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Monstrous mice, Parliament helps with your New Year’s resolutions and CPAP blows patients ‘up like balloons’

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Monday 9 January.

Anyone who’s ever enjoyed a drink now and then has used the excuse that a glass of red wine is good for the heart and that a little alcohol in your diet is a healthy option. However, our friends in Westminster have waded in to ruin everybody’s fun and serve up a large helping of guilt to kick off the New Year.

According to the Guardian, MPs feel the health benefits of alcohol have been ‘oversold’. In fact, research since the introduction of daily alcohol intake guidelines has found ‘it is clear that any protective effects would only apply to men over 40 years and post-menopausal women’. This has sparked talk that the guidelines, which currently say it’s fine for a man to drink 3-4 units a day and a woman to drink 2-3, should be revised.

The parliamentary science and technology committee has therefore called for the nation to try to take just two days a week off from drinking. The call is mostly likely in accord with many people’s New Year’s resolutions and any change in habits will no doubt be abandoned by February.

Another popular resolution at this time of year is to lose a bit weight, people normally achieve this through healthy eating and exercise; the Mail however, reports today on a team of scientists working with ‘monster mice’ to produce an ‘obesity pill’. The team at Leipzig University is analysing the tissue samples of both obese people and animals, focusing on parts of the brain that are involved in the regulation of hunger in the hope of developing a treatment.

Finally, the Telegraph has a piece this morning which suggests the cure for sleep apnoea may be no better than the ailment. Sleep apnoea, whereby breathing is interrupted during the night, causes chronic exhaustion and loud snoring (therefore also chronic exhaustion for the sufferer’s partner). 

Patients who don’t want to have corrective throat surgery can opt for a sleeping mask which pumps air into the airways to keep them open, but which one user said bloated him up ‘like a balloon’. While consulting the 100-page manual, ‘to his dismay, he found buried in the text a warning that there was no guarantee that the CPAP device might not be lethal’. The patient told the Telegraph: ‘I decided any inconvenience of my condition did not justify the risk of dying from the treatment.’