Arthritis pill: Daily intake of new treatment halts disabling bone loss and damage

Breast cancer test: New technique could spare thousands from chemotherapy

The cutting edge technique, Oncotype DX, analyses samples of tumour removed during surgery and provides a recurrence score of between 1 and 100 on the likelihood of cancer returning. 

The test is currently only available to some women with breast cancer, but experts say thousands who miss out undergo chemotherapy they do not need. 

The call to make the test more widely available follows the results of a recent trial highlighted at a leading cancer conference last month which revealed 98 per cent of patients with a low recurrence score who avoided chemotherapy after surgery survived at least five years without their cancer returning, showing they did not need chemotherapy. 

The trial, known as Plan B, was presented at the European Society of Medical Oncology in Madrid and involved over 4,000 patients in 12 centres in Germany. 

It was published in leading journal Clinical Oncology. 

This trial showed the test was effective both in women whose cancer remained in the breast and in those patients whose cancer had spread to the lymph nodes. 

However, the £2,600 test is not routinely used by all UK hospitals and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommends it only for women whose cancer has not spread. Chemotherapy costs up to £9,000 per patient. 

The Plan B trial echoed results of a UK study of the test led by experts at University Hospital of South Manchester which found 63 per cent of women given the test were able to avoid chemotherapy if their cancer had not spread and almost 70 per cent of women could be spared if their cancer had spread to the lymph nodes. 

Professor Nigel Bundred, a leading breast cancer surgeon at the hospital, said: “Thousands of women are undergoing unnecessary chemotherapy because of the failure to make this available to everyone throughout the UK.” 

The test is suitable for women who have a hormone-driven breast cancer type known as Oestrogen receptor positive HER2 negative which accounts for most breast cancer patients. 

In a statement Nice said it reviews and updates diagnostics guidance “at any time if significant new evidence becomes available”.



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Mental health UK: NHS trust boosts patients wellbeing with crash course in magic

Now sufferers around Britain are to benefit from the Magic Therapy Project after health bosses advertised for “volunteer magicians” to help roll it out. 

Patients’ lives have been transformed after they were shown how to amaze loved ones with little more than a deck of cards and an NHS-issued wizard’s wand. 

The scheme was started by Eamonn McClurey, a nurse with Middlesbrough-based Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust. 

Mr McClurey, 45, said: “I was working in holiday camps doing magic before going into nursing. I never thought anything about it until I saw a report about how card tricks could help with physio. So I thought, why not try it with people with mental health problems? 

“I saw how doing simple tricks can improve confidence and self-esteem. 

“I did a magic workshop at a conference and people loved it.” 

He then approached the local Middlesbrough Circle of Magicians and started doing mental health workshops with amateur conjuror Neil Armstrong. 

Mr Amstrong said: “We go on to the wards for two hours and show them simple tricks. 

“A fortnight later we go back and show them improvements and how to improve their patter. 

“A man with autism has really excelled at card tricks. He could not say his own name 10 months ago. He now does card tricks for doctors. It is amazing to see.” 

Mr Armstrong, 56, who specialises in close-up magic, has become one of the first to apply for the new NHS magicians’ jobs. 

He said: “They are recruiting a number of volunteer NHS magicians to go around the wards and a put a smile on people’s faces. 

“Sometimes you leave with a tear in your eye. We saw one patient eloquently performing a trick and were told by nurses he had not spoken for four years.”



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Cancer cure is ‘pipe dream’, says world renowned doctor

Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee, 47, won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 2011 for his book The Emperor Of All Maladies: A Biography Of Cancer. 

He told Desert Island Discs how the intricacies of the illness make it unlikely that we will ever be able to eradicate it completely. 

Dr Mukherjee is the Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Columbia University Medical Centre in New York and studied at Stanford, Oxford and Harvard. 

The father-of-two said: “This disease, I think, is not going away. The idea that we will erase it from the face of human history I think is a pipe dream. It is part of us, not only in a cultural way, but it is part of us in a biological way. 

“That’s not to be nihilistic about the treatment of cancer but it is to recognise that part of the complexity of treating cancer is that there are very few diseases where the fundamental of the disease is so locked in with the fundamental of who we are.” 

Despite this, he still sees a positive future for cancer treatment. 

He said: “In the next 10 years we are going to try to deploy [what we have learned about cancer] and it is like living on the edge of an experiment. We are going to ask the question if we do this systematically in cancers can we learn to treat cancers in a more rational and reasonable way.” 

Dr Mukherjee’s more recent work is in the world of genetics and he has described genetic tampering as “one of the most dangerous ideas in history”. 

His castaway tracks included Respect by Aretha Franklin, the complete works of George Orwell was his book choice and a microscope was his luxury item. 

lDesert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 today at 11.15am.



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Actress Eva O’Connor: It was such a dark time but I beat anorexia

Vitamin deficiency? These are four things to know BEFORE you buy a multivitamin

Vitamin and mineral sales have soared in the UK in recent years.

Figures released last year showed that 24 million UK adults - around 46 per cent - now take supplements daily.

One of the most common to take is a multivitamin - which combines a range of nutrients into one tablet.

“The first stop for most people when looking to overhaul their health through nutrition is a good multivitamin,” said Beth Morris, clinical nutritionist at BioCare.

“Such a multivitamin supplement is by no means a replacement for a healthy diet and lifestyle, but rather a synergistic addition to it.

“This is necessary to ensure that we have an optimum baseline of nutrition and a multivitamin supplement also provides additional support for those with higher nutrient needs, such as children, the elderly, pregnant women, those with poor digestion, or individuals with a particular health condition.”

However, the range of multivitamins on offer can be confusing, leaving many wondering which is the best option.

“To the average person the market appears to be saturated with multivitamin supplements and we can become easily confused by all of the bus banners and A-boards telling us about the next best thing,” said Morris.

“As a rule of thumb, if you can buy them from a supermarket or chemist as a ‘by-one-get-one-free’ they are not the right supplement for you. 

“It is much better to purchase them from specialist online retailers or local independent health-stores to get the most therapeutic products on the market.”

She reveals the four key things to look out for when choosing a multivitamin.

Look for iron citrate on the label

“You should look at the forms of each nutrient, since not all forms are created equal,” said Morris.

“It is vitally important to know what the vitamin or mineral is bound to as this can either aid or impede absorption in our gut. 

“For instance, ferrous sulphate (available from the GP) and iron citrate (a common form of iron provided in food supplements) are worlds apart in the nutrition world, with the latter being the preferred form as it is far better absorbed and avoids common side effects (e.g. constipation) when taking iron from the GP.”

Choose magnesium ascorbate

“Other differences you may have noticed are different forms of vitamin C, as either ascorbic acid or magnesium ascorbate for example, the latter of which is a ‘buffered’ form which many find gentler on their digestive tract and easier to tolerate,” said Morris.

“This goes on for each nutrient available on the market. Modern research is enabling us to find out which forms of nutrients are the most ‘bioavailable’, meaning that the body can absorb and use them straight away. 

“Methylated B vitamins, like BioCare’s Methyl Multinutrient (£30.95 for 60 Capsules) are an excellent example of vitamins in their superior form, such as methylfolate and methylcobalamin as the most bioactive forms of folate (or folic acid) and B12 respectively.”

Consider the dose

“Look for whether the nutrients are provided at an effective baseline level per daily dosage, such as 400mcg methylfolate, 400mcg methylcobalamin or 1000 IU vitamin D3,” said Morris.

“You should also think about whether there’s a reason why you might require a higher dose.

“For example, a menstruating female may require much higher level of iron depending upon their diet and a vegan or vegetarian may require a higher level of vitamin B12.”

Think about the form

“Practicalities around administration of the product is very important,” said Morris.

“If you have difficulties swallowing large capsules or tablets, check the size provided by a particular supplement to make sure you will be able to swallow them easily. 

“If you have poor digestion, consider taking a capsule multivitamin over a tablet form as they are easier to digest and absorb. 

“By asking ourselves these questions we can decipher which would be the best format. We definitely don’t want to spend good money on a product that is ideal to support health requirements but unable to take it because of the taste or texture.”



