Drug Discovery Institute announced by Alzheimer’s Research UK

By Alicia Simpson

image source: reuters

The Drug Discovery Institute will develop new treatments for dementia (image source: reuters)

 

Alzheimer’s Research UK  announced a first of its kind in Europe this week with the launch of a Drug Discovery Institute to develop new treatments for dementia.

With the G8 Dementia Summit one month away, the UK’s leading dementia research charity will fund the new institute to address a gap it says the pharmaceutical industry has failed to fill. It will unite the divide between academic research, which provides much of the fundamental insight into neurodegenerative disease, and the development of new treatments.

The charity has today called  for the UK’s foremost universities to apply to host the Institute. Its work will be guided by Alzheimer’s Research UK and leading drug discovery experts from the dementia field, and is set to have its lead scientists in place by next year.

The Director of Research for Alzheimer’s Research UK, Dr Eric Karran, is launching the Drug Discovery Institute. Dr Karran said: “We currently have no treatments that act against the disease processes that cause dementia; this Institute will change that. The Institute will be the first of its kind in Europe, and will follow successful models established in other disease areas like cancer. As the population ages, numbers of people living with dementia will grow; the need for treatments that can improve quality of life or slow or stop diseases like Alzheimer’s cannot be overstated.”

Finding medicines for complex diseases such as this solicits an amalgamation of clinical expertise, pioneering basic science and patient involvement. The new Drug Discovery Institute will aim to combine all three by setting up its home with a leading academic group that has close access to clinical research units and hospitals.

Dr Karran said: “The Drug Discovery Institute is the missing link between the UK’s considerable expertise in fundamental science, and industry who can turn discoveries into benefits for people with dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK is in a unique position to bring the academic and industrial sectors together in the interests of tackling our greatest medical challenge and it is the right time to launch this drive.”

Dementia currently affects at least 35.6 million people worldwide, and the numbers are projected to almost double every 20 years, according to the World Health Organization. 60,000 deaths a year are also directly attributable to dementia.

Professor Bart de Strooper was awarded the MetLife Foundation Award for Medical Research in 2007 for his contribution to dementia research. De Strooper said: “The Drug Discovery Institute is exactly the kind of long-term thinking that we need to develop effective new treatments for people with dementia. Dementia researchers from across Europe and beyond will be watching its progress with anticipation.”

Dementia costs the UK economy £23 billion a year, which is more than both cancer and heart disease combined. It is hoped that the launch of the Drug Discovery Institute will enable reductions to the economic cost, as well as the huge personal cost, of dementia.

Rosemary Goddard is the Alzheimer’s Research UK champion. Her husband was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s seven years ago. Goddard said: “I’m delighted to see Alzheimer’s Research UK taking the lead in this search for more effective drugs. With the population living longer, dementia is hanging over us all like the sword of Damocles, and I have to hope that research will defeat this dreadful condition.”

Daylight-saving time on the proof

Every year we turn our clocks forward by an hour at the last weekend in March. This year the change to daylight-saving time, or summer time as many people call it, took place yesterday, on March the 25th.

Summer time will reduce energy costs by aligning the time we spend awake and working with daylight. Since it’s introduction in 1916 the clock change has caused many debates and has resulted in many research studies. Research teams have proposed health risks due to the change in clock time twice a year, saying it has similar repercussions to jetlag, shift work and sleep deprivation.

Imre Janszky from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm in Sweden has found in a second study that the hour of clock change in the end of March has a short-term influence on the risk of suffering from an acute heart attack (also known as acute myocardial infarction). With an international team of scientists, he found that the sleep deprivation caused by the one hour of time difference resulted in a 4% increase in people admitted to the coronary care units in Sweden over a period of approximately one week. “The sleep-wake cycle appears to require several days to adjust to the official time after the shift,” he states.

The daylight-saving adjustment has also been criticized for not having a significant impact on energy consumption. Dr Simon I Hill and his team from the University of Cambridge   found that “having BST year-round would lead to energy savings on the order of at least 0.3% in the months in which the UK currently has GMT” (winter time).

This is one of the reasons for the proposed Daylight Saving Bill in the UK which received ministerial backing last autumn for a trial period of three years. The switch to the GMT+1 timezone would help aligning waking hours with daylight hours in Britain.The daylight-saving time has reportedly been found to reduce the risk of accidents. In January, however, the bill was brought to a halt due to a lack of time in the parliament and the Scottish Government has been reported to object  because of the longer duration of darkness in the morning.

The recent change of the clock is expected to raise the discussion again.

Possible Junk Food Advert Ban

Scotland’s Public Health Minister, Michael Matheson,  has introduced a pre-9pm ban on the television advertising of foods which are high in fat, sugar and salt content.

Matheson has also written to Westminster Health Secretary Andrew Lansley asking whether he would support a move to introduce this ban across the UK.

“We want to introduce a pre-watershed ban and are looking to the UK Government to support such a move which would carry the additional benefit of encouraging our partners in the food industry to reformulate their produce to lower salt, fat and sugar content,” said Matheson.

The ban would restrict the viewing of junk food and sugary snacks and affect a wide range of corporations such as Pizza Hut, Mars, Cadbury, KFC and McDonalds.

With the highest obesity rate in the UK, the new proposal is intended to combat Scotland’s obesity problem. Particularly Scotland’s childhood obesity which is a concern for heath experts with 1 in 5 primary school children being considered overweight. Currently there is a ban on advertising junk food during children programs, how ever Matheson is seeking tighter regulations and further actions.

“Broadcast advertising influences the choices made by children and can shape their attitudes to food as they grow into adulthood.  Tackling obesity and encouraging people to make healthier life choices is one of the most important things we can do to improve the health of our nation,” continued Matheson.

Even if Westminster refuses to join with the ban, the Scottish Government with still mover to introduce the ban within the country.

Concerns over standard of home care for the elderly

The UK’s home care service has been described as “shocking and disgraceful” by a consumer group today. 
Many elderly people have been left with food out of reach, in soiled beds and without their medication, a care association has said.
The UK Home Care Association said it was never acceptable for people to experience rushed or inadequate care.

Better care for the elderly: The UK Home Care Association reveal shocking conditions in care homes. Image: Nick Fraser/ CC license

[Read more...]

Green spaces can improve your quality of life

As the Woodland Trust says: "life is better with trees." Photo: Sunny Johnson

Plant a tree, save a life.

That’s the idea behind the Green Gym charity. With the help of the Dunfermline and West Fife Community Health Partnership, they aim to improve the lives of patients at Lynebank Hospital by planting trees.

The Green Gym charity encourages communities to work together to enhance their local areas by creating a green space. The aim of the scheme is to create a garden area at the hospital to promote positive health and wellbeing among patients, staff and visitors.

The charity running the Green gym claim a daily walk in a park can reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes by 50%, cut breast cancer by 30% and Alzheimer’s by 25%.

