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Rickets on the rise and Cliff, the superbug-detecting beagle

The BBC website was full of health news today. It appears that those ‘Monday Blues’ are the reason that many patients miss GP appointments.

A study done at Glasgow University found that patients were more likely to turn up to surgery appointments if they were at the end of the week.

The team recommends that GPs try to have more appointments on Thursday and Friday as it would have both health and financial benefits.

Monday was the worst day for appointments leading researchers to believe there was a psychological cause. Past research has shown that different days of the week illicit different emotions with Monday being the most negative while Friday is the most positive.

Dr Robert Jenkins, one of the authors, said it appeared that patients were susceptible to this week’s psychological cycle. He said: ‘Missed appointments seem to follow the psychological peaks and troughs of the weekly cycle, with emotionally positive days boosting patient resilience and improving attendance.’

Another BBC article reported how everyone could get the added the longevity of an Olympian if they did a little more exercise.

Research published by the BMJ found that on average Olympians live 2.8 years longer than the average life span.

It suggested that by doing 150 minutes a week of moderate to intensive exercise non-Olympians could also live longer.

The studied looked at 25,000 Olympian athletes going as far back as 1986. Contactless sports, such as rowing and cycling, appeared to give the greatest benefit while contact sports such as boxing gave the least benefit.

In news that makes you feel like you’re in the Victorian times the Guardian says cases of rickets are on the rise due to lack of vitamin D.

Over the last 15 years there has been a fourfold increase in the number of cases reports the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Doctors say that ministers need to start a public campaign to inform people about the dangers of having too little vitamin D in your diet.

Interventions, such as low cost supplements, are needed because of how little sunlight is seen in Britain and the fact that foods that are rich in vitamin D only offer 10 per cent of the ideal amount.

Finally in ‘ahh’ news the Independent reports that a beagle called Cliff is being trained to smell out patients with the superbug.

This has been seen as a quicker and cheaper way of testing for Clostridium Difficile since Cliff can go around the hospital ward in 10 minutes. When he comes to a patient with C Difficile he sits down next to their bed.

Tests of Cliff’s skill are being done in two Amsterdam hospitals. Cliff is correctly identifying 25 out of 30 patients and 265 out 170 negative controls.

A dog’s nose is 500-600 times stronger than a human’s and has already been shown to be able to detect many cancer samples such as bladder, breast, bowel and skin.

However, there may be one drawback to using Cliff which is he may spread infections during his rounds.

Details of Cliff’s performance are published in the British Medical Journal by Dutch researchers from the University Medical Centre in Amsterdam.