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DEMENTIA SIGN: Older people who lose sense of smell more likely to develop dementia

Being unable to pick out common odours is a red flag for the risk of suffering the devastating condition. 

The breakthrough means dementia could soon be predicted accurately with a simple smell test five years before symptoms develop. 

The new “early warning sign” could mean earlier treatment and encourage lifestyle changes such as a better diet and more exercise before the condition takes hold. 

There are 850,000 people living with the brain disease in Britain – a figure set to soar to one million by 2025 and two million by 2050. It costs the economy £26.3billion a year. 

The study of almost 3,000 older people found that those who could not identify at least four out of five common smells were more than twice as likely to develop the disease. 

The volunteers, aged 57 to 85, took part in tests five years ago to identify five unnamed smells. 

In order of increasing difficulty they were peppermint, fish, orange, rose and leather. 

Nearly eight out of 10 people tested were normal, identifying at least four scents. 

Fourteen per cent could name only three, five per cent two, two per cent one and one per cent none. 

Five years on nearly all who could not name a single scent had dementia. 

Nearly 80 per cent who gave one or two correct answers also had it. 

Report author Professor Jayant Pinto, of the University of Chicago, said: “These results show that smell is closely connected with brain function and health. We think smell ability may be an important early sign, marking people at greater risk. More work would need to be done but it could help find people at risk.” 

Dr James Pickett, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This adds to growing evidence that suggests sense of smell could be impacted in the early stages of dementia.” 

He said smell tests were less invasive than other procedures such as examining spinal fluid. 

Rosa Sancho, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Smell tests would need to be used alongside more specific diagnostic tests to aid early detection of dementia.” 

The study is published in the journal of the American Geriatrics Society.



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Cancer warning: THESE three types are most common in the UK - what are their symptoms?

Each year cancer kills around 160,000 people in the UK.

According to Cancer Research UK, the disease accounts for one in four of all deaths.

Fortunately, a 2014 study found that mortality rates for some of the most common types - including breast, prostate and lung cancers - had fallen.

This had been attributed to improvements in early detection and treatments.

Breast cancer

It is currently the most common cancer in the UK, according to Cancer Research UK.

Indeed, the type accounts for a sixth of all cases in males and females combined.

Just this week actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced she was battling the condition, having been diagnosed just a day after winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. 

She told her Twitter followers: "1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I'm the one.”

Breast cancer is most common in women, but some men can develop it too.

Common symptoms include a breast lump, nipple retraction, nipple discharge and skin irritation.

Prostate cancer

The second most prevalent UK cancer is prostate cancer.

It is the leading cause of cancer in men, triggering 40,000 new cases a year, according to the NHS.

The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis only found in men, and its purpose is to help the production of semen.

Symptoms usually appear at quite a late stage, and include needing to urinate more frequently, difficulty starting to wee and feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully.

Lung cancer

This type is the third most common form of cancer that people in the UK develop, with 44,500 cases diagnosed every year.

However, it is by far the most prevalent reason for cancer death, responsible for more than a fifth of fatalities.

Symptoms include a persistent cough, coughing up blood, persistent breathlessness and unexplained weight loss and tiredness.



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Skin warning: Clearing out your clogged face pores could cause THIS condition

Skin with clogged pores on your face can be irritating, however beware what you do to get rid of them.

When pores become blocked, it causes small blackheads - filled with dead skin and dirt - to form.

There are a number of reasons why pores clog in the first place.

These include hormones, bacteria and over-cleansing.

The size of people’s pores is down to genetics, but how big they are doesn’t influence whether they’re more likely to fill up with dirt.  

They are designed to clean themselves, so you need not do anything to them.

However, naturally most people would like to reduce their appearance if possible.

Michael Freeman, a dermatologist and associate professor at Bond University in Australia, told The Conversation that you should never squeeze a blackhead because it might cause the oil glands to rupture back into the skin.

Freeman advised that buying skincare products containing vitamin A could help.

This is because it can stop the skin lining the pores thickening, meaning the oil glands aren't blocked. 

Using lukewarm water - rather than hot - to wash your face with is also less likely to inflame them.

He also warned against potential pore-reducing methods that could be harmful.

Steaming the face can make blood vessels stand out and trigger rosacea in those who are prone to it.

Rosacea is a skin condition that causes redness on the nose, cheeks, skin and forehead, particularly in those over 30 years.

Using a facial brush might help, but the risk is that the pore will swell due to irritation, causing more of a blockage.

Pore strips have become popular for very effectively removing pore content, however they can leave skin very sensitive to other products.



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Dementia symptoms: Doing THIS while making cup of tea could be early sign of brain decline

While scientists are yet to discover a cure for dementia, there are treatments that can stop or slow further brain decline - and spotting it at the earliest possible stage increases their effectiveness.

Well-known signs of dementia include memory loss and problems thinking, but you could add errors making a cup of tea to that list.

Researchers have found that small mistakes while carrying out daily tasks could be a very early sign of the condition.

A study published in the Journal of Neuropsychology revealed that making mistakes, such as accidentally leaving a teabag in the coffee or checking the fridge for milk that’s already out, could signal that cognitive ability is fading.

Experts are calling for families to be aware that a loved-one who makes lots of little mistakes could be starting to suffer from brain decline which may be diagnosed as dementia in the future.

“Early on, we can look at very subtle errors called 'micorerrors’,” said Dr Tania Giovannetti, a study author from Temple University in the United States.

“When we compare healthy agers to young people, there are more micro-errors in healthy older adults than young adults, and they're associated with memory problems and cognitive changes.

“Healthy agers reach out to objects inefficiently, they touch them when they don't need to, they make all these extra little actions.

“We think that might be the beginning of a problem. If you have more of those, then you are more vulnerable to decline in future.”

In the study, researchers asked 90 participants to perform simple tasks which included making a breakfast of jam on toast, packing a lunch for a child and wrapping a present.

They discovered that if people failed to do the task correctly, they fell into two different groups, and this could indicate their type of dementia.

One group - where sufferers turned out to have Alzheimer’s disease - tended to miss out vital steps or forget they needed to do the task completely.

Another group, who were diagnosed with other forms of dementia, had difficulty sorting the steps into the right order.

However, once properly made, drinking tea can be an effective way to combat memory loss.

A study by the National University of Singapore published earlier this year revealed that it could reduce risk of dementia by 50 per cent.

There are currently 850,000 dementia sufferers in the UK.



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Cancer breakthrough: Taking THIS supplement could halt growth of deadly cells

Rates of oesophageal cancer are on the rise, particularly in men - but taking a certain common supplement could help stop it.

Researchers have discovered that zinc could halt the growth of cancer cells in the oesophagus, which connects the throat with the stomach.

While a link between zinc and oesophageal cancer prevention has previous been made, the new study by the University of Texas has discovered for the first time why the common mineral is so beneficial.

“Zinc deficiency has been found in many cancer patients," said Professor Zui Pan, the study leader.

“Both clinical data and animal studies have shown that this mineral is very important for overall body health and for cancer prevention.

“Previously we didn't know why the same physiological concentrations of zinc inhibit cancer cell growth but not normal cells. 

“Our study, for the first time to our knowledge, reveals that zinc impedes overactive calcium signals in cancer cells, which is absent in normal cells, and thus zinc selectively inhibits cancer cell growth."

This means that zinc selectively stops the growth of cancer cells, but not normal oesophageal epithelial cells. 

As well as potentially preventing cancer, zinc is an important mineral for making new cells and enzymes, processing carbohydrates, fats and protein in food, and wound healing.

Deficiency can cause tiredness, a weakened immune system and slow wound healing.

The study authors recommend eating a good diet to ensure enough is absorbed.

Foods rich in the mineral include spinach, flax seeds, beef, pumpkin seeds and seafood like shrimp and oysters.

According to the NHS, men need 9.5mg a day and women require 7mg a day.

However, it is possible to consume too much zinc, and this could be dangerous.

The NHS warn: “Taking high doses of zinc reduces the amount of copper the body can absorb. This can lead to anaemia and weakening of the bones."

Researchers will next explore the link between zinc, calcium and cancer.



