This site is intended for health professionals only

#GPnews: Researchers find vitamin D link to dementia

15:38 Heavy use of cannabis leads to low body weight and weak bones more likely to break, a study has found.

University of Edinburgh researchers scanned the bones of users and non-users, finding that heavy users had lower bone density and more fractures, 5% lower even than cigarette smokers.

The researchers said there was ‘a real concern that this may put them at increased risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures later in life’, writes the Independent.

13:30 A row has broken out over a study that claims anti-depressants could double the risk suicidal feelings, reports the Telegraph.

Danish researchers analysed 13 existing studies to see what the effects were on patients who did not have depression, finding that healthy patients experienced almost double the levels of anxiety and nervousness when they were given the drugs.

Lead researcher Professor Peter Gotzsche, from the Nordic Cochrane Centre, warned that such feelings could be ‘precursors to suicidality or violence’, although UK experts have criticised his reasoning.

Professor Gotzsche suggested the drugs are overprescribed, ‘being handed out to get people through a divorce, to go through exams’ and that they were the new ‘mother’s little helper’ in ‘the way Valium used to be’.

But Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford Professor Guy Goodwin said: ‘This manuscript claims to show that antidepressants double the risk of suicide and violence, but it does not. The methodology is fatally flawed and leads to conclusions that are highly misleading.

‘If “nervousness, anxiety, tremor, bad dreams and agitation events” are risk factors for suicide or violence, then probably the majority of people in the UK would be at risk of suicide or violence, which obviously isn’t so.’

11:48 The onset of dementia might be linked to a lack of vitamin D, according to a new study.

UK researchers looking at contributing factors found that vitamin D deficiency was a potential environmental cause, as was exposure to air pollution, pesticides and excessive levels of minerals in drinking water, reports the Daily Mail.

Dr Tom Russ, of the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘Our ultimate goal is to prevent or delay the onset of dementia. Environmental risk factors are an important new area to consider here, particularly since we might be able to do something about them.’

Known non-environmental factors include genetics, smoking and being overweight.

09:40 The number of people being admitted to hospital for allergic reactions or anaphylactic shock has risen by a dramatic 33% in just a few years.

Official statistics show a rise from 22,206 hospital admissions in 2011/12 to 29,544 in 2015/16.

Speaking to BBC News, Dr Donald Hodge from the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust put this down to ‘living in a much cleaner world’.

He said this was ’the main factor behind the rise’ as it has lowered people’s natural resistance to allergens.

He said: ‘We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of referrals for children who have developed allergies, and this is undoubtedly because living in a cleaner world has lowered our ability to build up a resistance to substances like dust and pollen.’

Seen something interesting? Email newsdesk@pulsetoday or tweet @pulsetoday with the hashtag #GPnews