Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Crossing Divides: How running is uniting old and young

Vivian combines exercise with tackling loneliness through regular runs to visit her 'coach' Dennis. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

The female boxer with cerebral palsy

Kate Farley has cerebral palsy, but that doesn't stop her packing a punch in the ring - on her knees. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

How bacteria are changing your mood

Scientists think "mood microbes" are a new frontier for improving the health of the brain. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Listening to your heartbeat can help with your feelings

“I wish I could feel happy or excited” - Tom is trying a new treatment that could help people with autism to better recognise their emotions. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Monday, 23 April 2018

US soldier gets world's first penis and scrotum transplant

The wounded veteran who received the organ transplant says he feels "finally more normal". via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Boy recovering well after five-organ transplant

Jay Crouch has two new kidneys, a liver, pancreas and small bowel and is learning how to eat. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

£6m pledge for children of alcoholics

The government funding will go towards mental health services and outreach programmes for parents. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Ex-MP Tessa Jowell first to donate data to medical database

Former Culture Secretary Baroness Tessa Jowell hopes better cancer treatments can be developed. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

'In six days I'll lose my voice forever'

Lonnie's tongue is about to be removed. What will he say to loved ones with his final words? via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Friday, 20 April 2018

Gestational diabetes an 'epidemic'

Experts say more screening is needed to tackle the disease, which affects pregnant women. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Top tips on getting through hot weather with hay fever

With the temperature rising, here are our top tips in reducing your hay fever-induced tears. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

'I lost legs and part of my face after a dog scratch'

Dr Jaco Nel lost both his legs and all of the fingers on one hand after contracting sepsis. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

'World's worst' super-gonorrhoea man cured

The patient had a lucky escape say doctors, but now two more cases have been discovered. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

First double face transplant patient 'well' in France

The first person in the world to receive two facial transplants is recovering in a Paris hospital. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Frenchman gets 'third face' in new transplant

Jérôme Hamon is the first patient to have two facial transplants and says he is doing well. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Does vaginal seeding boost health?

Does vaginal seeding expose babies to good bacteria or is it too dangerous? via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

How 'ninja polymers' are taking on the killer superbugs

Is the fusion of biology and technology speeding us towards a synthetic future? via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Breastfeeding: Abergavenny mums share nursing images online

The images are intended to start conversations about the difficulties nursing mothers can face. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Rhys's top tips for living with ADHD

Rhys Sinclair was diagnosed with ADHD when he was seven years old. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Monday, 16 April 2018

European women twice as likely to be blonde as men, study says

Women from European descent are twice as likely to be naturally blonde as men, a new study suggests. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Ketamine has 'fast-acting benefits' for depression

A study treating depressed patients with the drug via a nasal spray saw "significant improvements". via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

The paramedic couple who mostly collect bodies

Mariela and her husband work as paramedics in one of the most violent cities in Mexico. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Genes behind deadly heart condition found, scientists say

Genes are found that cause a heart disease that kills 50% of victims within five years. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Late risers at increased risk of early death, study finds

Night owls are 10% more likely to have premature deaths than early risers, a study says. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

A solution to one of America’s biggest problems

Who will care for the soaring number of elderly Americans? One place has found a creative answer. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Good bacteria: Why I put my poo in the post

How analysing faeces could unlock the secrets of good health. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Friday, 13 April 2018

'I lost seven stone to save my liver'

Frances Carroll needed sticks to walk any distance when she was a size 22. Now she's a fitness instructor. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Going through the menopause at 11 years old

Amanda was 11 years old when she started experiencing symptoms of early menopause. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Why some cancers are 'born to be bad'

Breakthrough explains why some cancers are far more deadly than others. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Chinese baby born four years after parents' death

A surrogate mother gave birth as the biological parents had frozen embryos before they died in a car crash. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Anti-abortion campaigner: 'We will continue to hold vigils'

One campaigner says a 100m "buffer zone" at a London abortion clinic will not be a deterrent. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

WHO and UNICEF issue new guidance to promote breastfeeding in health facilities globally

WHO and UNICEF today issued new ten-step guidance to increase support for breastfeeding in health facilities that provide maternity and newborn services. Breastfeeding all babies for the first 2 years would save the lives of more than 820 000 children under age 5 annually.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding underpin the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, which both organizations launched in 1991. The practical guidance encourages new mothers to breastfeed and informs health workers how best to support breastfeeding. via WHO news Read More Here..