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REVEALED: Top 50 heart-racers - which things get YOUR heart thumping?

Going on a first date, confronting someone and having a near miss while driving are all guaranteed to get the ticker thumping. 

Exercise was the most likely cause, followed by having jolly good sex, attending a job interview and going on a first date. 

An argument came fifth, with making a presentation at work and bringing up a difficult issue close behind, say researchers from OnePoll.com. 

Other reasons include taking an exam, bumping into an ex, watching a scary film or TV programme and hearing a noise at night. 

The average adult will experience a pounding heart four times a week, with more than three quarters admitting it is fairly easy to set it off, the study of 2,000 Britons showed. 

And six in 10 admitted they worry about their heart health, with one in five consulting a health professional about their concerns. 

Dr Sarah Brewer, GP and medical director at Healthspan, which commissioned the research, said: “It’s important to keep an eye on your heart health and speak to your GP if your heart races for no reason.”

She added: “Making one or two small changes to heart health can make a difference.”

TOP 50 TRIGGERS GUARANTEED TO HELP THE BLOOD RUN FASTER

1. Exercise 

2. Having good sex 

3. Going for a job interview 

4. A first date 

5. Having an argument 

6. Making a presentation at work 

7. Bringing up a difficult issue or confronting someone 

8. A near miss while driving or cycling 

9. The moment you realise you’ve made a mistake at work

10. Just before your driving test 

11. Almost tipping over backwards in a chair 

12. Travelling in a car being driven badly

13. Taking an exam 

14. A first kiss 

15. Hearing a noise at night 

16. Waking up from a nightmare 

17. Making a complaint 

18. Losing sight of your child 

19. Running to catch the last bus/train 

20. Watching your favourite football team in an important game 

21. Losing your phone 

22. Triggering a phobia 

23. Getting lost 

24. Seeing your crush 

25. Watching a scary film or television programme 

26. Realising you forgot to lock the front door 

27. Bumping into your ex 

28. Seeing a spider out of the corner of your eye 

29. Winning money 

30. Last five minutes of a football match when your team is winning 1-0 

31. Losing your passport ahead of a trip 

32. Just before take-off in a plane 

33. Almost spilling a drink 

34. Driving fast in a car 

35. Making a big purchase 

36. Getting married 

37. A last-minute bid on eBay 

38. Sending an email or text to the wrong person 

39. Sending a ‘risky’ text 

40. Not being able to find your car in a car park 

41. Driving through a narrow gap 

42. Handing in your notice at work 

43. When the boss asks to see you in the boardroom

44. Getting on the wrong train/Tube/bus 

45. When you remember you’ve left the iron on and you’re already out of the house 

46. Suddenly realising you’ve forgotten someone’s birthday 

47. An on-screen cliffhanger 

48. Cycling down a hill 

49. Asking for a pay rise 

50. Accidentally liking someone’s post or photo on social media



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Heart failure cause? Research suggests cold weather could trigger the dangerous condition

A decade-long study suggests an increase in elderly people being taken to hospital or dying from the condition could be linked to changes in temperature and air pressure.

Experts say elderly people with heart problems should avoid exposure to fog and low cloud in the winter as a precaution.

Results published in the journal Environment International showed a higher risk of hospitalisation or death between October and April, compared to May to September.

Professor Pierre Gosselin, of Laval University in Quebec, Canada, who led the research, said: “Doctors rarely take the weather forecast into account when treating or making recommendations to heart failure patients. 

“So with the extreme differences in temperature due to climate change we wanted to show how the weather is becoming a more relevant factor.

“Our study shows that exposure to cold or high-pressure weather could trigger events leading to hospitalization or death in heart failure patients.”

Scientists assessed 112,793 people aged 65 or older that had been diagnosed with heart failure between 2001 and 2011.

Participants were followed for an average of 635 days. 

During that time they measured the average temperature, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure and air pollutants in their surrounding environment.

A drop of 18F in the average temperature over seven days was associated with an increased risk of being hospitalised or dying of heart failure in about seven per cent of people aged over 65 diagnosed with the disease.

During a follow-up period, 21,157 heart failure events occurred, representing 19 per cent of those studied. In total, 18,309 people were hospitalised and 4,297 died.

In some cases hospitalisation and death occurred on the same day.

Prof Gosselin said: “Our study suggests exposure to cold or highpressure weather could trigger events leading to hospitalisation or death in heart failure patients.

 “They should avoid exposure to fog and low cloud weather in winter as they often accompany high pressure systems.”

Previous studies have shown drastic changes in the weather can affect the health of vulnerable people, including heatwaves.

Meanwhile, latest forecasts show Britain is braced for severe gales, travel chaos and power outages into the start of next week.

The remnants of two Atlantic hurricanes – Lee and Maria – are heading to the UK, according to new models from the Met Office. 

They will weaken before arrival but a yellow rainfall warning for Sunday and Monday has been issued, with up to two inches of rain likely across western parts.

Experts say it could be the most significant storm to hit the UK since Storm Doris ripped through the country in February,



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Heart attack symptoms: Three things to do if YOU or someone else is suffering

Heart attacks occur when the supply of blood to the hearts is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.

Experiencing one is a serious medical emergency since a lack of blood to the heart could cause serious damage to the heart muscle and be life-threatening.

It is therefore important to be aware of the signs that you or someone else is suffering.

According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), common signs include chest pain, sweating, becoming short of breath, feeling nauseous or vomiting, and pain in arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach, sweating.

Additionally, an overwhelming feeling of anxiety is another key sign.

Here are three things you should do if you are someone else is having a heart attack.

Call 999

You should phone 999 immediately for an ambulance.

The BHF found in a survey that around half of heart attack survivors delayed seeking medical help for their symptoms for over an hour.

Doing so sooner rather than later could save your life.

According to the BHF, you should then sit and rest while you wait for the ambulance to arrive.

Take an aspiration

You should not get up and look for an aspirin, as this may put unnecessary strain on your heart.

However if an adult aspirin tablet (300mg) is available chew on it, unless you’ve been told not to or you think you might be allergic.

If the person is unconscious, use CPR or a defibrillator

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you're with a person who might be having a heart attack - or a cardiac arrest - and he or she is unconscious, tell someone when you call 999.

A cardiac arrest is slightly different to a heart attack, in that it occurs when the heart stops beating.

The person on the 999 call may give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

If you haven’t had first aid training, you may be instructed to perform chest compressions.

You may also be asked to use a defibrillator - a machine used to deliver this therapeutic shock to the heart - if one is to hand. 

A study by the University of Warwick published earlier this week found that many people are reluctant to use public access defibrillators.

However, it could save someone’s life.

“A study conducted in the US showed that the chance of survival was nearly double in the group that received CPR and were treated with a public access defibrillator compared to the group that received CPR alone,” Gavin Perkins, Professor in Critical Care Medicine at Warwick Medical School.

For more information on how to perform CPR visit sja.org.uk



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Liver cancer symptoms: These are the eight signs of the DEADLY condition

Liver cancer is a serious form of the disease that kills over 5,000 people a year.

According to Cancer Research UK, rates have risen by 142 per cent since the 1990s.

Primary liver cancer - that begins in the liver - is less common then secondary liver cancer, which begins elsewhere in the body and spreads to the liver.

According to the NHS, the exact cause is unknown, however most cases are linked to damage and scarring of the liver known as cirrhosis.

There are a number of risk factors associated with cirrhosis.

These include drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over a number years and having a long-term hepatitis B or hepatitis C viral infection.

Additionally, haemochromatosis - an inherited disorder in which iron levels in the body slowly build up - and primary bile cirrhosis, a long-term liver disease, could also be triggers.

The NHS recommend reducing your chances of developing the deadly condition by cutting down on alcohol, eating healthily, exercising regularly and reducing risk of hepatitis B and C infections.

But what are the signs?

Symptoms don’t normally appear until the cancer is at an advanced stage, however when they do they can include the following.

- Unintentional weight loss

- Loss of appetite 

- Feeling full after eating, even if the portion was small

- Feeling sick and vomiting

- Pain or swelling in your tummy

- Jaundice, which is the yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes

- Itchy skin

- Feeling very tired and weak

According to the American Cancer Society, other symptoms include fever, enlarged veins on the belly that can be seen through the skin, and abnormal bruising or bleeding.

