October has been a turbulent month for global news, including the demise of another dictator within the Arab Spring uprising, the sorry state of affairs of the European financial crisis, and the birth of the world’s seven billionth person at the end of the month. The healthcare world seems to have been somewhat more predictable however, with the first and third positions of this month’s chart being maintained by health policy and cancer respectively. Stem cells have grown their way up the chart as this month’s highest climber, and NHS services and performance issues have swung back into second position as this month’s highest re-entry.
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Obesity has once more held a spot in the upper half of this month’s chart with a wide spread of stories. Two parliamentary figures, notably the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and Tory peer Lord McColl of Dulwich, have both outlined groundbreaking new strategies to help the country battle obesity. Namely, by eating less. According to Lansley the nation needs to slash its daily diet by five billion calories – the equivalent of 17 million cheeseburgers or 28 million latte coffees. This approach has not curried favour with all however, with Jamie Oliver among others branding the plans as “worthless, regurgitated, patronising rubbish”. Another approach that has been seen this month to tackle the obesity problem is drinking green tea. Research by Penn State University in Pennsylvania has found that drinking green tea can slow down weight gain. Scientists who fed obese mice EGCG, a compound found in the tea, with a high-fat diet saw that they gained weight far more slowly than mice that did not receive the supplement.
Moving up 11 places in the chart this month is the topic of stem cells, with a variety of ways to fix different parts of the body. British scientists are developing an injection that helps arthritis sufferers ‘grow’ new knee or hip joints. Given in a person’s 40s or 50s, just as arthritis begins, the stem cell based injection could remove the need for hip or knee replacements in some cases by regrowing enough cartilage for an entire joint. Meanwhile in the US, scientists have created human embryonic stem cells using a technique close to cloning. The achievement promises to advance the development of replacement cells for treating conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and paralysis. A further development in genetics has been the complete correction of a genetic fault responsible for the fatal condition cirrhosis of the liver. The researchers were able to cut away the mutated section of DNA from a stem cell and replace it with a corrected version. This development is at an early stage, but could, in the future, lead to a new range of specialised cell treatments.
Depression features in this month’s chart with news that the cost of treating brain disorders, such as depression, insomnia, Parkinson’s and stroke, has more than doubled in just six years, according to a study published in European Neuropsychopharmacology. In the UK, 9.7 million people are thought to have a brain disorder, at a cost of more than £116 billion a year, with the number of people suffering brain disorders expected to rise as people live longer. It’s not all bad news however; research has shown that drinking coffee can help cut the risk of depression. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who drink two or three cups a day have a 15 percent lower incidence of depression than those who rarely do so. Anyone for an espresso…?
And finally, for those of you that can’t live without your mascara, the good news is that soon you might not always need to carry a tube in your make-up bag. Scientists have devised a new treatment dubbed ‘Botox for eyelashes’ that could make mascara a thing of the past. The product has been developed from a medication used to treat eye disorders including glaucoma, and is manufactured by Allergen, the makers of Botox. It seems to us that the one and only Lady Gaga has been testing the product by the look of this photo…
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Aurora strives to apply quantitative, qualitative and emotional understanding of health issues to client communication programmes. Dove-tailing informed PR activity with the media’s appetite enables us to assist clients with communicating their vision.
The top 20 chart provides our interpretative snap-shot of health stories in the national press and is based upon a quantitative process. Analysis based on news from the 26 September to 25 October 2011.