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Medical News, August 8, 2015

Welcome back to this week’s news summary. This edition will be covering the latest in medical news that occurred between the 2nd to the 8th of August.

This week has seen the death of anti-thalidomide hero Frances Oldham Kelsey. Dr Kelsey was a Canadian doctor who worked for the US drug agency. In the 1960s Dr Kelsey refused to approve the drug thalidomide due to safety concerns. This prevented many babies from being affected by the side effects of the drug in the US. In 1956 the drug was licensed for prescription-free-over-the-counter sale in most European countries for treating morning sickness. Following this, there was an increase in the number of babies born with birth defects and the drug was taken off the market in 1961.

The UK government is considering giving alcohol advice on binge drink limits. The new guidelines would outline how much people can drink when they binge drink. A study conducted found that people currently ignore recommendations because they seem unrealistic and do not reflect modern lifestyle. The current government advice suggests that men should not regularly exceed three to four units of alcohol per day and women should not have more than two to three units. The research study that was carried out by the University of Sheffield found that many people did not drink alcohol everyday but were likely to drink heavily over the weekend. Due to this, it is recommended that the new guidelines reflect modern day culture.

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition this week has found that white bread and rice could increase the risk of depression in older women. The link is thought to be due to refined foods altering hormone levels this leads to reduced blood sugar levels initiating the symptoms of depression. The study included data collected from 70,000 post-menopausal women. The study suggests that dietary interventions could be used to treat and prevent depression in this patient population, however, further studies need to be completed to see if similar results are found in a broader population.

Research conducted at King’s College London has shown that children with ADHD who have higher IQs are more likely to grow out of the condition than those with an average IQ. ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is the most common behavioural disorder in the UK affecting around one in every 20 children. In two-thirds of individuals the condition persists into early adulthood. The study followed 110 young people with ADHD and compared them to 169 controls over a six year period. IQ was tested alongside attention, reaction time and levels of drowsiness. The researchers found that the individuals who had grown out of the condition had higher IQs than the individuals in which the ADHD persisted.

The Medical Research Council and Innovate UK have contributed £18 million collectively to fund medical innovation projects. A project that is being supported by the fund is Oxford University’s development of an ultimate flu vaccine. The vaccine is hoped to attack the core of the flu virus rather than one particular strain. This means that one vaccine could be used to treat multiple flu viruses. One project that is being supported looks at improving wound dressing for burns and another aims to develop a device that can be used at home to detect lung infections caused by both bacteria and fungi.

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