The NHS advise visiting your GP if you develop any of the above symptoms.

While they’re likely to be another more common condition, it is getting them checked.



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Liver disease risk: Why you should avoid drinking BEER this weekend

Liver disease is on the rise, and scientists may have discovered one of the reasons why.

An ingredient in beer could be encouraging people to drink too much, which risks harming their livers.

German researchers discovered that a substance found in the popular alcoholic drink, hordenine, could lift people’s mood.

This is because it stimulates the reward centre in the brain to trigger a feel-goof effect via a neurotransmitter - or chemical messenger - called dopamine. 

Researchers at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany studied 13,000 food components to see how they influenced the brain.

Hordenine - also present in malt barley - was one of the components found to activate the dopamine D2 receptor.

“It came as a bit of surprise that a substance in beer activates the dopamine D2 receptor, especially as we were not specifically looking at stimulant foodstuffs,” said Professor Monika Pischetsrieder.

They believe that the results indicate that hordenine probably contributes to the mood-boosting effect of beer.

However, further research into hordenine and beer is needed to confirm this.

The study findings add to previous findings that some foods have the ability to make us feel good.

This is the reason why people can struggle to stop eating when they’ve consumed enough calories.

The drive to eat for pleasure rather than to satisfy a biological need is known as ‘hedonic hunger’ by scientists.

Beer and other alcoholic drinks are known to contribute to liver disease if consumed in excess.

In 2014 it was reported there had been a 14 per cent rise in liver disease deaths in the previous 12 years.

Indeed, it is the only major cause of death still increasing year-on-year, according to the British Liver Trust.

Other causes of liver problems include infection - such as Hepatitis A, B and C - and cancer.



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Struggling with severe headache? Migraines linked to arthritis in the JAW

Headaches that feel severe are usually migraines, and while annoying, they are usually don’t cause serious problems.

However, a new study has linked them to an early sign of arthritis in the jaw.

Researchers at the University of São Paulo in Brazil have found that suffering from chronic migraines could indicate a painful jaw condition.

Known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD), it is based in the temporomandibular joint - which connects the jaw to the skull on either side of the face.

It is estimated a third of the adult population could suffer from TMD to some degree.

The disorder triggers symptoms including joint pain, reduced jaw movement, clicking or popping of the joint, and also muscle pain and fatigue, extending as far as the neck.

Scientists now believe the disorder could increase the severity and frequency of migraine attacks.

"Our study shows that patients with chronic migraine, meaning attacks occurring on more than 15 days per month, are three times as likely to report more severe symptoms of TMD than patients with episodic migraine," said Lidiane Florencio, a researcher from the University of São Paulo in Brazil.

This is the first time a link between TMD and chronic migraines has been established.

Chronic migraines are defined as happening at least every other day over a three-month period.

This is in contrast to episodic migraines, which occur fewer than 15 times monthly.

For 75 per cent of sufferers, according to the University of Maryland, treatment for TMD provides relief, however other people can experience serious complications.

These include long-term teeth clenching or grinding, injury, infection, or connective tissue disease.

According to the University of Maryland this may in rare cases lead to degenerative joint disease or arthritis.

Additionally, having arthritis in the first place can raise risk of TMD.

Having a steroid injection into the joint jaw can help reduce pain and swelling in the joint or the surrounding soft tissue, say the NHS.



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Heart failure risk: Scientists warn of a spike in DEADLY condition over the coming months

Heart failure rates are likely to increase over the coming months, according to scientists.

This is because a large-scale Canadian study has found that cold temperatures could trigger the condition in some people.

Researchers are advising elderly people - who are at a higher risk - to avoid fog and low cloud in winter months.

This is because dropping temperatures and changes in atmospheric pressure can cause the heart to react dangerously.

“Our study shows that exposure to cold or high-pressure weather could trigger events leading to hospitalisation or death in heart failure patients," Pierre Gosselin, one of the researchers from Universitié Laval.

“We know that doctors rarely take the weather forecast into account when treating or making recommendations to heart failure patients. 

“So with the extreme differences in temperature due to climate change, we wanted to show how the weather is becoming a more relevant factor."

In the study, the researchers looked at 112,793 people over the age of 65 who were diagnosed with heart failure.

There was a higher hospitalisation for heart failure between October and April, compared to May and September.

Death or a hospital visit due to heart failure was 0.7 per cent more likely for every 1°C decrease in temperature over the previous week. 

Previous research also link cold weather to an increased risk in heart attack.

A Swedish study presented to the European Society of Cardiology last month showed a link between a drop in temperatures and a spike in rates.

The influence of temperature on heart health is thought to be because the body reacts naturally to the cold.

Consequently, the heart is triggered to beat faster to keep us warm, while the body simultaneously tightens its arteries in response to the cold.

This decreases thermal conduction in the skin - which is heat transfer via the skin - which raises blood pressure.

However, the majority of people should not be too worried about winter weather.

“In the majority of healthy people these [cold weather] mechanisms are well tolerated," said Moman Mohammad from Lund University, one of the researchers in the Swedish study.

“But in people with atherosclerotic plaques in their coronary arteries they may trigger a heart attack."



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Sleeping pills increase the risk of dementia and falls in elderly people

About a third of pensioners use tablets to nod off but are unaware they might be damaging their health, according to research.

British and US studies suggest sleeping pills double the risk of fracturing a hip by causing drowsiness the next morning.

And a team of French and Canadian scientists also found taking them for only three months raised the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly by more than half.

The US National Poll on Healthy Ageing looked at more than 1,000 people aged 65 to 80, and found a worrying 37 per cent used a sleeping supplement.

Dr Preeti Malani, of Michigan University, said: “Although sleep problems can happen at any age and for many reasons, they can’t be cured by taking a pill, either prescription, over-the-counter or herbal.

“Some of these medications can create big concerns for older adults, from falls and memory issues to confusion and constipation.

“Anyone having trouble sleeping should talk to a doctor."



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Diabetes 'causing 160 amputations a week'

More than a third of people remain unaware foot ulcers are a serious complication of the disease and the leading cause of lost limbs.

Figures show eight in 10 sufferers die within five years of surgery.

Foot ulcers and amputations are also very costly with £1 in every £140 of NHS spending in England going on foot care for people with diabetes.

Dan Howarth, head of care at charity Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes-related amputations devastate lives. While it’s positive that the majority of people are aware that amputation is a complication of diabetes, it’s very worrying that so many don’t know the dangers posed by foot ulcers.

“That’s why it’s essential that people living with diabetes know how to look after their feet, and that they check them daily.

"It’s also crucial they know to seek urgent medical attention if they notice any problems with their feet; a matter of hours can make the difference between losing and keeping a limb. 

"With the right support four out of five amputations are preventable. But the quality and availability of services still varies significantly across England.

"We want to see greater commitment from Government to improving diabetes foot services, ensuring routine, high-quality care to those who need it, regardless of where they live.”

Figures from Public Health England and the Cardiovascular Intelligence Network analysed by Diabetes UK showed there are more than 8,500 diabetes-related amputations carried out in England each year, equivalent to 23 each day.

Ben Harris, 42, from Berkshire, was diagnosed with Type 2 when he was 18 and had his right leg amputated aged 36 after three years of treatment for an ulcer that had formed on his big toe.

He is also due to have his left leg amputated due to osteomyelitis and ulcers and has also suffered sight loss due to diabetic retinopathy.

Mr Harris said: “I was absolutely devastated when I was told my right leg had to be amputated below the knee.

"It was horrible, nothing can prepare you for it. I cried and I was scared, I’m not going to deny it.

"There needs to be more information for young people with diabetes about the risks of diabetes complications.

"I was never told about the importance of foot care or the very real possibility of amputations.”

Meanwhile 240,000 people with the condition are diagnosed with heart disease or strokes each year.

The figure includes 23,200 who suffer a heart attack, 31,900 struck down by a stroke and 92,800 who develop heart failure.



