Month: September 2016

Does vitamin D enhance the survival rate of breast cancer patients?

There have been several studies into the link between breast cancer survival and the ‘sunshine vitamin’ (vitamin D).  Although it is too early to refer to vitamin D as a new weapon in our armamentarium, the association has created a lot of interest and indeed may lead to important new discoveries in the future. The results of these studies are worth exploring. Published earlier this year in the Anticancer Research Journal is a study by the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine (led by Prof Cedric Garland), which showed that breast cancer patients with optimal levels of...

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Simple blood test that could diagnose the 10 year risk of heart attack

A genetic test could identify people at risk of a heart attack a decade in advance, scientists claim. Calculating someone’s coronary ‘risk score’, based on their genetic make-up, could help doctors prevent countless heart attacks, experts say. Coronary heart disease, in which the major arteries become clogged, kills nearly 70,000 people in Britain each year. While in the US, nearly 380,000 die from hearts attacks as a result of the disease annually. Many of these cases are avoidable, with lifestyle factors – particularly drinking, smoking, diet and exercise – having an impact on roughly 85 per cent of cases....

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New sensor technology could speed up blood test analysis

Researchers at the University of York have developed a new sensor that is capable of detecting multiple proteins and enzymes in a small volume of blood, which could significantly speed up diagnostic healthcare processes. Currently tests to detect the presence of infection or disease require a sample of blood from a patient, which is later analysed in a laboratory to detect markers of disease.  The presence of particular proteins can give an indication of a health condition and the best course of treatment, but only one type of protein can be identified per sample. If multiple tests are required,...

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Time to give the dreaded digital rectal examination the finger

An evidence review and screening trial found that in most cases, it is time to abandon the digital rectal exam (DRE) if a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test is done. ‘When PSA testing is used, the DRE rarely assists in diagnosing significant disease … [and] should be abandoned in common clinical practice,’ said study author Dr Ryan Terlecki of Wake Forest School of Medicine. The dreaded finger exam to check for prostate cancer used to be a mainstay of check-ups for older men. With its value now in question, some doctors share the risks and benefits with their patients...

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Helicobacter Pylori Infection – New Treatment Recommendations

In an excellent video address, Prof David Johnson outlines recent recommended changes to Helicobactor Pylori treatment. These include extending treatment for all patients to 14 days which results in eradication rates in excess of 95% and avoiding clarithromycin in areas where resistance is known to be high. According to a Medscape transcription of the address, Prof Johnson who is a professor of medicine and chief of gastroenterology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Virginia explains that: “…the efficacy of (7 or 10 day treatment) regimens have declined. This prompted a group of primarily Canadian experts on H pylori and evidence-based medicine to convene a...

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Statins: Lancet review shows harms exaggerated and benefits underestimated

Doctors, patients and the public now have more help to make informed decisions about statin therapy, thanks to a major review of the available evidence on the safety and efficacy of the drug published in The Lancet. The authors, including researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, warn that the benefits of statin therapy have been underestimated, and the harms exaggerated, because of a failure to acknowledge properly both the wealth of evidence from randomised trials and the limitations of other types of studies. Research on statins has been ongoing for over 30 years, generating a...

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South Africa’s Department of Health Has Decided to Tax Sugary Drinks

As part of the 2016 budget, the South African Treasury has decided to tax sugary drinks. But the taxation of sugar-sweetened drinks will start in 2017 only. It is believed that the levying of taxes will help minimize the growing epidemic of oral health problems and non-communicable diseases. Local as well as international experiences have proven that taxing sugary drinks, tobacco and alcohol can positively influence consumer behavior. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that children and adults should reduce their consumption of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. An additional reduction of 5%...

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6 Signs That Your Cortisol Levels May Be Too High

Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands in response to stress-it’s our primary stress hormone and is responsible for activating the body’s “fight or flight” response in stressful situations. When your body is under chronic stress, your cortisol levels remain high, and you can be more susceptible to disease. Here are six signs that your levels may be elevated. Insomnia Your cortisol levels should be lower at nighttime, which is what allows your body to relax and recharge. But if your cortisol levels are consistently too high, you may feel wide awake when it’s time to...

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