Umm, why?

A casting call seeking a thin young girl with “very good teeth” to star in a Milka chocolate Christmas TV advert has been criticised by health campaigners.

The request for child actors to play the role of “Mia” asked for “no red hair” and for the girl to be no older than 12 so she is “childlike”.

It insisted “no overweight children as this is advertising chocolate”.

The advert was published on Spotlight, a talent agency which helps performers find employment, and later on Twitter.

A spokesman for Action on Sugar, a health campaign group, said it was “sure the Advertising Standards Authority would not stand for this”.

Why will the ASA not stand for this?

They’re casting for an actress, the looks of the actress are relevant. And?

Baron Cohen is right, again

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge, who led the study: “We are interested in understanding autism, not preventing it.

“This new finding supports the idea that increased prenatal sex steroid hormones are one of the potential causes for the condition.

“Genetics is well established as another, and these hormones likely interact with genetic factors to affect the developing foetal brain.”

Surge of hormones in the womb he’s been musing on this as the (or a, perhaps the trigger) cause for at last a decade and a half now.

This doesn’t say quite what they say it says

People with the worst genetic risk of dementia can reduce their chances of developing the disease by a third through exercise and healthy eating, new research finds.

The first study to analyse the combined effect of genetic and lifestyle factors established that the impact of living healthily was enough to substantially lessen the danger from bad genes.

Regular moderate exercise, quitting smoking, drinking sensibly, plus eating lots of fish and vegetables, was linked to roughly the same reduction in the chance of dementia, regardless of genetic risk, the research found.

OK, so there’s dementia caused by bad diet, that caused by genes. That caused by bad diet has risk of reduced by not having a bad diet.

Fair enough.

This means the benefit of adopting a healthy lifestyle is likely to be highest for those with the worst genes.


The Obesity Debate

I know from painful experience how poisonous the debate around obesity is
Layla Moran
Yes, we must tackle obesity: but let’s do it without the kind of heartless reporting and hurtful language that held me back

Obesity is killing us all. We must radically change society to rid ourselves of this evil.

But we must say anything about fatties.

Not really going to work out well is it? Given that social approbation and dis- is the most powerful force in changing human behaviour…..

Wonder of the World It Is

A relative of Nye Bevan, the founder of the NHS, died after doctors failed to tell him he had lung cancer for 15 months, an inquest heard.

Roderick Bevan, who died aged 66 in May 2018 after NHS doctors diagnosed his condition, would have survived but for the failure of two sets of doctors..

A coroner ruled that the errors amounted to “neglect”.

No doubt lessons will be learnt.

Logic honey, logic

Americans love a quick health fix in pill form: something to protect against illness, with minimal effort. For years, one of the go-to supplements has been vitamin D, thought to do everything from preventing cancer to strengthening bones.

Some bad news: Yet another big study adds to the pile of evidence that it’s useless for most people.

Hmm, OK.

But in most people with no symptoms of deficiency,

So, people who are not deficient in a vitamin do not benefit from having the non-existent deficiency removed.

Jeez, next they’ll be telling us that people without breast cancer don’t need their tits lopped off….

But what about the 10%?

One of our readers here, dearieme, has told of an anaesthetic not taking hold, or wearing off perhaps, during surgery. Rather painful thing to happen he says.

Which leads to a wondering about this:

Hypnosis works better than strong anaesthetic and could soon become the norm for elderly people undergoing arthritis operations following a landmark trial.

Medics have hailed the results of a new study where anaesthetic powerful enough to put patients to sleep was successfully replaced with a virtual reality experience.

Participants in need of shoulder, hand or knee operations were given headsets and taken on a virtual submarine tour, with a soothing female voice pointing out various fish and other underwater features.

They had each been given a local anaesthetic, but the virtual reality hypnosis distraction (VRHD) was used to replace the intravenous sedation such patients would normally have got.

This can put people to sleep, but does not induce the full controlled coma of a general anaesthetic.

Doctors at the CUB Erasmus Hospital in Brussels found that the VRHD successfully replaced intravenous sedation in three quarters of patients who had the submarine sedation during the operation.

Meanwhile 90 per cent of those who had VRHD for ten minutes before as well as during the operation did not require intravenous sedation.

Yes, but what about the 10% where it doesn’t work? How far into causing pain does the operation go before it’s possible to work out who that 10% are?

A case of overclaiming perhaps?

Freeze-dried bacteria from the guts of healthy people could be the key to tackling asthma, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and even cancer, experts believe.

British scientists have isolated several strains of friendly bugs which appear to have significant effects on the immune system, and hope they could replace harsh chemotherapy drugs or steroids.

The first trials have now begun to see if introducing just a single species of bacteria in pill form could benefit a huge range of diseases.

The human gut contains trillions of bacteria – known collectively as the microbiome, which has evolved with us over millions of years. But the overuse of antibiotics and hyper-cleanliness in everyday life can kill off helpful bugs, contributing to the rise of disease.

A recent study by University College London (UCL) found that a single course of antibiotics can alter the microbiome for at least a year, and poor gut health is now linked to the development of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s disease, asthma, allergies, inflammatory bowel disorder (IBS), diabetes, multiple sclerosis, autism, cancer, and even HIV.

