Assaults between care home residents reported daily
Older person holding walking stick

Police recorded 1,200 assaults between residents living at care homes between 2014 and 2016, the BBC has found.

More than one assault a day was reported in England and Wales, an investigation by File on 4 revealed.

Some care workers said they were not always given full information about who might pose a risk.

The Care Quality Commission, the health regulator in England, said it was the responsibility of care providers to protect residents from harm or abuse.

Alison Wallace Wood’s father, Allan Wallace, died less than three weeks after being assaulted at Mapleford Nursing Home in Accrington, Lancashire, in October 2015.

“They found my father on the floor in a very distressed state, bleeding from head wounds,” she said.

“It appeared that he’d been kicked in the head and the chap was wearing steel toe cap boots which nobody was aware of. He was very, very bruised, very incoherent, semi-conscious really. Bruising around the ears, around the head, on the hands. He looked a mess.”

Allan, who was 86 and had dementia, never recovered from the altercation. An inquest into his death ruled that he died from natural causes contributed to by the injuries he sustained.

Image copyrightWallace family
Image caption Allan Wallace died shortly after being assaulted by another care home resident

The other resident also had dementia and had previously spent time in a psychiatric unit and other care homes.

He arrived at the home in July 2015 but very quickly staff asked the authorities to relocate him.

General manager Julie Hammond said: “After two weeks, we’d already served him notice knowing that we wouldn’t be able to meet his needs. He was too unpredictable and he could be a danger to other residents. We wanted him moving.”

The home said it was only after the assault that they found out the man had previously shown challenging behaviour.

“He’d been in two or three care homes and there’d been similar incidents, serious incidents in which there was aggression and serious injury to other service users.

“We weren’t aware of that information. If we’d have known that we wouldn’t have accepted that gentleman into this home,” Julie Hammond said.

At the inquest it was found that additional requested external support was not provided in a “timely and appropriate manner”.

A review is due to be carried out by Lancashire Safeguarding Adults Board.

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, who placed the man at Mapleford Nursing Home, said: “When challenging behaviour is a factor this can lead to difficulties and delays in trying to find suitable care home placements that are able to accommodate people with such needs.”

‘Kicking and pushing’

Figures obtained by File on 4 show that assaults among residents are not uncommon.

Some 28 of the UK’s 45 police forces responded to Freedom of Information requests asking how many resident-on-resident assaults were recorded by the police at care, nursing and residential homes for adults during the three-year period from 2014 to 2016.

Some forces also provided brief descriptions of alleged incidents including a resident who assaulted another by kicking and pushing, causing the other resident to suffer a fractured arm.

Another said: “Care staff attends residents room to find two residents, both bloody and confused. Neither can provide an account of what happened.”

What do authorities say?

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, which represents providers, said: “That it’s being reported to the police is a good thing, because that shows care homes are not keeping this information to themselves.

“As we see more people with different types of dementias and exhibiting more challenging behaviours, we have to have a system that’s ready to respond to that.”

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which monitors and regulates care homes in England, told the programme: “People living in care homes should feel safe and be protected from harm – and it is the responsibility of those who are in charge of running these services to ensure this happens. Should CQC find this is not happening, we will always take action that holds providers to account.”

Margaret Willcox, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: “In cases where a person’s behaviour is more challenging for a care home to manage, it is essential the person is assessed, preferably by both a social care professional and the NHS.”

ADASS added there was a need for more providers who can care for those with challenging behaviour.

Listen to more on this story on File on 4, on Tuesday 23 May at 20:00 BST on BBC Radio 4.

‘Half a glass of wine every day’ increases breast cancer risk
Woman drinking a glass of red wineImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption The link between alcohol and breast cancer is well-known but it’s just one of many risk factors

Further evidence has emerged of the link between alcohol consumption in women and an increased risk of breast cancer.

According to a report from the World Cancer Research Fund, half a glass of wine or a small beer a day increases the risk of breast cancer.

It also backs up research showing that regular intensive exercise can reduce the risk of the disease.

