Health

NHS praised after racist tweet about sickle cell disease sufferers

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Twitter exchange
Image caption NHS Blood and Transplant received the racist response after tweeting an appeal for more black donors to come forward

The NHS has been praised for its response to a racist comment on Twitter regarding black blood donors.

NHS Blood and Transplant tweeted an appeal for more black donors to help black people with sickle cell disease.

A user replied “If we deport all blacks, this will stop being an issue”. The NHS responded: “OR.. we could just deport you.”.

An NHS spokesman said: “There is no place for any kind of racism within our online communities”.

The offending tweet has since been removed.

Hundreds of people have tweeted in support of the organisation’s response, with many saying it has encouraged them to give blood.

Bec Awuor‏ tweeted: “Going to sign up now, this has definitely given me the push to do so thank you for this! Love from a girl who is Black AND English.”

Liz Lindley said: “Not only is it game, set and match to @GiveBloodNHS they have won the tournament, new balls please.”

And Caroline Crossland posted: “Seriously, one of the best Tweets EVER. Donating on the 18th – will be doing so with an even bigger grin on my face now!”

Image copyrightScience Photo Library
Image caption Currently only 1% of active blood donors in England are from black or mixed race communities.

NHS Blood and Transplant, which has centres in Bristol and Plymouth, said: “Donors from all backgrounds are fundamental to our life-saving work.

“There is no place for any kind of racism within our online communities and we do not tolerate abusive and offensive behaviour.”

A spokesman said currently only 1% of active blood donors in England were from black or mixed race communities.

Black donors are more likely to have rare blood and tissue types and black patients are more likely to require these rare types, he said.

People from black communities can also be susceptible to conditions, such as sickle cell disease, which leave them requiring regular transfusions.

In these cases, blood from donors with a similar ethnic background can provide the best match and better outcomes in the long term.

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Magic mushrooms can ‘reset’ depressed brain

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Magic mushroomsImage copyrightGetty Images

A hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms can “reset” the brains of people with untreatable depression, raising hopes of a future treatment, scans suggest.

The small study gave 19 patients a single dose of the psychedelic ingredient psilocybin.

Half of patients ceased to be depressed and experienced changes in their brain activity that lasted about five weeks.

However, the team at Imperial College London says people should not self-medicate.

There has been a series of small studies suggesting psilocybin could have a role in depression by acting as a “lubricant for the mind” that allows people to escape a cycle of depressive symptoms.

But the precise impact it might be having on brain activity was not known.

Image copyrightGetty Images

The team at Imperial performed fMRI brain scans before treatment with psilocybin and then the day after (when the patients were “sober” again).

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed psilocybin affected two key areas of the brain.

  • The amygdala – which is heavily involved in how we process emotions such as fear and anxiety – became less active. The greater the reduction, the greater the improvement in reported symptoms.
  • The default-mode network – a collaboration of different brain regions – became more stable after taking psilocybin.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial, said the depressed brain was being “clammed up” and the psychedelic experience “reset” it.

He told the BBC News website: “Patients were very ready to use this analogy. Without any priming they would say, ‘I’ve been reset, reborn, rebooted’, and one patient said his brain had been defragged and cleaned up.”

However, this remains a small study and had no “control” group of healthy people with whom to compare the brain scans.

Further, larger studies are still needed before psilocybin could be accepted as a treatment for depression.

However, there is no doubt new approaches to treatment are desperately needed.

Prof Mitul Mehta, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “What is impressive about these preliminary findings is that brain changes occurred in the networks we know are involved in depression, after just a single dose of psilocybin.

“This provides a clear rationale to now look at the longer-term mechanisms in controlled studies.”

Follow James on Twitter.

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Black Children Missing Out on Eczema Treatment

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HealthDay news image

FRIDAY, Oct. 13, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Black children may have more severe eczema than white children, but they are less likely to visit a doctor for this common inflammatory skin condition, new research shows.

Eczema causes the skin to become red and itchy. Roughly 11 percent of children in the United States are affected by the condition, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Previous studies have demonstrated disparities in overall health care utilization among racial and ethnic minorities, but few studies have examined this question specifically for eczema,” said senior study author Dr. Junko Takeshita. She is an assistant professor of dermatology and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

“This is the first study to look at racial and ethnic differences in health care utilization for eczema on an individual level rather than relying on a sample of outpatient visits, making this a unique evaluation of eczema that includes those not accessing care for their disease,” she said in a Penn news release.

The study included health care data on a group of more than 2,000 children and teens under 18 with eczema. The data was collected from 2001 and 2013.