Exercise benefits to the brain 'may be passed on'

A study in mice found that physical and mental exercise in adults improved offspring's learning ability. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

NHS heart bypass surgery waiting times double in Wales

Heart surgery patients in Wales see the average waiting time rise from 43 days to 79. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

YouTube star prompts conversation about social anxieties

Social anxiety is like 'falling down the rabbit hole of endless what ifs' says one suffer in a candid online debate. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

WHO concerned about suspected chemical attacks in Syria

WHO is deeply alarmed by reports of the suspected use of toxic chemicals in Douma city, East Ghouta.

According to reports from Health Cluster partners, during the shelling of Douma on Saturday, an estimated 500 patients presented to health facilities exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals. In particular, there were signs of severe irritation of mucous membranes, respiratory failure and disruption to central nervous systems of those exposed. via WHO news Read More Here..

Woman's jaw regrown by 9cm in UK first operation after cancer

Val Blunden's jaw has been reconstructed by "stretching" her own tissue and bone around a frame. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Brain injuries increase dementia risk, study finds

An analysis found people who had brain injuries were 24% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Why do people enjoy taking part in chilli-eating contests?

Chilli-eating competitions are proving popular in the UK, despite potential risks. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Child amputees get new sport prosthetics fund

A mother's campaign has led to government funding that gives hope to child amputees. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Nearly one billion people in Africa to be protected against yellow fever by 2026

Nearly one billion people will be vaccinated against yellow fever in 27 high-risk African countries by 2026 with support from WHO, Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and more than 50 health partners.

The commitment is part of the Eliminate Yellow fever Epidemics (EYE) in Africa strategy, which was launched by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, Professor Isaac Folorunso Adewole, Nigeria’s Minister of Health and partners at a regional meeting in Abuja, Nigeria on Tuesday (10 April). via WHO news Read More Here..

More than half your body is not human

Human cells make up only 43% of the body's total cell count, while the rest are microscopic colonists. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Record number of organ donors in 2017

Last year also saw the highest year-on-year increase in donors in the UK for 28 years. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Monday, 9 April 2018

Facebook Science: How Facebook Breaks Effect Stress and Wellbeing

Inadvertently, in the wake of recent Facebook data harvesting scandals, Elon Musk and Brian Acton spurring on Facebook users to #DeleteFacebook in past weeks and the resulting Facebook breaks could (potentially) do some good for the average users stress levels. While differences between being deleted, deactivated, or abandoned have yet to be explored, new research is the first to report that the average user can relieve physiological measures of stress by taking a break from Facebook—at least in the short-term.

Findings from a 2013 survey in the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, posit that 61% of current Facebook users reported taking a “Facebook vacation,” in which they voluntarily stopped using Facebook for several weeks or more. Moreover, 20% of adults reported having once used Facebook but that they no longer did so.

In a study that was just published in the Journal of Social Psychology, researchers in Australia investigated how taking a Facebook break (i.e., abstaining from using Facebook) effects stress and wellbeing. They recruited 138 active Facebook users and split them into two groups: the Facebook use as normal and five-day Facebook break groups.

Taking a break from Facebook lowered levels of salivary cortisol (a stress biomarker) after just five days. Yet despite this physiologically stress-relieving effect, users taking a Facebook break reported feeling lower levels of life satisfaction and wellbeing than users that continued Facebook use as normal (as measured by subjective reports from the users).

