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Smoking bans cut asthma and premature births by 10%

March 27, 2014 By: Dr Search- Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Doctors, Health Direct, National Health Service, NHS, NHS Deaths, smokers, Uncategorized

Laws banning smoking in public places have had a positive impact on child health, an international study in the Lancet suggests.Smoking bans cut asthma and premature births by 10%Researchers found a 10% reduction in premature births and severe childhood asthma attacks within a year of smoke-free laws being introduced.

A research team analysed 11 previous studies from North America and Europe.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said smoking bans benefitted adults and children.

This is one of the first large studies to look at how anti-smoking laws in different countries and states are affecting the health of children living in those regions.

Laws that prohibit smoking in public places, such as bars, restaurants and workplaces, have already been shown to protect adults from the dangers of passive smoking.

In this study, researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Maastricht University, Hasselt University in Belgium, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital looked at more than 2.5 million births and almost 250,000 hospital attendances for asthma attacks in children.

Dr Jasper Been, lead study author from the Maastricht University Medical Centre in The Netherlands, said the research on children under 12 was revealing.

“Our study provides clear evidence that smoking bans have considerable public health benefits for perinatal and child health, and provides strong support for WHO recommendations to create smoke-free public environments on a national level.”

The study also found a 5% decline in children being born very small for their age after the introduction of smoke-free laws.

Co-author Professor Aziz Sheikh, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts, and the University of Edinburgh, said there was potential to improve the health of more children.

“The many countries that are yet to enforce smoke-free legislation should in the light of these findings reconsider their positions on this important health policy question.”

Previous research suggests that 40% of children worldwide are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, which has been shown to be a cause of respiratory disease and a trigger for asthma attacks in children.

Recent European research also showed that passive smoking causes thickening of children’s arteries which can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes in later life.

Experts say children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of second-hand smoke because their lungs and immune systems are still developing.

At present, 16% of the world’s population is covered by smoke-free laws.

Commenting on the study, Professor Ronnie Lamont from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said the study provided further evidence that smoking bans had substantial health benefits for adults and children.

“Smoking during pregnancy has been shown to have adverse effects on foetal development and pregnant women need to be informed of the risks and should be offered advice and support to help them give up. It is important that healthcare professionals encourage women to lead a healthy lifestyle.”

Dementia- priorities for avoidance and treatment

December 10, 2013 By: Dr Search- Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Dementia, Exercise, Health Direct, smokers

Dementia has been described as a “global disaster waiting to happen” and the biggest health and care problem of a generation.Dementia- priorities for avoidance and treatmentSomeone is diagnosed with the disease every four seconds and cases are expected to soar from 44 million now to 135 million by 2050.

The disease already costs the world £370 billion each year. This week ministers from the G8 major economies are meeting in London to discuss how to tackle this devastating disease.

What is dementia?

  • It’s an umbrella term that describes around 100 diseases in which brain cells die on a huge scale.
  • All damage memory, language, mental agility, understanding and judgement.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form, affecting 62% of those living with dementia.
  • It gets worse with time and eventually people are left completely dependent on carers.
  • It is incurable.

So what are the key actions required?

1) Diagnose dementia early

Early diagnosis will be key to tackling dementia. On the day your doctor tells you that you have dementia you might think that’s the early stages of the disease, but it’s not

It takes 10 to 15 years of brain cells dying before memory problems become noticeable and memory tests lead to a diagnosis.

By this stage a fifth of the core memory centres of the brain will be dead.

It’s why doctors think drug trials have failed, they’re simply trying to treat the disease way too late.

However, developments are being made. It is now possible to see one of the damaged proteins closely tied to Alzheimer’s disease in brain scans, but the challenge is to use these tools to predict the development of dementia.

Other methods, such as finding chemicals in the blood which might predict the onset of dementia, are being investigated as well.

Dementia is also not one disease, but many. Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies all have similar symptoms, but may need different treatments. Scientists will need to come up with techniques which can readily distinguish between different forms of dementia.

