Our Strength Lies in Our Humanity

Three reasons you have neck pain – and why ‘bad posture’ probably isn’t one of them

Three reasons you have neck pain – and why ‘bad posture’ probably isn’t one of them shutterstock/WAYHOME studio If you suffer from neck pain, you’re not alone. Spinal pain is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide and its occurrence has increased dramatically over the past 25 years. While most episodes of neck pain are likely to get better within a few months, half to three-quarters of people who…

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Some countries have introduced mandatory nutritional labelling on menus – here’s why the UK should follow suit

Some countries have introduced mandatory nutritional labelling on menus – here’s why the UK should follow suit Olga_Moroz/Shutterstock Would you eat a burger if you knew it contained almost 6,000 calories? Some would gladly tuck in while others would recoil in horror. But if you have calories on the menu, at least you know what you’re biting into. And as our latest research shows, menu labelling, as it is called,…

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Most people don’t wash their hands properly – here’s how it should be done

Most people don’t wash their hands properly – here’s how it should be done Pexels It’s something most people do everyday, often without really thinking about it, but how you wash your hands can make a real difference to your health and the well-being of those around you. Washing your hands is the one most effective method to prevent cross-contamination which can cause the spread of illness and infections. And…

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Most genetic studies use only white participants – this will lead to greater health inequality

Most genetic studies use only white participants – this will lead to greater health inequality Genetic studies need to be more diverse. Rawpixel/Shutterstock Few areas of science have seen such a dramatic development in the last decade as genomics. It is now possible to read the genomes of millions of people in so-called genome-wide association studies. These studies have identified thousands of small differences in our genome that are linked…

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Some people benefit from being naturally mentally tough, but it can be taught to those who aren’t

Some people benefit from being naturally mentally tough, but it can be taught to those who aren’t Diego Schtutman/Shutterstock The saying that “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is simplistic, disingenuous, and potentially destructive. While it’s true that some who experience horrible events are stronger for surviving them, this is probably only true if they were strong to begin with. In the face of horrible events, others are more likely to be traumatised and suffer for years or decades after. Surviving repeated unpleasant experiences can lead people to develop a survivor mentality, a type of resilience which is a narrow means to an end, but does not help the development of a rounded, positive mental and emotional life. In a recent BBC interview, the writer and poet Lemn Sissa…

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Curious Kids: how can we see what we are imagining as well as what’s in front of us?

Curious Kids: how can we see what we are imagining as well as what’s in front of us? You might be daydreaming, but your brain is hard at work. February_Love/Shutterstock. How can we see what we are imagining but still see what’s in front of us? – Malala Yousafzai class, Globe Primary School, London, UK. This question gets right at the heart of a big issue for brain scientists. Say you’re daydreaming in class – you can have your eyes open and be aware of the colours and shapes in the classroom and the movement of your teacher and classmates, while at the same time “seeing” whatever you’re thinking of or imagining. These two kinds of seeing are quite different, but they both happen in the same part at the…

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Scurvy: is it really making a comeback in the UK?

Scurvy: is it really making a comeback in the UK? Bleeding gums are a sign of scurvy. LittlePerfectStock/Shutterstock Scurvy is on the rise in the UK and picky eating might be the cause, a recent report in Metro suggests. But is this something we should worry about? As with most things, it’s not as clear cut as it might seem. Scurvy occurs when you don’t have enough vitamin C in your diet. Symptoms include feeling more tired than usual, having swollen or bleeding gums and bruising easily. But it takes one to three months with very little vitamin C to reach this point. Vitamin C is in so many foods that it’s actually quite difficult to get scurvy. Of course, most people know that oranges, limes, lemons and kiwi fruits…

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Alcohol taxes cut since 2013 and thousands may have died as a result – new research

Alcohol taxes cut since 2013 and thousands may have died as a result – new research Cheaper than it's ever been. Voyagerix/Shutterstock Alcohol taxes are a controversial subject. Almost every country in the world has some form of taxation on alcohol but there is huge variation in the way that countries tax alcohol and the levels at which they set these taxes. The World Health Organisation recommends alcohol pricing as one of the most effective ways to reduce the harms associated with alcohol. Several European countries have brought in bold policies to tackle this harm, including the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing in Scotland. In spite of rising levels of alcohol-related harm, however, England has yet to follow Scotland’s lead. Although many powers are devolved, Westminster still sets duties for…

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Gut microbes can be picky eaters – here’s why it matters

Gut microbes can be picky eaters – here’s why it matters TL Furrer/Shutterstock We choose our food for a variety of reasons, including personal preference, availability, cost and healthiness. But we should also take our gut microbes’ preferences into account, a new study published in Cell suggests. The bacteria in our guts, collectively known as the microbiota or microbiome, live on the fibre and other chemicals that come their way from the foods we eat. “Fibre” is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of sugar-based molecules (polysaccharides). It’s not clear how individual plant polysaccharides affect the growth of different species of beneficial gut bacteria. While we know that people who eat a greater number of different plant-based foods have more diverse, healthier microbiomes, less is known about exactly…

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When doctors and parents disagree on how to treat a sick child the emotional and financial costs can be huge

When doctors and parents disagree on how to treat a sick child the emotional and financial costs can be huge shutterstock/wonderisland When a child is sick and parents and doctors disagree about what to do next, who is best placed to make that decision? This is a tricky but not uncommon question – with a number of recent high-profile legal cases highlighting the limits of parents’ rights to decide what treatments should be offered. The issue has been brought into the spotlight again after the parents and healthcare team of Tafida Raqeeb disagreed about whether she should be offered life-sustaining treatment. Tafida’s parents wanted to take her to Italy for treatment, but a spokesperson for Barts Health NHS Trust, where she is being cared for, said that: “further medical treatment…

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