Friday, 26 August 2016

On The Pulse - August 2016

Active surveillance might be better in advanced kidney cancer
via OnMedica Blogs Read More Here..

Thursday, 25 August 2016

US plan to fend off Zika with sterile mosquitoes faces catch-22

A project to unleash genetically modified mosquitoes in Florida to stop Zika could backfire if it ignores public protest and goes ahead, says Jamais Cascio via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

What value do GPs offer?

Truly understanding the complexities and demands of working in an out-of-hospital environment key to value what GPs offer

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BMA calls for maximum number of patients per GP
Make GP a more attractive career, agree MPs
Public wants NHS to prioritise 7-day GP access
GPs set to be balloted on willingness to take industrial action
To improve GP access, we all need to step out of the trenches
via OnMedica Blogs Read More Here..

Ultrasound brain zap wakes man from minimally conscious state

After a jolt to his thalamus, a man who showed almost no awareness or movement began to communicate, fist-bump, and trying to walk again via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Mind-controlled nanobots could release drugs inside your brain

DNA origami bots have been triggered to release drugs inside cockroaches, prompted by changes in a person’s brain activity via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Offer European NHS workers ‘automatic’ British citizenship

Think-tank warns that drastic action is needed to protect NHS from exodus of workers

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Government urged to save jobs of over 33,000 EU nurses
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Three times as more EU doctors face disciplinary action for poor English than non-EU
via OnMedica News Read More Here..

Rotavirus shows big decline since vaccine campaign

Recorded cases have dropped 84% in the three years since vaccinations started

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Improve uptake of MMR jab to meet WHO target
Men B jab won’t be extended to children under two in the UK
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Rotavirus jab linked to sharp drop in admissions
via OnMedica News Read More Here..

Eastern Mediterranean conflict jeopardising decades of health gains

Life expectancy decreasing, child mortality rising and infrastructure in many nations 'shattered'

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‘Grave concern’ over growing violence against doctors
Healthcare ‘a tactic of war’ in Iraq and Syria
Doctors warn Syria’s health structure is at breaking point
Refugees have much higher risk of psychosis
Migrants should not be denied fundamental right to healthcare
via OnMedica News Read More Here..

Childhood head injuries have long-term effects

Study shows increased risk of physical or mental health problems

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GPs link to new emergency ‘vanguard’ sites
Commission more teen mental health and alcohol services
Missed A&E targets reflect cuts in social care and NHS funding
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via OnMedica News Read More Here..

Study reveals mental cost of epilepsy in pregnancy

Women with epilepsy have lower self-esteem and suffer greater social strain

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Prenatal exposure to valproate raises risk of autism
Adverse pregnancy outcomes far more likely in epilepsy
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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Face transplant patient: 'Now I have hope'

Patrick Hardison, the volunteer fireman who underwent the world's most extensive face transplant, on his new-found hope. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Is Being Clever Dangerous For Your Health?

The idea that how smart you are might be connected with how healthy you are is not new. Those who studied social sciences have probably seen the published works on the subject dating back to 1980s.

The problem is not so easy to study academically, though. It is hard to separate the influence of various social factors on both intelligence level and health from a pure connection between health and brightness. As a result, many of the existing studies have been inconclusive. Factors such as age, sex, social and economic level, and education of the study cohort may seriously affect the conclusions. However, when these factors are taken into account, or the study groups are designed in a way minimizing their influence, rather interesting findings emerge.

To measure the cleverness, most studies use IQ. With all its disadvantages, IQ testing still remains the most reliable measure of intelligence. This article will briefly outline the results of studies investigating possible effects that different IQ levels might have on the health.

First, it is important to ask how IQ and health could be connected. Social components are relatively obvious: lower IQ might mean lower level of knowledge about healthy living, for instance. Also, the gradual progression of some chronic diseases may affect cognitive functions leading to lower IQ in unhealthy people. A published analysis showed that long-term sick leave and disability pension are often related to low cognitive abilities. Obviously, this effect is secondary and does not confirm the link between the initial IQ before the disease and the risk of developing this particular disease.

Apart from these obvious connections, there are genetic and physiological components. Recent research data suggest (twin studies in particular) that 60% of factors influencing our intelligence level are dictated by our genes.

There are many genes that directly or indirectly can influence our IQ: these are the genes involved in functioning of the brain, efficiency of neurotransmission, production of neuromediators and so on. The proteins produced by these genes work on multiple levels, and not only in neurons. They may, for instance, regulate the blood supply to the brain or other organs, or availability of various nutrients to neurons or other cells. These proteins may work in different cells of our body performing similar functions. If a gene works not particularly well in the brain cells, it is also likely to underperform elsewhere. At least, this is a general scientific assumption. However, the same gene may have different effects in different cell types, and therefore the link is not so obvious and not so easy to investigate.