2) Stop brain cells dying

Currently, there is no drug which can halt or even slow the progression of any form of dementia.

A lot of hope was placed on two potential Alzheimer’s drugs – solanezumab and bapineuzumab – but they failed in trials which showed no benefits for cognition.

However, there were hints that solanezumab may work in people with the earliest stages of the disease. A new trial has started looking at patients with mild dementia.

A cure is obviously the dream, but just slowing the pace of the disease would deliver massive rewards. Delaying dementia by five years could halve the number of people living with the disease.

3) Develop drugs to treat the symptoms

There are dementia drugs, which help people to live with the condition, but there are not enough.

Medication can boost the chemical signalling between surviving brain cells. But the last new medicine, memantine, was approved by the US in 2003. Since then there’s been nothing.

4) Find ways to reduce the risk

Want to massively cut the risk of lung cancer? Don’t smoke. Want to avoid a heart attack? Then exercise and have a healthy diet. Don’t want dementia? Then the answer is less certain.

Age is the biggest risk factor. In the UK, one in three people over the age of 95 has dementia, but there’s not much that you can do about that.

Many of the familiar messages – exercise and eat healthily – have been linked to preventing or delaying the onset of dementia. But the full picture of how family history, lifestyle choices and the environment combine to result in dementia is still unclear.

Prof Peter Passmore, from the British Geriatrics Society and Queen’s University Belfast, says the best advice so far is: “To do what’s healthy for the heart to reduce blood vessel damage to the brain.

So avoid obesity, don’t smoke, regular exercise, control blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol.

5) Work out the best care

Dementia has huge costs for society, but medical bills account for only a small fraction of the overall bill. The real cost is in time in care homes and the lost income of families quitting work to care for relatives.

Research will also need to focus on the best ways to care for patients with dementia and to keep them independent for as long as possible.

Studies have already shown that antipsychotic prescriptions can be halved with the correct training for staff.

NHS told to ban all smoking in hospitals

November 26, 2013 By: Dr Search- Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cancer, Health Direct, health insurance, NHS Deaths, NICE, smokers, Uncategorized

The NHS must stop turning a “blind eye” to smoking and ban it in all hospital grounds in England, according to new guidance.NHS told to ban all smoking in hospitalsThe National Institute for Curbing Expenditure (NICE) said that it wanted to see smoking shelters scrapped so patients, visitors and staff could not light up.

Staff should also stop helping patients out of their beds to go for a smoke. And patients who smoke must be identified and offered help to quit, the guidance added.

It said nurses, doctors and other staff could give brief advice and then refer smokers on to NHS stopping smoking services.

Smoking rates are particularly high among mental health patients with one in three smoking, rising to 70% in psychiatric units.  That compares with the one in five among the general population who are smokers.

The guidance, which is voluntary for the NHS to follow, even suggested staff caught smoking should be disciplined.

NICE conceded some parts of the NHS had already adopted these approaches, but said the idea of the guidance was to make sure it became consistent across the health service.

NICE public health director Prof Mike Kelly said the NHS had turned a “blind eye” for too long.

“It has been tolerated by the NHS and it is high time that stopped.  NHS hospitals and staff have a duty of care to protect the health of people who use or work in their services. We need to end the terrible spectacle of people on drips in hospital gowns smoking outside hospital entrances.”

In practice, he said, doctors and nurses could provide nicotine replacement therapies and advise patients about counselling to ensure they were not “going up the wall” with nicotine cravings.

He acknowledged that stopping a determined smoker from going outside to light up was “clearly very difficult”.

“This is not about imposing some sort of penal regime in which doctors, nurses, administrators spend all their time trying to enforce a series of rules and regulations.

He said it was about a culture shift and removing smoking shelters would help eliminate any subliminal message that it was ok to smoke around a hospital.