They received a free 240-tree pack from the Woodland Trust. The environmental organisation has received over 1,000 community packs resulting in more than 200,000 native trees being planted all over the UK.

The Woodland Trust is supporting this project as it coincides with its main aims “we want to see no further loss of woodland and the creation of new native woodland.”

But the community packs are part of a bigger project. The Jubilee Woods scheme has a target of planting six million trees by the end of 2012.  It is one of a few projects in the UK that carry’s official Royal approval, with HRH the Princess Royal as its patron.

The charity’s aim is to raise awareness of the importance of parks. Over 33 million people in the UK choose to use their green spaces. Statistics show that the more often a person visits open green spaces the less often he or she will report stress related illnesses.

The Woodland Trust and Green Gym feel it is important to encourage people to take part in creating green spaces. This is because the local authorities are not legally required to provide, invest or maintain public parks and green spaces.

The Green Gym project will run for ten weeks in total with volunteers coming every Tuesday from 10am – 1pm. The initial five week period will finish on Tuesday 6th December. But it will pick up again on Tuesday 17th January until Tuesday 14th February.

The marketing and communications manager for Love Parks Week states “the Love Parks week is definitely the biggest public campaign”.

Health authority regrets ‘tragic’ nut allergy death

by Ray Philp

A health authority has expressed their “deepest sympathies” for the family of a 9 year old daughter who died of anaphylactic shock shortly after a GP had failed to prescribe a device that could have saved her life.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde were implicated in a report published by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman that criticised the lack of clear guidance regarding the prescription of adrenaline auto injector pens, or EpiPens.

An EpiPen might have saved Miss C. Photo: D Walsh

[Read more...]

Cancer numbers for women double

by Katy Docherty

Smoking trends are being reflected in diagnoses of lung cancer

The number of women diagnosed with lung cancer annually has more than doubled since the 1970s, according to figures released today by UK Cancer Research.

15,100 women over 60 were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008: a giant leap when compared to the 5,700 diagnosed in 1975.

But for men there has been a drop in the number of diagnoses, with the number falling from 23,400 in 1975 to 19,400 in 2008.

As a reduction in diagnoses mirrors a reduction in smoking, the figures reflect the smoking trends of 20 to 30 years ago. Men were the main smokers of the 40s and 50s, whereas in the 60s and 70s it became more popular for women to smoke. The long-term effects of these trends can be seen in cancer figures: in the 1980s the number of diagnoses for women began to fall but then started to rise again in 2002. [Read more...]

The New Organic

By Georgi Lindsey

Sourced from: SL Metal Works

Bringing organic into the bedroom. Sourced:SLMetal Works

 

We all want to be greener, healthier and adopt a more eco-warrior stance in life. Now we have the ability to do this in another area of our lives and not necessarily one you would have thought of.

 

Carbon Footprint, greenhouse effect, recycling and organic. These are all words we see daily to encourage us to do more to protect our planet.  In turn we can provide a better and healthier life for future generations and ourselves. We have options to buy organic food, body care, skin care, hair treatments and now, we can turn our attention to the things we buy for the bedroom. Once you slip under the organic bed sheets at night, you can introduce eco-friendly toys, lubricants, massage oils and know you are doing your bit to help the environment and your own well being.

 

It is now possible to buy sex aids that are graded fully organic. Meaning all ingredients are animal and ethically friendly. They are good for the environment and for the body but if there is a call for such products, what are the normal high street toys doing to us? To start with, there are ingredients called plastic softeners used in some toys that are called phthalates (pronounced “thay-lates”). These are thought to contain carcinogens, in short, these are substances believed to be directly linked to causing cancer. To understand the severity to what we are, ahem, putting into contact with our bodies, carcinogens can be found in tobacco smoke and asbestos.

 

Mary Clegg, a Sex and Relationship Therapist and Chair of the British Association of Sexual Educators, explains the importance on why we should think more about the products that we are using in the bedroom, “I think we need to think about what we are putting in and around our bodies especially since a lot of sex toys are going toward a very sensitive part of our body which has a very thin cellular wall. We need to think about how inert things are because a lot of people are allergic to latex, a lot of people have vulva conditions which means they have to be extremely careful but they still have every right to a sex life.”

 

“There is no substantial evidence that the above toxins have a direct link to causing cancer, nor is there any information on the long term effects of using these products.” Mary continues to explain why she advises health professionals to steer more towards the organic way of life. “I don’t think the evidence is conclusive enough. As somebody who advises and trains health professionals, I tend to steer them away from [toxins] and into the more organic area. Some people will become hyper sensitive so we need to reduce the amount of toxins and not increase them.”

 

We all know being organic is better for our bodies, but what are the main differences between the conventional and the more expensive kind? Take food for example, organic farmers use natural fertilizers like manure over chemical ones that help the plants grow. Insecticides are used to rid the plants of pests and diseases whereas our organic friends prefer to use insects and birds which are beneficial to the crop. More chemicals in the form of herbicides are used to kill off weeds from the normal farmer compared to our green-fingered friends who pull out those weeds by hand or rotate their crops. As for the animals used for meat, organic animals are allowed access to outdoor sceneries, clean housing and are well looked after. It is believed standard animal farmers feed their animals’ growth hormones and antibiotics to prevent disease.

 

As for a person’s overall health, going organic has many positive effects. Aside the obvious benefits organic food can offer such as better nutrition, less likely to contract an illness and very little exposure to chemicals. They can contribute to a healthier body weight; provide better moods and general overall fitness due to their methods of production.

 

If you are concerned more about the ethics behind your sex gadget, then think about the lower end products on the market, which have probably been massed, produced in countries like China who are well renowned for their poor work ethic and worker’s rights.

Other ethical and organic products that have become more popular recently are the materials in clothing. Organic cotton is the main one, like with food; cotton fields are also sprayed with insecticides and pesticides, which can be ingested like the organic food. These sprays get into the air, absorbed into water and soil but the seed of cotton is also made into oil, which is used in processed foods. The ethical side to this is to consider the conventional method of collecting cotton, farms in developing countries employ children to pick the cotton, and being paid one to two cents for every pound they collect. This is then sold at 50 cents (US dollar) per pound.

 

Another shocking fact is the illness these workers can suffer from. Pesticide poisoning includes a set of horrific symptoms including headaches, memory loss, vomiting, severe depression, confusion, and loss of co-ordination, seizures and tremors. Of the estimated 5 million cases, 20,000 of these people end up being killed by this disease. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) has been created to aid those people in need. Various clothing companies support GOTS, which is constantly growing. The standard is not just to wipe out the use of pesticides and similar chemicals, but also to stop child labor and to provide fair employment rights ensuring a safe and clean working environment, fair wage and working hours.

