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Medical News Summary – 10th October 2016

Welcome back to The Medic Portal’s News Summary blog. We post the key things you need to know about medical and health news every week. This summary will cover the biggest stories from the 3rd October to the 9th October.

This week has seen research published that indicates obesity and lifestyle factors are accountable for seven in every ten deaths. In addition to this, a new immunotherapy drug has shown promising results in treating head and neck cancer, and a study published has found no link between night shifts and the development of breast cancer.

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Bad diets and unhealthy lifestyles are the biggest threat to life expectancy

A study published in the Lancet this week has shown that bad diets and unhealthy lifestyles have become the largest threat to life expectancy. The research that involved almost 200 countries found that although global life expectancy is increasing due to improvements in sanitation and vaccination programmes, life expectancy increase is being hindered by the obesity crisis. In 2015, 71.3% of deaths were caused by non-infectious diseases a substantial increase from the 57.6% seen in 1990.

The top risk for death was found to be high blood pressure followed by smoking, high blood sugar and high body mass index. The study also showed that UK adults are spending a longer proportion of their life suffering from ill health. Previous health concerns such as HIV, malaria and measles have been replaced by poor diets, smoking and consuming too much alcohol.

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A new immunotherapy drug has been shown to extend the lives of relapsed cancer patients

An immunotherapy drug, Nivolumab has been shown to extend the lives of relapsed patients diagnosed with head and neck cancers who had run out of therapy options. After a year of treatment 36% of patients on the trial were still alive in comparison to 17% of patients who were only given conventional chemotherapy. Advanced head and neck cancers resistant to chemotherapy are extremely difficult to treat and patients on average survive for less than six months. Nivolumab is the only drug so far that has been shown to improve survival in these patients. Prior to being offered on the NHS, the drug will need to be approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the European Medicines Agency which determines a drug’s cost-effectiveness.

A recently published study has found no link between working night shifts and an increased risk of developing breast cancer. In 2007, a review published by the World Health Organisation found seven studies that linked sleep disturbances to the development of cancer. The review combined seven UK-based studies that found no link between night-shift work and breast cancer development. The studies were purely observational, so it is possible that night-shift work could increase the chances of smoking or obesity that in turn may cause cancer development.  Experts recommend that those who do work night shifts offset their risk of developing cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular exercise, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption.

Uploaded by Joelle on 10th October 2016.

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