Cancers increase by 40% due to bad lifestyles

June 27, 2013 By: Dr Search- Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cancer, Diets, Drugs, Exercise, Healthcare, NHS Deaths, Obesity, Preventable Crisis, smokers, Uncategorized

Cancers caused by smoking, drinking and excessive sunbathing have soared in the past decade- official statistics have revealed.Cancers increase by 40% due to bad lifestylesThe figures, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal large increases in the incidence of so called “lifestyle” related cancers.

The biggest rise has been in the rate of malignant skin cancer, which has increased by 56 per cent among men and 38 per cent among women since 2002.

The ONS said the increase in skin cancer rates was probably due to changes in clothing over the last century and growing levels of sunbathing.

Oral cancers, which have been linked to smoking and poor diet, have increased by 37 per cent while kidney cancer has increased by 25 per cent in men and 36 per cent in women.

Overall new cases of cancer in England rose by almost a fifth between 2002 and 2011- when 274,233 patients were diagnosed.

Nick Ormiston-Smith, statistical information manger at Cancer Research UK, said that the figures showed how poor lifestyle choices were creating health problems for people in later life.

He said: “Forty per cent of cancers can be attributed to lifestyle factors so swapping some bad habits for healthier ones can help reduce the risk of developing the disease.

“Smoking increases the risk of at least 14 forms of cancer including lung, bowel, pancreatic and mouth.

“Cutting down on alcohol, keeping to a healthy weight, avoiding sunburn and being more active can also help reduce the risk of many cancers.

“Leading a healthy life doesn’t guarantee you won’t get cancer but it can stack the odds in your favour.”

The figures show that the number of cancers to be diagnosed in England in 2011 were 359,020, with nearly 85,000 of those being non-melanoma skin cancers.

Around 6,000 people were diagnosed with oral cancers while more than 11,000 were found to be suffering from malignant melanoma.

As skin cancer can develop decades after damage caused by ultraviolet radiation, growing numbers of people are expected to be diagnosed with the disease.

The report said: “These increases are considered to be due to changes in exposure to solar UV rays as a result of altered patterns of behaviour in recent decades, such as choice of clothing and recreational sunbathing.”

The number of men diagnosed with lung cancer was 19,173 – a reduction of 11 per cent since 2002. However, among women, lung cancer increased by 15 per cent to 15,675.

The ONS said: “The majority of lung cancer cases occur as a result of tobacco smoking, with around one in five cases in the UK being attributable to diet and occupational exposures.

“While men remain more likely to smoke than women, the gap has narrowed.”

Breast cancer was the most prevalent diagnosis among women, with figures increasing by 5.5 per cent since 2002 to 41,523.

It is estimated that about 27 per cent of these are linked to lifestyle and environmental factors such as alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity and hormonal factors.

Prostate cancer was the most common cancer among men, with 35,567 patients being diagnosed in 2011.

Obese women restricted in NHS IVF treatments

May 16, 2013 By: Dr Search- Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Doctors, Health, IVF, maternity, NHS Cash Shortages, NHS Targets, Obesity, Pregnancy, Sexual Health, smokers, Uncategorized, weight loss

New NHS IVF treatment rules have been drawn up in Scotland.
Obese women restricted in NHS IVF treatmentsCouples who need help conceiving will be guaranteed two free infertility treatments from 1 July, however the treatments will only be available to those under 40, and it will not be offered to women who are obese.

In addition, couples need to have been in a stable relationship for two years and neither partner can smoke for three months before treatment begins.

Both partners also need to be methadone-free for a year before IVF starts

If either partner smokes they will need to have stopped before treatment is commenced

Women aged between 40 and 42 will be eligible for one cycle of fertility treatment if they have never previously undergone the procedure.

The new IVF criteria has been approved by the Scottish government.

The guarantees came as the National Infertility Group published a report with recommendations on new criteria.

The eligibility criteria for free fertility treatment in Scotland currently includes a female age limit of 39; the patient must not already have a child living at home; and they must have had less than three previous funded embryo transfers.

Scotland’s Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said the government was committed to “providing fair, reliable and faster access to IVF treatment”.

He insisted that it was important to end the different approaches across the country and to offer “equity”.

