Our Strength Lies in Our Humanity

Ebola outbreaks may be more common than we think

Ebola outbreaks may be more common than we think The best defence against Ebola outbreaks is early detection. If detected early enough, an outbreak can be prevented with targeted, low-tech interventions, such as isolating infected people and their contacts. But our research suggests that most opportunities for early detection and intervention are missed. In fact, we estimate that most times when Ebola jumps from wildlife to people, it is not…

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Ebola outbreak spreads to Uganda – it should never have happened

Ebola outbreak spreads to Uganda – it should never have happened A five-year-old boy has died of Ebola virus disease in Uganda. It’s the first recorded cross-border case in the current outbreak that started in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in April 2018. The DRC is where the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. And the country is no stranger to this menace – this is the…

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Male victims of domestic abuse face barriers to accessing support services – new study

Male victims of domestic abuse face barriers to accessing support services – new study Men fear they will be accused of being the perpetrators. Mivolchan19/Shutterstock Men who experience domestic violence and abuse face significant barriers to getting help and access to specialist support services, our latest study shows. Although the amount, severity and impact of domestic violence and abuse experienced by women is much higher than that experienced by men,…

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Heavy metal’s bad rep is unfair – it can actually have numerous health benefits for fans

Heavy metal’s bad rep is unfair – it can actually have numerous health benefits for fans Dan Drobot/Shutterstock Due to its extreme sound and aggressive lyrics, heavy metal music is often associated with controversy. Among the genre’s most contentious moments, there have been instances of blasphemous merchandise, accusations of promoting suicide, and blame for mass school shootings. Why, then, if it’s so “bad”, do so many people enjoy it? And…

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Number of women steered towards repeat caesareans is much higher than necessary

Number of women steered towards repeat caesareans is much higher than necessary Pregnant with possibilities. Mustafa Omar, CC BY-SA As many as one in four women in the UK now give birth by caesarean section, the vast majority of them carried out by choice. The overall number has more than trebled in the last 40 years. While it is true that birthing outcomes for women and babies have improved over this period, there is no evidence that this is a direct result of the increase in caesareans. While women should be able to choose how they give birth, this is not always clearly presented to them by doctors or midwives. This could undermine the ability of these mothers to choose whichever option is right for them, whether a caesarean or…

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HCMV: how a virus that infects 50% of people is helping develop new cancer treatments

HCMV: how a virus that infects 50% of people is helping develop new cancer treatments r.classen/Shutterstock Most of us have heard of viruses such as measles and mumps – not to mention the more serious HIV and Ebola. But who has heard of Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV)? I certainly hadn’t until I started my PhD back in 2001. HCMV infects 50-60% of people in the UK alone, and infection is reportedly as high as 100% in developing countries such as the Philippines and Uganda. What’s more, once infected you are likely to carry it for the rest of your life. However, while HCMV can cause all kinds of health problems, research into the virus is also helping us harness the power of the human immune system to treat certain types of…

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Drinking alcohol at conception shown to harm rats – new study

Drinking alcohol at conception shown to harm rats – new study AndreyCherkasov/Shutterstock Drinking alcohol while pregnant can have a devastating impact on the developing baby, leading to poor cognition and behaviour. Alcohol is also known to increase the risk of miscarriages, stillbirth and other placental complications. But what if a mother drinks before she knows she is pregnant? Health guidelines in the UK, US and Australia say it’s best to avoid alcohol throughout pregnancy. But this advice is offered with caution because of the lack of scientific evidence, so it is quite common for women to dismiss it. A 2016 study found that up to 30% of Australian women drank alcohol in the early stages of pregnancy. The same study showed that 18% of women drank in binge quantities (five…

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Weight-loss surgery in England: many who need it aren’t getting it

Weight-loss surgery in England: many who need it aren’t getting it ADragan/Shutterstock Obese people who have weight-loss surgery (also known as bariatric surgery) live longer than those who don’t and they have a better quality of life. It is a relatively safe procedure, and it is cost-effective for the NHS. About 3.6m people in England are eligible for weight-loss surgery, but the latest figures show that just 6,627 people had this surgery in 2017-18. In 2014, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) updated its guidance on obesity making weight-loss surgery available to people with type 2 diabetes. NICE now recommends that anyone who has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the last ten years should be given an assessment of whether surgery is right for them…

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Autism is linked to lower levels of empathy – but that may not be a bad thing

Autism is linked to lower levels of empathy – but that may not be a bad thing Shutterstock/Dragon Images We use empathy to understand other people’s feelings – to be able to predict and influence their behaviour. But the ability to empathise varies from person to person. While many people are easily able to understand others, some people – such as the majority of those with autism – experience difficulties in social situations. Empathy has therefore been the focus of much psychological research, particularly in autism. Yet there is still some debate about whether or not people on the autistic spectrum experience empathetic difficulties. This lack of clarity has, until now, been largely due to problems associated with the tests used to measure empathy and the small number of participants…

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Intermittent fasting: what’s the best method?

Intermittent fasting: what’s the best method? Alexander Prokopenko/Shutterstock Intermittent fasting is a method of dieting that restricts the amount of time you are allowed to eat. The appeal of these diets is that you don’t need to count calories or eat certain foods. But there are so many versions, it’s hard to know which one is best. Here’s what the research says. The 5:2 diet This is a popular version of intermittent fasting where you eat a very low calorie diet (about 500kcal) for two days each week (any two days). On the other five days, you eat as normal. Research has shown that it’s possible to lose weight with this diet; it also improves several markers of health, such as reducing levels of glucose and cholesterol in the blood.…

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