Healthcare, medicine & pharmaceuticals

The meek will not inherit the earth

A study by the University of Chicago has found that animals that are frightened by new things are 60% more likely to die than animals that are open to new experiences. Could the same be true with companies and people?

Source: National Academy of Sciences (US).

One way ticket

If you want to kill yourself in Switzerland you will need to have lived in the country for six months first. The move is a reaction by the Swiss government to the growing number of ‘suicide tourists’ who visit the country (temporarily) to attend legalised euthanasia clinics.

Source: Daily Telegraph (UK).

We all die of something

Pessimists are more likely to get depression and die of heart disease but optimists are more likely to be involved in car crashes (because they don’t leave enough time to get where they’re going and end up speeding).

Source: The Atlantic Monthly (US).

Dirty work

The average desktop has 400 times as much bacteria as a toilet seat. Bad news for 63% of US workers who eat lunch at their desks according to a study by the American Dietetic Association.

Source: Asian Wall Street Journal (HK).

Lighten up

Smoking should be made a criminal act according to the medical journal The Lancet (some smokers might say it feels like it already is)

Source: The Times (UK).


Fitsmart is an Internet based business in Australia that offers subscribers personalised fitness, diet programs and meal plans. The cost of the service is AUS $ 6.55 a week which includes motivational coaching from 10 sports stars.

Source: Australian Financial Review (AUS).

Rose tinted?

Scientists at UCL and Kings College London say they have found a way to treat anxiety and paranoia with virtual reality glasses.

Source: The Times/Journal of Nervous & Mental Disorders (UK).

The drugs don't work

90% of drugs only work for 30% of people.

Source: The Times (UK).

The psychic power of plants

A report from the American Psychomatic Society conference says that patients get better faster if they can see trees from their hospital window.

Source: The Times (UK).

Thin goes global

A survey conducted by the University of Zululand has found that almost half of young women were suffering from eating disorders. Apparently looking thin is associated with progress and modern thinking.

Source: The Independent (UK).


Researchers in Italy have been testing a remote monitoring system that uses text messaging on mobile phones to assess the health of cancer patients. Patients are sent a short questionnaire that can be answered using a normal key pad. Answers are up-loaded onto a secure website and any serious symptoms are flashed up next to the patients name.

Source: The Guardian (UK).

Single study

Being alone can be bad for your health according to a group of scientists at Chicago University in the US. Meanwhile, another US study has found that single men have a greater chance of gum disease than married men, while other American research says that people that are anxious are twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: The Times (UK).

Eat more Curry

Could the low levels of Alzheimer’s disease in India be caused by the national dish curry? Researchers in Italy and the US have found that a substance called curcumin (found in the natural colouring turmeric which is used in curries) helps the body to produce antioxidants which in turn fight free radicals.

Source: The Guardian (UK).


Between 1-3% of people are phobic about needles (or, more precisely, injections) so a new technique called microscission might be an answer. The idea is to use a tiny jet of gas to open up the pores and deliver the necessary medication. In theory, the same technology could be used to take blood out.

Source: The Sunday Times (UK).

All misty eyed

A study in the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery says that laser eye treatment is less effective in summer months. Humidity is thought to be the culprit.

Source: The Times (UK).

Can bad be good?

Nicotine can be good for you according to a report in The Journal of Neurochemistry. Nicotine slows down the production of microglia, which can otherwise lead to degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s (assuming the cancer doesn’t get you first of course!). So why is nobody developing nicotine based drugs? Theoretically it’s because of problems around Intellectual Property, but we suspect image might have something to do with it.

Source: The Journal of Neurochemistry (UK).

Every breadth you take

25% of Britains are expected to die from respiratory diseases in the future and the UK has the highest rate of breathing problems in Europe (except Ireland). Diseases like asthma, tuberculosis and pneumonia are on the increase but the government is doing little to fund specialists in the area.

Source: The Times (UK).

Remember to take your pills

In 10 years time we will be able to buy pills to remove unwanted memories or find things lost in the sands of time according to Nobel scientist Eric Kandal. The US Food and Drug Administration is currently trailing over 40 memory drugs.

Source: BBC (UK).

Photographic memory

Researchers at Victoria University (Canada) have found that volunteers who were shown real childhood photographs were more easily misled about early childhood experiences than others who were not. The study has implications for false memory syndrome.

Source: The Times (UK).

Animal Innovation

The animals are innovating too. Mutant pests that are treatment resistant and may soon be out of control in some countries include head lice, bed bugs, cockroaches and rats.

Source: The Times (UK).

Nature versus nurture

Are we born good or bad and are we the result of nature (destiny) or nurture (possibility)? These questions have been debated for years and despite developments in genetics we are no nearer understanding what makes us tick. There has been progress in identifying what makes certain people bad or ill but we have hardly scratched the surface in terms of understanding character or intelligence.

Source: The Independent (UK).

Pass the musesli!

Here’s a way to get your husband to eat healthy food. According to the American Journal of Cardiology fatty foods can cause erectile dysfunction.

Source: The Times (UK).

Peacetime use of wartime technology

An invention originally used to trace soviet spacecraft is being used to treat breast cancer. The product has been developed by MIT in the US.

Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology (US).

Menthol mix

Mixing menthol with anti-inflamatory creams significantly increased their painkilling effects according to the American Physiology Conference.

Source: The Times (UK).

Losing your anonymity

UK Donor Link is a register that allows children conceived from donated sperm or eggs to trace their real parents.
At present donors can only be contacted if they agree, but from 2005 they will loose the option of anonymity.

Source: The Times (UK).

Emotional injuries

If individuals can now be prosecuted for inflicting verbal abuse, how long will it be before fathers are sued by children for emotional trauma caused by absence?

Source: What's Next.

Growing fast

The average child’s waist size in Britain has increased by 4cm over the last 10 years.

Source: British Medical Journal (UK).

Worrying trend

What do children worry about these days? According to the University of Leeds (UK) the answer is school and careers. Interestingly, the number of children that worry about their appearance has declined by 10% since 1990 but it’s still the biggest worry for 14 and 15 year old girls.

Source: The Times (UK).

Mumbo jumbo takes off

How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World, by Francis Wheen, is a book about how ignorance, paranoia, and superstition are taking over in areas like medicine. Meanwhile research in the UK says that it is the lowest income groups that are the most likely to spend money on alternative therapies.

Source: The Times (UK).

Dental data

A Finnish study says that people with poor teeth and gums are likely to suffer from heart disease (the link is not understood). Meanwhile, only 44% of adults and 60% of children are registered with a dentist in the UK.

Source: The Times (UK).