UK over-medication crisis

Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are becoming hooked on powerful pharmaceutical drugs. That’s the finding of a review published by Public Health England (PHE). Reporting on 5 classes of medications associated with dependence and withdrawal problems, the review found prescriptions were issued for such drugs to 1 in 4 UK adults to the year ending March 2018. Designed for short-term use, a collapsing NHS is resulting in long waits for treatment leaving many patients addicted and dependent. Such issues can only be tackled with some serious out-of-the-box thinking coupled with creative and system challenging changes.

Push to drive low cholesterol levels continues

The push to drive cholesterol levels even lower in as many people as possible continues with the announcement of yet another new drug. Not content with just blocking the cholesterol pathway, Inclisiran (a twice-yearly injection), works by ‘silencing’ the PCSK9 gene controlling the production of a protein that helps regulate the amount of cholesterol in our blood. Hailed as the next big thing in cholesterol management research, the injection is targeted at those already taking maximum doses of statins and ezetimube. The announcement comes as the heavily pharma-influenced ESC/EAS Clinical Practice Guidelines for the management of dyslipidaemias has been updated to recommend a >50% LDL-C reduction. This is despite new research presented at the ESC Congress 2019 underpinning the role of diet and lifestyle in the development of cardiovascular disease in younger people. Although touted as a safe alternative to statins, the unknown and untested consequences of blocking a system crucial to health remain to be seen. What we do know is that these drugs, if approved, will provide a huge boost to pharma profits.

Drinking more than 2 soft drinks a day increases risk of dying early

Whether they are sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners, drinking more than 2 soft drinks a day can increase your risk of dying early. That’s the conclusion of researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) publishing in Jama Internal Medicine who analysed data from over 450,000 people across 10 European countries involved in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) between 1992 and 2000. Despite the conclusions of the study it’s likely those who drink more soft drinks have a poorer diet overall also putting them at higher risk of obesity and related chronic diseases.

Get active in nature to live longer

New research presented at the ESC Congress 2019 confirms the importance of being active in promoting good health. As part of the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (The HUNT Study), researchers found that the more sedentary a person was, the higher their risk of dying early. The good news is that those who increased their level of activity were able to compensate for previous inactivity to promote positive changes to their health. In another new study, researchers from the Universities of Warwick, Newcastle and Sheffield found living close to nature improves our mental health and wellbeing. Living within 300 meters of a green space was associated with an 8% increase in self-worth and 5% increase in happiness. Our Health Hack videos contain lots of tips to help you not only move more, but get out in nature as well.

Thailand relaxes CBD regulations

In a surprising move, regulators in Thailand are reported to have issued a royal gazette allowing the use of hemp and CBD extracts containing less that 0.2% THC in herbal products, food and cosmetics as well as supporting the growing of hemp as a cash crop. Thailand also became the first South East Asian country to legalise the use of medical cannabis earlier in the year.

Germany to ban glyphosate

Germany has become the latest EU country to announce a ban on glyphosate use. The ban will come into force from the end of 2023, which it’s estimated will result in a 75% reduction in use of products containing the controversial chemical. Objections have been raised by Bayer and farmers. The ban is one of a series of measures designed to protect the environment announced by the Environment Minister, Svena Schule.