Our Strength Lies in Our Humanity

How one NHS anaesthetist is fighting international medical research fraud

How one NHS anaesthetist is fighting international medical research fraud nhungboon/Shutterstock John Carlisle is a consultant anaesthetist at Torbay Hospital on England’s south coast. Unless you’ve been one of his patients, you’ve probably never heard of him. But he’s a researcher too, and he’s developed statistical methods to help spot signs of fraud in medical research. There’s a public image of medical researchers as being trustworthy people, working hard to…

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The UK doesn’t spend enough on the mental health of young people – we found out why

The UK doesn’t spend enough on the mental health of young people – we found out why Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock In 2016 the then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, declared child mental health services the “biggest single area of weakness” in the NHS. He might have added that it is also vastly underfunded. The mental health of children and young people accounts for less than 1% of all NHS spending. That is…

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Breastfeeding can help tackle climate crisis but it’s on governments, not mums to save the world

Breastfeeding can help tackle climate crisis but it’s on governments, not mums to save the world shutterstock/SeventyFour In the midst of debates about how to best tackle the climate crisis, breastfeeding was recently highlighted as a significant way women can help to make a difference. But while there is no doubt of the important role breastfeeding can play, there must be caution in the way such messages are communicated. This…

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Red meat study caused a stir – here’s what wasn’t discussed

Red meat study caused a stir – here’s what wasn’t discussed Photology1971/Shutterstock Accurate, consistent dietary advice seems increasingly hard to find. For instance, a widely reported study recently claimed that people don’t need to reduce their consumption of red and processed meat for health reasons. The report sharply divided scientific opinion, with some experts praising it as a “rigorous” assessment, others questioning it. Nutrition sceptics could cite many similar examples…

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How routine sparring can cause short-term impairment to boxers’ brains

How routine sparring can cause short-term impairment to boxers’ brains Shutterstock Thrilling the masses for millennia, boxing has evolved down the centuries – rules have changed, equipment improved, training enhanced. However, one key aspect has essentially stayed the same: incapacitating the opponent before they incapacitate you. Boxers are mostly exposed to subconcussive head impacts, that is, impacts that do not result in visible symptoms of concussion, much like heading the ball in football. But for many years, debate has raged around the safety of boxing, often focusing on the heavy blows inflicted during competitive fights. But we decided to look at these subconcussive impacts inflicted during training – or sparring – sessions. Boxing, football and rugby are of particular interest to our work because athletes are routinely exposed to repetitive…

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Gut bacteria work in teams new study finds – here’s why that’s important for your health

Gut bacteria work in teams new study finds – here’s why that’s important for your health qimono/Pixabay Our digestive tract hosts trillions of microbes, mainly bacteria, that help us digest food, make vitamins, strengthen the immune system, protect against germs, and produce molecules that affect many aspects of our health. Studying the microbial composition of the gut used to be extremely complicated. To identify them, they had to be cultured in the lab. And many could not even be grown there. Recent advances in DNA sequencing have helped scientists to get around this problem. We can now identify microbes from their DNA, which can be done by sequencing DNA extracted from stool samples. We can now discover which microbes are inhabiting our gut, what functions they carry out, and how…

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How music therapy can help anxious children

How music therapy can help anxious children Tuning in. Shutterstock/MIA Studio According to the NHS, as many as one in eight children aged five to 19 faces a mental health challenge. And a significant number of these cases are related to some form of anxiety. Of course, a degree of anxiety or worry may be a normal state of affairs for young people – particularly when moving schools, or around exam time. But for some, anxiety can affect every aspect of their daily lives. One effective method of providing support for this anxiety is music therapy, where music becomes the main tool the therapist uses to connect and work with the patient. This kind of therapy has been shown to be effective when treating children and young people living with…

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The solution to hidden hunger in many developing countries lies just offshore

The solution to hidden hunger in many developing countries lies just offshore enciktat/Shutterstock Globally, about two billion people suffer from “hidden hunger” – a chronic deficiency of vitamins and minerals. The health effects of this form of malnutrition can be severe, especially for children. They include increased risk of poor cognitive development, impaired growth and early death. Ironically, our latest research found that many coastal countries where hidden hunger is rife, have plenty of nutritious fish just off their coast. Yet these fish are not reaching those who need them the most. Fish are a source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids and are rich in calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12. Fish also increase the “bioavailability” – that is, increase absorption – of nutrients provided through other…

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The forgotten benefits of a ‘bad’ memory

The forgotten benefits of a ‘bad’ memory Shutterstock/FOTOKITA Memory is the essence of our psychological functioning, essential for every move we make – getting dressed, having breakfast, driving to work, doing a crossword, making a cup of tea. Nothing we do in our conscious daily lives does not require memory. So, given our reliance on it, why is it that memory sometimes – or often – lets us down? And is this something to be concerned about, or might it actually be healthy? Consider some of the many ways in which our memories feel like they’re not working properly. There’s the name you’re told on meeting someone new which you forget within seconds; the act of going upstairs to get something and then forgetting what you went there for; or…

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Depression and binge-drinking more common among military spouses and partners

Depression and binge-drinking more common among military spouses and partners shutterstock/Dmytro Zinkevych For those in the military, high levels of dedication and commitment are expected from day one on the job – and this includes the risks that come with combat deployments. There can also be demands on the partners and children of those in service: including regularly moving, family separation, worries about deployed personnel, and problems during homecoming. All can be frequent experiences for military families and can adversely affect the health and well-being of family members. Previous research has found alcohol is a common problem in the UK armed forces. And our latest study has also found that alcohol is a problem for female spouses and partners of military personnel – who are more than twice as likely…

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