Being overweight and drinking alcohol TRIPLES the risk of deadly liver disease in women

Being overweight and drinking alcohol TRIPLES the risk of deadly liver disease in womenUK study confirms the dangerous link between drinking alcohol, being overweight and liver diseaseLiver disease is the fifth
biggest killer in the UKNumber of people dying from condition has risen by 20 per cent over the past decade

By
Rachel Reilly

PUBLISHED:

13:22 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:16 GMT, 26 April 2013

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Being overweight and drinking alcohol dramatically increases the risk of developing fatty liver disease, according to a study presented at the International Liver Congress.

A study of over 100,000 British women found that being overweight and drinking alcohol regularly increased the chances of suffering and dying of the disease threefold.

Dr Daniele Prati, of the European Association for the Study of the Liver Committee, said: ‘It's well known that alcohol and a person's weight are major causes of chronic liver disease,but there has been a need for a large population study to compare these factors' influences on each other.

Cut back on wine and sweet treats: Being overweight and drinking alcohol significantly increases risk of deadly liver disease

Cut back on wine and sweet treats: Being overweight and drinking alcohol significantly increases risk of deadly liver disease

‘Interestingly, the research found the combination of a woman's drinking habits and weight has an important effect on liver health and life expectancy.’

The study, conducted by Dr Paul Trembling and Professor William Rosenberg at the UCL Institute of Liver and Digestive Health, analysed 107,000 women.

All participants were classed as having a low or high BMI and a low or high alcohol intake ranging zero and 15 units a week.

One unit is about one 25ml single measure of whisky or half a standard glass of wine.

BMI helps gauge whether a person is under or overweight. People who have a BMI of 25 or over are classed as overweight.

The study found that compared to a thin woman who did not drink, drinkers were at 1.8 times the risk of developing the disease.

Overindulging in sweet treats and alcohol is fuelling rise in liver disease

Overindulging in sweet treats and alcohol is fuelling rise in liver disease

Those who did not drink but were overweight had 1.7 times the risk of the disease.

But those who did both were at three times at risk of fatty liver disease.

Dr Prati explained: ‘These findings will have a significant impact on how we can help millions of people across the world at risk of developing liver disease.

Liver disease is now the fifth
biggest killer in the UK with the number of people dying from it rising
by 20 per cent over the past decade.

However, there are often no warning
signs until it is far advanced, so many people could have the potentially
fatal condition without even realising it.

Women are at particular risk as they are twice as sensitive as men to alcohol related liver damage and developing a more severe form of the disease.

The UK government advises not to regularly drink more than the daily unit guidelines of 3 to 4 units of alcohol for men and 2 to3 units of alcohol for women, where 'regularly' means drinking every day or most days of the week.

Childbirth experts warn umbilical cords should not be cut for up to FIVE minutes

Childbirth experts warn umbilical cords should not be cut for up to FIVE minutesClamping cord seconds after baby's arrival deprives it of vital bloodExperts say this can lead to iron deficiency and anaemia in later life

By
Lucy Osborne

PUBLISHED:

02:24 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:17 GMT, 26 April 2013

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Cutting the umbilical cord too early is putting babies' health at risk, childbirth experts have warned.

Mounting evidence suggests that clamping the cord within seconds of the baby's arrival deprives it of vital blood from the placenta – which can lead to iron deficiency and anaemia in later life.

Medical bodies, senior doctors and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) want maternity staff to instead leave the umbilical cord untouched for anything from 30 seconds to whenever it stops pulsating naturally – usually within two to five minutes.

Experts say mounting evidence suggests that clamping the cord within seconds of the baby's arrival deprives it of vital blood from the placenta

Experts say mounting evidence suggests that clamping the cord within seconds of the baby's arrival deprives it of vital blood from the placenta

They believe that infants may be at risk of becoming anaemic by being denied the chance to receive as much as a third of their blood volume from the placenta through the cord.

Anaemia – a disorder which means you have a less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood – can later be associated with brain development and can affect cognitive ability.

It is estimated that around 10 per cent of toddlers in the UK are iron-deficient.

The NHS policy for the past 50 years has been early clamping and the delivery of the majority of the 800,000 babies born each year in the UK uses this method.

The procedure is backed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which advises the NHS in England on what medical practice it should follow.