“We are investing £12 million over three years to help drive down waiting times for IVF treatments, and waiting times are already reducing in a number of NHS board areas.

“We also have to be responsible about the effects of smoking and obesity on pregnancy and beyond. Smoking not only reduces the effectiveness of IVF, but also doubles the risk of pregnancy loss.

“NHS boards will offer patients the support needed to make the lifestyle changes demanded of the new criteria.

“The safety of mother and baby is of utmost importance and the recommendations will ensure healthier outcomes for both families and babies born as a result of IVF treatment.”

Smoking may worsen a hangover research concludes

March 14, 2013 By: Dr Search- Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Doctors, Health Direct, Health Websites, Preventable Crisis, Risk of Drugs, smokers, Social Health, Uncategorized

Smoking may worsen a hangover after drinking heavily US research concludes-  although the reason why is unclear.Smoking may worsen a hangover research concludesResearchers asked 113 US students to keep a diary for eight weeks, recording their drinking and smoking habits and any hangover symptoms.

When they drank heavily- around six cans of beer an hour – those who also smoked suffered a worse hangover.

Addiction charities hope this study may motivate smokers to cut down.

The study’s findings are reported in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

One of the paper’s authors, Dr Damaris Rohsenow, from the Centre for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University said: “At the same number of drinks, people who smoke more that day are more likely to have a hangover and have more intense hangovers.”

“And smoking itself was linked to an increased risk of hangover compared with not smoking at all.  That raises the likelihood that there is some direct effect of tobacco smoking on hangovers.”

The students from a Midwestern university in the US reported on the number of drinks consumed, number of cigarettes smoked and their hangover symptoms – which included if they felt more tired than usual, had a headache, felt nauseated and had difficulty concentrating.

The researchers then estimated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) which helped control for differences between sexes as it took into account weight and the period over which the student drank alcohol.

After analysing the results, the researchers found that smoking more heavily the day before increased the presence and severity of hangover the next day – but only after a heavy drinking episode, estimated at a BAC of 110mg/dl or greater – the equivalent of around six cans of beer an hour.

The reasons why are unclear- but the study suggests it may down to the toxicological and pharmacological effects of nicotine on the nervous system.

From: http://multi-vitamins.eu/smoking-may-worsen-a-hangover-us-research-concludes

Lung cancer overtakes breast cancer as most deadly form of disease among UK women

March 05, 2013 By: Dr Search- Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cancer, Doctors, Health Direct, Health Professionals, NHS Deaths, Patients, Preventable Crisis, smokers, Uncategorized

Deaths from lung cancer have overtaken deaths from breast cancer as it becomes the most lethal form of the disease among British women, new research has shown.Lung cancer overtakes breast cancer as most deadly form of disease among UK womenLung cancer kills 16,000 women a year in the UK, compared with 12,000 for breast cancer.

The rise in lung cancer is attributed to the rise in young women taking up smoking the late 1960s and 1970s.

The Europe wide study shows that despite an overall decline in cancer deaths, mortality rates from lung cancer among women continues to rise across the continent, up seven per cent to around 82,000 since 2009.

This year experts predict breast cancer to kill 88,886 women in Europe and lung cancer to kill 82,640.

Professor Carlo La Vecchia, one of the study authors from the University of Milan in Italy, said if trends continue lung cancer will become the most lethal form of the disease in Europe.

She said: “If these opposite trends in breast and lung cancer rates continue, then in 2015 lung cancer is going to become the first cause of cancer mortality in Europe.”

“This is already true in the UK and Poland, the two countries with the highest rates: 21.2 and 17.5 per 100,000 women respectively.”

“This predicted rise of female lung cancer in the UK may reflect the increased prevalence of young women starting smoking in the late 1960s and 1970s, possibly due to changing socio-cultural attitudes at that time.”

“However, fewer young women nowadays in the UK and elsewhere in Europe are smoking and, therefore, deaths from lung cancer may start to level off after 2020 at around 15 per 100,000 women.”