But is it really that simple?

Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women in the UK with one in eight women developing the disease during their lifetime.

But scientists say they can’t explain why the cancer occurs in some people and not in others.

There are numerous causes and lots of factors to take into account, including lifestyle, hormone levels and other medical conditions.

Basically, it’s a complex picture and there’s no point focusing on one factor only.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Your risk of breast cancer is linked to the genes in your family

So what are the risk factors for breast cancer?

For a start, there are some factors you cannot control such as your sex, age, height, genes and when you started your periods.

Being a woman, over 50 and past the menopause, and having a history of breast cancer in your family, all increase your risk of getting the disease.

Being tall and starting periods before the age of 12 are thought to increase the risk too.

Cancer Research UK lists 18 different factors which could cause breast cancer to some degree. Alcohol is only one of them.

What does this report say?

It says there are ways women can lower their risk of breast cancer by focusing on factors they can control, like diet, weight and exercise.

After analysing more than 100 studies that examined the medical history of 12 million women, the report backs up current advice to be aware of alcohol consumption.

The report found evidence that drinking an extra small glass of wine every day (10g of alcohol) increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer after the menopause by 9%.

What does that really mean?

It means that in a group of 100 women, around 13 would be likely to develop breast cancer anyway.

And if they all drank an additional small glass of wine every day, one extra case might develop among the original group.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Doing intensive exercise regularly can help to reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer

What about exercise and diet?

When it comes to exercise, the report found that doing more vigorous exercise, like cycling or running, cut the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer by 10% compared to the least active women.

Breastfeeding was also found to lower the risk of the disease before and after the menopause.

And there was limited evidence that eating more leafy vegetables, such as cabbage, spinach and kale, decreased the risk of a less common kind of breast cancer.

We already know that regular physical exercise, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight are important for reducing the risk of lots of diseases, including cancers.

But scientists say all these factors interact with each other and that makes it difficult to tease out which ones are driving the cancer and to what extent.

What is the recommended advice on alcohol intake?

New guidelines were introduced in 2016 which said that men and women should drink no more than 14 units a week – equivalent to six pints of beer or seven glasses of wine – and some days should be free of alcohol altogether.

The UK’s chief medical officers’ advice was based on research which showed that any amount of alcohol can increase the risk of cancer.

Pregnant women are advised not to drink at all.

What’s been the reaction to this report?

Cancer experts say the findings don’t tell us anything new about the link between alcohol and breast cancer, which is already well known.

But if you can, to stack the odds in your favour, they say it is a good idea to have some alcohol-free days during every week and not to increase your drinking.

However, Cancer Research UK says there is no need be alarmed and “go teetotal”.

It is also important to look at the bigger picture.

Drinking alcohol has a greater effect on the risks of several other cancers – including mouth, liver and bowel – than it does on breast cancer, so there is no reason to become fixated on alcohol.

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, says the risks have “to be set against whatever pleasure women might obtain from their drinking”.

The report does not provide absolute risks and as such, Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter, from the University of Cambridge, said it did not seem a good basis for recommending that women give up alcohol completely.

However, Dr Anne McTiernan, lead report author and cancer expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said the evidence regarding breast cancer was clear.

“Having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and limiting alcohol are all steps women can take to lower their risk.”

Conservative social care funding cap: Theresa May defends changes

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWatch: Andrew Neil grills Theresa May over Tory plans for social care in England

Theresa May has defended her changes to the Tory social care policy, as critics called it a “manifesto meltdown”.

The PM told the BBC “nothing has changed” and said rival parties had been “trying to scare” elderly people.

It came after she said earlier that there would be a cap on how much people paid for care – a change from the original policy which included no cap.

She did not say what level the cap would be set at but said it would be in a post-election consultation.

Labour and the Lib Dems said the Conservative social care policy was “in meltdown”.

Since the publication of the Conservative manifesto last week, much attention has been focused on reforms to the way care for elderly and vulnerable adults is funded.

