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‘Pills worsen headaches’, ‘Statins for Alzheimer’s’, ‘Surgery cure for diabetes’

The big national health stories dissected

The big national health stories dissected

‘Pills worsen headaches'

The story

Overuse of painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin or triptans worsen headaches in women suffering from migraines, the Daily Mail reports.

The source

City of London Migraine clinic called for a national campaign to warn people of the risks of headache tablets, and said pharmaceutical companies should highlight the risk of worsening headaches on product information.

Expert view

Dr Daniel Dawson, director of headache services at King's College Hospital, London, said: ‘This report just confirms what we've known for over 15 years. Daily headaches are caused by too many painkillers and are down that slippery slope of analgesic dependency. We need to encourage patients to come into practices when they suffer from headaches and offer them preventative medicine to stop the cycle.'

‘Statins for Alzheimer's'

The story

Statins can ward off dementia and memory loss and protect against Alzheimer's disease, report the Independent and Times.

The source

Research in the journal Neurology studied 110 brains donated for medical research to the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. Led by Dr Gail Li, the researchers examined the brains for ‘plaques' and ‘tangles', which eventually damage neurones to trigger dementia. But the team found far fewer tangles in the brains of people who had taken statins, compared with those who had not.

Expert view

Professor Clive Ballard, professor of age-related disease at King's College London and director of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: ‘There are a number of epidemiological studies that have already shown statins could lower the risk of Alzheimer's. There is a close relationship between amyloid – the protein producing the plaques – and cholesterol in the brain. Statins could be influencing the clearance of amyloids.'

‘Surgery cure for diabetes'

The story

Patients with type 2 diabetes could be offered gastric surgery after researchers found it had the potential to permanently cure the condition, say The Guardian and New Scientist.

The source

A small-scale clinical trial, published in Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, reported up to 98% of obese patients with late-onset diabetes appeared to be cured within weeks of surgery. Researchers led by Professor Francesco Rubino, a surgeon at the Catholic University of Rome, started the trial late last year with seven volunteers – with the first two now living without diabetes medication.

Expert view

Mr Simon Dexter, a consultant at Leeds general infirmary and member of the Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons of Great Britain, said: ‘There is no reason why this type of surgery can't be introduced in the UK. What's new is looking at using gastric surgery in people with normal weight. But we have to get the risk balance right and understand whether the procedure is safe enough before carrying out this type

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