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Wed, 14 Apr 2021
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Health

The sunshine superstar: study reveals Vitamin D as 'wonder vitamin'

Twenty minutes' lying in the sun this weekend could provide your best chance of avoiding colds and flu, according to new research which demonstrates that vitamin D, not vitamin C, provides the most efficient protection against cold viruses.

The exceptional spring weather, which is forecast to continue into next week with a high of 24C today, will offer the best opportunity so far this year to top up D-levels that have become depleted over the winter, scientists say.

Vitamin D is created by the action of sunlight on the skin and levels in all UK residents are at their lowest at this time of year, after the long winter. Short days and cloudy skies mean 60 per cent of the British population are deficient by the start of spring.

Health

Sweeping cancer edict: take vitamin D daily; supplement slashes risk of disease by as much as 60 per cent

The Canadian Cancer Society plans to announce Friday that all adults should start taking vitamin D, coinciding with the release of a groundbreaking U.S. study indicating the supplement cuts the risk of cancer by an astounding 60 per cent.

Question

UK:Pregnancy warning over faulty tests

Women who were given a negative pregnancy test result on the NHS this spring were last night urged to contact their doctor after a faulty batch of pregnancy testing kits was identified. Dozens of women could be months into a pregnancy without knowing it, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) warned.

Light Saber

Alarm over gender-bending chemical

An unusual mix of public health advocates, environmentalists and laundry workers joined yesterday in a petition demanding that federal authorities ban a chemical additive found in some household detergents and other cleaning agents.

The petition, which was submitted to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, also called for studies of human risks related to the dirt-lifting agents called nonylphenol ethoxylates, or NPEs.

Bomb

Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (Xdr-Tb): The Facts

What is XDR-TB?

TB can usually be treated with a course of four standard, or first-line, anti-TB drugs. If these are misused or mismanaged, multidrugresistant TB (MDR-TB) can develop. MDR-TB takes longer to treat with second-line drugs, which are more expensive and have more side-effects. If these drugs are also misused or mismanaged, extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) can develop. Because XDR-TB is resistant to first- and second-line drugs, treatment options are seriously limited and so are the chances of cure.

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Emergence of XDR-TB

WHO concern over extensive drug resistant TB strains that are virtually untreatable

5 SEPTEMBER 2006 - GENEVA - The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern over the emergence of virulent drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis (TB) and is calling for measures to be strengthened and implemented to prevent the global spread of the deadly TB strains. This follows research showing the extent of XDR-TB, a newly identified TB threat which leaves patients (including many people living with HIV) virtually untreatable using currently available anti-TB drugs.

Later this week, WHO will join other TB experts at a two-day meeting in South Africa (7-8 September) to assess the response required to critically address TB drug resistance, particularly in Africa, and will take part in a news conference scheduled for Thursday, 7 September in Johannesburg.

Bomb

314 XDR-TB cases reported in SA

A total of 314 cases of extreme drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) had been confirmed countrywide, with 214 deaths, according to acting health minister Jeff Radebe.

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'Virtually untreatable' TB found

A "virtually untreatable" form of TB has emerged, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

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About 1.7 million people die from TB globally each year

"This is very worrying, especially when mixed with HIV" - Dr Paul Nunn, WHO

"XDR TB is very serious - we are potentially getting close to a bacteria that we have no tools, no weapons against" - Paul Sommerfeld, Stop TB

Magnify

New interview technique could help police spot deception

Shifting uncomfortably in your seat? Stumbling over your words? Can't hold your questioner's gaze? Police interviewing strategies place great emphasis on such visual and speech-related cues, although new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and undertaken by academics at the University of Portsmouth casts doubt on their effectiveness. However, the discovery that placing additional mental stress on interviewees could help police identify deception has attracted interest from investigators in the UK and abroad.

Police manuals recommend several approaches to help investigators decide whether they are being told the truth. The principal strategy focuses on visual cues such as eye contact and body movement, whilst the Baseline Method strategy sees investigators compare a suspect's verbal and non-verbal responses during 'small talk' at the beginning of interview with those in the interview proper. A third, the Behavioural Analysis Interview (BAI) strategy, comprises a list of questions to which it is suggested liars and those telling the truth will give different verbal and non-verbal responses.

However, research has consistently found that cues offered in each of these scenarios are unreliable - a view confirmed by the ESRC-funded 'Interviewing to Detect Deception' study. A series of experiments involving over 250 student 'interviewees' and 290 police officers, the study saw interviewees either lie or tell the truth about staged events. Police officers were then asked to tell the liars from the truth tellers using the recommended strategies. Those paying attention to visual cues proved significantly worse at distinguishing liars from those telling the truth than those looking for speech-related cues. In another experiment, liars appeared less nervous and more helpful than those telling the truth - contrary to the advice of the BAI strategy.

Magic Wand

Have I been here before? Scientists identified a neuronal mechanism that our brains may use to rapidly distinguish similar, yet distinct places

"Have I been here before"? In today's fast-moving world of look-alike hotel rooms and comparable corridors, it can take a bit of thinking to answer this simple question. University of Bristol neuroscientists working with colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) report in the June 7 early online edition of Science that they have identified a neuronal mechanism that our brains may use to rapidly distinguish similar, yet distinct places.

The work could lead to treatments for memory-related disorders, as well as for the confusion and disorientation that plague elderly individuals who have trouble distinguishing between separate but similar places and experiences.

Forming memories of places and contexts in which episodes occur engages a part of the brain called the hippocampus. The laboratory of Nobel Laureate, Susumu Tonegawa, Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at MIT, has been exploring how each of the three hippocampal subregions-the dentate gyrus, CA1 and CA3-contribute uniquely to different aspects of learning and memory. In the current study, co-authors Matthew Jones, Research Councils UK (RCUK) Academic Fellow in the Department of Physiology at the University of Bristol and Dr Thomas McHugh, a Picower Institute research scientist, have revealed that the learning in the dentate gyrus is crucial in rapidly recognizing and amplifying the small differences that make each place unique.