The manifesto did not mention an overall cap on costs, instead proposing a £100,000 “floor” beyond which people’s assets would be protected.

Speaking to activists in Wales earlier, Mrs May said the package would now include an “absolute limit” on the money people would have to pay – triggering accusations that she had made a U-turn.

In her interview, with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, Mrs May denied this and said the principle the policy was based on remained absolutely the same”.


By BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg

Suddenly, only four days after the Tory manifesto was published, Theresa May has added one rather crucial proposal to her social care plan – a limit, or a cap, to the amount of money one individual could be asked to pay.

She is adamant that she is not budging on her principles, and was clearly irritated by questions after her speech that said she was backtracking.

But the manifesto did not include the notion of a cap, and just yesterday ministers publicly rejected such an idea.

Read more from Laura

The whole package will be put out to consultation, Mrs May said, adding that people had been “worried” by the Labour Party saying her reforms could mean they would have to sell their homes to pay for care.

Including an overall cap would mean the Tories were “protecting people for the future,” Mrs May said.

“We are providing a system that provides sustainability in our social care for the future and we have got an ageing population. We need to do this otherwise our system will collapse.”

Since the manifesto launch on Thursday, ministers had been saying the idea of a cap – as proposed by a government review in 2011 – had been rejected.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWatch: Theresa May faces journalists over the “U-turn”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the time that it was “completely explicit” that the idea of a cap had been dropped.

Currently anyone with savings and other assets worth more than £23,250 is expected to pay the full cost of their residential care and the value of their home can be taken into account. But this does not apply to those receiving care in their own home.

Under the Conservative plans, this would change and the value of a person’s homes could, in future, be factored in. However, the money would not be taken until after the person – or their surviving partner – had died and £100,000 from that estate would be protected.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May’s announcement was a “triumph of spin over reality” and the policy had changed very little.

Former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said Theresa May had suffered a “manifesto meltdown” but had still not provided certainty to families about how much they would have to pay for domiciliary care.

In the interview with Andrew Neil, Mrs May also said her cabinet backed her pledge to cut immigration below 100,000, contrary to the claims of ex-chancellor George Osborne – and that a strong economy would help fund the Tories’ £8bn NHS pledge.

She also said an extra £10bn would be spent on NHS buildings and infrastructure, as recommended in a recent government review, with the money to be raised from a “variety of sources”.

The PM refused to rule out future rises to National Insurance contributions for the self-employed but said the issue was “off the table” and that it was her party’s intention to reduce taxes for businesses and working families.

Get the latest election news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning

Blacks More Prone to Colon Cancers That Arise Between Colonoscopies
HealthDay news image

MONDAY, May 22, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Colon cancer guidelines now recommend a colonoscopy every 10 years, beginning at age 50 for people at average risk for the disease.

But a new study finds that older black Americans are far more likely than whites to develop a colon cancer in the decade-long gap between these screenings.

Some of this may be due to where black patients receive their colonoscopy, the researchers said.

“Blacks and other minorities more frequently received colonoscopies from physicians with lower [colon] polyp detection rates, suggesting there was lower quality of care,” said study lead author Stacey Fedewa, a researcher with the American Cancer Society.

Speaking in society news release, she said the findings “are consistent with previous reports that blacks were more likely to receive health care from physicians in lower resource settings.”

In the study, Fedewa’s team tracked data from Medicare recipients, ages 66-75, who underwent colonoscopy screening for colon cancer between 2002 and 2011.

The patients’ health histories were then followed until they died, were no longer enrolled in Medicare, or developed an “interval colorectal cancer.”

Interval colorectal cancer occurs when the disease develops after a screening colonoscopy that finds no sign of cancer (a “negative” finding), but before the patient’s next screening.

According to the researchers, interval colon cancer accounts for up to 8 percent of all cases.

In the new study, black patients had a 31 percent higher risk for interval colon cancer than white patients.

The team also found that the risk was significantly higher for colon cancers occurring in the distal colon — the last and most distant portion of the colon seen on a colonoscopy — compared to the nearer (“proximal”) portion of the tract. Rectal cancers were also more common interval cancers in black versus whites, Fedewa’s group added.

