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Medical News, November 15th 2015

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Medical News summary blog. This week’s edition covers from the 8th to the 15th of November and shows the main news stories relating to health.

To start the medical news off, a new report this week has shown that the obesity rates in America have been rising again for the first time since 2004. Data shows that although there was a steep increase in obesity from 1980 to 2004 the incline had been levelling off. However, the recent numbers from a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that this is no longer the case. The national survey included around 5,000 people living in America. The figures have increased from 32% in 2004 to 38% in 2013-2014. National campaigns have been rolled out across America in a bid to lower obesity rates, for example Michelle Obama headed a “Let’s Move” campaign that aimed to get young adults to exercise and eat healthily. One of the thoughts as to why these campaigns are no longer working is that people are not paying attention to messages of healthy eating. The new thoughts are that these national campaigns should focus on exercise rather than diet.

This week also in medical news, the British Medical Association is set to hold a ballot on Wednesday. 40,000 junior doctors are thought to be taking part in the ballot and will decide whether or not to take industrial action over proposed changed to their contracts. It is believed that the strike would involve junior doctors only providing emergency care on the 1st of December as well as carrying out an 8am until 5pm walk-out on the 8th and 16th of December. Junior doctors are concerned that the removal of financial penalties against trusts who overwork their junior doctors will impact on patient safety. The UK Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt has said that he feels the strike would “harm vulnerable patients”. The government is urging the British Medical Association to come back to talks to negotiate the contract rather than allowing industrial action.

Researchers are supporting the idea that phones, tablets and e-readers should have an automatic “bedtime mode” to stop them from disturbing people’s sleep. Professor Paul Gringras has argued that setting a filter to block out blue light could help people’s sleep. In previous medical news, it has been proposed that the blue light transmitted by phones delays the body clock and is thought to keep people awake for longer periods during the evenings. Researchers are urging manufacturers to show more responsibility when producing new models, as currently the screens are getting bluer and brighter than their predecessors. Our bodies naturally produce melatonin, a sleep hormone, during the evenings. Light at the blue-green end of the spectrum has been shown to disrupt this system.  

Finally, in this week’s medical news, the biotechnology company Editas Medicine is planning to start human trials to edit genetics that are linked with blindness. It is thought that humans who have had their DNA altered could exist within two years if the trial goes ahead according to plans. The trial aims to target genes that are linked to the blinding disorder Leber’s congenital amaurosis. The condition effects the function of the retina and appears at birth, or within the first months of life causing sufferers to eventually go blind. Scientists at Editas Medicine in the US believe that they are able to correct the condition using a gene-editing technology known as Crispr. They are aiming to trial the technology on blind patients in 2017 and this would be the first occasion that the technique has been used on humans. The method is somewhat controversial as it changes a person’s genetic sequence which can then be passed onto their offspring. Due to this, some people are worried that it could lead to unintended consequences on the genome or designer babies.

Uploaded by Alessandra on November 16th, 2015

 

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