Welcome to the second health weekly round up! It has been quite a quite week with regards to health news, with the finance of the NHS still dominating large amounts of news coverage. We don’t really class this as health news too much, so we haven’t included it in this weeks round up (the NHS did make an appearance in last weeks round up though). There are a couple of interesting stories though, and here are the health news articles which have caught our eye:
Sleep ramps up the production of cells that go on to make an insulating material known as myelin which protects our brain’s circuitry… Read more here.
Sleep is a fascinating subject, and the reason why we need to sleep is still not fully understood, but it is widely accepted that sleep is good, and sleep deprivation is very bad. The findings in this studly (although only in mice at the moment) are another piece to the ‘sleep puzzle’, and are exciting! If you think about it, everyone’s mind feels great and seems to ‘work better’ after a good sleep, so these findings are not too surprising. They do serve the purpose of identifying a potential mechanism for this though.
The Stirling University study, which involved 2,800 children, found the images have had almost no effect on deterring 11 to 16-year-old smokers… Read more here.
This is a shame. Kids often start smoking before they understand or care about the health implications, and the whole idea of the graphic images is to deter kids and possibly young adults who might be considering smoking. I did have high hopes for this scheme, but I think it has failed. I know a number of smokers, and when I asked them about the pictures on their cigarette packets they had forgotten about them and had to have a look at the packet to see what they had. They also had a good laugh about it and had a look at other peoples packets to see what pictures they had – it was like a game, and they didn’t seem to make the connection between the picture and their health. To be honest, when I see a packet of cigarettes I don’t even notice the picture, I recognize the packet and brand, but somehow see past the picture – and I am in the health industry! These things should stick out more to me than anyone.
One thought is that people are becoming ‘desensitised’, as the images haven’t changed for years, but I don’t think that changing the images is enough. A picture is a picture, and quickly loses its effect. Perhaps a plain packaging law should be enforced as they are doing in Australia (see here). Or ban smoking… is that too far?
A technique, reported in Science Translational Medicine, used a laser to analyse the chemistry of the tissue and show the tumour in a different colour. Brain tumour researchers said it could be an “exciting development”… Read more here
We love new developments in fighting cancer, so this is good news! Being able to differentiate accurately between cancer cells and normal cells has been a challenge for all surgeons, so hopefully this development will result in greater success with removing brain tumours. We do believe that the fight against cancer will be won through prevention rather than treatment, but certainly for the short term, treatment will be the most important.
An experimental cancer vaccine, Mage-A3, failed to help melanoma patients in a late-stage trial but Glaxo said it would continue with the tests to see if the high-risk high reward treatment benefited people with different genetic traits. It is also being tested in lung cancer… Read more here.
We don’t really like GSK, they hide evidence and put peoples health at risk. The fact that this study has shown that one of their products has failed could indicate that they are turning over a new leaf. I am still sceptical of the company though. I thought this article was worth bringing to peoples attention simply because GSK’s drugs rarely fail, because the trials are often bias.