Based on their analysis, the researchers estimated that 66 percent of the nearly 3 million children with eczema are white, 18 percent are black and 16 percent are Hispanic. Overall, about 60 percent of these children have been treated for their condition but the odds of being treated by a doctor also varies by race, the researchers found.

Among the white children with eczema, about 62 percent visited a doctor for the condition. Roughly 58 percent of Hispanic kids with the condition were also treated, compared to just 52 percent of black children.

Overall, black children and teens with eczema are 30 percent less likely to see a doctor than white kids, the researchers calculated.

Those who do see a doctor for eczema however tend to have more office visits and receive more prescriptions than white children, suggesting they have more severe cases of the condition, the researchers said.

“The data show that race alone can be a predictor of whether or not a child with eczema will see a doctor, independent of other social or demographic factors or insurance status,” Takeshita said.

Minority children with eczema also tended to be younger. They were more likely to also have asthma than the white children with the condition. The minority children were also less likely to have private insurance and more likely to come from low-income homes.

“While the study is not without its limitations, our findings suggest there are barriers to health care for eczema among black children, irrespective of income and insurance status, despite likely having more severe skin disease,” Takeshita said.

“Further research is needed to understand what these barriers are and why they exist so that we can ultimately make efforts to eliminate this disparity,” she added.

The study was published recently in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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Girl’s lung collapsed after screaming at One Direction

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One Direction at a concertImage copyrightGetty Images

A 16-year-old fan’s ‘lung collapsed’ after she screamed too much at a One Direction concert, an emergency doctor told the BBC.

The girl became short of breath during the concert but continued cheering “because she was a super fan”.

When she attended the hospital straight afterwards, they found air had leaked into three different anatomical spaces.

Published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, it’s the first time a case of this kind has been documented.

Dr J Mack Slaughter treated the girl, (who remains anonymous) at the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas: “Her oxygen levels were fine. She didn’t look like she was seriously ill,” he said.

“But instead of breathing a normal 12-16 times a minute, she was breathing 22 times a minute. So we knew something was a little off by that.”

In a physical exam, Dr Slaughter also noted she had crepitus, “a crunchy sound – like the sound Rice Krispies make – when you press on certain parts of the body.”

This showed him that a “small amount of air had made its way out of the respiratory track into soft tissue.”

“Never seen before”

He found a tear in the lung had caused air to escape in three places: between the lung and the chest wall, into the chest cavity and behind the pharynx.

The combination of these three diagnoses hadn’t been seen before, Dr Slaughter said.

He said this leakage of air is “typically caused by an inciting event”, such as during an asthma attack, heavy weightlifting, diving or military flying, due to the sudden changes in air pressure.

Screaming or singing causing it is so rare, that Dr Slaughter could only find two other case reports. One was a drill sergeant while the other was an opera singer.

While it’s possible the condition was pre-existing, he said this is very unlikely.

The team performed a CT scan to make sure it wasn’t something specific to her anatomy: “The scan gave us more detail as to where the air was and how much. But it didn’t help us determine why this happened to her and not the other 19,000 girls in the audience!”

With a history of type 1 diabetes, the team also tested her to ensure this wasn’t causing her fast breathing rate.

When this was ruled out, she was kept overnight. X-rays were taken again to make sure the air wasn’t advancing: “It was stable and safe to send her home,” Dr Slaughter said.

The body typically reabsorbs the air and the tear can repair itself, he said.

Dr Slaughter treated the patient three years ago and said: “I never saw her again. I told her she’d be famous and get to go on the Jimmy Fallon show and meet One Direction but she was too embarrassed,” he said.

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Need Cancer Screening? Where You Work Matters

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HealthDay news image

FRIDAY, Oct. 13, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Waiters, contractors and other employees of America’s small businesses are more likely to miss out on cancer screening, mostly because of a lack of insurance, new research shows.

“Workers employed at smaller organizations had substantially lower breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening rates” compared to people working at larger corporations or organizations, American Cancer Society (ACS) researchers reported.

And poorer insurance coverage accounted for much of these differences, said the team led by ACS researcher Stacey Fedewa.

One breast cancer specialist who reviewed the findings said the issue is an important one, because mammograms, colonoscopies and other screens can save lives — not to mention health care dollars.

So it’s crucial to “find ways to ensure that workers in smaller companies have access to health care,” said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “This is a complicated problem, as some smaller businesses cannot afford to provide insurance to their workers due to the rising cost of premiums.”

In the new report, the ACS team tracked 2010, 2013 and 2015 federal government data. The investigators found that, overall, screening rates for U.S. workers were 84 percent for cervical cancer, about 69 percent for breast cancer and 57 percent for colon cancer.