Finally, the researchers said, black patients were more likely than whites to have colonoscopies performed by physicians who had lower polyp detection rates, a measure of physician quality.

However, this difference in physicians did not fully explain the racial discrepancy in risk. Further research in this area is needed given the high rate of colon cancer among blacks, who have the highest incidence and death rates from the disease of any race/ethnic group in the United States, the researchers said.

Two colon cancer specialists said the findings were troubling.

Dr. Patrick Okolo is chief of gastroenterology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He said the study is an “area of personal interest to me as an African-American professor of gastroenterology.”

“The take-home message for any African-American patient — or those who provide care to them — is to redouble all efforts and provide quality care to all patients, including African-Americans undergoing colonoscopy,” Okolo said.

Dr. David Bernstein is a gastroenterologist at Northwell Health in Manhasset, N.Y. Based on the new findings, he believes “current recommendations for interval screening need to be further evaluated in blacks — and blacks may require a shorter interval [than whites] between screening colonoscopies to improve colon cancer detection.”

As to why the discrepancy is there, “the biology of colon cancers in blacks may be different than that in whites, and this also requires further analysis,” Bernstein said.

The study was published May 22 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Frozen ‘space sperm’ passes fertility test
Mice in spaceImage copyrightRobinOlimb/Getty

Healthy baby mice have been born using freeze-dried sperm stored in the near-weightless environment of space.

The Japanese team behind the gravity-breaking experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) say it shows that transporting the seeds of life away from Earth is feasible.

Sperm banks could even be made on the Moon as a back-up for Earth disasters, they told a leading science journal.

It is unclear if this will ever help humans populate space, however.

Space pups

Sustaining life in space is challenging to say the least.

On the ISS, radiation is more than 100 times higher than on Earth. The average daily dose of 0.5mSv from the cosmic rays is enough to damage the DNA code inside living cells, including sperm.

Microgravity also does strange things to sperm.

In 1988, German researchers sent a sample of bull semen into orbit on a rocket and discovered that sperm were able to swim much faster in low gravity, although it was not clear whether this gave a fertility advantage.

Image copyrightPNAS journal
Image caption The space pups grew into healthy adult mice

Another space test showed fish eggs could be fertilised and develop normally during a 15-day orbital flight, suggesting a brief trip into space might not be too harmful for reproduction – at least for vertebrates.

The freeze-dried mouse sperm samples were stored on the space station for nine months before being sent back down to Earth and thawed at room temperature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

Although sperm DNA was slightly damaged by the trip, it still did the job of fertilising mouse eggs and creating apparently healthy “space pups”.

Fertilisation and birth rates were similar to healthy “ground control” mice.

The space pups had only minor differences in their genetic code and grew to adulthood. A select few were allowed to mate and became mums and dads themselves.

Image copyright3DSculptor/Getty

The researchers, Sayaka Wakayama and colleagues from the University of Yamanashi, suspect some of the sperm DNA damage is repaired by the egg once it has been fertilised.

“If sperm samples are to be preserved for longer periods in space, then it is likely that DNA damage will increase and exceed the limit of the [egg] oocyte’s capacity for repair.

“If the DNA damage occurring during long-term preservation is found to have a significant effect on offspring, we will need to develop methods to protect sperm samples against space radiation, such as an ice shield,” they said.

Lunar sperm banks

Once they’ve cracked that, they can set their sights on the Moon sperm banks.

“Underground storage on the Moon, such as in lava tubes, could be among the best places for prolonged or permanent sperm preservation because of their very low temperatures, protection from space radiation by thick bedrock layers, and complete isolation from any disasters on Earth,” the scientists say.

But that still leaves the massive question of whether mammals, including us humans, can permanently live and procreate in space.

Mouse and human studies so far suggest perhaps not.

Prof Joseph Tash, a Nasa-supported physiologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center, said although the latest findings were interesting, the ISS was a somewhat sheltered environment to use as the test zone for space.