Nice's guidance recommends 'early clamping and cutting of the cord' to health professionals as a key element of the 'active management' of the third stage of labour, just after the birth.

Senior doctors and the National Childbirth Trust want maternity staff to leave the umbilical cord untouched for anything from 30 seconds to whenever it stops pulsating naturally

Senior doctors and the National Childbirth Trust want maternity staff to leave the umbilical cord untouched for anything from 30 seconds to whenever it stops pulsating naturally

Women are able to request for the placenta to be cut later or to deliver it naturally, but only if the woman has a low-risk pregnancy.

But this advice, originally published in 2007, is now under review, as a growing number of hospitals are switching from immediate clamping to delaying it.

Doctors hope its new advice, due in June 2014, will lead to delayed clamping replacing immediate clamping as the NHS's standard procedure.

Dr Andrew Gallagher, a consultant paediatrician at the Worcestershire royal hospital in Worcester, which adopted delayed cord-clamping in 2009, says that every healthy mother should have delayed clamping in their birth plan.

'Mothers should have as natural a birth plan as possible.

'Iron deficiency can cause serious problems. It affects the brain and learning capacity of toddlers … [who] are going to be slower to learn, for example to speak and to understand.

'It's time for the NHS to sweep away an outdated and potentially harmful and thoughtless practice that we have been doing for decades.'

Other hospitals have followed suit more recently, such as Liverpool women's hospital – the UK's largest maternity unit with 8,100 births a year – last May and, at the start of 2013, Bradford royal infirmary, which now delays clamping for a minute for full-term babies and 30 seconds for pre-term newborns, who may need medical help.

Dr Gallagher estimates that around 30 to 50 per cent of hospitals now delay the cutting of the placenta.

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the NCT, said: 'When a baby is born, about a third of the baby's blood is still in his/her cord and placenta.

'With no good evidence to support it, it is accepted practice to accelerate the arrival of the placenta with an injection and clamp and cut the cord immediately, depriving the baby of this blood.'

Prompted by uncertainty among doctors about when to clamp, the National Institute for Health Research has decided to fund the UK's first trial comparing the pros and cons of immediate versus delayed clamping in more than 100 births of babies born before 32 weeks at eight hospitals.

Influential bodies such as the World Health Organisation now urge delay, while research published by medical journals such as the British Medical Journal (BMJ) have helped prompt a move away from immediate clamping.

A Swedish study published in the BMJ in 2011 found that infants who had had delayed cord-clamping at birth had larger than usual iron stores at four months and were less likely to be anaemic.

Believing in God can help treat depression

The power of prayer: Believing in God can help treat depressionNew research has found that people who believe in a higher power respond better to psychiatric treatmentBenefit is not confined to a specific religion

By
Rachel Reilly

PUBLISHED:

17:23 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

07:06 GMT, 26 April 2013


A strong faith in a higher power has been shown to improve mental health

A strong faith in a higher power has been shown to improve mental health

Belief in God may improve treatment for those suffering with depression, says a new study.

Faith in a higher being has been found to significantly improve treatment for people suffering with a psychiatric illness, according to research carried out by McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Researchers followed 159 patients over the course of a year at the Behavioral Health Partial
Hospital program at McLean to investigate the relationship between a
patient's level of belief in God, expectations for treatment and actual
treatment outcomes.

Each participant was asked to gauge
their belief in God as well as their expectations for treatment outcome on a five-point scale.

Levels of depression, wellbeing, and self-harm were assessed at the beginning and end of their treatment program.

Researchers found that patients with 'no' or only 'slight'
belief in God were twice as likely not to respond to treatment than
patients with higher levels of belief.

And more than 30
per cent of patients claiming no specific religious affiliation still saw the
same benefits in treatment if their belief in God was rated
as moderately or very high.

Researchers concluded that a belief in
God is associated with improved treatment outcomes in psychiatric care.

The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, said : 'Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Belief was associated with not only improved psychological wellbeing, but a decrease in depression and intention to self-harm, explained David Rosmarin, McLean Hospital
clinician and instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard
Medical.

He added: 'I hope that this work will lead to larger studies and increased funding in order to help as many people as possible.'

Previous studies have highlighted the power of prayer on a person's health.

2314781

Alone: Psychiatric disorders can be very isolating for the sufferer but a belief in God can help, say researchers

Research at San Francisco General Hospital monitored the effects of prayer on 393 cardiac patients.

