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News Archives, October 2005
Monday, 31 October 2005 12:46
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Olive oil could protect against colon cancer
Scientists from the University of Ulster have discovered that olive oil could protect against colon cancer, one of the most deadly cancers in the US.

Using in vitro cell models, researchers found a mixture of compounds called phenols, present in extracts of virgin olive oil, could provide a safeguard against colon cancer.

Dr Chris Gill said the research supported the long-held belief in the benefits of the olive oil rich Mediterranean diet.

"We found that incubation of one cancer cell line with increasing concentrations of olive oil phenols for 24 hours protected the cells from DNA damage," the scientist said.

"The effect of olive oil phenols on another cell line after 48 hours of exposure suggested that they 'may exert an anti-promoter effect in the carcinogenesis pathway'.

"While the findings are purely of an experimental nature, they identify mechanisms that support the scientific and medical evidence suggesting an association between olive oil consumption and decreased risk of cancer.

"The research shows that the effect is not only related to the types of fat present in the oil but also the phenolic compounds present."

The findings are to be published in the International Journal of Cancer.

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Monday, 31 October 2005 12:19
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Parties united in prostate cancer treatment suppport
The leaders of Britain’s three main political parties have come together to call for an improvement in the treatment of prostate cancer.

Tony Blair, Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy all issued statements supporting the Prostate Cancer Charter for Action. The recorded messages will be played at Thursday’s National Prostate Cancer Conference in London.

Other MPs and Lords have been invited to record their support for a national screening programme for the disease, which kills 10,000 men a year. The BBC’s John Humphreys is will also contribute a message.

The Prostate Cancer Charter for Action constitutes 22 charities including the prostate Cancer Charity and Cancer Research UK.

Campaigners say that men suffering from the condition receive poor treatment compared to other cancer patients. They are calling on the government to lead the way coordinating research into new treatments.

Prostate cancer patient Sandy Tyndale-Biscoe, speaking for the Prostate Cancer Charter for Action, said: "Much remains to be done and too many men with prostate cancer still get a poor deal.

"There is a historic opportunity to change this and we must make tackling prostate cancer a priority."

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Monday, 31 October 2005 12:05
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Unresolved NHS complaints double
New figures have revealed that the number of people requesting independent reviews into their complaints about the NHS has more than doubled in the past year.

The Healthcare Commission received 8,000 requests in the 12 months to August, up from 3,700 such requests in the previous year.

The commission is urging the NHS to deal with more cases at a local level and has called on trusts to make important information available more quickly.

The watchdog is currently sending a third of cases back to the NHS because they have not been sufficiently resolved, up from 27 per cent of cases at the end of May and 32 per cent at the end of September.

Marcia Fry, the commission’s head of operational development, said: "We have been working as hard as we can to get as many NHS complaints resolved as quickly as possible and those efforts are now bearing fruit," she said.

"However, all trusts must also play their part."

NHS trusts must improve their ability to resolve complaints from patients "quickly and locally", she added.

"It is worrying that so many of the NHS complaints that come to us are having to go back to the NHS to be put right."

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Monday, 31 October 2005 11:56
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Bill Gates to fund British team’s malaria research
A UK research centre is to receive a £28 million donation from Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates as part of a £145 million gift to malaria research from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The money will be used to support three international studies over the next five years. The Liverpool School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine project will look at ways to control the spread of malaria by mosquitoes, while the others will look for new malaria drugs and environmentally clean insecticides,

Mr Gates said: "Millions of children have died from malaria because they were not protected by an insecticide-treated bed net, or did not receive effective treatment," he said.

"If we expand malaria control programs, and invest what's needed in research and development, we can stop this tragedy."

Liverpool's Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) will use the money to develop safer, more effective mosquito control and improved bed nets and insecticides.

Another project, the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, is working in Mozambique to conduct trials of GlaxoSmithKline’s malaria vaccine which is said to cut the risk of severe malaria in young children by 58 per cent.

The trials will involve more than 10,000 children and test the safety of the vaccine when taken along with other childhood medicines. The MVI will receive £60.4 million for this work.

