EMEA Health and Science Correspondent
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Dec 20, 2013

Revolutionary Robespierre may have had rare immune disease

LONDON (Reuters) – He was riddled with jaundice, pock-marked, bloody and twitchy.

A new scientific analysis shows French revolutionary Maximilien de Robespierre was probably suffering from an organ-destroying immune disorder called sarcoidosis when he was executed by guillotine in 1794.

Dec 20, 2013

For pre-diabetics, just 2,000 steps a day cuts heart attack risk

LONDON, Dec 20 (Reuters) – People who are already on the way
to developing diabetes could significantly reduce their risk of
having a heart attack or stroke by walking for just an extra 20
minutes a day for a year, scientists said on Friday.

A large international study of people with a condition
called impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) – a precursor to
diabetes – found that taking an extra 2,000 steps a day over one
year cut the risk of serious heart illness by 8 percent.

Dec 18, 2013

Scientists start to unpick narcolepsy link to GSK flu vaccine

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists have found that the sleep disorder narcolepsy can sometimes be triggered by a scientific phenomenon known as “molecular mimicry”, offering a possible explanation for its link to a GlaxoSmithKline H1N1 pandemic flu vaccine.

Results from U.S. researchers showed the debilitating disorder, characterized by sudden sleepiness and muscle weakness, can be set off by an immune response to a portion of a protein from the H1N1 virus that is very similar to a region of a protein called hypocretin, which is key to narcolepsy.

Dec 17, 2013

Scientists prove deadly human MERS virus also infects camels

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists have proved for the first time that the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus that has killed 71 people can also infect camels, strengthening suspicions the animals may be a source of the human outbreak.

Researchers from the Netherlands and Qatar used gene-sequencing techniques to show that three dromedary, or one-humped camels, on a farm in Qatar where two people had contracted the MERS coronavirus (CoV) were also infected.

Dec 16, 2013

Scientists query study saying ear acupuncture aids weight loss

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists derided research published on Tuesday that suggested ear acupuncture may help people lose weight, saying the study’s design was flawed and its conclusions highly implausible.

Responding to the findings of research published online in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, experts not involved in the work said it was unreliable and probably a waste of money.

Dec 12, 2013

Cancer deaths rise to 8.2 million, breast cancer sharply up

LONDON, Dec 12 (Reuters) – The global death toll from cancer
rose to 8.2 million in 2012 with sharp rises in breast cancer as
the disease tightened its grip in developing nations struggling
to treat an illness driven by Western lifestyles.

Cancer deaths were up 8 percent from 7.6 million in a
previous survey in 2008 and breast cancer killed 522,000 women
last year, up 14 percent in the same period, according to the
World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on
Cancer (IARC).

Dec 10, 2013

New H7N9 bird flu resists drugs without losing ability to spread

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists have found that a mutation in a new strain of bird flu infecting people in China can render it resistant to a key first-line treatment drug without limiting its ability to spread in mammals.

The discovery means that unlike seasonal flu strains, which often become less transmissible when they develop resistance to drugs like Roche’s Tamiflu, the new H7N9 bird flu does not lose any of its spreading potential with drug resistance.

Dec 6, 2013

Study casts doubt on whether extra vitamin D prevents disease

LONDON (Reuters) – Researchers cast doubt on the prevailing wisdom that vitamin D supplements can prevent conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, saying on Friday low vitamin D may be a consequence, not a cause, of ill health.

The findings could have implications for millions of people who take vitamin D pills and other supplements to ward off illness – Americans spend an estimated $600 million a year on them alone.

Dec 5, 2013

Dementia epidemic looms with 135 million sufferers seen by 2050

LONDON (Reuters) – Many governments are woefully unprepared for an epidemic of dementia currently affecting 44 million people worldwide and set to more than treble to 135 million people by 2050, health experts and campaigners said on Thursday.

Fresh estimates from the advocacy group Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) showed a 17 percent increase in the number of people with the incurable mind-robbing condition compared with 2010, and warned that by 2050 more than 70 percent of dementia sufferers will be living in poorer countries.

Dec 3, 2013

Health disparities ‘could be eliminated in a generation’: study

LONDON (Reuters) – Health disparities between rich and poor nations could be banished in a generation by investment in research, vaccines and drugs to combat diseases such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, global health experts said on Tuesday.

In a report setting out a plan for a “grand convergence” in health, the experts said world leaders needed to press for a concerted increase in research and development (R&D) investment to develop new medicines, vaccines and health technologies.

    • About Kate

      "I cover health and science news for the region of Europe, Middle East and Africa -- from flu pandemics to the newest planetary discovery to the latest drug and research developments. I joined Reuters in 1993 and worked in London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt before moving to BBC television to work on European politics for Newsnight for 2 years. Since returning to Reuters, I have also worked as a parliamentary correspondent in Westminster and on the main news desk of the London bureau."
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