Patients were asked if they wanted to take part in the trial but were not told whether they would be the subject of prayers.

Half were prayed for by a group of strangers who only had the patients' names.

Those who were prayed for had fewer complications, fewer cases of pneumonia and needed less drug treatment.

They also improved more quickly and were able to leave hospital earlier.

A separate study, at Columbia University in New York, asked people in Australia, the U.S. and Canada to pray for named people undergoing IVF treatment in Korea.

Of the group in Korea, half had prayers said about them by the foreign strangers.

Among this half, the success rate for implantation of the embryo in the womb went up from 8 per cent to 16 per cent.

Cases of successful conception – where the foetus started developing – went up from 25 to 50 per cent.

Mum and daughter diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day… then have surgery on the same day too!

Mum and daughter diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day… then have surgery on the same day too!
Karen Williams and Diane Leach also had surgery on the same dayWere both diagnosed in February last year and are now recovering
Having a mother who had breast cancer doubles a woman's risk

By
Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

10:57 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:53 GMT, 26 April 2013

Karen Williams and her mother, Diane Leach, were both diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day

Karen Williams and her mother, Diane Leach, were both diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day

When Karen Williams found a lump in her breast, she and her husband went to break the bad news to her mother.

They were astounded when Diane Leach told them that she had found a lump in a breast, too.

Their worst fears were confirmed when both were subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day, having unwittingly been in the same queue for a mammogram.

The coincidences didn’t end there, however. For mother and daughter were then operated on by the same surgeon in the same hospital on the same day.

Mrs Williams, 41, and Mrs Leach, 65, are now well on the way to recovery from their cancers.

The chain of coincidence began after Mrs Williams, a mother of four from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, discovered a pea-sized lump in her breast while showering.

‘I didn’t like the feel of it. Straight away I thought it was cancer,’ she said.

She and her husband Stuart Burnside went to tell her mother at her home in Chester.

‘I told her I’d found a lump, and she said, “So have I”. I thought she was joking,’ said Mrs Williams, who works as a beauty consultant at Boots.

‘I went to my GP and she went to hers. The doctor thought it might just be a cyst, but I knew.

‘I went for a mammogram a few days later and didn’t realise my mum was also going. Stuart saw her as we were in the queue.

‘It was a crazy situation to both be
diagnosed on the same day and my two sisters and my dad didn’t know what
to do with themselves – they didn’t know who to visit.’

Both women went for surgery at the Countess of Chester Hospital on the same day last year.

The mother and daughter also underwent surgery on the same day, at the same hospital

The mother and daughter also underwent surgery on the same day, at the same hospital

Mrs Leach, who has retired from a
carpet fitting business, underwent a mastectomy while her daughter had a
tumour removed from her right breast, tissue from her left and had
both breasts reduced.

They were even in adjoining wards after their surgery and could bang on the wall to each other.

‘On the day of our operation, the
consultant at the hospital couldn’t believe that we had been diagnosed
on the same day and would be undergoing our operation on the same day,’
Mrs Williams said. ‘She said that in 40 years in the NHS she had never
seen anything like it before.’

Even more astonishing is the fact that there were no genetic factors linking their diagnoses.

‘The breast cancer we had is not
hereditary and can happen to any woman, at any time. It is just a case
of bad luck that we were both diagnosed at the same time,’ Mrs Williams
said.

‘It was a really hard period to go
through but we have a wonderful family who supported us all the way
through it, and continue to be there for us.’

Mother and daughter were both treated at the Countess of Chester Hospital

Mother and daughter were both treated at the Countess of Chester Hospital

After receiving support from Macmillan
staff during their treatment, she was full of praise for their work and
the support they offer to patients.

‘The chemotherapy was really, really
severe and there were some really dark days when I thought I just
couldn’t carry on going,’ Mrs Williams said.

‘Having a wonderful family and
husband around me, as well as the support given by Macmillan, helped me
keep going and now, thankfully, I am starting to get back to some sort
of normality.

'I have gone back to work recently at
Boots, which I have loved and everyone has been great, but I think that I
might like to try a different career path and work with those affected
by cancer.

‘It has really had a profound effect on both me and my mum.’

Having finished their courses of
chemotherapy, the mother and daughter are now hosting a charity event
in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care.