“The ISS orbit is within the protection of the Van Allen radiation belt – the magnetic field that diverts most high energy radiation particles from hitting the earth or the ISS.

He said the actual risk of radiation damage at the Moon and beyond would be much higher.

“Ovaries and testes are the most sensitive organs to both acute and chronic radiation exposure.”

He said the feasibility of mammalian reproduction in space beyond the Van Allen belt would depend on the creation of “radiation-hardened” facilities that could protect sperm, eggs and embryos from harm.

“Given the nine month gestation for humans, the pregnant mother would also need to be protected by such a facility. So it presents very real habitat, medical, social, and psychological questions that need to be addressed as well.”

Anabolic Steroids May Tax the Heart
HealthDay news image

MONDAY, May 22, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Long-term use of muscle-building anabolic steroids may take a toll on the heart, researchers say.

Bodybuilders who take these drugs to bulk up should take note: prolonged use of anabolic steroids makes it harder for the heart to function properly. The steroids might also contribute to artery-clogging, study findings showed.

“It is critical that clinicians become aware of the long-term risks of anabolic steroid use on the heart,” said Dr. Harrison Pope Jr., a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and co-lead author of the study.

Anabolic steroids are synthetic variations of the male hormone testosterone. An estimated 2.9 million to 4 million Americans have used these drugs, and about one million are dependent on the pills or injections, the researchers said.

For the new study, Pope and his colleagues tracked 140 male weight-lifters. Eighty-six had used anabolic steroids and 54 hadn’t. Of the steroid users, 28 had discontinued them before the evaluations.

Ultrasound scans enabled the investigators to determine that the hearts of the steroid users were weaker. Current users had lower heart-pumping capacity than those who had stopped using them, the findings showed.

According to the report, seven out of 10 current steroid users had a low pumping capacity (less than 52 percent). In contrast, those who had stopped using steroids or never used them had normal pumping capacity for the most part.

The study was published May 22 in the journal Circulation.

While the findings don’t prove that steroids harm the heart, they suggest there may be cause for concern.

“Most people relate anabolic steroids to cheating among athletes and fail to realize that there is a large population of men who have developed dependence upon these drugs, but who are not readily visible,” Pope said in a journal news release. “The oldest members of this population are only now reaching middle age.”

The researchers also noted that anabolic steroid use was tied to elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels — both risk factors for heart disease.

Study co-lead author Dr. Aaron Baggish, said, “Compared to non-users, anabolic steroid users displayed both higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as a higher prevalence of levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol in their blood.”

Baggish is associate director of the cardiovascular performance program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“This finding places illicit anabolic steroid use on the list of factors clinicians should consider when caring for men with premature disease of the coronary arteries,” Baggish concluded.

Lean-burn physiology gives Sherpas peak-performance
Base Camp LabImage copyrightExtreme Everest
Image caption Science at the top of the world

Nepalese Sherpas have a physiology that uses oxygen more efficiently than those used to the atmosphere at sea level.

This is the finding of a new study that investigated high-altitude adaptation in mountain populations.

The research involved taking muscle samples from mountaineers at 5,300m altitude and even putting them on an exercise bike at Mt Everest Base Camp.

The Sherpas owe this ability to an advantageous genetic mutation that gives them a unique metabolism.

Image copyrightExtreme Everest
Image caption Sherpas have thinner blood than those who live at low altitudes

It has long been a puzzle that Sherpas can cope with the low-oxygen atmosphere present high in the Himalayas far better than those visiting the region.

Mountaineers trekking to the area can adapt to the low oxygen by increasing the number of red cells in their blood, increasing its oxygen-carrying capacity.

In contrast, Sherpas actually have thinner blood, with less haemoglobin and a reduced capacity for oxygen (although this does have the advantage that the blood flows more easily and puts less strain on the heart).

“This shows that it’s not how much oxygen you’ve got, it’s what you do with it that counts,” concludes Cambridge University’s Prof Andrew Murray, the senior author on the new study.

