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What next for the designer baby debate, can using a mobile stop dementia, and is breast necessarily best?

By Lilian Anekwe

Our roundup of news headlines on Thursday 7 January.

There's hardly any room for health news in the press today – it's all been crowded out by the worst snow in 50 years, and the least secret and possibly most ineffective attempted coup I've seen in a while.

Several papers carry research that questions the old ‘breast is best' adage. The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mirror both report on a meta-analysis by Norwegian researchers concluding that breast milk may not actually be better after all.

Breast-fed babies are healthier, the study found, but that is more likely to be due to the benefit of a better hormone balance whilst in the womb.

But the Daily Mail still insists that the assertion is ‘likely to enrage' the breast-is-best lobby; bear in mind a story is only a story for the Daily Mail if someone, somewhere, is likely to be enraged.

Also in our favourite paper is research that suggests using mobile phones may improve memory and protect against Alzheimer's disease.

In what the Independent calls ‘the most unexpected scientific finding for some time', researchers claim that the electromagnetic waves mobile phones emit may improve cognitive function.

US scientists exposed mice to levels of radiation similar to that emitted by mobile phones for two hours a day for up to eight months – the equivalent of a frequent, but human, mobile phone user.

In the half of mice genetically altered to have similar symptoms to Alzheimer's disease, the exposure to electromagnetic waves appeared to cause the amyloid plaques in the brain that are thought to cause the illness to disappear.

But as ever, the research has been greeted with caution, and the Independent's story ends with a nice quote from Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, who says: ‘We don't recommend spending 24 hours a day on a mobile phone – we don't know the long term effects, and the bill could go through the roof.'

And finally, The Times reports that a leading geneticist, Dr David Goldstein of Duke University in North Carolina, says the demand for desiger babies is set to grow dramatically over the next decade.

As research uncovers more about the genetic origins of disease, the likelihood of a patient sitting in front of you and requesting DNA tests or embyro screening is becoming greater all the time.

Spotted a story we've missed? Let us know and we'll update the digest throughout the day...

Daily Digest