End of the diabetes jab? Scientists find insulin-boosting hormone that could do away with daily injections

End of the diabetes jab Scientists find insulin-boosting hormone that could do away with daily injections
A newly discovered hormone – betatrophin – could revolutionise the treatment of type 2 diabetesIt could halt the development of the conditionIn mice the hormone was shown to increase the number of insulin-producing beta cells up to 30-fold

By
Fiona Macrae Science Correspondent

PUBLISHED:

16:00 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 25 April 2013

Diabetics could be freed from the need to inject themselves by the development of a once-a-year drug

Diabetics could be freed from the need to inject themselves by the development of a once-a-year drug

Millions of diabetics could be freed from having to inject themselves several times a day by a once-a-year drug.

Scientists have discovered a hormone which can boost the number of insulin-making cells by up to 30-fold.

This would ‘dramatically’ improve treatment for type 2 diabetes. This form of the condition, often triggered by weight gain, is becoming more common in the obesity crisis.

Researchers from Harvard University believe the betatrophin hormone may even have the power to halt type 2 diabetes in its tracks.

‘It could eventually mean that, instead of taking insulin injections three times a day, you might be able to take this hormone once a week or once a month, or in the best case, maybe once a year,’ they said.

In patients with type 2, or adult-onset diabetes, cells in the pancreas do not make enough insulin, a hormone vital to the conversion of sugar into energy. Insulin they do make does not work properly.

Initially, the condition is often controlled with a stringent diet and exercise regime. But many patients will suffer worsening health over time, eventually needing tablets or insulin injections.

Seeking an alternative to simply giving insulin, the US researchers looked for a way of boosting its production in the body.

This led them to a hormone which they christened betatrophin.

Given to mice, it raised the number of insulin-producing beta cells by up to 30-fold, reported the journal Cell.

In addition, the ‘enormous’ number of new cells only made insulin when needed, which should lead to more natural blood sugar levels and better health.

Given to mice, the new hormone raised numbers of insulin-producing beta cells up to 30-fold

Given to mice, the new hormone raised numbers of insulin-producing beta cells up to 30-fold

Researcher Professor Doug Melton said the discovery had left him so excited that he could hardly sleep. He added: ‘Our idea is relatively simple.

‘We would provide this hormone, the type 2 diabetic will make more of their insulin-producing cells and this will slow down, if not stop, the progression of their diabetes.’ Drug firms have already seized on the breakthrough and the hormone could be tested on people in just three years.

However, the need to show it would be safe and effective in large numbers of people means it is a decade away from the market.

Yesterday’s Daily Mail reported how just one 12oz can of sugary drink a day can raise the risk of type 2 diabetes by a fifth.

Complications of high blood sugar include heart disease, blindness, and nerve and circulatory damage.

It is thought that one in 20 Britons has diabetes, with type 2 making up 90 per cent of the cases.

The US work may also be useful in treating type 1 diabetes, which typically develops in childhood or adolescence.

A lack of sleep can reduce a man"s sperm count by a THIRD

A lack of sleep can reduce a man's sperm count by a THIRDPrevious studies have linked poor sleep to heart disease and cancer but now fertility has been linked
Researchers found that testicles shrank and sperm production decreased in sleep-deprived men
May be that lack of sleep affects testosterone levels

By
Pat Hagan and Fiona Macrae

PUBLISHED:

12:35 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:19 GMT, 25 April 2013

Sleep problems can drastically lower the fertility of young men, warns a study.

Those struggling to make it through the night have more problems than those enjoying a sound rest. Their sperm counts were cut by a quarter and they also had smaller testicles.

The latest research is the first to look specifically at whether broken rest affects male fertility although links between sleep and health have been well-studied.

Sperm numbers dropped by more than a quarter in men not getting a full night's rest due to late nights, insomnia and broken sleep

Sperm numbers dropped by more than a quarter in men not getting a full night's rest due to late nights, insomnia and broken sleep

Sperm counts have been tumbling in recent years amid fears that male fertility is being harmed by poor diet and lifestyle or even ‘gender-bending’ chemicals in the environment.

But work at the University of Southern Denmark suggests that modern sleep patterns may also be a factor.

The scientists examined nearly 1,000 men in their late teens or early 20s about to do military service. They gave sperm samples and answered questions about how well they slept.

