Contraception is key to reproductive health

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WCD pic

Today is World Contraception Day, a worldwide campaign with a mission to improve awareness, knowledge and understanding of contraception so that a world exists where every pregnancy is planned. The health of women and their knowledge about contraception and family planning prior to pregnancy plays vital roles in ensuring a healthy pregnancy and good health outcomes for the mother and baby.

This is particularly important in empowering young people to make informed decisions, which impact on their sexual and reproductive health and is supported by Non-Governmental Organizations including The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Women Deliver (WD), as well as scientific and medical societies with an emphasis on sexual and reproductive health …

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Turmeric, the hot topic: Spicing-up brain repair and regeneration

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Image credit: Giovanni Dall'Orto/Wikimedia Commons

Any cook or foodie savouring South Asian and Middle Eastern dishes, will prize the key spice, the mustard coloured turmeric powder. In this guest post, Deirdre Hoban, a PhD student from Galway Neuroscience Centre, informs us that the spice’s uses extend beyond one’s culinary needs as it could serve a role in modern medicine.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous plant of the ginger family that is conventionally used as a spice in Asian cuisine due to its characteristic yellow colour and pungent aroma. However, it has also been used for centuries as a remedy for various ailments in traditional Eastern medicine. The role of turmeric in traditional medicine is indicated by its presence in medicinal preparations described in traditional Ayurvedic medicine

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Females dominate throughout history

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Chromosomes

Not only do our genes hold information about us, they can also tell us a great deal about the history of our species. This includes details about ancient migrations, subpopulation size and structure, and even estimates of the overall human population size at any one time. In addition, different parts of the genome can tell us different branches of our history; the Y chromosome is passed on through the male line, and can provide information about paternal family history. Conversely, we inherit our mitochondrial DNA from our mothers, providing insights into our maternal branch ancestors.

New research published today in Investigative Genetics reveals that the effective female population has been larger than the male population throughout human history, …

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Why we need to increase the UK’s consent rate for organ donation

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organ donation box (deceased)

 

An analysis of the organ donation protocols of 48 countries has been published in BMC Medicine today, studying the differences between opt-in and opt-out systems. In this guest post, Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at National Health Service (NHS) Blood and Transplant, tells us about why we need more people to consent to organ donation.

As director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant I’m delighted to have seen huge increases not just in the numbers of deceased organ donors over the last few years, but also in the numbers of patients benefitting from a transplant.

However, I want to explain why we can’t rest on our laurels and why we still have a …

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Dementia: Can we reduce the risk?

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September is World Alzheimer’s Month. Today’s guest author, Marc Wortmann, the Executive Director at Alzheimer’s Disease International talks about the international campaign and the recommendations laid out by this year’s annual report.

World Alzheimer’s Month is the global awareness month for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. This is an important month to have because in large parts of the world dementia is still considered a normal part of ageing, rather than a disease of the brain. Alzheimer’s Disease International coordinates awareness and public policy efforts and uses this month to launch its World Alzheimer Report.

This year, the World Alzheimer Report 2014 focuses on modifiable risk factors. It shows there is strong evidence that cardiovascular risk factors, as well as …

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Not motivated enough? How you can get walking more (with the help of science)

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childwalkingdog

Today is World Car-free Day. As the planet heats up and our sedentary behavior increases, it may be time to face up to the facts: we really ought to walk more often. That’s easier said than done. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to find the encouragement to ditch our vehicles. 

You may have seen in the news last week that commuters who choose public transport, ride a bike or walk to their offices will often feel better, both mentally and physically, compared to those that go by car. Yet despite that, people still decline the healthier option. Why is this? Sometimes it requires the right dose of motivation – but we all know motivation can be hard to come across. Thankfully …

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Time to reduce needless deaths from liver cirrhosis

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Cirrhosis_of_the_liver_(trichrome_stain)_(5690946257)

Our guest author, Ali. A. Mokdad is based at University of Texas and affiliated with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE). He is the lead author of a recent study published in BMC Medicine, focusing on deaths caused by liver cirrhosis. 

 

Liver cirrhosis is a costly disease that is devastating to families and their finances. Most of these deaths are preventable, however. Countries can reverse the tide of liver cirrhosis by implementing a variety of cost-effective solutions.

When my colleagues and I saw just how many deaths occurred each year as a result of liver cirrhosis, we decided to write a paper to raise awareness about these disease trends and the steps that could be taken …

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Frontiers in Zoology article wins IgNobel Prize

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Body orientation in dogs from Hart et al. Frontiers in Zoology 2013

When people ask me why I like working in scientific publishing I tell them that one of the many reasons is it gives me the chance to inspire curiosity in people in some of the amazing scientific and medical research being done. This is exactly what the IgNobel Prizes are about – “honoring achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”

Last night the IgNobel Prizes were awarded during a ceremony that took place at Harvard University. The winner in the Biology category was Hynek Burda and colleagues for their article ‘Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field’ published in Frontiers of Zoology. It certainly has piqued so many people’s curiosity – …

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Jeans for Genes Day: putting the spotlight on genetic diseases

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While not all rare diseases are genetic, individual genetic disorders are rare. But despite individual genetic disorders being rare, collectively they affect 1 in 25 children. Furthermore, 80% of rare diseases are caused by faulty genes. Therefore when we discuss genetic diseases it is in essence a discussion on rare diseases.

Today marks Jeans for Genes Day, a fundraising event organized by Genetic Disorders UK to raise money for causes that help children with genetic diseases. There are more than 6,000 known genetic disorders, and this number is constantly increasing as patient sequencing technologies become more accessible. Genetic diseases can affect a person’s senses, movement, ability to learn or appearance, and can range from split-hand/split-foot malformation, a congenital …

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The Jolie effect – increasing options for patients

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Angelina Jolie 2 June 2014 (cropped)" by Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Celebrity endorsements for campaigns are so common they can feel meaningless – see the ‘stars’ who added their Yes or No in the run up to the Scottish referendum or, more pertinently the array of hot twenty-somethings who will line up in pink T-shirts for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Occasionally though something happens that has a genuine effect on patients’ – or prospective patients’ – lives.

Last summer, actress and human rights campaigner Angelina Jolie published a moving article, ‘My medical choice’, in the New York Times about her decision to be tested for the BRCA gene mutation and subsequently to have a double mastectomy to protect against her 87% chance of developing breast cancer.

A BRCA mutation confers a …

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