 

Organic Pleasures is an independent store based in Edinburgh, Scotland and run by Lucy Tanat-Jones, she explains the reasons behind the idea. “ There was a lack of sophisticated boudoir shops for women in Edinburgh, there aren’t any, its just the licensed sex shops or kind of high street tacky shops. Nothing that focuses on sensuality and women really as they all seem to be about male fantasy so I decided to do a lot of research and open my own shop.”

 

The front of the shop is as classy as the inside, no tacky neon signs or flashing lights. It is warm, friendly with a burlesque inspired look. Unlike when wandering round a high street store and been harassed by staff earning commission; it is relaxed. No pressure to buy, no tacky embarrassing gimmicks hanging from the shelves. The shop’s decor screams nothing but class. So what do the general public make of this eco-erotic store? “Everybody who walks through the door, although some people may not have grasped what it is when they come in, are quite surprised, its never a negative response though” Lucy says. “It is always tough in the UK because we have got quite an old fashioned and don’t talk about it attitude so it takes a while for people to understand it is not something people need to be embarrassed about and that’s part of what I’ve tried to create here, a nice atmosphere, intimate products and to make it about pleasure.”

 

There is a wide range of product choice and all have been certified by the Soil Association, a charity organisation set up by a group of farmers, scientists and nutritionists who look to promote plant, animal and human health along with good farming practice. Massage oils, lubricants, candles and body care are all organic. Everything is recyclable right down to the packaging and has been ethically produced in the UK. “I prefer to get it all done in the UK, I have sought out people who are experts in what the do and decide on one or two to use. It’s quite a long process.”

 

Organic Pleasures has been a long work in process, the main shop and online store opened in 2006 but it took a lot of preparation and hard work before Lucy could open the shop. “It is quite a long process, there was a couple of years of research and talking to the top formulators in the UK which was quite expensive. I just love projects and throwing myself into stuff but it involves talking to a lot of different people and knowing what it is in the market and on the shelves. You have to make sure its all natural and then go one step further by getting it certified. I just think it is much more pleasurable to have something that is good quality rather than just going to pick up a tube of fake cherry flavored massage oil for like £3 or whatever.”

 

It is a known fact that organic products are expensive; this is something Organic Pleasures have taken into account. Offering customers a basic, mid range and luxury type for every product sold. Her own ranges of toys are made from the cleanest and medically graded safe materials such as silicone, glass, stainless steel, wood and ceramic. One toy was made locally in Scotland, from Cherry wood. Sanded down to pure silk-like finish, the same material used in Rolls Royce’s car interiors.

 

The lingerie is just as ethical and safe as everything else at Organic Pleasures. A burlesque inspired range, all designed by Lucy herself to fit a standard English body which is why the 1930 – 40’s era seemed a perfect idea. Good fitting lingerie, in turn, will provide more confidence for a woman, which is what Organic Pleasures is all about. “I wanted a shop that sold everything for women to feel sexy in themselves. Made in England, silk lingerie and keeping mid price range. I wouldn’t spend £100 on a bra so I try and keep them more normal priced, in the £30-60s range.”

 

Lucy range is now taking off all across Europe and she has more designs in the pipeline. Although don’t expect to see her range of organic goodness on the high street any time soon, “That is so far removed from my philosophy and why I started it so that is the last thing I would want but definitely a couple of other boutiques and a few more shops up and down the country and across Europe.”

 

So do organic products of an erotic nature have the same effect on our health as the food and clothing? Mary offers her view, “Not sure it will make any difference but if you are comfortable about the product you use and you are not worried you are going to get a rash from it or develop some kind of reaction. It may certainly make for a better experience because you will have confidence in the product.”

 

Organic Pleasures is taking a new and innovative step in encouraging a person to take control for their well being. Not only can they feel more confident but also they can have some fun at the same time. So if you are thinking about taking an organic approach into the bedroom, then take Lucy’s advice as a final thought, “Your love life is paramount to one’s happiness.”

 

To find out more about Mary Clegg then visit www.basrt.org.uk (The British Association of Sexual and Relationship Therapists) or www.baseuk.org.uk which Mary is the chair of. Organic Pleasures can be found at www.organicpleasures.co.uk and to find out more about farm practice, environmental, human and animal health then go to http://www.soilassociation.org.

A design for life after cancer?

By Tony Garner

Construction is under way on the latest architecturally unique Maggie’s Cancer Centre  next to Gartnavel hospital in Glasgow.  The charity, which places built environment at the heart of its cancer support philosophy, commissioned an internationally renowned Dutch architect for the Gartnavel design.

The plans for the centre (credit: OMA)

The plans drawn up by Rem Koolhaus feature a ring of interlocking L-shaped rooms looking in on a floral garden and surrounded on the outside by an expansive courtyard.  Tricia Crosbie, Maggie’s Media Co-ordinator, said “Architecture plays the important role at Maggie’s of evoking curiosity, drawing visitors inside, and then helping them feel relaxed and at home.”

Gartnavel, due for completion next April, will become the sixth Maggie’s Centre in Scotland.  The charity was founded by pioneering architect Charles Jencks and his wife Maggie Keswick, who died from breast cancer in 1995.  Jencks has since said that the airless, artificially lit environment where his wife was treated in Edinburgh’s Western General hospital spurred them to start the project, which has become one of the UK’s best-known charities only fifteen years after its establishment.  The Gartnavel centre was funded mainly from money raised in the popular Moonwalk events, which see tens of thousands of women donning underwear for mass walks between dusk and dawn.

SNP Deputy-First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who was at the ceremony to mark the cutting of the first piece of turf, said “Cancer is a top priority for the Scottish Government and Maggie’s is an important partner for us.”

But Scottish Labour Shadow Health Secretary Jackie Baillie raised concern that the SNP are not doing enough to protect cancer-sufferers, with £33.9 million to be cut from next year’s health budget.  “I believe that the Scottish Government should have moved much more quickly to phase out charges for patients suffering from this debilitating illness,” Bailey said.

The Maggie’s philosophy that built environment can play a crucial role in overcoming cancer has been questioned in the past.  There is no actual treatment available in the centres, which are usually located next to large hospitals such as the one at Gartnavel.

However expert medical opinion recently came out in favour of the projects.  Plans for yet another Maggie’s in Aberdeen were backed by the Medical Director of NHS Grampian, Roelf Dijkhuizen, who said they provided essential psychological support that the NHS was unable to give due to budget constraints.

 

 

Bringing Diabetes To Light

by Jamye Drohan

“We have a major epidemic on our hands”, says Lorenzo Piemonte, from the International Diabetes Federation(IDF), “and the major challenge we’re facing is the lack of global awareness of the seriousness of the diabetes epidemic.”

World Diabetes Day(WDD) takes place on Sunday November 14th and is the primary global awareness campaign for diabetes.

According to IDF over 300 million people have diabetes worldwide, and that number is expected to soar to half a billion by 2030. A further 350 million people are thought to be at risk of developing the condition.