It is interesting to mention what the published studies do not confirm. The data show no gender differences in correlations between mortality/morbidity and the IQ level. One study published in the British Medical Journal also demonstrated quite clearly that there is no correlations between high IQ in childhood and morbidity/mortality rates later in life. In both cases the social factors such as social class and culture were taken into account.

Links between IQ and specific diseases

One study demonstrated that high IQ in men was correlated with the incidence of coronary heart disease, although when socio-economic variables were taken into account the relation was not very strong.

Another study showed that atherosclerosis and hypertension could be linked to lower IQ. This relationship might, to a certain degree, reflect social phenomena, as those with higher IQ levels tend to be better informed and live healthier life styles.

Studies have also shown that a lower IQ in children can lead to obesity in adulthood.

Many of the diseases mentioned above can be causes of, or lead to, stroke. Therefore, it is not surprising that a low IQ is linked to a higher risk of stroke. The latter conclusion in regards to the stroke risk stands even when socioeconomic variables are rigorously taken into consideration.

Psychiatric disorders have also long been considered to have a very close link with high IQ. Many geniuses were known to have rather strange or unpredictable characters, suffered from mood disorders and depression. Indeed, statistics shows that creative people with higher IQ are more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder and mood swings. Most studies done on this subject were small but all show similar results nonetheless.

One study among the students in Swedish schools found that those with higher grades were more likely to show signs of bipolar disorder. However, the study also demonstrated that students with the lowest grades were twice more likely to show signs of bipolar disorder compared to the average students. Interestingly, a New Zealand study showed similar associations between low IQ and psychiatric disorders.

Another study published in The Archive of General Psychiatry showed that people with higher IQ were less likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. This study has considered socioeconomic variables, as discussed earlier.

Interestingly, a recent study published this year found a higher risk of developing glioma, a type of brain tumor, among university-educated people. The risk is 19% higher in educated men and 23% higher in women with a university degree. The reasons for such correlation remain speculative.

The findings discussed above highlight that both low and high IQ levels can be associated with certain risks. Lower IQ might be linked with poorer general health, while high IQ level is associated with higher chances of psychiatric disorders. It is important to emphasize, however, that these correlations are not very strong – having a specific IQ level, whether it is low or high, does not automatically load your body with associated health problems of any kind. Further research are needed to see how the health and intelligence are connected on genetic and physiological levels: I’m sure there are lots of surprising discoveries there!


Batty, G. (2006). Does IQ explain socioeconomic inequalities in health? Evidence from a population based cohort study in the west of Scotland BMJ, 332 (7541), 580-584 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.38723.660637.AE

Dennis, M., Francis, D., Cirino, P., Schachar, R., Barnes, M., & Fletcher, J. (2009). Why IQ is not a covariate in cognitive studies of neurodevelopmental disorders Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 15 (03) DOI: 10.1017/S1355617709090481

Hauser, R., & Palloni, A. (2011). Adolescent IQ and Survival in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 66B (Supplement 1) DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbr037

Khanolkar, A., Ljung, R., Talbäck, M., Brooke, H., Carlsson, S., Mathiesen, T., & Feychting, M. (2016). Socioeconomic position and the risk of brain tumour: a Swedish national population-based cohort study Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health DOI: 10.1136/jech-2015-207002

Lager, A., Bremberg, S., & Vagero, D. (2009). The association of early IQ and education with mortality: 65 year longitudinal study in Malmo, Sweden BMJ, 339 (dec11 1) DOI: 10.1136/bmj.b5282

Wraw, C., Deary, I., Gale, C., & Der, G. (2015). Intelligence in youth and health at age 50 Intelligence, 53, 23-32 DOI: 10.1016/j.intell.2015.08.001

Image via venturaartist / Pixabay.

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A bad night’s sleep messes with your brain’s memory connections

Tests on people’s brains after a night of disruption suggest that sleep is important for clearing space for forming new memories via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Take part in our Healthy Food & Drink Awards 2017

News Aug 24, 2016
via Healthy Eating Read More..

CCGs rated best and worst for tackling health inequalities

264,000 excess hospitalisations linked to socioeconomic inequality

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Defence body calls for early help to cut GP legal costs

Clinical negligence claims against GPs rose 16.4% last year

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Majority of GP practices receive good CQC ratings

Around 80% of practices rated good or outstanding

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NICE green lights new cancer drugs for NHS

Two more treatments to be available for routine NHS use

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Laboratory shortages could hamper HIV testing

WHO says HIV targets could be missed

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We must understand electroshock therapy’s unwanted side effects

Electroconvulsive shock treatment is in line for a renaissance. But before that happens, we need to know more about the cognitive impairments it causes via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Babies’ health could be affected by variation in IVF nutrients

The recipes of different IVF culture fluids are kept secret, but there’s evidence that some affect the success of the treatment and the health of babies via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

HIV effort let down by test shortages, says WHO

A shortage of HIV testing could undermine global efforts to diagnose and treat people with the infection, warn experts from the World Health Organization. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Potent pills

With ecstasy, or MDMA, being bought more freely on the dark net, the drug is growing in popularity - and in strength. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Statement on the 10th IHR Emergency Committee regarding the international spread of poliovirus

Reviewing data on wild poliovirus, the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) expressed grave concern over 2 new cases of polio in Nigeria, and commended progress made in Afghanistan and Pakistan. via WHO news Read More Here..