“Sherpas are extraordinary performers, especially on the high Himalayan peaks. So, there’s something really unusual about their physiology,” he told the BBC World Service’s Science In Action programme.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWhat is it like to have scaled Mount Everest?

Unravelling what is different involved a substantial scientific expedition to Everest Base Camp where the high-altitude response of 10 mostly European researchers and 15 elite Sherpas could be compared.

For participants like James Horscroft, whose PhD was based on the data he got from this Xtreme Everest 2 venture, this meant not just a chance to explore one of the planet’s most remote regions, but also a lot of pressure.

“It was very stressful, because we only had this one chance to get our data, high in the Himalaya.”

For James, like all the others, those data included samples of muscle punctured from the thigh. While some samples were frozen to be taken back to university labs, others were experimented on in a makeshift lab at the base camp.

“We had to start at seven in the morning, because it took four hours to do all the tests on one sample,” James said. “At that time, the temperature could be 10 degrees below freezing, so we’d be all wrapped up and wearing gloves. By late morning it would rise to plus-25, and we’d be taking all our kit off!”

Image copyrightExtreme Everest
Image caption Taking muscle samples from mountaineers at 5,300m altitude

What the biochemical tests on the fresh muscle showed was that the Sherpas’ tissue was able to make much better use of oxygen by limiting the amount of body fat burned and maximising the glucose consumption.

“Fat is a great fuel, but the problem is that it’s more oxygen hungry than glucose,” Prof Murray explained.

In other words, by preferentially burning body sugar rather than body fat, the Sherpas can get more calories per unit of oxygen breathed.

The result impresses Federico Formenti of King’s College, London, whose own trekking study a decade ago, monitoring oxygen consumption through breath sensors, suggested Sherpas can produce 30% more power than lowlanders.

“This paper provides a cellular mechanism for what we found at the whole body level; that Sherpas use less oxygen to do the same job,” he says.

James Horscroft agrees the difference in performance is impressive. “It was pretty clear straight away that our tissue experiments were showing different metabolisms for the two groups. In fact, the difference was so astounding we were worried if the tests were working.”

But back in Cambridge the results were borne out. And a genetic variation altering the way fats are burned was established, too. While all of the Sherpas carried the glucose-favouring variant of the metabolic gene, almost none of the lowland volunteers did.

Image copyrightGetty Images

Sherpas are a specific population amongst the Nepalese (“the Ferraris of the Himalayans”, Formenti calls them) who migrated to the country 500 years ago from Tibet, which has been occupied by humans for at least 6,000 years. That is plenty of time for a beneficial gene to become embedded, Prof Murray argues.

“It’s not down to one gene, of course. We see better blood flow through the capillaries; and they appear to have a richer capillary network as well so that the oxygen can be delivered better to the tissues. But this gene would also have given them some advantage.”

Other recent studies have shown that some genes that help Tibetans survive at high altitude come from the recently discovered extinct human species known as the Denisovans, although there is no evidence yet that the metabolic gene is among them.

The Sherpa study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

You can hear an interview with Prof Murray on this week’s Science In Action programme, to be broadcast first on Thursday.

Could ‘Safer’ Filtered Cigarettes Be More Deadly?

MONDAY, May 22, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Filtered cigarettes might be even more lethal than unfiltered ones, and a new review suggests that they have been boosting rates of a cancer that takes root deep in the lungs.

The findings have prompted the review authors to call for federal regulators to ban the use of ventilation holes in cigarette filters.

“Modern cigarettes are more risky when it comes to lung cancer,” said review co-author Dr. Peter Shields. He is deputy director with the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Ohio State University.

“The design of cigarette filters that have ventilation can make the cigarettes even more dangerous because those holes can change how the tobacco burns, allowing smokers to inhale more smoke and think that the smoke is safer because it is smoother,” Shields explained.

The tobacco industry has embraced filters for over 50 years, often touting them as “light” cigarettes that reduce tar intake. Tiny ventilation holes in these filters allow smokers to take in more fresh air.