There has also been a steady reduction in breast cancer deaths across Europe in the last four years.

Prof La Vecchia added: “This reflects the important and accumulating advances in the treatment, as well as screening and early diagnosis, of the disease.”

The study, published in the Annals of Oncology, looked at cancer rates in all 27 European Union member countries, as well as six individual countries – France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK.

It looked at all cancers but focused on stomach, intestine, pancreas, lung, prostate, breast, uterus (including cervix) and leukaemias.

The study found that an estimated 1.3 million people will die from cancer -737,747 men and 576,489 women- in the 27 countries of the EU in 2013.

Though that number has increased since 2009, as there have been more cases in that period, the rate at which people have died has actually declined, six per cent in men and four per cent in women.

Lung cancer is still the main cause of cancer death among men, with nearly 187,000 deaths predicted for 2013, giving a death rate of 37.2 per 100,000 men.

FromL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Lung-cancer-overtakes-breast-cancer-as-most-deadly-form-of-disease-among-UK-women

Tax fizzy drinks and ban junk food ads say doctors

February 19, 2013 By: Dr Search- Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Diets, Doctors, Healthcare, NHS Deaths, Obesity, smokers, Uncategorized, weight loss

Fizzy drinks should be heavily taxed and junk food adverts banished until after the watershed, doctors have said, in a call for action over obesity.Tax fizzy drinks and ban junk food ads say doctorsThe Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which represents nearly every doctor in the UK, said ballooning waistlines already constituted a “huge crisis”.

Its report said current measures were failing and called for unhealthy foods to be treated more like cigarettes.

The UK is one of the most obese nations in the world with about a quarter of adults classed as obese. That figure is predicted to double by 2050 – a third of primary school leavers are already overweight.

Doctors fear that a rising tide of obesity will pose dire health consequences for the nation.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges is a “united front” of the medical profession from surgeons to GPs and psychiatrists to paediatricians. It says its doctors are seeing the consequences of unhealthy diets every day and that it has never come together on such an issue before.

Its recommendations include:

  • A ban on advertising foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt before 9pm
  • Further taxes on sugary drinks to increase prices by at least 20%
  • A reduction in fast food outlets near schools and leisure centres
  • A £100 million budget for interventions such as weight-loss surgery
  • No junk food or vending machines in hospitals, where all food must meet the same nutritional standards as in schools
  • Food labels to include calorie information for children

Prof Terence Stephenson, the chair of the Academy, evoked parallels with the campaign against smoking.

“That required things like a ban on advertising and a reduction in marketing and the association of smoking with sporting activities – that helped people move away from smoking.”

He said there was no “silver-bullet” for tackling obesity, instead the entire culture around eating needed to change to make it easier to make healthy decisions.

“I choose what I eat or whether I smoke, what people have told us is they want help to swim with the tide rather than against the current to make the healthy choice the easy one,” he said.

While the report makes a raft of recommendations, Prof Stephenson attacked sugary drinks for being “just water and sugar” and lambasted a culture where it was deemed acceptable to drink a litre of fizzy drink at the cinema.

A tax was needed to help “encourage people to drink more healthy drinks,” he said.

“Doctors are often accused of playing the nanny state, we didn’t hear from a single person who said they liked being overweight, everybody we met wanted help from the state and society.

“If we didn’t have things like this we wouldn’t have speed limits that save lives, we wouldn’t have drink-driving limits that save lives, there’s a host of things that society and state does to help us live long, healthy fulfilling lives and we’re just suggesting something similar.”

Children as young as 12 given nicotine patches on the NHS- which parental knowldege

January 24, 2013 By: Dr Search- Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cancer, Care Professionals, Health, Nanny State, NHS Cash Shortages, Nurses, smokers, Uncategorized

Children as young as 12 are being given nicotine patches by NHS nurses at school- without the knowledge or permission from their parents.Children as young as 12 given nicotine patches on the NHSThe patches are being distributed by nurses employed by NHS South West Essex who visit schools every fortnight and speak to the children confidentially.