These seemingly contradictory effects are consistent with the general love-hate feelings about Facebook that may typify most active users, exemplified by “I’m done with Facebook” posts one minute and regular selfies and check-ins the next—its a super social tool with tonnes of obvious benefits, but often feels taxing, addictively time-wasting, forces social comparison, lowers self-esteem, and can be an information overload.

Its important to remember that Facebook users in this study were not users that had reached Facebook breaking point and desired a Facebook vacation themselves. They were essentially “cut off” from Facebook for the purpose of the experiment, with the researchers reasoning that subjective feelings of life-satisfaction and well-being were lowered by removing a currently desired means of contact and connection with others, despite the break lowering stress levels by other means.

At first glance, two other Facebook break studies may seem to contradict the reduced wellbeing observed from taking a Facebook break. They reported that subjects reported feeling increased wellbeing when taking a Facebook break over a one-week (study 1) or two-week (study 2) period, particularly for the heaviest Facebook users.

The 5-day break in the newly published cortisol study was perhaps too short to observe the decline in subjective wellbeing previously reported from longer periods of regular Facebook use. Moreover, the Facebook break was also over a weekend, which is typically a wellbeing booster and may have counteracted negative effects of regular Facebook use.

It is also important to note that the participants were recruited based on a willingness to give up Facebook for five days (and not naturally occurring Facebook vacations), and may have over-selected for people already overburdened by Facebook and seeking a good reason to have a Facebook break. However, this didn’t seem to be the case as only a handful of users reported that they expected the Facebook break to be a pleasant experience—the majority of the participants did not think a Facebook break would be a nice experience. As one participant speculated:

I will probably feel…upset as my social life will be totally stopped if I cannot use Facebook and
cannot find my friends in Facebook, I will also feel like left behind as I will not be able to know
what has happened with my Facebook friends in the coming five days.

Many participants (unprompted) expressed happiness that they could get back onto Facebook again because they felt so cut off. Naturally occurring Facebook breaks, on the other hand, may come with better improvements in stress levels that coincide with improved wellbeing because the break is truly desired and needed.

This may also be why the self-reports of stress were not significantly affected (statistically speaking), despite a trend towards reporting lower stress, where their negative perceptions about being cut off from Facebook (e.g., “I’m disconnected!”) influenced their perceived stress.

Additionally, a moderator effect was found when participants were divided on the basis of Dunbar’s number, 150—the number of individuals with whom Dunbar suggested that any one person can maintain stable relationships with. Those with 150 or fewer friends showed a decline in cortisol, whether they took a break or continued to use Facebook as usual. However, the small number of participants who actually had fewer than 150 friends prevented them from having sufficient power to fully test these effects.

To really get to the bottom of all this, researchers should be asking what happens to cortisol levels (and subjective stress and wellbeing) when people are disconnected from Facebook for much longer periods (e.g., months), the mechanisms involved, and to what extent naturally occurring cyclical patterns of Facebook activity occur (where stress from Facebook builds, users disconnect and go cold turkey, and then return as their desire to feel connected again builds).

The amounting evidence supports that taking short breaks from Facebook could be beneficial to both mental and physical health due to the significant role of stress and the HPA axis in mental and physical disorders. This is particularly beneficial for people who heavily use the platform or experience too much social comparison and envy that harms their wellbeing.

Soon, research will likely tell us how long the breaks should be and how often and under what circumstances they should occur to get the most out of being both connected and disconnected from Facebook and perhaps social media use in general. Science can’t yet say with confidence the ways that deleting facebook and the #DeleteFacebook movement could impact users health and wellbeing, but it certainly suggests taking a #FacebookBreak if your #donewithfb. Maybe consider taking a Facebook break for lent next year.


Kross, E., Verduyn, P., Demiralp, E., Park, J., Lee, D. S., Lin, N., Shablack, H., Jonides, J., & Ybarra, O. (2013). Facebook use predicts declines in subject well-being in young adults. PLOS ONE, 8(8), e69841-e69841. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069841

Pew Internet and American Life Project (2013). What teens said about social media, privacy, and online identity. Pew Internet. http://www.pewinternet.org/Commentary/2013/May/Focusgroup-highlights.aspx, accessed on January 5, 2017.