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Diabetics’ nerve pain caused by single protein

The discovery by British scientists offers hope of developing drugs for the chronic condition.

Around one in four diabetics develop the misery of diabetic neuropathy (PDN) due to high blood sugar.

Symptoms include prickling and tingling sensations as well as sharp, shooting pains and extreme sensitivity to touch in the feet and hands.

This can spread up into the legs and arms. The pain can significantly impair mobility, which in turn exacerbates obesity and worsens type 2 diabetes in a vicious cycle.

The study by King's College London identifies a protein called HCN2 as being responsible by itself for the complex sensation.

First author Dr Christoforos Tsantoulas, of the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, said: "At present we do not have selective drugs which can suppress the activity of HCN2 without affecting other bodily functions, such as the regulation of heart rate.

"This research provides a stimulus for the development of targeted pain drugs that can block HCN2 without affecting the activity of other molecules."

His team is hopeful the findings published in Science Translational Medicine could lead to treatments which target the source of the pain.

The condition is difficult to treat as the molecular causes are poorly understood.

The study used mice bred to develop a rodent form of diabetes to show over-activity of HCN2 - which initiates electrical signals in pain-sensitive nerve fibres - results in a sensation of pain.

They also found that blocking its activity - or removing it completely from pain-sensitive nerve fibres - stopped the pain entirely.

Senior author Professor Peter McNaughton, based in the same lab, said: "The inexorable rise of obesity worldwide, in both rich and poorer countries, has brought a related increase in type 2 diabetes.

"As many as one in four diabetics suffer from nerve pain, yet there are currently no effective treatments and people therefore typically must resign themselves to a life of continuous suffering.

"Our study reveals the molecular mechanism driving diabetic pain in mice, which we hope will inform future treatments in people with diabetes."

Diabetes UK says nerve pain can affect sufferers with both type 1 and type 2 forms of the disease.

It most commonly occurs when a patient has prolonged spells of high blood sugar levels.

It is thought that high blood glucose affects the nerves by damaging the blood vessels which supply them.

High blood pressure also has a detrimental effect on the nerves. Smoking and alcohol are also known to increase the risk of nerve pain occurring.

Diabetic nerve pain usually occurs in peripheral regions or extremities, such as feet and legs, hands and arms.

Symptoms can range from mild to extreme. In serious cases the whole area may become numb.

There bare more than 4 million people in the UK living with diabetes - 90 percent of whom have the type 2 form linked to obesity.



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Breast cancer symptoms: Five signs in men that could indicate DEADLY condition

Breast cancer may be more associated with women, but it can also affect men too.

According to the NHS, it can develop in the small amount of breast tissue behind the nipple.

It usually occurs in those over the age of 60, but it can affect younger people too.

There are 340 men diagnosed each year, compared to 60,000 women.

However, the cancer can prove just as deadly - which is why it is important to stop it early.

Here are the five key signs a man could be suffering from breast cancer.

Breast lump

According to the NHS, cancerous breast lumps usually occur in one breast, develop under or around the nipple and are usually painless.

They also normally feel hard or rubbery, don’t move around within the breast, feel bumpy rather than smooth and get bigger over time.

However, most lumps are not a sign of cancer and usually gynaecomastia (enlarged male breast tissue), a lipoma (fatty lump) or a cyst (fluid-filled bump).

But it is worth getting any lumps you are worried about getting checked by a GP.

Inverted nipple 

According to the NHS, a nipple turning inwards is a sign.

This is also a key sign of breast cancer in women.

Rash

A sore or rash around the nipple that doesn't go away could also be a symptom.

Men should also look for skin puckering or dimpling.

Nipple discharge

Fluid oozing from the nipple (nipple discharge), which may be streaked with blood, could be a warning sign, say the NHS.

Swelling

The nipple or surrounding skin becoming hard, red or swollen may likewise be an indicator.

Additionally, the area near the nipple could become scaly and itchy.

Other symptoms may occur if the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, such as the bones, lungs or liver.

These include feeling tired all the time, aching or painful bones, shortness of breath, feeling sick and itchy skin.

Around 75 men die from breast cancer each year, but it is possible for it to be treated effectively if caught early.

If you are concerned about any of the symptoms above you should see a GP as soon as possible.



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Dementia treatment news: People with THIS gene have 12 times greater risk of Alzheimer's

Dementia symptoms - such as memory loss and problems thinking - can be debilitating, but there is currently no cure for the condition.

However, researchers may have identified a gene that could provide the key to effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

This is the most common form of dementia, which affects 850,000 people in the UK.

A study, published in the journal Nature, revealed that people with a variation of the ApoE4 gene were 12 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

The ApoE gene helps to move cholesterol around the body, however, researchers suspected it could be linked to Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.

They studied the effect of the gene on a protein in the brain called tau.

Tau is a protein which stabilises the structure within the nerve cells that the cells need to carry substances, divide and use for support.

However, if these proteins become defective they can cause Alzheimer’s.

“Once tau accumulates, the brain degenerates," said David Holtzman, senior researcher at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

"What we found was that when ApoE is there, it amplifies the toxic function of tau, which means that if we can reduce ApoE levels we may be able to stop the disease process."

When ApoE was there, it triggered an immune system reaction to tau that appeared to cause damage.

In tests they looked at 79 people who had died from Alzheimer’s and discovered  people with the ApoE4 gene variant had more brain damage than those without.

However, when the ApoE was not there, tangled clumps of the tau protein were much less harmful to brain cells.

This mean that reducing the influence of ApoE could lead to a future Alzheimer’s treatment.

Researchers believe that cutting down on ApoE levels in the brain might slow or block the process of neurodegeneration - or progressive loss of brain function.

This is the first time a study had tried targeting ApoE, whereas in previous research the focus has been on amyloid beta and tau protein build-ups in the brain

"Assuming that our findings are replicated by others, I think that reducing ApoE in the brain in people who are in the earliest stages of disease could prevent further neurodegeneration," said Holtzman.



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Raynaud's syndrome symptom CURE? Eat spicy food to BEAT winter disease

Winter weather brings cold temperatures, but some people feel the chill more than others.

If you suffer from Raynaud's syndrome - also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon - your hands and feet can feel like blocks of ice.

However, adding spicy foods, like chilli peppers or a curry, to your diet can help.

In the UK, one in three people - or ten million - have the condition, making it just as common as arthritis or hay fever.

The cold weather can trigger a Raynaud’s attack, when the blood supply to fingers and toes is interrupted in response to changes in temperature or emotional stress.

It can cause numbness and tingling in fingers and toes, making them turn white, blue and then red. 

This can be very painful, making everyday tasks like buttoning up a coat difficult.

Upon warming, sufferers may experience a stinging or throbbing pain.

However, changing your diet could help relieve symptoms.

Eating ginger, garlic and spicy foods are thought to help, and taking a herbal remedy, such as Padma Circosan, can stimulate blood circulation.

In contrast, caffeine, alcohol and smoking may damage circulation.

Exercising or being active on a cold day could similarly help improve blood flow.

Because even the slightest change in temperature can trigger an attack, avoiding spending too much time in areas where temperatures often fluctuate, like a supermarket, can help.

Additionally, wrapping up warm by layering thin clothes, and avoiding touching cold items is recommended.

Stress and anxiety can also bring on an attack, meaning that learning relaxation techniques is often advised.

If you’re unsure whether you have Raynaud’s, or if you’re just feeling a bit cold, keep a note of what seems to be triggering your discomfort.



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Peanut allergy risk SLASHED if parents do THIS simple trick during infancy

Food allergies are when the body’s immune system reacts unusually when eating particular items, and having an aversion to peanuts is one of the most common types.

Sufferers risk a runny nose, skin reactions, itching, digestive problems, tightening of the throat, and shortness of breath, if they consume the food.

In some cases, consuming peanuts if you’re allergic could be lethal.

However, researchers have discovered that peanut allergies could be prevented if mothers consumed them during breastfeeding.

The Canadian study found that exposing children to them early in life could stop them suffering.

They discovered that infants were five times less likely to develop an allergy if their mothers had eaten peanuts before weaning.