Worryingly, diabetes kills four million people a year.

“Due to the lack of public awareness on diabetes it is not thought of as serious or dramatic. We need to create a sense of urgency.”

WDD became an official United Nations day in 2007 under the UN resolution 61/225.

“It was the first UN resolution on any Non- Communicable Disease and was the first time governments acknowledged that diabetes was a global problem.

“For real change to take place, we need political backing.”

In August the Scottish government launched the Scottish Diabetes Action Plan, a three- year action plan to promote self- management of diabetes through education and better access to psychological support. It also aims to emphasise the importance of screening and prevention.

Blue Monument Challenge

The WDD Blue Monument Challenge initiative is in its third year and encourages towns and cities globally to flood their buildings and monuments in blue light to mark the occasion. 

Inverness Castle lit in blue for WDD 2009

In Inverness, the community is geared up for WDD, with the Castle, Cathedral, road bridge and main offices of the University of Highlands and Islands all being floodlit this weekend.

Chris Claridge, chair of the Inverness and District Voluntary Group, is heavily involved in the awareness campaign in the area.

“We arranged with the council to have the buildings floodlit. The buildings and the bridge are all in close proximity, and will all be lit in blue for the weekend.

“We are also having an information strand in Inverness City Centre on Saturday for the second year, to attract people who may have an interest in diabetes, whether they themselves have it, or family, or maybe they feel they’re at risk. We hand out leaflets, give advice, tell people about our local meetings and our group.

“We have young people who dress up as blood testing meters. People really enjoy it.

“And this year we have a senior diabetes nurse and a P.E. teacher who is Type 1 holding gentle activity classes to encourage people to become more active. They will be doing things like cheerleading classes on the Saturday and encouraging people to join in the fun.”

With so much going on in Inverness, why are other Scottish cities not as involved?

“I think it’s to do with our size. We’re smaller, there’s more of a community spirit and we have close links to the main hospital here, Raigmore. In places such as Glasgow there’s more hospitals, more people but not the same participation. It’s also important for promoting both Inverness and diabetes.”

The Inverness and District Voluntary Group provide local GPs with booklets on ‘Living with Diabetes’.

“With ninety people a month being diagnosed in the Highlands, it’s important that patients are receiving support. We hope the leaflets provide information that people need when first faced with diabetes. It can be quite a shock, and a lot to take in.

“We currently put out a newsletter three times a year and are working on setting up a website, but I worry that we’re just scraping the surface in terms of contacting people.”

300 million diabetics and rising

With health care professionals predicting the number of diagnoses will continue to rise, questions are being asked as to why the situation is worsening.

Piemonte says: “Ageing populations and lifestyle changes have resulted in a dramatic increase. Rapid economic development has been associated with tremendous modification in lifestyle reflected by changes in nutrition, less physical activity, increased obesity and more smoking.”

Stephen Fyfe from Diabetes UK Scotland agrees. “It is our lifestyles. People are not as active. Our diets include more processed foods. Our sugar consumption is through the roof. Environmental factors are being looked into too.”

Funding Research

Piemonte and IDF believe research is vital. “We’re happy to see advances in science being made in all corners of the globe. A cure for diabetes can come from any part of the world which is why it is important that diabetes research is generously funded.”

In September, it was announced that Diabetes UK and the Chief Scientist Office(CSO) in Scotland would provide joint funding for a research initiative titled the “Scottish Diabetes Research Network”(SDRN). This research aims to provide a data resource that other researchers can then use.

Key areas of research include the genetics and complications of diabetes, as well as understanding how the environment impacts on genes to create diabetes.

Professor Helen Colhoun, Professor of Public Health at the University of Dundee, and co- ordinator of the SDRN, explains, “With this research, we can then develop interventions in the key pathways that lead to diabetes, and prevent it.”

The initiative will receive £675,000 from Diabetes UK and the Scottish Government. “Research is expensive but we are doing this as cheaply as we can and are drawing on as much existing infrastructure as possible.”

The money will largely go into research, nurse time, equipment and lab freezers.

“Our estimated cost per patient seen in £96- that is low.”

Extra staff will be put into clinics taking part so as not to interupt or cause delays for patients, who will be asked to contribute by donating blood and urine samples for the research project.

Professor Colhoun believes that long term, the SDRN will save the NHS money.

“The complications of diabetes are costly and preventing them is the best way to help patients and reduce that cost.”

Recently diagnosed

Craig Reid, 24, from North Berwick discovered he had Type 1 diabetes in September.

“I think diabetes is common enough to be a well known illness, but I don’t think it’s understood. Most people I’ve told about it have very little or no concept of what it is and how it affects you.

“It’s an ongoing process explaining to family how living with diabetes makes you feel.”

It is difficult to recognise the symptoms of diabetes when awareness is not widespread.

“I was in the fortunate position to have a good pal that is also Type 1 and she was able to raise the alarm for me and give me the right advice to get checked out.

“Looking back, all the symptoms I had can be found in all the leaflets I’ve been given. Having that information available to me earlier would have helped.”

Reid thinks that the term ‘epidemic’ might be exaggerated.

“The reaction I get when I tell people is ‘Oh, loads of people have that now!’ But, as far as I can see that’s not the case. About 4.6% of the UK population have diabetes. Around 90% are Type 2, so my opinion is Type 1 is not as common as people think, although I do realise the number is on the rise.”

Facts and Figures

by Elizabeth Ting

Type 1

  • diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin.
  • accounts for between 5 and 15% of all people with diabetes and is treated by daily insulin injections, a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
  • Type 1 cannot be prevented, and usually appears in younger people (under 40).

Type 2

  • develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).
  • accounts for between 85 and 95% of all people with diabetes and is treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity.
  • Type 2 is often linked to obesity and bad diet, is more common in older people and is sometimes referred to as “late onset diabetes”.

Symptoms

  • passing urine more often than usual, especially at night
  • increased thirst
  • extreme tiredness
  • unexplained weight loss

If you are experiencing any combination of the above symptoms, visit your GP and ask them to test your blood glucose level.

Risk factors

You could be at risk if:

  • A close member of your family has Type 2 diabetes (parent or brother or sister).
  • You are overweight or your waist is 31.5 inches or over for women, 35 inches or over for Asian men and 37 inches or over for white and black men.
  • You have high blood pressure or you have had a heart attack or a stroke.
  • You are a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome and you are overweight.
  • You have been told you have impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glycaemia.
  • If you are a woman and have had gestational diabetes.
  • You have severe mental health problems.

If you would like to find out if you are at risk, a test to assess your chances of developing diabetes is available here.

More information and advice is available at the Diabetes UK website.