For the new report, researchers reviewed almost 3,300 tobacco studies and internal tobacco company research. The investigators determined that their analysis “strongly suggests” that these filters have contributed to the rise in a form of lung cancer known as adenocarcinoma.

“The design of cigarette filters that have ventilation can make the cigarettes even more dangerous,” Shields said. “This applies to all cigarettes, because almost all the cigarettes on the market have the holes, not just the ones that used to be called ‘lights’ and ‘ultra-lights.'”

Shields said research shows that smokers take deeper drags when cigarettes are ventilated. As a result, “smoke can go deeper into the lungs where adenocarcinomas more commonly develop,” he said.

Adenocarcinomas are a kind of non-small cell lung cancer that penetrates deeply into the lungs. While the prevalence of lung cancer has gone down, the number of adenocarcinomas has gone up, and a 2014 U.S. Surgeon General’s report blames the increase on “changes in the design and composition of cigarettes since the 1950s.”

The new report recommends that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should consider a ban on ventilating filters, although Shields cautioned that “we are not saying to remove filters.” Instead, the report authors want “only to change their designs by removing the holes on the filters.”

Dr. Norman Edelman, a senior scientific advisor with the American Lung Association, praised the new report, although he noted that his association has not taken a stand on the future of cigarette filters.

“There’s always the problem of unintended consequences,” he said. “What happens if we take the filters off? People might believe that ‘Well, they took the offending agents off cigarettes, so they’re safe now.’ The whole point of unintended consequences is they’re consequences you don’t think about.”

Still, Edelman said, “we strongly supported the legislation that gave the FDA control over tobacco products. Their goal should always be to reduce harm to the greatest extent possible.”

Altria, a major tobacco manufacturer that is the parent company of Philip Morris, didn’t reply to a request for comment.

The study was published online May 22 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Increasing Numbers of Pregnant Women Also Have Heart Disease
HealthDay news image

MONDAY, May 22, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Many more American women with heart disease are choosing to have babies, a new study finds.

Researchers looked at more than 81,000 women with heart disease from 2003 to 2012. They found that the proportion who had babies rose 24 percent during that time.

“We learned that in addition to the high and growing prevalence of women with heart disease delivering babies, the reasons are mainly related to increases in women delivering babies with diseases such as cardiomyopathy, adult congenital heart disease, and pulmonary hypertension,” study author Dr. Kathleen Stergiopoulos said in a Stony Brook University news release. She is a specialist in heart disease in women at the Stony Brook Heart Institute.

The researchers also found that major heart problems, such as heart failure and heart rhythm problems, in pregnant women with heart disease increased by nearly 19 percent.

The findings may lead to greater awareness of heart disease in women of childbearing age. The study also shows an increased need for preconception counseling for pregnant women with heart disease, the researchers said.

The research also points to the need for a multidisciplinary approach to labor and delivery that should include a cardiologist for women who have heart disease.

The study was published recently in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Actemra Approved for Certain Blood Vessel Inflammation

MONDAY, May 22, 2017 (HealthDay News) — The injected drug Actemra (tocilizumab) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat adults with giant cell arteritis, an inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis).

In a media release Monday, the FDA said this form of vasculitis mostly involves blood vessels of the head. Traditional therapy includes large doses of anti-inflammatory drugs called corticosteroids.

“We expedited the development and review of this application because [Actemra] fulfills a critical need for patients with this serious disease who had limited treatment options,” said Dr. Badrul Chowdhury, director of the agency’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products.

Actemra was evaluated in clinical studies involving 251 people with giant cell arteritis. The drug will carry a boxed label warning of the possibility of serious infections. For that reason, live vaccines should be avoided while taking the drug, the FDA said.

And Actemra should be used “with caution” among people at increased risk of gastrointestinal perforation or dangerous allergic-like hypersensitivity reactions, the agency added.

The Hoffmann-La Roche drug was first approved in 2010 for moderately-to-severely active rheumatoid arthritis. The company is based in Basel, Switzerland.