Why do women keep taking HRT despite breast cancer risks?

A new analysis suggests hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of developing breast cancer even more than we thought. Will women keep taking it? via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

'Bagpipe lung' warning for wind musicians

Doctors are warning musicians to clean the inside of their wind or brass instruments regularly, to protect them from a fatal condition that's being called "bagpipe lung." via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Three questions to ask your doctor before any treatment

Too often medical advice turns out to be ineffective, or even harmful.  Here’s how to make sure you’re getting the right treatment via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Drug-free IVF could be cheaper and faster way to get pregnant

The need for expensive, unpleasant hormone injections in IVF could be removed by a compound that boosts egg maturation in the lab by 50 per cent via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

The scary reality of medical U-turns, and how to stop them

From peanut allergy to cancer, total reversals in medical advice are strikingly common. Why did it go so wrong, and how can we make sure we get it right next time? via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

US pregnancy-related deaths are rising and have doubled in Texas

The US is one of only eight countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality has gone up instead of down in the last few decades via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Combined HRT risk for cancer underestimated

Almost three times higher risk of cancer from combined HRT

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Menopause and HRT – Overview of NICE guidelines
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BMA calls off mass GP resignation ballot

NHS England agrees to basis for discussions on general practice

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Unrelenting demand
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DH’s own documents admit doubts over a seven-day NHS

Leak warns of severe risk of ‘workforce overload’

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Major study set to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s

Landmark £6.9m study aims to identify biomarkers

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Improvement in heart disease not uniform across UK

Prevalence is static over 30 years but treatments are better

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Antrim Area Hospital: Man says human rights 'violated' by DNR order

A County Antrim man who was unaware that a "do not resuscitate" (DNR) order had been placed on his medical file says he feels his human rights have been violated. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

'Bagpipe lung' warning for wind musicians

Trumpeters, saxophonists and pipers beware - playing a wind instrument could damage your lungs, say doctors. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Deadly bagpipe infection is health warning to all wind musicians

Without regular cleaning, the moist interiors of wind instruments make an ideal home for moulds and fungi that can cause life-threatening lung conditions via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Heart disease deaths have fallen by 70 per cent in a generation

Better diagnosis and treatments have dramatically cut the number of deaths from heart disease and stroke in the UK over the past 35 years via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Could mouthwash combat gonorrhoea?

Gargling with simple mouthwash might be a way to halt the spread of gonorrhoea, researchers believe. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Monday, 22 August 2016

Life as an obstetrician in a war zone

In a video diary for the BBC, an Aleppo obstetrician performs an emergency caesarean section during one of the city's many power blackouts. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

WHO scales up response to humanitarian crisis in Nigeria

A WHO emergency health team arrived 19 August 2016 in Maiduguri State to assess and respond to the health needs of 800 000 people in north eastern Nigeria, formerly held by militant insurgency groups. WHO is scaling up its emergency response activities, together with partners, to assist hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of health services. More than half of the health facilities in Borno State, the area most severely affected, are not functioning. via WHO news Read More Here..

Mouse’s body made entirely transparent to reveal nervous system

A technique that shrinks a dead body and makes it see-through could enable us to inspect human brains and bodies in greater detail than ever before via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Calcium dementia link is reminder of the dangers of supplements

An increased risk of dementia in some women taking calcium warns us that supplements marketed as a quick fix for health may not be benign, says Clare Wilson via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Ditch habit for longer survival after head and neck cancer, smokers urged

Smokers who quit for 15 years benefit most, study finds

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Abortions suspended at Marie Stopes clinics amid safety fears

Likely to affect 250 women a week who will be diverted to other services

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Formal regulation of cosmetic surgery clinic standards proposed

DH consultation launched today on extension of CQC inspection rights

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Striking out
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Hunt ‘never planned to insist on changes to existing contracts’
Juniors’ contract concerns about far more than pay
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Toxic shock warning: Toddler lost legs after misdiagnosis

A mother is keen to raise awareness of toxic shock syndrome after her son's case was misdiagnosed as tonsillitis. via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

Pfizer to buy cancer drug firm Medivation for $14bn

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer confirms it will buy a cancer drug firm Medivation for about $14bn (£10.7bn). via BBC News - Health Read More Here..

First ‘group leader’ trusts to help other providers improve, are named

Chosen on strength of clinical/financial performance and management capacity

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