Health: News In Brief
Tuesday, August 3, 1999 Published at 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK
36-hour hospital wait for 87-year-old
An 87-year-old cancer patient had to endure a 36-hour wait before being admitted to a ward at one of Britain's top hospitals, it was claimed on Wednesday.
Great-grandmother Phoebe Booker was even forced to spend five hours on a porter's trolley while awaiting an emergency blood transfusion at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital.
She then spent a further 31 hours waiting in casualty, before being found a bed in one of the wards.
The hospital has faced an unprecedented rush of emergency patients in the last week, described as the biggest influx in its 20-year history, leading to a chronic shortage of beds throughout wards.
Tricia Hart, director of nursing for the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital Trust, said: "It is a very complex picture and there are no easy remedies. If 100 patients are admitted, obviously we need to discharge 100 to accommodate them, and this does take time."
Protein good for hearts, says study
A diet rich in protein may actually reduce the risk of heart disease, says a new study which contradicts previous advice suggesting it is harmful.
A 14-year study of more than 80,000 women, conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School, found that women with the highest protein intakes were 26% less likely to develop heart disease as those who ate the least.
It has been said previously that diets with high levels of animal products could be harmful.
Dr Frank Hu, who led the study, suggests that mixing more proteins with carbohydrates may help boost the levels of so-called "good" cholesterol, which protects against the disease.
Murder risk highest for babies
Babies under the age of one are more likely to be murdered than any other age group according to official statistics published on Tuesday.
The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, show that children aged between five and 14 are the least likely to be murdered.
Forty-four baby boys and 35 baby girls under one were murdered per million per year - most dying from a fractured scull or brain damage - compared to 33 men in their early 20s, generally considered a high risk group.
The figures also show a dramatic increase in the numbers of stabbings and shootings over the past 20 years.
GP struck off for unnecessary breast exam
A GP who carried out an unnecessary breast examination on a woman with suspected glandular fever after tricking his way into her home was struck off the medical register on Tuesday.
Umesh Nanda, who had been practising in Washington, Tyne & Wear, was told by Sir Donald Irvine, chairman of the General Medical Council Professional Conduct Committee that his behaviour had been "totally unacceptable".
The decision comes after Dr Nanda's conviction last December, at Newcastle Crown Court, on a charge of indecent assault, for which he pleaded guilty. He was given a sentence of nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years.
The GMC was told that Dr Nanda had telephoned the patient, known as Miss A, at her home in December 1997, claiming he had test results for her, in order to visit her.
He carried out an examination on the woman upstairs in her home in an attempt to justify his visit.
Hyperactivity treatments 'cut drug abuse'
Boys suffering attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are less likely to abuse drugs later in life if they take pharmaceutical treatments such as Ritalin.
The finding will reassure parents who have feared that putting their young children on medicatiopn would lead them into drug abuse later in life.
The study of more than 500 children with the condition found that those on treatments were a third less likely to turn to drug abuse than those who were not.
Alan Leshner, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, said: "While some clinicians have expressed concern about giving stimulants to children with ADHD because they fear it might increase the risk that these children will abuse stimulants and other drugs when they get older, this study shows exactly the opposite.
"Treating the underlying disorder, even if with stimulants, significantly reduces the probability they will use drugs later on."
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.
DNA switch for immune system
Doctors may be able to use bacterial DNA to turn the human immune system against cancer and other diseases.
The DNA affects dendritic cells - the master control cells in the immune system. The cells do not activate an assault on all infections, and usually ignore cancer cells.
But using the bacterial DNA - called CpG DNA - on human cells in a laboratory, the researchers at the University of Iowa were able to trigger a response.
Professor Arthur Krieg, professor of internal medicine at the university, said: "Our latest discovery provides an exciting new approach to harness the remarkable power of the immune system for therapeutic purposes."
The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
Muscular dystrophy gene reversal
A single injection of a virus carrying a modified gene has been shown to reverse the muscle wasting effects of muscular dystrophy in mice.
The researchers from Duke University say further experiments are needed to show if the therapy can be used in humans.
It works on a rare form of the inherited disorder called Pompe disease.
Co-author Dr Andrea Amalfitano said: "The heart and diaphragm muscles appeared to be especially responsive to the treatment.
"This is significant because failure of the heart or respiratory muscles are the primary cause of death in many people with Pompe disease."
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.