Duncan Peyton, founder and CEO of British company 4D pharma, which is launching the first trials into a new era of biotherapeutics, believes that replacing the missing bacteria could restore good health.

Perfectly willing to believe some of that. Asthma perhaps, it being an allergic reaction I think? Allergies. But HIV? Autism? Isn’t that last getting a little close to Wakefield’s silliness?

People with actual knowledge here are invited to inform the rest of us.

The NHS, eh?

My one, by all accounts, is one of the better ones, less overloaded than the English ones. But it can’t afford to have reception staff full time, and the delay between a doctor dictating a letter and having it typed is two months.

Who, in this day and age, gets secretaries to type their letters?

Dr Google

A teenager given a one per cent chance of surviving a dangerous infection has been saved by an experimental cocktail of viruses.

Scientists have hailed the “remarkable” recovery of 17-year-old Isabelle Carnell-Holdaway, who came down with a bug related to tuberculosis following a lung transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

No previous transplant patient to have been infected with Mycobacterium abscessus at the hospital has survived.

However, Isabelle, who was born with cystic fibrosis, is now out of grave danger after being given untested “phage therapy”.

Also known as bacteriophages, phages are a naturally occurring virus that attacks bacteria rather than the body’s own cells.

Yes, excellent.

The Great Ormond Street team obtained phages from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the US after Isabelle’s mother Jo read about the treatment on the internet.


Maybe the appendix actually does something then?

People who have their appendix removed are three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, new research indicates.

The largest ever study of the relationship between the gut and the debilitating nervous system disorder involved the analysis of more than 62 million patients records.

Researchers found that patients who had their appendix removed were more likely to develop Parkinson’s than those whose appendix remained in place.

I offer no guidance on whether this is silly or not. Only that it’s interesting – have they found some actual use for the appendix, finally?

Bit of an odd thing to note this late tho’. Both Parkinson’s and appendectomy have been around and known a long time.

One other thought:

The researchers analysed electronic health records representing more than 62.2 million patients and identified those who had appendectomies and were diagnosed with Parkinson’s at least six months later.

Is this a rare use of data mining working properly?

Interesting but really?

Keeping fit protects against getting cancer and dying from it, the largest study of its kind has concluded.

The fittest people more than halved their risk of bowel or lung cancer and cut their risk of dying of it, researchers in the US found.

So, smoking but keeping fit as well leaves you with no increased risk of lung cancer?

Or they already defining being fit as not smoking?

Perhaps I should but I don’t actually believe it

Given that I have zero medical training what I think about it is irrelevant of course and yet:

An end to the Aids epidemic could be in sight after a landmark study found men whose HIV infection was fully suppressed by antiretroviral drugs had no chance of infecting their partner.

The success of the medicine means that if everyone with HIV were fully treated, there would be no further infections.

Among nearly 1,000 male couples across Europe where one partner with HIV was receiving treatment to suppress the virus, there were no cases of transmission of the infection to the HIV-negative partner during sex without a condom. Although 15 men were infected with HIV during the eight-year study, DNA testing proved that was through sex with someone other than their partner who was not on treatment.

It is indeed possible to wipe out diseases where humans are the only ones that get it. Smallpox proved that, we’re damn close with polio too. Where there’s a reservoir in anther species – plague, leprosy, say – then we can’t. And yet I don’t really believe this with HIV.

We know that it is highly adaptable, it mutates all the time. All it takes is one more mutation around that current treatment and off we go again.

And given human propensities I think we would be off again. Something that reduces the cost of unprotected sex is, among us shaved apes, going to increase the amount of unprotected sex. Actually eliminating HIV from those currently infected might work but suppressing it? Doubt is somehow.

Sure, it’s great that we’ve stopped infection and all that but the elimination is the bit I suspect ain’t gonna happen.

Shouldn’t be too difficult

Risk of obesity can be accurately predicted in babies, study finds

Look at the parents, if they’re land whales likelihood is so will the kiddie be.

Doesn’t matter whether we think that land whaleism is genetic or environmental as learned experience within the family. Looking at the parents will still tell.

Which does lead to an interesting question. We’ve all sorts of studies of twins raised separately and together to look at things like shirtlifting, intelligence and so on. Has anyone ever had a look through the same studies to look at obesity? That assumes that weight was measured in them but would have thought that would be a normal sort of thing for people to have done.

So, BiG, others. Anyone know?

Interesting cause of death

Well, actually, rather common I expect. But to see it listed:

She died of frailty of old age on April 11, 2019, aged 83

I just wonder, is that actually a diagnosis? Something that would appear on a death certificate?

I mean, sure, I can well believe that this happens to some/a lot. Just generally stuff gives out. But is modern medicine willing to say so?

Hadn’t noticed myself

Men with beard have more gems than dogs

I don’t think I got richer than the pooch when I grew my beard. Or, rather, stopped shaving out of boredom at having to.

Men’s beards carry more germs than dogs do in their fur, a study has found. Scientists looked at the levels of bacteria lurking in 18 men’s facial hair and 30 dogs from different breeds.

‘The researchers found a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from the men’s beards compared with the dogs’ fur,’ Professor Andreas Gutzeit, of Switzerland’s Hirslanden Clinic, said.