For other health articles visit http://edinburghnapiernews.com/2010/11/12/the-topsy-foundation-gives-hope-to-those-suffering-with-hiv/

National news in brief

Expenses MPs to be tried

Three ex-Labour MPs involved in the expenses scandal, including Jim Devine of Livingston, have lost their final legal challenge to facing criminal trials. They had claimed they should not be tried as they were protected by Parliamentary privilege. Nigel Pleming QC, who represented Jim Devine, said had told the Supreme Court it was not “an attempt to take them above or outside the law”.

Cameron demands prosecution for violent students

David Cameron has called for the violent student protesters who attacked Conservative headquarters on Monday to be prosecuted with “the full force of the law”, while NUS Scotland President Liam Burns warned that the issues behind the protest must not be forgotten.

Child cancer death rates fall 60%

Cancer kills 60% less children than in the late 1960s, according to research from Cancer Research UK. Nearly eight out of every ten children now survive past the five-year mark with cancer, compared to less than three out of ten in 1966-70.

Harry Potter premieres in London

The red carpet premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One took place at London’s Leicester Square last night. The film adapts the first half of the final Harry Potter book, with the final part to be released in the summer of 2011.

Facebook sobriety test released

BNP Paribas Masters

Andy Murray has reaching the quarters in Paris

The Queen can heave a sigh of relief this week as, after the creation of the British Monarchy Facebook account, The Social Media Sobriety Test was launched to help users avoid posting drunk messages. The tool allows people to block themselves from using sites like Facebook if they fail a series of coordination tests.

Murray reaches French quarter-finals

Andy Murray progressed to the quarter finals of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris last night. Murray struggled through the early stages of the match, and was given a warning for throwing a ball in anger at one point, before defeating Marin Cilic 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 6-3.

Another blow for M.E. sufferers

By Dionne Paton

Monica Sleeping

Photograph by Ina Lazerev.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitus, (M.E.) has been in the headlines recently regarding the announcement to prevent people with the illness donating blood,  prompted by the possibility of a link between a retrovirus and M.E. Also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) it is an illness which causes severe symptoms in the sufferer.

Symptoms can be complex and hard to diagnose. There are often a mix of symptoms and one sufferer may not experience the same symptoms as another. Symptoms include: persistent and overwhelming fatigue, pain in joints and limbs, sleeping difficulties, problems with thought and difficulty concentrating, heightened sensitivity to outside factors and upset to the digestive and nervous systems. There is no cure and currently research is ongoing. Last year, the Medical Research Council spent £109,000 researching the illness.

This debilitating disease is a difficult syndrome to live with and affects the sufferer’s daily life. Earl Howe, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State of the Department of Health said of the blood donation ban:

“This decision was prompted by a recent independent risk assessment of a possible link between a murine retrovirus and CFS/ ME. Although the risk assessment was found no evidence of a link or a risk to transfusion recipients, the UK blood services recognised that practice for CFS/ ME should be brought in line with other conditions where individuals are permanently excluded from blood donation to protect their own health.”

Although this would indicate that M.E. is an illness which is easily definable as seriously debilitating due to the effect it can have on concentration and judgement and its obvious physical restrictions to the sufferer, it is not as clear-cut as that. Often professional opinion does not regard it as a disability. Tony Britton has said of the Syndrome:

“Despite being recognised by the UK Department of Health as a neurological disease and categorised as such by the World Health Organization since 1968, sufferers from this chronic, distressing disease have been labelled variously as work shy, attention-seeking and suffering psychosocial behavioural problems by some members of the medical profession, who would prefer it to be in the mental health category. To the press, it is still ‘yuppie flu’.”

This diminished view of the seriousness of the illness has a damaging effect on M.E. sufferers. In the issuing of Taxi cards, a scheme run by Edinburgh council where people suffering from a disability can claim to help with costs for travel by taking off a few pounds from the total cost of traveling by taxi. As people with M.E. have a disability they are entitled to claim. The application for a Taxi card from the council must be accompanied by a supporting letter from your G.P. and it is on their support you can claim.

One Edinburgh CFS sufferer has had her G.P. take away her supporting letter when trying to renew her Taxi card. This has been revoked as the treatment she was receiving no longer included physiotherapy. However, removal of a treatment does not mean the disability is gone. On describing what the Taxi card means to her in her daily life, she said:

“It’s like a lifeline. Without it, I am restricted on where I can go. It’s another financial penalty and if I was able to get a bus somewhere, I may begin to feel really unwell and not manage to get back home.”

It is unfair that the decision alone rests with one G.P. when medical opinion in terms of seriousness can be varied. Currently a supporting letter from a G.P. should only include that a person does have a disability or not and that should be enough for the council. When asked to make a response, the Edinburgh Council stated that sufferers “must be able to prove they are eligible for this benefit.”

It is difficult for the sufferer and the sufferer should be supported through this disability, and recognised as truly ill. The debate on the definition of whether it is truly a disease remains unfathomable until further research is provided.

Phones to diagnose STIs

 

By Claudie Qumsieh

Mobile phones could soon be used to test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  The tests will work by the user putting a urine or saliva sample onto a microchip which they can insert into their phone. The software will analyse the sample and make recommendations for treatment, details of nearest GP surgery or clinic and even arrange automatic prescription to be made available at the local pharmacist.

The new £5.7 million project has been launched to develop this self-testing technology which will use nanotechnology in phones and computers. The test has the advantage of being both private and quick. Home testing hopes to prevent diagnosis being delayed by people’s reluctance to go to the doctors out of embarrassment.

The project, eSTI², is led by Dr Tariq Sadiq senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at St George’s, University of London. Sadiq says “By making diagnosis easier to access in the community, with immediate results, we aim to reduce infection rates and improve sexual health.”

The technology hopes to address the problem of increasing numbers of infections in young people. STI’s can have long-term implications including infertility.

In the UK there has been a 36% rise of STIs in the past decade. An ISD Scotland survey on genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics found a quarter of all acute STI diagnoses are in people under 20 years old. STIs are higher in men than women. More new acute STIs were in men with syphilis, gonorrhoea, genital warts, NSGI (non-specific genital infection), non-chlamydial, HIV and other More women were diagnosed with chlamydia, genital herpes and trichomoniasis.  The highest rates recorded were in Lothian, Tayside  and Greater Glasgow & Clyde.

The technology is still at development stage. The test will eventually be made available for sale in supermarkets, night club vending machines and pharmacies and will cost up to £1.

Dr Sadiq said “These systems have real potential to give individuals more control over their sexual health, reduce spread of infection, and radically change the way STIs are diagnosed and managed.”

The Medical Research Council has given a £4million grant to the consortium comprising academic and industrial researchers including St George’s, University College London, Brunel University, Warwick University, Queen Mary, University of London and the Health Protection Agency.

For information on diagnosis of STIs see the NHS website.

 

Charity Accused of Being ‘Eugenical’

Drug users can be paid to be sterilised

By Ryan C. Gavan

The current campaign by U.S. charity Project Prevention to persuade drug and alcohol addicts to be sterilised in return for a payment of £200 has been condemned by addiction support groups.