But those numbers fell precipitously for employees at companies with fewer than 25 workers — they were much less likely be screened than those at companies with 500 or more workers.

Fedewa’s team also found that people in food service, construction, production and sales occupations were less likely to be up to date with cervical screening (26 percent less likely), breast screening (28 percent) and colon cancer screening (30 percent) than people working in the health care industry, for example.

The differences in cancer screening rates among workers were mostly due to lower income and lack of insurance, the study authors said.

Dr. Cynara Coomer directs the Comprehensive Breast Center at Staten Island University Hospital, in New York City. Reading over the findings, she agreed that a number of factors — lack of insurance, transportation issues, education — keep many Americans from cancer screening.

“As health care professionals, we need to strive to educate all communities about the importance of screening for certain cancers,” she said. “In addition, we need to find a solution to provide people of all socioeconomic levels access to medical care.”

The findings were published Oct. 13 in the journal Preventive Medicine.

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Women Falling Short on Birth Defect Prevention

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FRIDAY, Oct. 13, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Only a third of women are taking a multivitamin containing folic acid — a nutrient known to prevent serious birth defects — before they know they’re pregnant, a new survey has found.

The poll, conducted by the March of Dimes, also revealed significant racial disparities: Just 10 percent of black women and 27 percent of Hispanic women of childbearing age report taking multivitamins with folic acid before pregnancy.

“One of the things that’s striking for us is how much more we need to make sure women understand the importance of being healthy before pregnancy,” said Stacey Stewart, president of the March of Dimes Foundation.

“Half of all pregnancies are unexpected, which means women of childbearing age need to be doing all they can to be healthy in the event they do get pregnant,” she said.

In the United States, more than 120,000 babies — about 3 percent of all births — will be born with birth defects this year, including about 3,000 babies born with neural tube defects, according to March of Dimes estimates.

Up to 70 percent of the neural tube defects, which affect the brain and spine, could be prevented if all women of childbearing age took daily multivitamins containing folic acid, the group said.

The survey on prenatal health measures, conducted online in August 2017 by The Harris Poll on behalf of the March of Dimes, polled a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 U.S. women, 18 to 45 years of age. It also found that:

  • 77 percent of women are concerned there may be changes to the U.S. health care system that may hamper access to prenatal care,
  • 43 percent of women say that cost affects when and whether they seek prenatal care,
  • nearly two-thirds of women identify folic acid as an important nutrient in birth defect prevention, and only 40 percent identify iron, calcium and vitamin D as other vitamins important for this purpose,
  • 97 percent of women report taking prenatal vitamins or multivitamins during a pregnancy,
  • 13 percent of women do not know that avoiding smoking or tobacco products reduces the risk for birth defects, and 12 percent are unaware that eliminating drinking and illegal drugs would do the same.

Stewart said that the number of women concerned about possible changes to the U.S. health care system, as well as costs, points to a serious regard for their access to proper care for themselves and their pregnancies.

“At the March of Dimes, we work very hard to make sure that members of Congress, especially over the last several months, understand how important it is to take into account the health of women and mothers, and the impact health care changes would have on pregnancies and newborn babies,” she said.

“We have to make sure the most vulnerable in our country are safe and protected, and that certainly has to be true for babies,” Stewart added.

Dr. Michael Pirics, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, said he wasn’t surprised by the new survey findings, noting that many women don’t seek preconception care “either because they don’t know that kind of thing is important or they’re not getting regular gynecological checkups where it’s addressed.” He was not involved with the survey.

Pirics called the revelation of racial and ethnic disparities in multivitamin use among women of childbearing age “one snapshot of a larger problem” that he also found not surprising. All women in this age group should discuss taking folic acid-containing vitamins with their doctors well before conception, he said.

“But the idea of prevention is an overarching concern that should be more valued in our society,” Pirics added. “We should be encouraging women to continue getting regular health visits, both for their own health and the health of their potential pregnancies in the future.”

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Good Lifestyle Choices Add Years to Your Life

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FRIDAY, Oct. 13, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Change your lifestyle, change your life span.

That’s the claim of a new study that found not smoking, watching your weight and continuing to learn new things could help you live longer.

And genes play a part in the lifestyle choices people make, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

“The power of big data and genetics allow us to compare the effect of different behaviors and diseases in terms of months and years of life lost or gained, and to distinguish between mere association and causal effect,” researcher Jim Wilson said in a university news release. But this study didn’t prove that lifestyle choices cause life span to shorten or lengthen.

For the study, scientists analyzed genetic information from more than 600,000 people in North America, Europe and Australia to determine how genes affect life span.

For example, certain genes are associated with increased alcohol consumption and addiction, the study authors explained.