NHS guidelines say children as young as 12 can access nicotine patches from chemists and GPs throughout the country, but it’s up to each primary care trust what services they offer.

Parents at one school in Basildon, Essex voiced concerns that parents weren’t being told about the service.

Danielle Northcott, 39, whose 13-year-old daughter Amaris is a pupil at Basildon with Woodlands School in Takely End, Essex, where patches are distributed, said: “Woodlands is a good school and even though I didn’t know the nicotine patches were available I would rather her have that than a cigarette in her mouth.

“As parents I do think we should have been consulted on it and the school should have been clear about it.

“Some parents will not agree with the meetings between the child and the nurse being confidential and it will divide opinion. The only thing that worries me is that the patches will become a status symbol and children could want them just to look cool in front of their friends.”

NHS South West Essex employs health group Vitality to run the service.

Vitality also offers children advice on weight loss and well-being and also issues the patches to children at drop in sessions across Basildon at the Laindon Health Centre, Pitsea Health Clinic, and the Basildon Centre.

New research shows that over 30 per cent of UK smokers keep their habit under wraps and more than 50 per cent say the person they most want to hide their habit from is their mother.

A spokesman for North East London NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Vitality service, said: “Encouraging young people to quit smoking may prevent them from taking up the habit longer term, and so it is important they have somewhere to find confidential support for this.

“NHS stop smoking support is provided locally by GPs, community pharmacies and specialist stop smoking services, who are able to offer a range of advice and support on stopping smoking to people aged 12 and over, in line with NHS and NICE (National Institute of Curbing Expenditure) guidelines.

“This support is provided by healthcare professionals such as school nurses or health improvement practitioners, and may include nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) provided the young person is assessed as competent to consent to using this product.

“The use of NRT is fully explained to the young person.  We always encourage young people to inform their parents or carers if they are having support with quitting smoking or having NRT, but they are not obliged to do so.”

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Children-as-young-as-12-given-nicotine-patches-on-the-NHS

Number of children with asthma admitted to hosptal falls since smoking ban

January 21, 2013 By: Dr Search- Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Accident & Emergencies, Doctors, Health Direct, Preventable Crisis, smokers, Uncategorized

The number of children with symptoms of asthma who have been admitted to hospital  has fallen since the ban on smoking in public places came into effect.Number of children with asthma admitted to hosptal falls since smoking banResearch shows there was a 12.3% fall in admissions in the first year after the law came into place in July 2007, and these have continued to drop in subsequent years, suggesting that the benefits of the legislation were sustained over time.

NHS statistics analysed by researchers at Imperial College London showed the fall was equivalent to 6,802 fewer hospital admissions in the first three years of the law coming into effect.

The findings Hospital Admissions for Childhood Asthma After Smoke-Free Legislation in England have been published in the journal Pediatrics.

Asthma affects one in every 11 children in the UK.

Before the ban was implemented, hospital admissions for children suffering a severe asthma attack were increasing by 2.2% per year, peaking at 26,969 admissions in 2006/07.

The findings show the trend reversed immediately after the law came into effect, with lower admission rates among boys and girls of all ages, in both wealthy and poor neighbourhoods and in cities and rural areas.

Previous studies have shown that hospital admissions for childhood asthma fell after smoke-free legislation was introduced in Scotland and North America.

The smoking ban in England has also been found to have reduced the rate of heart attacks.

Dr Christopher Millett, from Imperial College London’s School of Public Health, led the study.

He said: “There is already evidence that eliminating smoking from public places has resulted in substantial population health benefits in England, and this study shows that those benefits extend to reducing hospital admissions for childhood asthma.

“Previous studies have also suggested that the smoke-free law changed people’s attitudes about exposing others to second-hand smoke and led more people to abstain from smoking voluntarily at home and in cars.

“We think that exposing children to less second-hand smoke in these settings probably played an important role in reducing asthma attacks.

“The findings are good news for England, and they should encourage countries where public smoking is permitted to consider introducing similar legislation.”