Tromholt, M. (2016). The Facebook experiment: Quitting Facebook leads to higher levels of well-being. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19, 661-666.

Vanman, E., Baker, R., & Tobin, S. (2018). The burden of online friends: the effects of giving up Facebook on stress and wellbeing. The Journal Of Social Psychology. doi:10.1080/00224545.2018.1453467

Image via geralt/Pixabay.

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Finding the Right Way to Use Ketamine for Depression

Many studies have shown ketamine to be a promising treatment for those suffering from severe depression, but figuring out how to safely administer the drug has been a challenge for researchers. One hopeful delivery method was a nasal spray device because of its ease-of-use and the fact that it is less invasive than other methods such as injection.

But a new Australian study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reveals some unexpected problems with the nasal spray method. In particular, the study shows the unpredictable nature of intranasal ketamine tolerance from one person to the next.

Lead author Professor Colleen Loo at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), who is based at Black Dog Institute, states:

It’s clear that the intranasal method of ketamine delivery is not as simple as it first seemed. Many factors are at play when it comes to nasal spray ketamine treatments. Absorption will vary between people and can fluctuate on any given day within an individual based on such things as mucous levels in the nose and the specific application technique used.

The pilot trial aimed to analyze the effectiveness of repeated doses of ketamine through an intranasal device amongst 10 volunteers with severe depression, ahead of a larger randomized controlled trial.

First, the participants were given extensive training in proper self-administration techniques before receiving either a course of eight ketamine treatments or an active control over a period of four weeks, under supervision at the study center.

Following the observation of each patients’ initial reaction to the nasal spray, the dosages were adjusted to include longer time intervals between sprays.

However, the trial had to be put on hold after testing with five participants resulted in unexpected problems with tolerability. Side effects included high blood pressure, psychotic-like effects, and motor incoordination which left some participants unable to continue to self-administer the spray.

Professor Colleen Loo commented:

Intranasal ketamine delivery is very potent as it bypasses metabolic pathways, and ketamine is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. But as our findings show, this can lead to problems with high peak levels of ketamine in some people causing problematic side effects. Other recent studies have questioned whether changes to ketamine’s composition after being metabolised into derivative compounds may actually deliver useful therapeutic effects. It remains unclear whether ketamine nasal sprays can be safely relied upon as a treatment for patients with severe depression.

Previous research led by Loo last year revealed the success of ketamine’s antidepressant effects in elderly patients when delivered in repeated doses, which were adjusted on an individual basis and given by the subcutaneous method (injections under the skin):

Our prior research has shown that altering the dose on an individual patient basis was important. However, we wanted to see if a simpler approach using a set dose of ketamine for all people and administered by nasal spray could work just as well in this latest pilot. More research is needed to identify the optimal level of ketamine dosage for each specific application method before nasal sprays can be considered a feasible treatment option.

The researchers are now recruiting participants for the world’s largest independent trial of ketamine to treat depression, to determine the safety and effects of repeated dosing using subcutaneous injections.

This guest article appeared on PsychCentral.com: Ketamine Nasal Spray for Depression Runs Into Problems and was originally posted on Psych Central by Traci Pedersen.


Gálvez V, Li A, Huggins C et al. Repeated intranasal ketamine for treatment-resistant depression – the way to go? Results from a pilot randomised controlled trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2018;32(4):397-407. doi:10.1177/0269881118760660.

Image via ThorstenF/Pixabay.

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100 years of chemical weapons

From chlorine to novichok, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon takes us through the history of chemical weapons. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Prostate cancer: Four in 10 cases diagnosed late, charity says

A report by the charity Orchid found 37% of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in the late stages. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Friday, 6 April 2018

Long NHS waits: My child flew to Turkey for op

Fourteen-year-old girl had to go abroad for spinal surgery because of delays in Northern Ireland. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..