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Rising cases of hepatitis C, a ‘superpill’ to cure Alzheimer’s disease and a tick that can turn you vegetarian

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 26 July

Feeling guilty about your sedentary lifestyle? Office workers burn as many calories as hunter-gatherers, said The Telegraph this morning.

Researchers found despite all the mod cons western men and women use similar amounts of energy as peers from the Hadza tribe who live as hunter-gatherers on the open savannah of Tanzania.

The study suggests that it might be our appetite and not our lack of exercise that has contributed to the obesity epidemic in the west. The rate at which we use up calories remains relatively constant regardless of lifestyle.

Herman Pontzer, of Hunter College in New York, who led the study with colleagues from Stanford and Arizona universities, said: ‘The vast majority of what we spend our calories on is things you will never see like keeping our organs and immune system going. Physical activity is just the tip of the iceberg.

'If you spend a bit more [energy] on something like physical activity, you spend a bit less on something else but you do not notice it. This study shows that you can have a very different lifestyle, but [energy use] all adds up to the same level no matter what.'

The researchers were also quick to note the other health benefits of exercise.

The Guardian led on the soaring numbers of people infected with the hepatitis C virus being admitted to hospital with potentially fatal liver disease.

New diagnoses in England rose from 7,892 to 9,908 in 2011, although this is thought to be down to increased testing thanks to publicity campaigns. 110 people registered for a liver transplant after hepatitis C-related cirrhosis, compared with 45 in 1996.

According to the Health Protection Agency, about 216,000 people in the UK are now thought to be infected but as the disease can take decades to manifest itself and at first as they have no symptoms, many people will be unaware of this.

Symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, nausea, flu-like symptoms, problems concentrating, abdominal pain and jaundice only occur when the liver becomes seriously damaged.

 

A ‘superpill' with the potential to treat Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and strokes has been given to humans for testing for the first time, reports the Daily Mail.

The results from animal studies are encouraging, and researchers say the pill may be able to stop Alzheimer's taking hold if given early enough.

Two of the drugs, known as MW151 and MW189, have been patented by US scientists at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Research published today in the Journal of Neuroscience showed how early treatment with MW151 prevented full-blown Alzheimer's in mice.

Co-author Dr Linda Van Eldik, director of the Sanders-Brown Centre on Aging at the University of Kentucky, said: 'The drug protected against the damage associated with learning and memory impairment. Giving this drug before Alzheimer's memory changes are at a late stage may be a promising future approach to therapy.'

 

The Mail also reported on three Americans who were turned vegetarian…after being bitten by a tick.

A carbohydrate compound injected into the bloodstram by the crafty ‘Lone Star' tick gave the subjects a severe meat allergy, meaning they suffered sever symptoms hours after eating red meat.

 

 

 

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