Our Strength Lies in Our Humanity

Withdrawing life support: only one person’s view matters

Withdrawing life support: only one person’s view matters Shortly before Frenchman Vincent Lambert’s life support was due to be removed, doctors at Sebastopol Hospital in Reims, France, were ordered to stop. An appeal court ruled that life support must continue. Lambert was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in 2008 and has been diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state. Since 2014, his case has been heard many times…

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We need lots more male nurses, but progress can come with bumps along the way

We need lots more male nurses, but progress can come with bumps along the way So much for gender balance. Micholas It’s an uncharacteristically sunny Saturday at Stark’s Park football ground in Kirkcaldy, Fife in the east of Scotland. This is the home of Raith Rovers, a big fish of the lower Scottish leagues, who are in the hunt for a place in the play-offs and a chance to clamber…

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Camel milk reduces cell inflammation associated with type 2 diabetes

Camel milk reduces cell inflammation associated with type 2 diabetes Camel milk is mainly consumed in the Middle East and parts of Africa but has become fashionable in the West in recent years. Africa Studio/Shutterstock The current trend for certain foods and dietary components to be called “superfoods” is frequently associated with exotic and expensive products. But there are no set criteria to determine a food’s “superness” – and claims…

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The reality of caring for someone with dementia – stressful but rewarding too

The reality of caring for someone with dementia – stressful but rewarding too Pexels Dementia is set to become one of the biggest global health challenges of our generation. In the UK alone there are around 850,000 people living with the disease and this figure is projected to more than double by 2051. Those of us who don’t develop dementia will probably end up caring for someone who does. According…

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Why a patient may need a companion to speak for them – and the difficult choices they face

Why a patient may need a companion to speak for them – and the difficult choices they face When a person whose communication is affected by a developmental disability (like Down syndrome or autism) needs to speak with a doctor, they often have to rely on a companion to help them. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or a professional support worker, that companion has to gauge very carefully what to say and when to say it. These are discussions which may contain extremely intimate and personal information, and they present a clear challenge for companions, patients and doctors who must manage what can be a very delicate interaction. For there is a clear dilemma at the heart of what the companion should do. On the one hand, they…

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More and more women are freezing their eggs – but only 21% of those who use them have become mothers

More and more women are freezing their eggs – but only 21% of those who use them have become mothers In vitro fertilisation. vchal/Shutterstock As the trend for older motherhood continues, amid warnings from experts about the sharp decline in a woman’s fertility in her mid-30s, more and more women are considering egg freezing as a form of “insurance” against age-related infertility. Recent figures released by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) confirmed egg freezing to be the fastest growing form of fertility treatment in the UK, with uptake increasing by 10% in the last year. But what happens when women wish to go back to the clinic to use their frozen eggs to create families? Our latest research reveals for the first time what percentage of them come…

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Psychosis rates vary significantly around the globe – scientists are trying to find out why

Psychosis rates vary significantly around the globe – scientists are trying to find out why Christian Mueller/Shutterstock Not everyone is equally likely to develop psychosis. Since the 1930s we’ve known that large differences in risk exist between different geographical locations and population groups. Young men, for instance, are more likely to develop a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia. And ethnic minorities in Western countries are up to five times more likely to develop psychosis, compared with the ethnic majority. Yet we don’t really know why such big differences in risk between people and places exist. Studying psychosis is difficult. It is a relatively rare group of disorders. Only 1-3.5% of the population will ever be affected, so you need very large studies to investigate differences. We also have to rely…

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The scandal that should force us to reconsider wellness advice from influencers

The scandal that should force us to reconsider wellness advice from influencers Wellness 'gurus' like Belle Gibson (not pictured here) have changed the way we think about our own health. Budimir Jevtic/Shutterstock Former social media influencer and “wellness guru” Belle Gibson first caught public attention after claiming she cured herself of terminal cancer by rejecting conventional medicine in favour of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Her story was documented on a blog and social media, which became the basis for a successful book and app, featuring lifestyle advice and healthy recipes. In 2015, however, Gibson was exposed as a fraud. It was revealed that she never had cancer and failed to donate the proceeds from her app to charity, as promised. Now, she has been summoned to appear in Federal…

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Some women with psychotic disorders are more vulnerable around the time of menstruation, our analysis suggests

Some women with psychotic disorders are more vulnerable around the time of menstruation, our analysis suggests mizar_21984/Shutterstock Mothers on the Edge, a recent documentary by Louis Theroux, told the stories of four new mothers admitted to specialist mental health units for a range of serious conditions including anxiety, depression and psychosis – triggered by recent motherhood. Hormonal changes that happen with childbirth, the menopause and menstruation may trigger or exacerbate symptoms of psychosis. Levels of ovarian hormones in the blood fall in the days leading up to menstruation. It could be this drop, particularly in oestrogen, that affects mental health. A similar mechanism may be responsible for episodes of psychosis following the menopause and childbirth. A link between psychosis and the menstrual cycle was first proposed in the 1800s, with…

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Ultra-processed food causes weight gain – firm evidence at last

Ultra-processed food causes weight gain – firm evidence at last Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock We know we should eat less junk food, such as crisps, industrially made pizzas and sugar-sweetened drinks, because of their high calorie content. These “ultra-processed” foods, as they are now called by nutritionists, are high in sugar and fat, but is that the only reason they cause weight gain? An important new trial from the US National Institute of Health (NIH) shows there’s a lot more at work here than calories alone. Studies have already found an association between junk foods and weight gain, but this link has never been investigated with a randomised controlled trial (RCT), the gold standard of clinical studies. In the NIH’s RCT, 20 adults aged about 30 were randomly assigned to either a…

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