“We found that the introduction of peanuts before 12 months of age was associated with a reduced risk of peanut sensitisation by school age, particularly among children whose mothers consumed peanuts while breastfeeding,” said Dr Tracey Pitt, lead study author from the Humber River Hospital in Ontario.

“These results add to emerging evidence that early peanut consumption during infancy can reduce risk of peanut sensitisation later and suggest this risk could be further reduced in breastfed infants by encouraging maternal consumption of peanuts.

“Both passive peanut exposure through breast milk and peanut introduction in the first year off life may decrease peanut sensitisation at age seven.”

The new findings come as the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition is due to report later this year after reviewing its current advice on peanuts.

Earlier this year the National Institutes of Health in the US updated its guidelines, recommending that infants should be exposed to peanut-containing food from as early as four months.

The idea is that this will desensitise their immune system.

In the new study, researchers indicate that mothers could help their child build up immunity from even earlier.

Allergy rates are on the rise in the UK, with one in every hundred people thought to suffer from a peanut allergy.

Despite their name, peanuts are not a nut, but a type of legume.

This is because they grow underground, as opposed to on trees like almonds.

According to the latest figures, there are two million people in the UK with a food allergy.



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Stomach pain for hours? Symptom could be caused by THIS trendy spice

Stomach pain that lasts for hours could be caused by too much turmeric in your diet.

With the onset of winter, enjoying a warming turmeric latte or curry sounds very appealing.

Both contain the key turmeric spice, which has grown in popularity thanks to numerous health benefits due to a component - curcumin - that it contains.

For centuries these included easing arthritis, indigestion and liver problems, but more recently it has been enlisted to help cancer, depression and headaches.

However, people at risk of gallstones may need to consume turmeric with caution.

This is because the spice is said to increase the risk of them forming, which could lead to severe stomach pains.

Gallstones are small stones, usually made of cholesterol, that form in the gallbladder - an organ that sits under the liver.

According to the NHS, if a gallstone becomes trapped inside the gallbladder it can cause sudden and intense pain which can last for up to five hours.

People at risk of gallstones include women, those who are overweight, people over 40 years, and if you suffer from Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

They may require treatment or an operation to remove the gallbladder.

As well as gallbladder problems, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - the primary agent of the US’s Department of Health - warn that in high amounts over a long period of time turmeric could cause side-effects such as upset stomach, nausea, diarrhoea and stomach ulcers.

They state: “High doses or long-term use of turmeric may cause gastrointestinal problems.”

Turmeric is also best avoided around surgery since it could cause extra bleeding - the spice has a blood thinning effect - and you should also not have it if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Additionally, research has found that it could also increase the risk of kidney stones.

A 2008 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that it significantly increased the levels of oxalate in the urine.

High levels of oxalate can lead to kidney stones forming in at risk people, such as being inactive, taking medications such as aspirin and having Crohn’s disease.



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Flu symptoms: Why you should AVOID getting a jab if you’re having a bad day

Flu circulating in the UK this winter is expected to be the worst for years, with deaths being reported from the recent Aussie flu outbreak.

The NHS has warned people to brace for the worst and getting vaccinated could protect you - just make sure you go get your jab at the right moment.

Researchers have found that being in a good mood could affect how well a flu vaccine protects you.

A study by the University of Nottingham showed that being positive boosted how well it worked.

The surprising findings are being attributed to a link between psychological wellbeing and the body’s immunity.

Flu jabs work by stimulating your body’s immune system to create antibodies.

Since scientists have to pedicure which virus strains might attack - based on what’s recently been in circulation - it is not completely effective.

Additionally, how well it works will depend on the the ability of the person to develop an effective immune response.

However, the new findings could provide a simple way for people to increase their protection.

"Patient behaviours and psychological well-being can influence immune responses to vaccination," the study authors write.

They found that sleep, stress, physical activity and nutrition, as well as mood, could influence effectiveness of the vaccine.

Being in a good mood was found to enhance protection in particular.

“We found that greater positive mood, whether measured repeatedly over a 6-week period around vaccination, or on the day of vaccination, significantly predicted greater antibody responses to influenza vaccination," wrote the study authors.

Previous research has discovered that a positive mood could act as an ‘immune modulator’ for vaccines.

They believe the link may be due to the association between positive moods and healthier lifestyles, but also thanks to a biological pathway linking the immune system and the brain mechanisms that regulate our moods.

More research is required to confirm the connection between mood and vaccine protection.

The flu jab is offered free of charge to people who at particular risk, including those who are pregnant, over 65 and have certain medical conditions.



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New blood test could rapidly detect if you've had a heart attack

More than two-thirds of people who go to A&E with chest pain have not had a heart attack.

At present, all of these patients undergo a blood test when they arrive at A&E and again three hours later which is designed to detect damage to the heart muscle.

The test works by analysing biomarkers, including cardiac troponin. Those with undetectable levels of cardiac troponin are classified as low risk and are discharged from hospital.

However, up to 85 per cent of patients fall into an intermediate risk group, requiring an overnight stay and further blood tests.

Scientists from King’s College London have now developed a new test that looks for another biomarker – cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyC) – which is found to be even more sensitive at detecting damage to the heart muscle.

Levels of cMyC in the blood increase more rapidly after a heart attack, and to a higher extent, than troponin.

The new test – which could be rolled out across the NHS in the next five years – can therefore lead to a much more rapid diagnosis.

It enables those not suffering a heart attack to be sent home sooner, and may also pick up heart attacks not detected by the current test.

The latest study on more than 2,000 people at hospitals in Switzerland, Italy and Spain was funded by charity the British Heart Foundation and published in the journal Circulation.

Compared to the troponin test, the new test doubled the number of patients found not to be having a heart attack.

Experts calculated that just one UK hospital – St Thomas’ in London, which carries out 7,800 heart attack tests each year – could save £800,000 a year by reducing admissions and freeing up beds.

Across the entire NHS, the figure will be much higher, although the charity could not give an estimate of how much in total could be saved.

Mike Marber, professor of cardiology at King's College London and head of the UK arm of the research, said: “We’ve shown that this test is not only just as good as the current test for working out who has had a heart attack, but it’s also much better at working out who hasn’t.”

Dr Tom Kaier, one of the lead researchers, said the new test could quickly “reassure” thousands of patients that they are fine and would help “free up valuable hospital beds in A&E departments and wards across the country.”

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani of the British Heart Foundation said more research was needed before the current test could be replaced.

But he added: “Big heart attacks are often easy to diagnose with an ECG but smaller heart attacks, which are more common and also life-threatening, are more challenging.”



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Type 2 diabetes symptoms: Is it possible to REVERSE the condition?

Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition where your blood glucose level is too high because the body doesn’t make enough of a hormone called insulin.

Unlike type 1 diabetes which is triggered by an autoimmune reaction, lifestyle factors - such as diet and being overweight - are often the reason people are diagnosed with type 2.

However, experts earlier this month suggested that it is possible to reverse the condition.

This is defined by diabetes.co.uk as a significant long-term improvement in insulin sensitivity.

Recent research published in the British Medical Journal revealed that losing a certain amount of weight could ‘cure’ type 2 diabetes.

Sustained weight loss of around 15kg was found to lead to total remission, according to scientists at the University of Glasgow.

Shedding pounds was also associated with an extended life expectancy in people with diabetes, and those who have reversed their condition also generally feel less tired.

The researchers said many people were unaware they could reverse the disease.

Emily Burns, Head of Research Communications at Diabetes UK, said:  “The ability to put type 2 diabetes into remission could be transformative for millions of people around the world, and evidence is building to suggest that it's possible.

“In the meantime, we need to ensure that those who do achieve remission are recognised in the right way and receive the right care.

“Diabetes UK is funding crucial research to find out how to put type 2 into remission, who might benefit and whether it's effective for the long-term."

According to diabetes.co.uk, four key ways to reverse the condition include:

- Eating a low-carbohydrate diet

- Consuming a very low-calorie diet

- Exercising regularly

- Having bariatric surgery

It is often not recorded when type 2 diabetes sufferers reverse their condition.

The Scottish Care Information Diabetes database - which includes every patient in Scotland - showed that less than 0.1 per cent of those with the condition were coded as being in remission.