David Liddel, Director of the Scottish Drug Forum, believes “the tactics and underlying agenda of this organisation smack of the discredited eugenics movements of the early 20th century.” He continued “all women, irrespective of whether they are drug addicts or not, should be offered family planning advice.”

Project Prevention was started in the United States by Barbara Harris, a child welfare campaigner .The charity’s remit is to prevent children from being born with birth defects as a result of drug dependent pregnancies. Their website states “the main objective is public awareness to the problem of addicts exposing their unborn child to drugs during pregnancy.”

The charity argues that “the average number of children per addict is 3.” This, they feel, can be easily prevented through cash incentives for long-term birth control or total sterilisation.

The number of children born to drug addicts is on the rise in the UK. A survey carried out by the University of Aberdeen shows it has increased 30% since 1998.  Last week the first UK addict took up the charity’s offer. The addict, from Leicester, was paid after having a vasectomy.

This has been likened to the programme run by Dundee Council to convince smokers to quit by paying them £50 a month.

Veni, vidi, whisky

by Sandra Juncu

A Scot, an Asian, a Native – American and an Eskimo walk into a bar, they drink the same amount of alcohol. Who will get more drunk?

The adult version of a candy store

What sounds like a funny riddle is actually an important question that US scientists answered this Tuesday: it’s in the genes. University of North Carolina researchers at the Chapel Hill School of Medicine found a new gene, CYP2E1, which instructs the body to produce an enzyme that breaks down alcohol.  1 in 5 people will tolerate alcohol less than others, leading them to be more sensitive to substance abuse or alcoholism.

Study author Professor Kirk Wilhelmsen commented on the results: “It turns out that a specific version of CYP2E1 makes people more sensitive to alcohol.” He also added that even if some questions were answered, and an important contribution to understanding the body’s response to alcohol has been made, the battle against alcoholism is still a long way from finished: “But alcoholism is a very complex disease and there are lots of complicated reasons why people drink. This may be just one of the reasons.”

The Day After Stats

Scotland ranks 8th in the world and in top place in the EU for alcohol consumption per head of population, according to Alcohol Focus Scotland and EU public health statistics. This costs the tax payers an estimate of 3,5 billions per year. As one in every 20 deaths and 1 in 10 accident & emergency admissions is attributed to alcohol, the numbers are painting a sinister picture and raising a serious alarm sign about the fact that the real bad effects of alcohol are a lot more painful than a bad hangover.

Born Different

Alcohol tolerance is determined by our genes and our genes are determined by our ethnic background, this means that alcohol sensitivity varies according to race. As an earlier study showed, European and North Americans have a higher threshold for alcohol compared to Asians, Eskimos and Native Americans. So in the case of all of them meeting in a pub, it’s the Scots who will have to take the others home.

Scottish youngsters are the most active in the UK

Children walking to school

 

Scottish seven-year-olds are more active and less likely to be considered obese than other children in the UK of the same age.

 Researchers at London University’s Institute of Education tracked the development of 15,000 youngsters born in the UK between 2000 and 2002 found that Scottish children were the most likely to take part in physical activities.

 More than half of Scottish children walk to school every day compared with only one in four Northern Irish children of the same age and nearly half of the Scottish children surveyed were involved in after-school or weekend activities at least twice a week.

 Only 27% took part in sport less than once a week or never, however the figure was lower than in the other countries of the UK.

Researchers also discovered there were fewer overweight and obese children in Scotland and England than in Northern Ireland and Wales.

Just 5% of Scottish seven-year-olds and 6% of English youngsters were said to be obese, compared with 7.5% of Welsh children and 8% of Northern Irish children.

Experts said the results did not necessarily mean that children in Northern Ireland and Wales were heavier simply because they were less active than Scots.

 

Alcohol Awareness Week

By Keith Hamilton

Shoppers at Edinburgh’s St James Centre today will encounter campaigning designed to reduce the health risks associated with alcohol consumption. The NHS Lothian and Alcohol and Drug Partnerships representatives will be informing the public on the amount of units of alcohol that can be safely consumed, how much alcohol constitutes a unit and generally encouraging a healthier lifestyle. The event is part of a national campaign and comes in the wake of the statement of Dr Richard Simpson MSP, that of 45 000 prisoners in Scotland each year 18000 cite alcohol as a factor contributing to their crime.

Jim Sherval, Specialist in public health, gave reasons for the importance of the campaign: “We all need to drink less. At the moment too many people are drinking more than sensible levels. Most people know that alcohol is measured in units, but who really knows what a unit is and how many people keep a count of the units they drink?

“These events will show people what a unit is and encourage them to think about their own drinking habits and learn about the effects of alcohol on their health.”

Nick Smith, who works for the Alcohol and Drug Partnership, stated: “ I hope people take this opportunity to look at how much they are consuming and make sure they are drinking responsibly. If you are concerned about your own or another person’s drinking, then please speak to your GP or contact Edinburgh’s specialist alcohol service, ELCA on 0131 337 8188.”

Council to install carbon monoxide monitors in 18,000 Edinburgh homes

By: Junio Valerio Songa

 

A carbon monoxide monitor

 

On Tuesday 5th of October 2010, the Edinburgh City Council development sub-committee ruled in favour of the installation of carbon monoxide monitors in 18,000 Edinburgh homes. The manouvre, which is going to cost £400,000 comes in the wake of a 2007 report which stated that over 2.000 council houses did not have a valid gas safety certificate.

Carbon monoxide, which is produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, is an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas that affects the organism by blocking the delivery of oxygen to bodily tissues and is responsible for over 50 deaths per year in the UK.

Faulty gas appliances, such as radiators, heaters or blocked chimneys can exhale carbon monoxide. Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Mac Armstrong warns about the dangers of faulty appliances, stating that “The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can resemble those of cold and flu… continuing or higher exposure levels can however result in lasting neurological damage or death.”

In 1996 Dunfermilne Athletic player Norman “Norrie” McCathie famously died together with his girlfriend Amanda Burns at his home in Fife as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Although there have not been any deaths in Edinburgh this year, the council introduced the monitors in an effort to improve the safety of its citizens. According to Councillor Paul Edie, Housing leader for Edinburgh, “Whilst there have been no deaths in our council homes attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning I am sure our tenants will welcome this additional safety measure by putting their safety first.”

The monitors, which are known for their reliability, will require to be replaced every six years, this will cost an average of £60.000. It will be the tenant’s responsibility to carry out regular tests to ensure that the detectors continue to operate. According to a council report the funding of this project will not impact on existing investments and “the scale of the cost is considered acceptable given the safety benefits gained by each home having the safety device fitted.”

However carbon monoxide detectors, while providing an enhanced safety measure, are to be supported by an effective gas servicing regime.