Questions included how often they slept badly and how often they found it difficult to nod off. The men were also asked if they regularly woke up during the night and found it difficult to go back to sleep.

Those who frequently retired late, woke many times in the night or struggled to nod off in the first place, had a sperm count 25 per cent lower than those who had no trouble.

Tests showed that their testicles were also significantly smaller, according to the study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

A lack of sleep even made their testicles shrink, the study found

A lack of sleep even made their testicles shrink, the study found

It said: ‘The frequency of sleep disturbances has increased in the industrialised world during the past few decades, a period in which a decline in semen quality has also been reported.

‘The results may have important public health implications.’ They added that it was not clear why sleep problems affected sperm levels and that it had not been proven that one caused the other.

The researchers stressed that men who sleep less tend to have unhealthier lifestyles. They weighed more, drank more alcohol and were more often smokers.

It was also possible sleep problems affect levels of testosterone. At least one other study has found keeping young men awake for longer reduces production of the sex hormone.

The report said: ‘This is the first study to relate sleep disturbances to semen quality. Men with a poor sleep score had poorer semen quality and smaller testicles.’

Experts believe the ideal amount of rest is seven to eight hours a night. But the average Briton sleeps for six hours and seven minutes.

A British male fertility expert said that although the study was interesting, men should not worry.

Dr Allan Pacey, from Sheffield University, said it was unlikely that the poor sleepers would have suffered a major impact on their fertility.

South Wales measles cases reach 942 as tests into death of "first victim" are inconclusive

South Wales measles cases reach 942 as tests into death of 25-year-old 'first victim' are inconclusive
Measles cases in the region have jumped by 56 in the last two days
Gareth Williams was suffering with measles at the time of his deathBut tests have been unable to confirm the virus was responsible for deathCoroner has ordered further examinations in order to determine cause

.

A major vaccination programme continues unabated in Wales which has so far seen 83 people admitted to hospital due to the illness since the outbreak.

Although the outbreak is centred mainly on Swansea, rates of measles are high throughout the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University, Powys and Hywel Dda health board areas, especially in Neath Port Talbot and North Powys.

Health officials have also launched a nationwide programme to help stem the measles outbreak and prevent it spreading more widely across the UK.

At least a million children and teenagers are to be vaccinated against measles in an attempt to stop expected outbreaks in England.

Some will never have had a jab, while others have only had the first of two doses of the MMR vaccine.

The 20million campaign follows a big rise in cases in South Wales, where public health officials have been running clinics to increase protection rates.

Kayleigh Duff: Terminally-ill single mum, 23, granted dying wish of having a hen do at TOWIE nightclub

Terminally-ill single mum, 23, who fulfilled her dream of having a fairytale wedding gets another wish granted by having a hen do at TOWIE nightclubKayleigh Duff, from Kent, has been diagnosed with terminal liver cancerHas list of things she wants to do before dying – including getting marriedLast week had a ceremony where she 'married' a male model at a castleNow been given a hen do at the TOWIE nightclub Sugar Hut in Brentwood

and medics removed her bowel.

In March, she started
chemotherapy and drew up a list of things she would have wanted
to do in her life – including getting married.

Last week she was given a
perfect wedding day by her best friend last week, complete with bubbly, cake, a
chauffeur driven Jaguar and stand-in groom.

Kayleigh Duff, who has terminal liver cancer, was given a perfect wedding day by her best friend last week. On Saturday, her friends organised her a hen do

Kayleigh Duff, who has terminal liver cancer, was given a perfect wedding day by her best friend last week. On Saturday, her friends organised a hen do for her

Kayleigh and 17 of her friends boarded a party bus and headed to the TOWIE hot spot Sugar Hut Brentwood, Essex

Kayleigh and 17 of her friends boarded a party bus and headed to the TOWIE hot spot Sugar Hut Brentwood, Essex

And last Saturday, the mother-of-one
was given the chance to enjoy another special day – a hen do at The Only
Way is Essex's chief party venue.

Her Friend Sarah Holness, 31,
organised for a group of 17 girls to board a party bus and head towards
the TOWIE hot spot Sugar Hut Brentwood, Essex.

Kayleigh, from Herne bay, Kent, said: 'I wanted to go to Sugar Hut just for a night out because I love TOWIE.