Furthermore, the Medicines for Malaria Venture will receive £56.1 million to develop new and affordable malaria drugs for use in poorer countries.

Dr Chris Hentschel from MMV said: "We're developing 20 promising compounds, and six are already in clinical trials.

"There is an urgent need for new drugs to treat malaria.

"Our goal is to develop a range of effective drugs that cost $1 or less per person treated."

A spokeswoman from The Roll Back Malaria Partnership Secretariat said the new funding from the Gates' would make a big difference.

"We absolutely have to have more funds for research. As quickly as we can develop new drugs we also have drug resistance."

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Monday, 31 October 2005 11:07
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Flood of smoking lawsuits expected to follow partial ban
Experts have warned that the partial smoking ban in England may pave the way for bar workers to sue their employers if they develop smoking-related illnesses.

Last week’s Health Bill banned smoking in workplaces but included exemptions for certain pubs and bars.

A number of employees have already made claims against their employees after falling ill due to second hand smoke but no legal precedent has been set as most cases have been settled out of court.

The cases are hard to prove because the claimant must establish that he or she contracted the illness in the workplace and not at home or in other social circumstances.

But Ian Willmore, of anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health, said the proposed ban would give employees the impetus to go to court.

"The ban is being introduced because passive smoking causes harm. Employers can no longer say they were not aware of the risks. There will be a lot of cases."
Disease specialist, John Hall of Thompson solicitors, said: "It has been hard to prove in the past, but it just takes one case to set a precedent. That could happen and in 10 or 20 years it could be like asbestos claims."
He added that passive smoking claims can be pursued under the health and safety legislation which compels employers to minimise the risks to staff in the workplace.

Under the proposed Bill, private members clubs and pubs not serving food will be exempt from the smoking ban.

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Monday, 31 October 2005 10:54
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Woman with two wombs gives birth to healthy twins
A woman born with two wombs has become only one of five British women with the condition in 50 years to give birth to healthy twins.

Claire Miles has a genetic disorder that affects one in 1,000 women and causes them to be born with two wombs, each half the normal size. Mrs Miles, 35, from Exeter, became one of only 70 in a century to be pregnant in both wombs.

Twin pregnancies are rare in such cases and successful births even more so as the babies often outgrow their respective wombs and stretch them to breaking point leading to premature labour or death in the womb.

Mrs Miles was warned in her teens that she would be unlikely to ever give birth after being diagnosed with the congenital disorder that is accompanied by two vaginas and two cervixes. Surgeons were able to alter the vagina and cervix but not the womb.

She underwent a scan at 28 weeks which revealed that one of her twins, Noah, was stretching his womb. A further scan at 29 week revealed she had developed a blood clot. Soon after, she began experiencing contractions in the womb in which Noah was growing.

She said: "They took me into hospital to check the contractions. Noah was contracting but Maisie was doing nothing."

Miles Taylor, her consultant, had been hoping to deliver the twins by caesarean section at 36 weeks.

He said: "At 29 weeks they can survive, but their lungs aren't properly formed.

"There are advantages to leaving a second twin behind, but just a few hours later the other womb could go into labour and [Claire] may have had to have had another caesarean."

The twins were eventually born after 36 weeks on 8 June. Despite being born within minutes of each other, they are not technically twins and were probably conceived on separate occasions.

Noah and Masie weighed a total of 9lbs combined. Mrs Miles said: "I never thought I would be a mother. Now I have two miracles. It was such a shock. We had been waiting and waiting for [the birth] to happen."

"It was incredibly difficult. I saw all the other mothers with their babies and I didn't have mine.

"My first cuddle was with my daughter. It was amazing, I felt every emotion possible.

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Monday, 31 October 2005 10:34
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Unborn baby’s genes can boost mother’s health
Belgian scientists have discovered that the health of pregnant women can be affected by the genes of their unborn babies, The Guardian has reported.

A study led by Olivier Deschamps of Jolimont medical research centre found that high cholesterol levels in pregnancy were partly determined by the foetus’ genes.

The researchers said this has implications for women usually advised not to have children due to genetic defects.

A spokesman for the journal of Molecular Biology, in which the study was published, said: "Because their foetuses can compensate for their defects, these women may actually be able to bear children without complications."