Light Drinkers During Pregnancy “Not at Risk”

by Katy Docherty

Two units or more can harm the baby

Women who enjoy a weekly glass of wine during pregnancy are not putting their child at risk according to the findings of a new study led by University College London. One glass of wine can be equal to 2 units.

This new research conflicts with the Government’s advice that women should avoid alcohol altogether whilst pregnant. This was decided in 2007 after research found that 1 in 10 women were exceeding the recommended limit. The government line will not be changed in light of this study.

Dr. Yvonne Kelly, a lead author of the study, says, “There’s now a growing body of robust evidence that there is no increase in developmental difficulties associated with light drinking during pregnancy”.

A Department of Health spokesperson says, “as a precautionary measure, our advice to pregnant women and women trying to conceive is to avoid alcohol.”

Around 11,500 5 year olds were involved in the study published by The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health which says that children of mothers who drink up to 2 units of alcohol a week during pregnancy are “not at increased risk” of emotional problems or learning difficulties.

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published guidance in 2008 admitting that although there is uncertainty over light drinking in pregnancy but that it is safe to drink after the first three months of pregnancy.

A few drinks ‘no risk’ during pregnancy

Goverment still advise against drinking during pregnancy

By Jen McClure

Drinking a few units of alcohol  a week during pregnancy has no long-term effects on child development according to a study published by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.  The study of 11,000 5 year olds found no evidence of harm if their mother had drank lightly during pregnancy.     

The report did highlighted that heavy drinking led to increased behavioural and emotional problems among children.  Heavy drinking while pregnant, as the report concluded, does increase the risk of lifelong damage.  The study had less evidence to the risk of light drinking during pregnancy.  The research uncovered no extra risk to a child’s emotional and behavioural development compared to mothers who abstained from drinking while pregnant.

In response to the findings, official advice has stressed the importance of abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy.  A spokesman from the Department of Health advised, “After assessing the available evidence, we cannot say with confidence that drinking during pregnancy is safe and will not harm your baby. “Therefore, as a precautionary measure, our advice to pregnant women and women trying to conceive is to avoid alcohol.”

The study, led by University College London but involving three other UK universities, is the second to be published by this group examining large numbers of children looking for evidence that brain development had been affected.  Dr Yvonne Kelly, from UCL, said : “There’s now a growing body of robust evidence that there is no increase in developmental difficulties associated with light drinking during pregnancy.”  The study concluded that children born to light drinkers appeared slightly less likely to suffer behavioural problems, and scored higher on cognitive tests, compared with women who abstained.

Mothers have been left confused by the findings.  At a toddler group in Leeds, mothers had mixed feeling about the results.  One mother said, “One drink can cause problems, so I didn’t drink.” Another mother said, “The first 3 months are quite key so I didn’t drink then but other than that everything in moderation.”

Drinkware, an alcohol awareness charity agreed with the Government’s official guidelines. Chief Executive, Chris Sorek said: “Despite these findings, it is important to remember that ‘light drinking’ can mean different things to different people.”

Dr Tony Falconer, President of the Royal College Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said that while the “safest choice” was abstinence, the current evidence suggested that drinking one or two units, once or twice a week was acceptable. “The key public health message, whether or not a woman is pregnant, is that light drinking is fine, but heavy and binge drinking should be avoided.”

‘Scottish Government Fails to Convince in Raising Drinking Age’

Young people are being targeted in this legislation

By Ryan C. Gavan

The Scottish Government’s measures to give licensing boards the ability to raise the age of buying alcohol to combat Scotland’s binge drinking epidemic has failed. After a dramatic deliberation in a meeting of the Health and Sport  committee at Holyrood, the plan has been voted down 3-5 against in the most recent review of the Alcohol Bill after strong opposition.

The Bill, introduced by Nicola Sturgeon MSP, says, “There are clear arguments in support of raising the off-sales age,where appropriate, as part of a range of local measures to address local problems. Our proposal would have made it easier for Licensing Boards to apply a minimum age of 21 to off-sales but would not have meant that they had to do so.”

The measures stood against strong opposition from other parties. Lib Dem Health spokesman Ross Finnie MSP stated that “we could have been in the ridiculous situation where a 19-year-old army officer could not buy a bottle of wine to celebrate returning from the front line.” This shows the problems facing such legislation.

This has also been  criticised by youth groups such as the National Union for Students. In a statement put to the committee the organisation said “we do not agree that the evidence has shown that an alcohol purchase age of 21 for off-sales would reduce anti-social behaviour in our communities.”

Sturgeon comments that there is compelling evidence to raise the age of drink purchasing in off licenses saying ” We’ve considered international evidence which found that increasing the legal drinking age can have substantial effects on youth drinking and alcohol-related harm.”

The proposed amendment failed to convince the rest of the committee. Finnie now believes it is time to focus on more workable parts of the legislation. “We must now focus on the health related aspects of the Bill” continuing that it is more important to focus on “banning irresponsible promotions”.  

Other measures also failed such as the controversial proposal of minimum drink pricing. The SNP are focusing on anti-social behaviour with the upcoming Holyrood election on the horizon. They have suffered a number of recent blows including Alex Salmond’s decision not to hold a referendum on independence but rather seek greater devolution powers.

Experts Warn of Infection Death Sentences if Careless Prescriptions Continue

by Elliot Adams
Antibiotic_capsules

Antibiotics which kill dangerous bacteria have no effect on flu-causing viruses; Image courtesy of ECDC

The European Centre of Disease prevention and Control (ECDC), which is focused on controlling infectious diseases like swine flu in Europe, is to write this week to all practicing GPs, warning them of the dangers of routinely prescribing antibiotics for coughs and colds because their overuse is contributing to the spread of hospital bugs and putting vital treatments under threat.

This is not a new problem, the prescription of the drugs, which are not necessary in most cases, has long fuelled the rising number of antibiotic resistant infections. But experts at the ECDC centre say that modern medicine is reaching a point when it will no longer be able to function because antibiotics are fast becoming powerless to fight life-threatening hospital infections.

The process of producing new antibiotics is too slow-paced to allow for the current growth in resistance; an ECDC spokesman said that “If we continue to consume antibiotics at the current rate, Europe may face a return to the pre-antibiotic era where a common bacterial infection could be a death sentence”

090601_Zsuzsanna_Jakan_press_300

The ECDC is leading the pressure to stop improper antibiotic use. Left to right: Z. Jakab, Director of ECDC, Professor Giesecke and Dr. Coulombier of ECDC; Image courtesy of ECDC

Dominic Monnet, from the ECDC’s Scientific Advice unit warned that this would mean a halt to treatments with a high-infection risk like organ transplants, intensive care and chemotherapy.

“It is the whole span of modern medicine as we know it, that we will not be able to do if we lose antibiotics.”

These concerns echo conclusions drawn from the findings of a recent European Medicines Agency study into the rising number of multi-drug resistant bacteria.