'My friend Sara organised it and managed to get me into the club for free. We got a party bus too and it was full of novelty straws and sachets.

'We just thought it was something that would be a bit of fun that we hadn't done before.

'The club itself is not what you
would expect having watched the programme. It is a big club with a
couple of floors and just full of normal Essex people.

'The whole thing was Sarah's idea after we had the wedding photoshoot and it was a fun night. It turned out to be a good idea.'

Last week her GP told her the illness is not getting any better, but Kayleigh says she remains determined not to let it get the better of her

Last week her GP told her the illness is not getting any better, but Kayleigh says she remains determined not to let it get the better of her

Last week her GP told her the illness is
not getting any better but Kayleigh says she remains determined not to
let it get the better of her.

She added: 'It looks like the tumour may have got bigger, but we are not 100 per cent certain.

'The chemotherapy might not be working, but we don't know anything for definite. If it isn't working, there is no point in being on it. The chemo makes me worse anyway.

'I feel better when I am not on it because then I am not ill all the time. It makes me so tired and I cannot eat properly.

'At the end of the day, I cannot change anything. This was what was laid out for me and I have got to get on with it.'

Kayleigh
suffers from a hereditary genetic disorder called familial adenomatous
polyposis which causes growths on the large intestine – raising the
risk of developing cancer.

Kayleigh's father Lee was killed by the same condition in 1998, at the age of 37.

She was diagnosed with cancer last June and doctors operated on her to remove the growths.

But in February, follow-up tests found the illness had spread and medics told her she will never be fully rid of it.

They hope to prolong her life with regular chemotherapy.

Fairytale wedding: Kayleigh Duff, 23, who has liver cancer, has already fulfilled her dying wish of marrying a male model

Fairytale wedding: Kayleigh Duff, 23, who has liver cancer, has already fulfilled her dying wish of marrying a male model

Kayleigh, who has been forced to quit her job as a kitchen assistant, now wants to devote as much time as possible to her son.

She said: ‘I take every day as it comes, but most of the time I’m all right.’

It
was her best friend Katie Birch who decided the absence of a current
partner in her life need not stand in the way of her dream of getting
married.

Kayleigh was pampered by hair and make-up artists before being whisked to Whitstable Castle in Kent in a vintage Jaguar.

Guests included her mother Beverley Cox, 46, grandparents Sharon, 70, and Ian Day, 71, and Kayleigh’s two-year-old son Kai.

And waiting for her was handsome model Danny Wisker, booked for the day to play the role of groom.

Guests drank champagne while the ‘bride’ posed for pictures.

Kayleigh, from Herne Bay, Kent, said: ‘The groom was so nice and was really handsome.

‘It
was a bit awkward at first because obviously it’s a bizarre situation –
I couldn’t stop laughing. I didn’t expect any of it, it was mad.

'But It really was a dream come true. It
was great. The dress was beautiful – it really was. The castle and
everything were just beautiful.’

Could bad gut bacteria be responsible for thousands of heart attacks each year?

Could gut bacteria be to blame for thousands of heart attacks each yearStudy has found that bugs in gut are responsible for converting food into harmful compound called TMAOTMAO is a compound responsible for cholesterol building up on artery walls and hardening the arteriesAdds to research that bacteria, both on and inside the body, play vital role in our health

By
Rachel Reilly

PUBLISHED:

15:57 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:57 GMT, 25 April 2013

Gut bacteria may be responsible for thousands of heart attacks – particularly in people who have no obvious risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol.

Scientists have discovered that certain gut flora turn a nutrient found in egg yolks, liver, beef, pork, pork and wheatgerm into the compound Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).

TMAO makes blood cholesterol build up on artery walls, causing hardening of the arteries.

If this buildup breaks away and blocks an artery, it usually results in a stroke or heart attack.

The study found that organisms in our gut may responsible for converting some foods into toxic chemicals

The study found that organisms in our gut may be responsible for converting some foods into toxic chemicals

The new study built on a 2011 research on lab mice.

Carried out by the Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, scientists asked 40 healthy adults to eat two hard-boiled eggs, which are rich in a fatty substance called lecithin.

After eating the eggs, the blood levels of TMAO became raised.

But if participants took antibiotics – which kill bacteria in the gut – before eating the eggs, their TMAO levels were suppressed, the researchers found.

