Our Strength Lies in Our Humanity

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Jeremy Corbyn’s shakeup of Big Pharma isn’t the only way

Jeremy Corbyn’s shakeup of Big Pharma isn’t the only way Andy Rain/EPA Jeremy Corbyn took to the podium at this year’s Labour party conference to reveal his bold new “Medicines for the Many” initiative. In his speech, he accused the pharmaceutical industry of profiteering and suggested that patients were “being denied lifesaving medicines by a system that puts profits for shareholders before lives”. Corbyn specifically called out Vertex Pharmaceutical. In 2018, the drug company rejected a £500m offer from the NHS for its revolutionary new drug for cystic fibrosis, Orkambi, thereby denying over 4,000 people a life-changing treatment. Read more: Labour Party conference: what to expect as party debates its Brexit position and election plan Shakeup Corbyn’s new initiative calls for a shakeup of drug development, arguing that “our current…

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Sugary drinks tax is working – now it’s time to target cakes, biscuits and snacks

Sugary drinks tax is working – now it’s time to target cakes, biscuits and snacks shutterstock/Zety Akhzar A sugar tax on soft drinks has now been in operation in the UK for more than a year and results so far seem to indicate it’s working. But campaigners say more still needs to be done and that the next target should be biscuits, cakes and snacks –- many of which contain high amounts of sugar. Such taxes have been implemented in 28 countries and 12 cities as of 2019. Initial results suggest such taxes have the potential to reduce consumption of sugar and so may help to reduce obesity, diabetes and dental decay in the future. The number of people living with obesity has almost tripled over the past 40 years…

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When should my child start speaking?

When should my child start speaking? Shutterstock/OlenaYakobchuk Children develop at varying rates in all sorts of ways, from when they take their first steps to when they understand that their own perspective might be different to someone else’s. Language is no different so there is no set age at which a child should start talking. There are, of course, certain milestones which most children achieve in their communication at certain ages and it can be a daunting time for parents who see their friend’s children begin speaking earlier than their own. For most children, this is likely just the natural variation in when children achieve their own milestones. For others, this could be a temporary language delay which will eventually see them catch up without any intervention. But for some…

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Placebos: what they’re made of matters

Placebos: what they’re made of matters Video_Creative/Shutterstock Placebo controls are a gold standard against which new treatments are often measured. If a new treatment consistently proves to be better than a placebo and safe, it can be marketed, sold and prescribed. Otherwise, it can’t – or at least shouldn’t. The problem is that, as our latest study reveals, researchers don’t report what placebos contain. Different placebos have different effects, and the choice of what’s in a placebo can lead to mistaken inferences about a new treatment’s benefits or harms. Here are a few examples. Olive oil was previously used as a placebo control for cholesterol-lowering drugs before it was discovered that olive oil has cholesterol-lowering properties of its own. It may explain the effect of these drugs in some trials,…

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Why we age – new theories gaining ground

Why we age – new theories gaining ground Valentina Razumova/Shutterstock Why do we age? It’s a question that has had scientists scratching their heads for decades, but finally, we are starting to get some answers. Here is the story so far. One of the oldest theories of ageing is the damage-accumulation theory, proposed by August Weisman in 1882. Cells and organisms are complex systems with many components, all elegantly interconnected, but these complex systems are fragile and wear down because of the gradual accumulation of damage in the trillions of cells in our bodies. As the damage increases, the body cannot fully repair itself, resulting in ageing and diseases of old age. Free radicals A version of the damage accumulation theory called the free radical theory of ageing was first…

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Antibiotic resistance: researchers have directly proven that bacteria can change shape inside humans to avoid antibiotics

Antibiotic resistance: researchers have directly proven that bacteria can change shape inside humans to avoid antibiotics Researchers have evidence of another method that bacteria use to avoid antibiotics. Sirirat/Shutterstock Widespread antibiotic use is largely to blame for the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which is currently one of the biggest threats to global health. Not only does antibiotic resistance already cause an estimated 700,000 deaths a year, it’s also made numerous infections, including pneumonia, tuberculosis, and gonorrhoea, harder to treat. Without knowing how to stop bacteria from developing antibiotic resistance, it’s predicted that preventable diseases could cause 10m deaths a year by 2050. Some of the ways that bacteria become resistant to antibiotics is through changes in the bacteria’s genome. For example, bacteria can pump the antibiotics out, or they…

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