Our Strength Lies in Our Humanity

What is a healthy blood pressure?

What is a healthy blood pressure? Taking a reading. Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock More than 7m people in the UK have high blood pressure; it is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes, associated with one in four deaths. As many as 5.6m people in the UK do not realise they have it as they feel fine, while others show signs such as shortness of…

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Food labels too complicated for most shoppers to understand – new research

Food labels too complicated for most shoppers to understand – new research shutterstock/1000 Words Think back to the last time you went food shopping, did you check the labels for nutritional information? If you did, chances are it still felt tricky to know exactly what was in your food: how do you decide between a can of soup that has “reduced sodium” and one that’s labelled “low sodium” – and…

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How pregnancy can be made more difficult by maternity care’s notions of ‘normal’

How pregnancy can be made more difficult by maternity care’s notions of ‘normal’ Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock Maternity records in the UK have spaces only for the expectant mother and the baby’s father. This inflexibility can cause difficulties for the pregnant person, their partner, and their unborn baby if they do not fit into these boxes. Over the last decade there has been a significant increase in the number of people conceiving outside…

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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 despite the significant burden that mental health problems impose on individuals, their families and society; despite one in eight young people having a mental health disorder; despite rising rates of self-harm and the fact that suicide is the leading cause of death among young men; and despite problems being serious enough to prompt the UK government to introduce a minister…

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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 is because telling women that breastfeeding will help save the planet just further fuels feelings of anger, grief and loss women can experience when they are unable to breastfeed. The UK, for example, has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, but that is not through lack of desire. Most women who want to breastfeed – but are…

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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 of conflicting opinions, such as the safety or dangers of saturated fat or of nutrition supplements. Such contradictions only further deepen public mistrust in nutrition research. But reliable advice matters, especially for the increasing numbers of people who respond differently from the general population. Dietary advice usually draws on scientific research that has pooled results from studies on large populations,…

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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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