Monthly Archives: April 2013

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e-cigarette ‘vapers’ using them to quit smoking

2017-04-21T11:13:32+00:00 April 15th, 2013|NHS, Smoking|

“Electronic cigarettes have helped almost nine out of ten smokers quit tobacco completely” the Metro reports. The claim is based on the results of an online survey on e-cigarette use and their effects on tobacco consumption. The survey’s participants were mainly recruited via the websites of two leading manufactures of e-cigarettes. The survey responses report an overall positive experience of e-cigarettes, for example: 75% of the sample said it had been several weeks or months since their last cigarette 91% said that use of the e-cigarette had ‘substantially decreased’ their craving for tobacco cigarettes 70% didn’t have as much of an urge to smoke A significant limitation to the study is that the survey was self-selecting; people using the brand’s websites chose to take part. It could be the case that people with a positive experience of using e-cigarettes were more likely to take part than people with negative experiences. So the results may not be representative. Also, the study did not assess whether these people actually quit smoking as a result of e-cigarette use. This means the results cannot be compared to the effectiveness of stop-smoking treatments that have been properly tested and does not prove that e-cigarettes are an effective method of helping people to quit smoking. Further research comparing e-cigarettes with other forms of ‘quitting tools’ (such as nicotine patches) in the form of a large randomised controlled trial or cohort study is required. Where did the story come from? The study was a cross-sectional survey carried out by researchers from the University of East London and was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Addiction. The study received no sources of financial support. The Metro’s headline that ‘Electronic cigarettes ‘help nine out of ten smokers quit tobacco completely’ appears to have been wrongly interpreted from the results [...]

Can fish really extend your life?

2016-01-26T16:44:26+00:00 April 3rd, 2013|Food and Diet|

"Eating fish in old age 'can extend life'," The Daily Telegraph proclaims, among several mainstream papers covering the story. But before you head out to buy some MSC-certified sustainably sourced mackerel, it's worth having a look at whether this really is such good news for you. The headlines only really apply to over-65s, and no fish were involved in the research. The news is actually based on the results of a large long-term study looking at whether blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids are associated with cardiovascular disease and mortality among older adults. These omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish and seafood, as well as nuts and other dietary sources. This research found that higher levels of omega-3 in the blood were associated with a 27% reduction in risk of death from any cause, and a 35% reduction in risk of death from heart disease. People with the highest omega-3 levels lived 2.2 years longer on average than those with lower levels. While this study has several limitations, it is one of the few studies that have objectively measured blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids. This eliminates problems with previous research based on people merely recording what they ate. It is worth doing more research to find which omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent cardiovascular disease and if they can reduce the number of deaths from this disease. Where did the story come from? The study was carried out by researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Washington. It was funded by the US National Institutes of Health. It was published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Much of the news concentrated on the benefits of eating fish. Although omega-3 fatty acids [...]

Parkinson’s drug could help old people decide?

2017-04-21T11:13:32+00:00 April 3rd, 2013|Medication|

“Parkinson's drug 'helps' the elderly think younger and reap the rewards from the choices they make,” according to the Mail Online. It reports that as you age you lose the ability to learn from experiences, which can lead to poor decision making. But the drug levodopa, used to treat Parkinson’s disease, could help the elderly to think again in a ‘younger manner’, it says. Researchers speculate that the lower levels of dopamine found as people grow older could be harmful to the part of the brain that judges whether choices lead to beneficial rewards. Levodopa can increase levels of dopamine, so researchers wanted to see if it improved decision making skills. In this study, a small group of older people performed tasks where making the correct decision could win them money. The researchers then looked at the effect that dopamine treatment had on their performance. They also compared the performance of these older adults with 22 healthy young adults. They found that half of the older people improved performance with levodopa, but there was no improvement in the other half. The research doesn’t tell us much more than how ageing may affect the chemical processes of the brain. Levodopa is only licensed for use in Parkinson’s conditions. Given the side effects of the drug, and that in this small study it only gave some benefit to half the participants, it is very unlikely that its use would ever be extended to all older adults, simply to boost decision making. Where did the story come from? The study was carried out by researchers from University College London and other institutions in the UK and Europe. Funding was provided by the Wellcome Trust. The study was published in the peer-reviewed Nature Neuroscience. Overall, the Mail Online’s reporting takes this small scientific research [...]

Yorkshire ambulance workers go on strike!

2017-04-21T11:13:32+00:00 April 2nd, 2013|NHS|

Unite members are protesting against £46m in cuts and plans to replace ambulance technicians with care assistants Around 450 ambulance service workers are on strike across Yorkshire in a dispute over cuts in patient care, a trade union has said. Members of Unite who work for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust picketed 17 stations across the region. Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said the dispute came after the ambulance service "de-recognised" the union in a row over how planned changes would affect patient safety. He said the dispute concerned £46m of cuts and plans to introduce a care assistant role – for which there would be six weeks' training – to replace ambulance technicians. "We say that's not sufficient to turn up to emergencies and provide life-saving patient care," Cunliffe said on a picket line at ambulance headquarters in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on Tuesday. "It's not a political decision. I'm not sure what alternative we have. "Our members are left with no voice in the National Health Service. That's unacceptable to us and we won't be silenced." Cunliffe warned Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust: "You must listen to us on patient safety issues." The majority of ambulance staff, including members of other unions, were continuing to work. Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust said it expected the action to put pressure on services but provisions had been made. Source: Guardian