drugs that have been on the market for years. The new findings, published Aug. 2 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, come at a time when many of these biologics are coming off patent and generic versions – known as biosimilars – could save a lot of money. “The billion-dollar question has been whether these ‘generic biologics’ are the same as the brand-name versions,” says study leader G. Caleb Alexander, MD, an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg Sc

August 31, 2016

metforminScientists at Newcastle University believe a drug commonly prescribed for Type 2 diabetes could be routinely taken by Type 1 diabetic patients to slow the development or delay heart disease. Metformin is an inexpensive treatment that is often used for Type 2 diabetes to lower blood sugar levels by reducing glucose production in the liver. The drug is not regularly given to patients with Type 1 diabetes. However, for the first time, a clinical trial has revealed metformin can promote a patient’s ability to repair their own damaged blood vessels by increasing vascular stem cells. Heart disease is the leading cause of illness in diabetic patients, accounting for more than half of all fatalities. Metformin may be used to lower Type 1 diabetic patients’ risk of developing this complication. Findings of the clinical trial are published today in the journal, Cardiovascular Diabetology. This follows previous laboratory work at Newcastle University which explored the mechanism behind metformin. Dr Jolanta Weaver, Senior Lecturer in Diabetes Medicine at Newcastle University and Honorary Consultant Diabetologist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, led both studies. She believes this new research is a major

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