They believe this is probably because few patients are attempting or achieving remission.

“It is in everybody’s interest to reclassify people with type 2 diabetes when they become non-diabetic,” said the authors.

“Official guidelines and international consensus for recording diabetes in remission are needed.”

Not trying to reverse type 2 diabetes can lead to long-term complications, including increased risk of heart disease.

Additionally, sufferers tend to live up to six years less than people without diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes affects 3.2 million people in the UK.

The NHS currently spends an estimated £1 billion a year, or £22 million a day - on antidiabetes drugs - and costs are rising globally as diabetes rates and drug prices increase.



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GP receptionists to screen people BEFORE appointment - This Morning’s Dr Chris SLAMS plans

The NHS could soon roll out a nationwide to plan that will see patients screened at GP surgeries by receptionists before they are allowed to see a doctor.

Dr Chris Steele - resident health expert on ITV’s This Morning - has criticised the move, describing it as "disgraceful".

If the proposed plans go ahead, patients will have to initially speak with a receptionist - or ‘care navigator’.

Surgery staff are being trained to direct patients to other healthcare professionals, such as pharmacists and physiotherapists.

The move is a bid to reduce the number of doctors’ appointments and ease workload on surgeries.

However, Dr Chris expressed his concern during the ‘Health Headlines’ segment of today’s show about whether receptionists were qualified enough to decide on the best care for someone.

“I do not think this is a good idea,” he said.

“GP receptionists will be known as ‘care navigators’ - although I would call them ‘care alligators'. It is disgraceful. 

“They will be given half a day's training, compared to the six years of undergraduate training and several years of experience that doctors have. 

“This is the danger - somebody with that little training can’t make the decision of whether someone can see a doctor or not.”

Dr Chris explained that the idea is currently being tested in six locations, including London, Devon, Birmingham and Greater Manchester.

He argued that so far results had revealed little success of the scheme.

“This might be a scheme to cut down the number of GP appointments, but so far trials have shown it hasn’t made much of a difference,” he said.

“So far, they have shown that 93 hours a month, or roughly one appointment a day is being saved.”

Campaigners have also spoken out against the idea, pointing out that receptionists could miss symptoms or patients could be embarrassed discussing problems in a waiting room.

An NHS England spokesman said: “Care navigators are practice staff that are specially trained to offer patients the right choice of treatment at the right time.

“It is already common for patients to inform reception staff about their needs but anyone who still wants to see a GP will always be able to do so.”



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OSTEOPOROSIS: How weak bones could leave you inches shorter

Prostate cancer breakthrough: New treatment could destroy INCURABLE tumours

Prostate cancer in men that was previously thought to be incurable could now be treated.

New research has discovered that using a specialised form of radiotherapy could allow them to kill the disease off.

A joint study by the Institute of Cancer Research in London and the UK’s leading cancer hospital, the Royal Marsden, revealed that intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) could successfully eliminate the cancer.

They found it wiped out the disease when used on cancer cells that had spread from the original prostate tumour to pelvic lymph nodes.

The treatment works by allowing doctors to give a high dose of radiation directly to cancer cells while protecting the surrounding healthy tissue.

Radiation is a common type of cancer treatment that works by making small breaks in the DNA inside cells to stop them growing and dividing and causing them to die.

Experts had previously thought that giving radiotherapy to the lymph nodes near a prostate tumour could be too risky due to the potential damage that could be done to the bowel due to therapy.

Researchers found that when using IMRT - rather than conventional radiotherapy - only eight per cent to 16 per cent suffered issues with their bladder or bowel.

In the new study, scientists discovered that the new treatment could be safely targeted at the pelvis – a common site for prostate cancer cells to spread – to help stop the disease spreading.

Of the 447 patients involved in the study, 71 per cent of patients with prostate cancer were alive and free from the disease five years after having the new treatment.

After eight-and-a-half years, 87 per cent of men were alive, with manageable side-effects.

While not available everywhere just yet, IMRT is becoming the standard care for prostate cancer at major cancer centres.

“These long-term results demonstrate that using IMRT to target the pelvic lymph nodes is safe and effective for men with prostate cancer,” said Professor David Dearnaley, the study leader.

“I’m excited to see this treatment become available to every man with prostate cancer who could benefit from it.”

In the UK, one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, according to Cancer Research UK.

Rates are estimated to rise by 12 per cent between 2014 and 2035.



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The end of statin side effects? THIS 75p breakfast better than drugs to lower cholesterol

Heart disease symptoms could be warded off most effectively by eating a bowl of porridge everyday, says an expert.

The popular winter breakfast dish is made from oats, which is the key ingredient for a healthy heart.

Oats contain soluble fibre, also known as beta glucan, which have been found by studies to lower cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol - while important for the normal functioning of the body - can be a problem if you have too much of it in your blood, increasing your risk of heart disease, according to the British Heart Foundation.

When it reaches the gut, the beta gluten in the porridge forms a thick gel.

It then works to reduce the absorption of cholesterol as well as boost the excretion of bile salts.

These salts are made of cholesterol - the more bile salt your body gets rid of, the more cholesterol is used to make bile salts.

This means that there is consequently a reduction in cholesterol circulating in the blood.

Research has found consuming 3g of beta gluten a day - roughly the amount in a 70g bowl of oats - can reduce levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

“That’s similar to the results you might get from taking a statin,” said Dr George Grimble, from University College London, to MailOnline. 

Statins are a group of medicines which can help lower ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood and are prescribed to those who have, or are at risk of, heart disease.

However, they do have side-effects including nosebleeds, sore throat, headache, constipation, muscle and joint pain and increased risk of diabetes, according to the NHS.

Porridge, on the other hand, only appears to have benefits it seems.

In addition to lowering cholesterol, it can help with weight loss. The thick gel the beta gluten creates in the gut contributes to a feeling of fullness.

Oats are also naturally low in fat and contain manganese, copper and iron, as well as B vitamins.

What’s more, Dr Grimble also told MailOnline: “Beta glucan forms acids, including butyric acid which works on the DNA of cells in the colon and has an anti-cancer effect.”



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Apple cider vinegar benefit – diet drink can CURE this unsightly health problem

Apple cider vinegar has been claimed to help whiten teeth by attacking the plaque that turns them yellow.

The drink, produced from slowly fermented apples, has grown fashionable for its purported weight loss benefits thanks to a number of celebrity fans.

These include Jennifer Aniston, who recently revealed she takes it every morning along with vitamins.

What’s more, studies have found it can help diabetes sufferers manage their blood glucose levels, and it is said to help reduce risk of heart disease.

However, apple cider vinegar could also target yellow teeth - an unsightly health issue experienced by many.

A change in tooth colour can be inevitable as you age, since the outer enamel wears away and the yellowy dentin underneath becomes more visible.

But you can reduce this effect by using the vinegar in mouthwash.

Mixing two teaspoons with between 150ml and 200ml of water is said to whiten teeth.

Use it like a normal mouthwash by swishing the solution around for 30 seconds, before rinsing and brushing your teeth.

The claims are off the back of 2014 research which found apple cider vinegar had a bleaching effect on the teeth of cows.

Since human studies are needed to back up these findings, it should be used with caution.

Using too much for too long may damage the hardness of teeth.

For this reason apple cider vinegar for whitening is best used in small amounts for short amounts of time.

Another natural way to whiten teeth includes coconut oil pulling, since it is said to remove plaque and bacteria from the mouth.

However, other oils could be used too - a 2015 study found that oil pulling  using sesame oil and sunflower oil reduced gingivitis caused by plaque. 

It is thought that plaque build up that causes teeth to turn yellow could also have a whitening effect.



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Cure high blood pressure naturally - adding this to your diet could lower reading

Having high blood pressure greatly increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. It can also lead to other problems, such as kidney failure, heart failure and problems with your vision.

The British Heart Foundation said: “Blood pressure is the pressure of blood running through your arteries. You need a certain amount of pressure in your arteries to keep the blood flowing.”

However, now experts have revealed a supplement - which is the extract of French Maritime pine bark has been hailed has a way to normalise blood pressure.

