Anna Altman: Life With Migraines

Headaches are one of the most common symptoms that patients report to their doctors, but their causes and manifestations vary so much that a diagnosis does little to help.

From the Greek hemi (“half”) and kranion (“skull”), migraine is associated with severe, throbbing, unilateral pain; an aversion to light and sound; and nausea and vomiting, all of which is aggravated by movement. But migraine may include or trigger many other symptoms. An attack may be announced by sudden exhaustion, food cravings, a foul mood, or what is called an aura, a neurological phenomenon that disrupts a migraineur’s vision with silvery squiggles and zigzags.

Read More

Virgin Care Wins £700m Contract To Run 200 NHS And Social Care Services

Sir Richard Branson’s health firm, Virgin Care, has won a £700m contract to deliver 200 types of NHS and social care services to more than 200,000 people in Bath and north-east Somerset.

The contract, which was approved on Thursday, has sparked new fears about private health firms expanding their role in the provision of publicly funded health services.

Virgin Care has been handed the contract by both Bath and North East Somerset NHS clinical commissioning group and Conservative-led Bath and North East Somerset council. It is worth £70m a year for seven years and the contract includes an option to extend it by another three years at the same price.

Read More

Junior Doctors To Stage ‘Masked March’ In Protest Over Contract

Organisers expecting morew than 3,000 people including Dame Vivienne Westwood and Vanessa Redgrave to march in London on Saturday afternoon

Dame Vivienne Westwood and Vanessa Redgrave are expected to join thousands of junior doctors and their supporters on Saturday as they stage a “masked march” protest over pay and conditions.

The demonstration comes ahead of a 24-hour walkout due to begin on Wednesday, when junior doctors across the country will provide emergency care only from 8am.

It will be the third time junior doctors have taken to the streets in protest at the government’s proposals, which it says aims to improve care over weekends.

Read More

French Drug Trial Leaves One Brain Dead And Five Critically Ill

French health minister travels to clinic in Rennes, where all trials of the drug have been suspended.

One person is brain dead and five others are seriously ill after taking part in a medical drug trial for an unnamed pharmaceutical firm at a clinic in north-west France.

The French health ministry said the six patients had been in good health until taking the oral medication. The ministry did not say what the new medicine was intended to be used for, but a source close to the case told AFP that the drug was a painkiller containing cannabinoids, an active ingredient found in cannabis plants.

The health minister, Marisol Touraine, said the six had been taking part in a “trial of an oral medication being developed by a European laboratory” in Rennes, Brittany.

Read More

MRSA Superbug Found In Supermarket Pork Raises Alarm Over Farming Risks

The discovery on UK shelves of pork contaminated with a livestock strain of MRSA prompts calls to curb misuse of antibiotics in intensive farming

Pork sold by several leading British supermarkets has been found to be contaminated with a strain of the superbug MRSA that is linked to the overuse of powerful antibiotics on factory farms, a Guardian investigation has revealed.
Livestock-associated MRSA CC398, which originates in animals, has been found in pork products sold in Sainsbury’s, Asda, the Co-operative and Tesco. Of the 100 packets of pork chops, bacon and gammon tested by the Guardian, nine – eight Danish and one Irish – were found to have been infected with CC398.

Read More

The Undercurrent: Why Are We Being Fed By A Poison Expert?

The Undercurrent delves into the world of mass agriculture to ask how one company has such control over food supply. The name Monsanto was once synonymous with Agent Orange, but today it’s the dominance of the widespread herbicide Roundup which helps keep the company on top. But is the World Health Organisation’s claim that Roundup ‘probably’ causes cancer, cause for concern? And what about the company’s stance on patenting which sees farmers in developing countries unable to hold on to seed? Guardian Australia has joined forces with The Undercurrent – an online news show billing itself as an antidote to the five-second soundbite – for a four-part series over June and July.

Read More

Stephen Hawking: ‘I Would Consider Assisted Suicide’

Stephen Hawking has said he would consider ending his own life if he became a burden to others or if he had “nothing more to contribute”.

But the physicist and cosmologist told a forthcoming BBC programme he knows he has much more scientific work to do, despite his advanced motor neurone disease.

“To keep someone alive against their wishes is the ultimate indignity,” Hawking, 73, told his interviewer, the comedian Dara O’Briain. “I would consider assisted suicide only if I were in great pain or felt I had nothing more to contribute but was just a burden to those around me.”

O’Briain, who himself has a degree in theoretical physics, said Hawking would give “impressively honest answers” in the programme, according to the Telegraph.

Read More

Does Paracetamol Do You More Harm Than Good?

GPs write millions of prescriptions for this painkiller each year and millions more packets are bought over the counter. It has generally been considered cheap, safe and effective. But should we think harder before we pop another pill?

You have a headache after a glass of wine too many. Your back aches from another day hunched over a keyboard. That old shoulder injury is playing up again. What do you do? There is a good chance that you will reach for the unglamorous white pills lurking in your medicine cabinet.

Paracetamol is the workhorse painkiller. GPs wrote 22.5m prescriptions for it in 2013. Around 200m packets of it are sold annually, accounting for two-thirds of the UK market for over-the-counter painkillers.

Read More

Common Pesticides Linked To Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics and herbicides, as it turns out, don’t mix. At least that’s the conclusion of a study published today in mBio, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Society for Microbiology, which found that if someone is exposed to both herbicides and antibiotics at the same time, higher doses of antibiotics will likely be needed to kill the offending bacteria.

It’s the first study of the effect of herbicides on antibiotics, and its findings could have implications for antibiotics resistance. The growing risk of disease from antibiotic-resistant pathogens is a huge public health concern, one that was recently prioritized by both the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control.

Read More

France To Force Big Supermarkets To Gve Unsold Food To Charities

French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed, under a law set to crack down on food waste.

The French national assembly voted unanimously to pass the legislation as France battles an epidemic of wasted food that has highlighted the divide between giant food firms and people who are struggling to eat.

Report by UK waste experts warns that growing global middle class could see £388bn worth of food wasted every year by 2030

As MPs united in a rare cross-party consensus, the centre-right deputy Yves Jégo told parliament: “There’s an absolute urgency – charities are desperate for food.

Read More