‘This showed that intestinal bacteria are essential for forming TMAO,’ Dr. Stanley Hazen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told Reuters.

Next, to see whether TMAO predicts cardiovascular events, the researchers measured its levels in 4,007 heart patients.

After taking age and a past heart
attacks into account, they found that high levels of TMAO were
predictive of heart attack, stroke and death over the three years that
the patients were followed.

Participants who had a heart attack, stroke or died during the study had higher than average TMAO levels than those who didn't.

In fact, those who possessed the highest
TMAO levels had more than twice the risk of a heart attack or stroke
compared to people in the bottom quartile.

The study asked volunteers to eat eggs, which contain high levels of lethicin, a precursor to harmful TMAO

The study asked volunteers to eat eggs, which contain high levels of lethicin, a precursor to harmful TMAO

And even people with high TMAO levels and no cardiovascular risk factors were 1.8 times more likely to experience a cardiovascular event than those with low levels.

The findings suggest TMAO could serve as a marker for predicting heart disease although more studies are required to confirm the link, said the paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

If the findings are confirmed, it is hoped that researchers will be able to develop a drug that blocks the production of TMAO.

Earlier this month, the same researchers published a study that found a link between consumption of a chemical called carnitine, which is found in red meat, and a risk of heart disease.

Carnitine is also converted by bacteria to TMAO.

The study joins a growing list of findings that link microbes in the gut, nose and genital tract, and on the skin to health and disease.

Research has shown that certain species of gut bacteria protect against asthma while others affect the risk of obesity.

Last week scientists reported that circumcision alters bacteria in the penis, and that this helps protect men from sexually transmitted disease.

Fathers-to-be who know the sex of their unborn baby find it easier to bond with him or her

Fathers-to-be who know the sex of their unborn baby find it easier to bond with him or her
Men with a name for the baby also find bonding easierThis is because they are better able to imagine named unborn babies as real people they could father
Attending scans can also help men feel more connected

By
Emma Innes

PUBLISHED:

15:35 GMT, 25 April 2013

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UPDATED:

15:36 GMT, 25 April 2013

Fathers who know the sex of their unborn child and give him or her a name find it easier to bond with their baby.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham looked at men’s experiences of, and feelings about, becoming a father.

They found that knowing the sex allowed men to think of the unborn child as a person they could
father, and someone who they could develop a relationship with.

Fathers who know the sex of their unborn baby and give him, or her, a name find it easier to bond with their baby

Fathers who know the sex of their unborn baby and give him, or her, a name find it easier to bond with their baby

The researchers followed 11 men over a period of
nine months, from the first scan to eight weeks after the birth of
their child. The ages of participants ranged from 22 to 58.

They mapped the men's journeys from the
discovery of pregnancy to the early days of fatherhood in an attempt to
discover how to make men feel involved in pregnancy and parenthood.

The study found that some men's understanding of what it means to be a good man could act as a barrier to being drawn into antenatal or postnatal care.

However, the researchers believe that this 'manly' attitude to childcare does not necessarily mean that the father-to-be lacks commitment to fatherhood.

They believe that these men just need help working out how they can be involved in the pregnancy while still retaining their self-image.

The report states: ‘Encouraging fathers to become actively involved, and drawing them in, may require more than making them feel welcome and creating space for them to talk, but also giving them explicit permission to become actively involved.’

The researchers found that attending scans helped to make their partner’s pregnancy more real for men but ‘it was discovering the gender of their child, and giving him, or her, a name that tended to enable men to feel emotionally connected’.

Attending scans helped to make their partner's pregnancy more real for men

Attending scans helped to make their partner's pregnancy more real for men

Dr Jonathan Ives, a senior lecturer
at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘Serious consideration needs to be given to how men can be
empowered to become the fathers they want to be.

‘Healthcare
workers who are involved in this process need to engage with men’s
views on what it is to be a good man, a good partner, and a good father,
and help them achieve an appropriate balance between their own needs
and interests and those of their partner and future children,.

Jason Cole, one of the new fathers who took part in the research, said: ‘I really wanted to know the gender of our first child.

‘My partner wasn’t fussed. She was happy either way but I really wanted to know. I don’t know why.

‘As soon as we found out she was a girl, from about 20 weeks, we named her Molly and I think it did help me prepare for her and connect with her once she was born.’