Normal blood pressure is considered to be 140/80 mmHg.

Pycnogenol, the name of the supplement, was investigated in a double-blind, placebo controlled study for patients with borderline hypertension.

The participants were not yet receiving hypotensive medication.

Researchers have revealed Pycnogenol supplementation over a period of eight weeks significantly lowered blood systolic blood pressure as compared to placebo.

Experts also found diastolic pressure was found to be lowered as well. Diastolic pressure is the lowest pressure, which occurs between heartbeats when your heart is relaxing.

Dr Fred Pescatore, specialises in nutritional medicine.

"The innermost layer of our blood vessels are lined with collagen and elastin which help our veins to expand and contract in response to blood flow and keep our blood pressure within a normal range,” he said.

"The innermost layer of our blood vessels are lined with collagen and elastin which help our veins to expand and contract in response to blood flow and keep our blood pressure within a normal range,” he said.

“But, just as it is visible externally by the appearance of wrinkles and thinning skin, both collagen and elastin break down as we age resulting in weakened blood vessels.

“Pycnogenol, French maritime pine bark extract has been shown in multiple studies to supports the production of collagen and elastin in the body which results in stronger blood vessels and therefore improved circulation which contributes to a healthy blood pressure."

Experts also revealed Pycnogenol improves blood pressure and kidney function in patients with diabetes - and metabolic syndrome.

One of the major characteristics of metabolic syndrome is hypertension.

Experts found that when the supplement was taken by patients with metabolic syndrome - symptoms including obesity, high blood sugar and high cholesterol - for six months, they showed significant improvements.

The active ingredients in Pycnogenol can also be extracted from other sources, including peanut skin, grape seed, and witch hazel bark.

This is comes after it was revealed Magnesium cream absorbed through skin significantly boosts magnesium levels in the blood.

Research from the University of Herfordshire has revealed magnesium creams could potentially be used as an alternative or in addition to pills to combat major health problems including hypertension.



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Early signs of Dementia include making minor mistakes at home say experts

Scientists believe that small errors, such as forgetting to take a teabag out of a cup or not putting milk back in the fridge, could point to the deadly disease.

The US study suggests families should be aware that if a loved one begins making mistakes at home they may be at a higher risk of developing dementia in the future.

Researchers at Temple University, Philadelphia, observed 100 people, including 50 with dementia, asking them to carry out everyday tasks.

The jobs included making a breakfast of jam on toast with a cup of coffee, packing a lunch for a child and wrapping a present.

Dr Tania Giovannetti, co-author of the study, said: “Early on, we can look at very subtle errors called micro-errors.

“When we compare healthy agers to young people, there are more micro-errors in healthy older adults than young adults and they’re associated with memory problems and cognitive changes.

Healthy agers reach out to objects inefficiently, they touch them when they don’t need to, they make all these extra little actions. “We think that might be the beginning of a problem. If you have more of those, then you are more vulnerable to decline in future.

“It’s really too early on to say if there’s a problem but those subtle little signs might be something to keep an eye on.”

Dr Giovannetti and her team identified two different types of task-processing failures which could help diagnose which type of dementia people have and lead to more effective care.

They found people with Alzheimer’s disease tended to miss out vital steps or forget that they needed to complete a task.

Those with other forms of dementia tended to have problems putting the steps in the right order.

Dr Giovannetti added: “Early on, the problems can be very subtle.”

The team now plans to use the findings to help families identify potential dementia risks. The study is published in the Journal of Neuropsychology.



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Aspirin withdrawal linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke

Scientists found the body can suffer a “rebound effect” following a sudden withdrawal – causing clots in vessels that supply the heart or brain.

The study shows how suddenly stopping the blood-thinning medication raises the risk of patients suffering a heart attack or stroke by 37 per cent.

Up to half of those prescribed aspirin take it upon themselves to suddenly stop, medics discovered. Patients are warned they should never quit unless specifically advised. In the UK, around 40 per cent of pensioners are prescribed daily aspirin.

Professor Johan Sundstrom, who led the study, warned the research suggested patients experience a “rebound effect” after stopping the aspirin treatment. He said because of the large number of patients on aspirin, and the high number who stop treatment, the importance of the rebound effect was significant.

In the UK, heart disease remains the biggest killer, claiming around 160,000 lives a year. Millions of pensioners – six in 10 among those over the age of 75 – are prescribed aspirin.

About half of these are patients who have already had a heart attack or stroke, while the others use it as a precaution. The pill is prescribed to help reduce the risk of such “cardiovascular events” by preventing clots forming in the blood vessels or arteries.

But the study, published in the journal Circulation, found that many stopped taking them. Ending a long-term, lowdose aspirin intake was found to radically increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

But it is estimated that almost a fifth of survivors stop daily aspirin use within the first three years following their heart attack.

And such poor compliance to prescribed aspirin therapy rose to 50 per cent in patients over the longer term, said Prof Sundstrom, from Uppsala University in Sweden.

To study the health effects of stopping aspirin, the researchers examined the records of 601,527 Swedish people who took low doses for heart attack and stroke prevention between 2005 and 2009.

The participants were older than 40 with an even split among the sexes. Their average age was 73 and each took around half a tablet daily with an adherence rate of 80 per cent.

In three years of follow-up there were 62,690 cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes. The researchers found one out of every 74 patients who stopped taking aspirin had one such additional event each year.

This rate was 37 per cent higher among those who stopped taking aspirin compared to those who continued. Prof Sundstrom said: “Low-dose aspirin therapy is a simple and inexpensive treatment [to avoid blood clots]. Our research shows the significant public health benefits that can be gained when patients stay on aspirin therapy.”

Last night, Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, welcomed the research.

He said: “This study clearly demonstrates the importance of taking your medications regularly.

“Discontinuing aspirin, despite medical advice, can increase your risk of cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, by a shocking 30 per cent [plus].”

The study, part-funded by Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, follows previous research that has hailed the protective benefits of aspirin. However, the taking of aspirin remains contentious in the medical community.

And earlier this year a separate study suggested taking a daily aspirin was far more dangerous than previously thought – causing more than 3,000 deaths a year from fatal bleeds. Experts say individual patients should discuss the risks with their GP.



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Tackling and scrums should be banned in rugby matches in schools in case someone gets hurt

Smoking while pregnant can make babies suffer a lifetime of being fat

The study compared five-year-olds whose mother's had started smoking in between pregnancies and the babies who were born to the smoking mothers. 

The body mass index (BMI) of the youngsters were compared, and the research found that those who had been exposed to smoke in the womb were more obese than their older sibling. 

More than 700 siblings' weight and height were compared at five and a half years-old and this data was compared with the Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank (AMDB) that holds data on all births at the maternity hospital since the mid 1950's. 

However, this increase in BMI could be attributed to the change in diet and activity levels that come with having a young child. 

The way the experiment was conducted meant that factors such as socio-economic status could be eliminated, as the comparisons were coming from the exact same background. 

Study leader Dr Steve Turner, of the University of Aberdeen, said: "This study looked at the relationship between maternal smoking and childhood obesity. 

"Previous studies have identified a link between the two but saying that one causes the other is problematic because there are lots of other factors that might explain this relationship, for example people from poor communities are known to smoke more than those in more affluent communities. 

"Also, children in those communities tend to be more obese so it may be that the relationship between smoking and obesity is actually explained by socioeconomic status. 

"However, by conducting a sibling comparison study, we can look at the relationship between pre-natal smoke exposure and child BMI within a family and this way we can make sure that things like socioeconomic status are the same. 

Therefore, any difference between siblings is likely to be explained by the change in smoking. We predicted that when a mum has two pregnancies and if she starts smoking between those two pregnancies, the younger child who is exposed to smoke is more likely to be obese according to BMI and that is what we found. 

Dr Turner added: "This study adds to the huge body of evidence that maternal smoking in pregnancy is harmful and the harm isn't just limited to the pregnancy itself - it lasts well-beyond the pregnancy. 

"The relationship between maternal smoking and offspring obesity is complex and is partly explained by other factors but this study provides good evidence that strengthens the association between the two." 

The findings were published in the journal Paediatric and Paediatric Epidemiology



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