Smoking and traits associated with lung cancer had the greatest effect on shortening life expectancy. The researchers determined that smoking a pack of cigarettes each day over a lifetime leads to an average loss of seven years of life.

But the good news was that smokers who quit the habit lived as long as people who never smoked, according to the report.

The investigators also found that body fat and other factors linked to diabetes reduce life expectancy. For every excess 2.2 pounds a person carries, life expectancy is cut by two months, the findings showed.

People who are open to new experiences and who have higher levels of learning also tend to live longer, the researchers said. Every year spent studying beyond school added almost a year to a person’s life span.

Wilson and colleagues also found that differences in a gene that affects blood cholesterol levels can reduce life span by around eight months, and differences in a gene linked to the immune system can add about half a year to life expectancy.

The study was published Oct. 13 in the journal Nature Communications.

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‘First female nipple’ broadcast in daytime TV advert for breast cancer

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A woman having her breast examinedImage copyrightCoppaFeel!
Image caption The CoppaFeel! advert encourages people to check themselves for signs of breast cancer

The first advertisement to appear on UK daytime television with a female nipple fully visible has been broadcast, with the full advert being shown on Monday.

Created for the CoppaFeel! charity, it is being shown during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It was broadcast on Good Morning Britain on Friday, during a discussion about the disease with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with one person diagnosed every 10 minutes, with almost all of them women.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption TV stars AJ Odudu and Olivia Buckland feature in the advert

The advert encourages people to examine their own breasts to check for signs of irregularities, which could be symptoms of cancer.

It shows inanimate objects being touched, as well as men and women touching their own chest and nipples.

Love Island reality TV star Olivia Buckland, television presenter AJ Odudu, blogger Anna Newton, and vlogger Lily Pebbles all feature.

Scheduled to run on TV and in cinemas, in 60 and 40-second versions respectively, it will not be shown in or around children’s programmes.

Image copyrightCoppaFeel!
Image caption It also shows inanimate objects, encouraging viewers to explore them by touch

Natalie Kelly, CEO of CoppaFeel!, said: “In demonstrating the power of our hands and celebrating our touch as the best tool for checking, we hope to encourage more young people across the UK to adopt a healthy boob-checking habit, which could one day save their life.”

One in eight women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

Some 5,000 people will be diagnosed during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Survival rates for the disease are improving, and have doubled in the last 40 years in the UK.

Almost nine in 10 women survive breast cancer for five years or more, while every year about 11,400 people die from breast cancer in the UK.

Breast cancer symptoms and signs

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionA BBC News animation shows how you should check your breasts

See your GP if you notice:

  • A new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
  • A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • Bloodstained discharge from either of your nipples
  • A lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • Dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • A rash on or around your nipple
  • A change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast

Source: NHS Choices

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‘Psychotic nympho’ Halloween outfit criticised by psychiatrists

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Psycho nympho Halloween outfit

A fancy dress company has been criticised by psychiatrists for selling a Halloween costume they say stigmatises mental illnesses.

Escapade’s “psychotic nympho” dress has straitjacket sleeves, a lace-up collar and optional face paint for the “seductive goth” look.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists said it was one of the worst examples of such an outfit it had seen.

Escapade has not yet responded to the BBC’s requests for a comment.

‘Misleading the public’

A description of the costume on Escapade’s website says it is a “sensual outfit” that “expresses a lot of deep desires without you having to utter a single word”.

The company also sells other outfits with the word “psycho” in it, including the “cell block psycho” costume and “psycho nurse Sally”.

Dr Tony Rao, a psychiatrist and member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said outfits of this kind stigmatised those with mental illnesses by suggesting people should be afraid of them.

He told the BBC: “If you’re going to use words like “psychotic” and associate it with “nympho”, very pejorative, dramatic and shocking terms that are designed to get sales, then I think that is misleading both the perception of mental illness and misleading the public in promoting the idea that it’s something we should be afraid of.”

In recent years a number of retailers have withdrawn similar items from sale after they were criticised.

In 2013, Tesco and Asda withdrew two Halloween outfits – a psycho ward costume and a mental patient outfit – following complaints.

The retailers apologised and agreed to make donations to the mental health charity Mind.

Dr Rao said there were “far fewer offensive costumes” for this year’s Halloween, but he said those that are sold set back the public perception of mental illnesses “several decades”.

This could contribute to people being discouraged from seeking treatment, he said.

“The royals, reality TV stars, music stars, have done an excellent job in encouraging people to keep the conversation going about reducing stigma.

“But what these costumes are doing is portraying an ignorance of those with severe mental illness, which is still in some ways seriously misunderstood by the public.”

Escapade has yet to respond to requests for a comment.

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