Surrey Circle Health – May Health News
Health News – May 2024
8 May 2024
Surrey Circle Health – June Health News

Welcome to your monthly edition of the more notable health news stories from the past month as compiled by the ever discerning MD of SCH, Daniel Donoghue. As we welcome summer in, let’s hope the predictions of plenty of precipitation to be unfounded, as we look forward to a summer of sport, firstly with the European international football championship in Germany, followed by the Olympics no less based in France. Until next weekend when the footie kicks off, as always please enjoy your health news round-up:

10th The Telegraph: – Almost Half of Cancer Cases Linked to Obesity

Nearly half of all cancer cases are linked to obesity, research has found. The study of more than four million adults, who were tracked for decades, found excess weight could be fuelling more than 30 types of the disease. Experts said the findings, which will be presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Venice, were “groundbreaking.”

Health charities urged ministers to act on the “wake-up-call”, with obesity already estimated to cost the country almost £100 billion a year, including £19 billion in NHS costs. Victoria Atkins, the Health Secretary, said the Government was taking “strong action” to tackle obesity, with a drive to harness technology to overhaul lifestyles expected this summer. “I want us all to be able to lead longer, healthier lives,” she said.

The study, led by Lund University in Malmo, Sweden, involved 4.1 million participants who were monitored for about 40 years, with close monitoring of their weight and lifestyle. Over the period, 332,500 cancers were identified. In 40 per cent, there appeared to be a link between excess weight and the development of cancer. There are an average of 390,000 cancer diagnoses in the UK annually, meaning that around 150,000 of them could be linked to obesity.

In total, researchers identified 32 types of cancer with an obesity link. Previously, international research had identified 13 types of cancer which were linked to being overweight or obese, including bowel, breast, womb and kidney. The new study found that a five-point increase in body mass index (BMI) appeared to increase the risks of such cancers by 24 per cent for men and 12 per cent for women.


13th Metro – Blood Victims ‘Treated Like Lab Chimps’

Medical experts compared haemophiliac patients to laboratory chimpanzees before later injecting people with a blood plasma product that killed them or ruined their lives, documents reveal. Around 30,000 patients were given Factor 8 in the 1970s and 1980s, often without consent. But the plasma – from a pool of paid donors including US prisoners – contained hepatitis and HIV.

Today, Metro can reveal that, in one document, a Scottish Blood Transfusion Service meeting in 1983 was told: ‘Even if chimpanzee studies were satisfactorily completed, studies in high risk patients, e.g. haemophilliacs, should still be carried out. We might wish to consider this as an alternative to chimpanzee studies.’ Another of the documents found by campaign group Factor 8, reveals the government-funded Medical Research Council was told as early as 1970 that the products ‘have been found to transmit this form of hepatitis to chimpanzees’ but they were ‘a clumsy experimental animal.’

A week later, it revealed a scientist wanted to conduct more hepatitis experiments on chimps but the animals were ‘expensive, their supply was limited and maintenance costs were high.’ Kate Burt, Haemophilia Society chief executive, said she hoped a final report by the Infected Blood Inquiry – due in days after a six-year inquiry – would finally reveal ‘who knew what and when, and why did they decide that this community was expendable?”

The  medical disaster resulted in about 4,900 people with haemophilia becoming infected, almost all with hepatitis. But 2,500 of these were co-infected with bot hepatitis and HIV. Of the group infected with Hepatitis C and HIV, only 250 are still alive today. Survivor Roger Newman, 56 – infected with hepatitis A and B during haemophilia treatment as a boy – told Metro no consent was given for his treatment, and there was no conversation with doctors.

Rebecca Pagliaro, 38 – ten when dad Neil King died – said haemophiliac boys like him were used as they were ‘cheaper than chimps’. She added: ‘It’s too painful. They were seen as less than that.’ Infected Blood Inquiry chief Sir Brian Langstaff has said ‘failures – systematic , individual and organisational failures – will finally be exposed.’ An MRC spokesperson told Metro in a statement it had supported the work of the Infected Blood Inquiry since 2018 and contributed to its investigation.

Prof Marc Turner, director of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, acknowledged language used in the 1983 document was ‘unacceptable’, adding that blood services had changed ‘a great deal’, including more stringent donor selection. Factor 8 group founder Jason Evans, whose father died after he was infected with HIV and hepatitis, said companies knew of the dangers but ‘used these products in people rather than animals.’ He added: ‘It’s crazy even if people had given consent. What makes this totally scandalous is people did not give consent. As a result, people’s lives were ruined – or ruined and will be taken in the future.’

Mr. Burt said: ‘Statistically, the numbers are horrifying and the long-term psychological impact disastrous. ‘Another horrendous thing is that the surviving infected are waiting for the co-morbidities to hit them – whether it’s liver cancer or something else. ‘Every story you hear has multiple layers of loss – loss of the ability to have children, loss of careers, having to give up careers to be carers, not getting married. Every normal stage of life was derailed.’ Haemophilia is an inherited disorder where blood does not clot properly. Most with the condition have a shortage of the protein that enables human blood to clot. The new treatment was developed to replace the missing clotting agent but, Ms. Burt says, was ‘inherently dangerous’ due to the pool of people used as donors.

‘Nothing finishes on May 20 when the report comes out’, Ms. Burt added. ‘But it is just a major and significant milestone that we hope will expose the truth of what happened.’

8th The Telegraph – AstraZeneca to Withdraw Covid Vaccine

After more than three billion doses, the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is being withdrawn. AstraZeneca said it was “incredibly proud” of the vaccine, but it had made a commercial decision.

It said the rise of new coronavirus variants meant demand had shifted to the newer updated vaccines. Its vaccine was estimated to have saved millions of lives during the pandemic, but also caused rare, and sometimes fatal, blood clots.

In the race to lift the world out of pandemic lockdowns, the Covid vaccine was developed by scientists at the University of Oxford in record time. A process that normally takes 10 years was accelerated down to about 10 months. In November 2020 it was heralded as “a vaccine for the world” as it was far cheaper and easier to store than other Covid vaccines. The pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca had agreed to manufacture it en masse.

Initially, it was the cornerstone of the UK’s plans to vaccinate our way out of lockdown. “The truth is it made an enormous difference, it was what lifted us out of the catastrophe that was unfolding at the time, combined with the other vaccine from Pfizer”, said Prof Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol.

However, its reputation was dented as unusual blood clots emerged as a rare side effect of the vaccine, and the UK turned to alternatives. In a statement, AstraZenica said: “According to independent estimates, over 6.5 million lives were saved in the first year of use alone. Our efforts have been recognised by governments around the world and are widely regarded as being a critical component of ending the global pandemic.”

It said the development of new vaccines that more closely match the mutated forms of Covid that are now circulating meant there was a “surplus of available updated vaccines”, leading to a “decline in demand” for its vaccine which is “no longer being manufactured or supplied.” Prof Finn added: “I think the withdrawal of the vaccine simply reflects it’s no longer useful. It’s turned out that this virus is very agile and its evolved away from the original vaccines, so they have in a sense become irrelevant and only the reformulated vaccines are likely to be being used now.”  

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So there you have good reader, another month’s round-up which I trust that you found insightful and even illuminating – With all 3 articles making some quite striking and profound observations. Until next month, please stay fit & well, enjoy the Euros, and may the best team win (surely not pens again!).

Your sincerely

Kindest regards,

Daniel

Daniel Donoghue

MD, Surrey Circle Health

Specialist ‘Whole of Market’ Private Medical Insurance Broker

Surrey Circle Health – June Health News

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