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Monday, 31 October 2005 10:26
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Nurses will use legal action to fight health contracts
Nurses leaders are set to use legal action against the health secretary Patricia Hewitt in a bid to make her abandon plans to “privatise” local health services.

The government’s moves to contract out district nursing, chiropody, family planning and other non-hospital community health services will be the subject of a judicial review application by the Royal College of Nursing.

The RCN fears that some 250,000 jobs could be jeopardised if the changes are pushed through, reducing the role of the NHS to little more than an organiser of services provides by others.

The college said it would serve papers on Ms Hewitt today for her “failure to carry out a public consultation”.

NHS chief executive Sir Nigel Crisp published the plans in July to merge the Primary Care Trusts – which receive about 75 per cent of the total NHS budget and buy services from hospitals and GPs as well as directly employing staff – and relieve them of the direct provider role.

The plans were widely criticised and Ms Hewitt appeared to have backed down last week when she said: "District nurses ... and other staff delivering clinical services will continue to be employed by their PCT unless and until the PCT decides otherwise."

But the RCN said she had not ruled out Sir Nigel’s plans to reduce the provider role of PCTs “to a minimum”.

Howard Catton, the college's head of policy, said: "We have been under incredible pressure from our members who are deeply concerned and anxious about the future of primary care and their personal futures as well."

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Sunday, 30 October 2005 09:52
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Smear tests more bearable
Maja Kecman, an arts graduate has designed an ‘Insight’ kit a specially developed home smear test which would allow women to do their own checks. As each year, hundred of thousands of women eligible for a smear test miss their screening appointment.

Medics have given the test a cautious response, but say they would be delighted if it proved to be an effective alternative to the current testing system.

Maja interviewed nearly 200 women to ask them about their smears, and whether they would use a home kit. She also had a focus group that she asked more in-depth questions.

"I asked them why they did not like to attend and what it was about the smear that they found so uncomfortable and what they disliked. I tried to gauge whether they might like to do it themselves".

She said that 70% of those she quizzed said they would definitely do a home smear, and that gave her the confidence to go ahead and redesign the equipment.

"I spoke to doctors and nurses and looked at medical training videos to find out the exact requirements and I came up with a tight brief.

"You need to get the right cells at the right part of the cervix".

The design she came up with has a light and mirror to enable the user to ensure they get the precise spot when taking the cell sample.

"It also involves instructions for the patient for use and lots of photos to show them what the cervix looks like.

"Once you know what it looks like it is easy to locate".

Maja said she is currently patenting her design and that several manufacturers had expressed an interest in producing it.

Dr Martin Young, a consultant at the Royal Free Hospital, near London, who Maja contacted as part of her research, said: "I think it looks very impressive. It has been beautifully designed and put together, but how useful it is going to be in clinical practise remains to be seen.

"I feel that cervical smears are best done by professionals".

Julietta Patnick, national officer for the NHS Cancer Screening Programme, said she was interested in seeing and trialling devices like this if they increase uptake. "We would have to try it. It would have to go into a trial if we thought it was a runner.

"We are always looking into new ideas. We would be interested in anything that would improve things”.

She said that she had not seen Maja's device, but said it was pertinent that cells are taken from a precise location in the cervix. She said that if this was not the case that the cell samples were worthless.

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Sunday, 30 October 2005 09:36
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Childhood growth patterns key to heart risk
Researchers from The Oregon Health and Science University, claim that childhood growth patterns are strongly related to the risk of developing heart disease later in life.

The researchers found that small babies who later gained weight quickly from two to 11 years had an increased risk.

The researchers said the pattern mattered more than just being overweight at a given age.

They said it was likely to be because such growth patterns meant the children lacked muscle compared to fat.

Lead author David Barker said: "This study demonstrates for the first time that growth patterns before birth, after birth, and into childhood reveal a risk of coronary heart disease later in life.

"Small babies lack muscle, a condition that continues into childhood.

"Rapid weight gain may lead to a high level of body fat in relation to muscle. This may explain why this growth pattern is related to insulin resistance and, thus, coronary heart disease”.

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