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Hay fever to last longer but vaccine on the horizon, heart risk of common painkillers, and testicular cancer risk in young cannabis smokers

A round-up of the health news headlines on Tuesday 11 September

If you wondered why your eyes were still itching deep into September, today we learn in the Guardian  that climate change will extend the pollen season by as much as six weeks. But fear not says BBC News Online a cheaper and more effective vaccine is in development.

A Health Protection Agency report on the health effects of climate change says earlier flowering, new species growing in the UK and more potent allergenic pollen will all mean extra suffering for those with hay fever.

Professor Roy Kennedy, University of Worcester, who contributed to the report said it was not a trivial matter. ‘Hay fever and asthma significantly reduce quality of life and have a significant economic impact on society.'

Meanwhile researchers at Imperial College London and Kings College London are investigating the effects of a hay fever vaccine injected superficially into the skin. Early tests published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology approach suggest it may help turn off the allergic response and clinical trials are starting. Maureen Jenkins, the director of clinical services at Allergy UK, said: ‘The proposed vaccine, if successful, is much quicker and more straightforward than current immunotherapy treatment for hay fever, which takes years.'

Common painkillers can increase the chances of a second heart attack or death in those who have already had a heart attack, says the Daily Mail. It comes from a Danish study of 100,000 people who had had a heart attack, which found that NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, increased the risk of death from any cause by 59 per cent one year after their heart attack, and 63 per cent higher after five years. The risk of having another heart attack or dying from coronary artery disease was 30 per cent higher one year later and 41 per cent higher after five years, the study in Circulation reported.

Study leader Dr Schjerning Olsen said: ‘The results support previous findings suggesting that NSAIDs have no apparent safe treatment window among heart attack patients, and show that coronary risk related to using the drugs remains high, regardless of the time that has passed since the heart attack.'

In recent weeks it was widely reported that regular cannabis use in adolescence can lower IQ. Now the Daily Telegraph reports on a study which found that young men who smoke marijuana recreationally are twice as likely to be diagnosed with testicular cancer. Analysis of data from 163 young men with testicular cancer and 300 controls showed that 81 per cent of those with cancer had used cannabis at some point compared with 70 per cent of the control group. The link seems to be specific to nonseminoma tumours. The researchers said the results published in the journal Cancer backed up previous findings. Study leader Victoria Cortessis, University of Southern California, Los Angeles said: ‘This is the third study consistently demonstrating a greater than doubling of risk of this particularly undesirable subtype of testicular cancer among young men with marijuana use.'

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