Dr Bo Aronsson who led the study said, “Industry’s pipeline contains few new antibiotics active against multidrug-resistant bacteria. Without stimulating research and development into new antibiotics, an increasing number of infected patients will be without effective treatment”.

80% of antibiotics prescriptions in the UK are from GPs and community pharmacists, as opposed to hospitals where there is more legitimate need for them. Dr A. Adams, an Edinburgh medical practitioner commented, “The simple fact of the matter is that antibiotics do nothing to help viral illnesses like your cold, sore throat or flu. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not the viruses that cause flu. But GPs are often under pressure from patients, parents or pharmaceutical interests to prescribe antibiotics for these conditions,” adding that this situation will only be “exacerbated by the approaching flu season and predictions of a second wave of swine flu.” A 2002 survey found that 60% of people surveyed did not know that antibiotics do not work against viruses, so perhaps this pressure is understandable considering the lack of public understanding on the subject.

These warnings from the ECDC are only one of many attempts to steer GPs away from this path of least resistance, and to raise public awareness of just what antibiotics can and cannot do. For instance, this Wednesday will see the first annual European Antibiotic Awareness Day, a Europe-wide campaign aiming to inform and educate the public about the danger of antibiotic resistance and the importance of prudence in antibiotic use – emphasising the need to take antibiotics only as prescribed in order to maximise their effects and prevent the emergence of resistant bacteria.

According to the Department of Health, the government’s progress on this matter is “well ahead” of other European nations, but says that the Department of Health “recognises that this work must be sustained, with joint working across disciplinary boundaries, and that action must be maintained at local, national and international levels” to be effective.

As for those of us who are unfortunate enough to catch the flu this winter, the Chief Medical Officer of England, Sir Liam Donaldson simply advises that “you should rest, take plenty of fluids and speak to your pharmacist who will advise you on over the counter remedies that are available.”

A song to save a life.

gaz_organ_couple_3_v01.jpg.display
courtesy of the “Gazette”

By Erris Healy

28 year old Sarah Springett from Essex saved her boyfriend Paul Shepards life last year. The singer/songwriter donated her kidney to him after he was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy.
“IgA nephropathy is a kidney disorder that occurs when infection deffence protein settles in the kidney. Scientists do not know what causes IgA to form in the kidney. IgA causes permanent kidney damage which can lead to kidney failure. People with kidney failure need dialysis or a transplant.”- National kidney and urologic disease information clearinghouse.

Sarahs donation experience has inspired her to release a single titled “I hope you know.” Her single is in support of the first UK-wide organ donation campaign that was launched on November 3, 2009 by NHS blood and transplant. Each copy of Springettes single will include a link to the organ registration website and profits will be donated to the transplant trust. You can hear Sarah discussing the importance of becoming a donor, the need for more donors to sign up and her support for the campaign by visiting http://www.ihopeyouknow.co.uk.

Statistics from the NHS show that this year “977 lives were saved in the UK through a heart, lung, liver or kidney transplant.” Also a survey for kidney.org stated that, “more than two in nine people back organ donation but only one in five are actually on the register.” The same website gave a figure of 3,916 deaths a year are because of kidney failure-www.kidney.org

Yvonne MacFarlane, spokeswoman for the Scottish Government Health and Wellbeing office said,”The number of Scottish residents listed, as at November 8, 2009 awaiting an organ transplant is 663. The UK average waiting time to transplant in days is a heart=103 days, lung= 406 days, liver= 95 days and a kidney= 265 days. As you can see the waiting period is lengthy and a lot of people do not survive the wait.

If more people signed up the waiting time would be less. Sarah says, “watching Paul go through what he did was far worse than donating my kidney.” So, if Ms. Springettes story has inspired you or you are interested in becoming a donor, find out more at: http://www.orgondonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 1232323.
This Christmas you may just give someone a very special gift, you could give someone in need a second chance at life.

New Test to Predict When Biological Clock Will Stop

tick_tock

Can we predict the biological clock?

by Una Purdie

A new genetic test may be able to predict when a women’s biological clock will stop, scientists have revealed.

The research from New York’s Centre for Human Reproduction found genetic markers could show whether a woman is at risk of an early menopause. This would allow women in their teens or early 20′s to decide whether to start a family at an earlier age, or even freeze their eggs if their fertility is likely to decline faster than average.

Speaking in the New Scientist, the project leader Dr Norbert Gleicher said he was confident  he could “make a pretty good prediction” of whether a woman was at risk of early ovarian ageing, “then you can sit down and have a discussion about her reproductive life plan. In other words, do you want to have your kids before you get your PhD or afterwards?”

Gleicher believes he could have a test available by next year, although critics claim that while the research is promising,  further work is required to determine whether long -term fertility can be predicted in this way.

The research comes as more and more women in Scotland are choosing to postpone motherhood until later in life. Official figures show almost half the new mothers in 2008 were in their thirties or forties. One in five babies were born to mothers aged 35 or over, compared to only 7% of births twenty years ago.

Local GP Dr Gul Dent is one of the current boom of late mothers. She just had her first child at the age of 39: “I was busy getting on with my life, then I panicked a little about starting a family. This is not uncommon amongst professional women.”

Dr Dent gave a cautious welcome to the new research: “Everyone must do what’s right for them, but fertility rates do tend to drop after the age of 35 so it’s good to at least be aware of the risks of putting off having a family.”

“If this test is reliable maybe it could help some women struggling with those tough choices between career and motherhood.”

Organ donations desperately needed

By Kaye Nicolson

nina_asif

Nina Wadia and Asif Khan are fronting the South Asian donor campaign

 

Desperate shortages of organ donations are leaving many British patients waiting years for life-changing transplants.

The NHS are calling for people to change their good intentions into results by joining the organ donor register, in a campaign launched on 2 November.  This will be the first UK-wide campaign of this nature, aiming to promote public awareness about organ donation and significantly increase the number of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register. To date only 27% of the nation’s population are on the register.

Recent figures gathered by the NHS show that more than 10,000 people require an organ transplant. Of these, it is estimated that 1000 people a year will die before an organ becomes available. In particular, ethnic groups such as those of South Asian origin are being encouraged to join the organ register, which has led celebrities such as Nina Wadia of Eastenders fame to voice support for organ donation.

The specific need for people of Asian decent to register as donors is due to the less-known medical fact that this ethnic group are more likely to have kidney problems, yet less likely to find a blood match in the UK.  2008 figures demonstrate that of 584 organ transplants of the year, only 12 were from Asian donors. The ‘Can We Count on You?’ drive to encourage is fronted by Nina Wadia and Asif Khan, and it is expected to raise publicity.

On the issue, UK Health Secretary Andy Burnham commented that the overwhelming majority would take an organ if they required, and urged those in favour of organ donation to show their support by signing up to the Organ Donor Register and discussing their wishes with their families.

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