Google handed UK NHS patient data

Four UK NHS Trusts have signed a deal giving Google access to 5 years of sensitive patient data despite a previous deal being ruled non-compliant with data protection laws. The news has raised yet more concerns about the privacy of data patients haven’t consented to being shared which could now be harvested for commercial use. The deal comes as a result of Google’s acquisition of DeepMind Health a leading health technology developer. Given the projected value of NHS patient data it’s no wonder Big Tech companies such as Google are racing to gain access to one of the biggest pots of health data gold anywhere. 

Rates of cancer set to surge globally

The Cancer Atlas, Third Edition from the American Cancer Society in collaboration with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) projects a 60% increase in global cancer cases by 2040. Detailing risk factors, the burden of cancer in different world populations along with actions being taken, it acknowledges cancers caused by many of the main risk factors cited, including smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets, obesity and physical inactivity are preventable. With the economic burden of cancer globally in the billions of US dollars, the adoption of initiatives to create sustainable healthcare environments and systems geared to promoting health is critical.

Diet, depression and young people

A randomised controlled trial published in PLOS ONE provides new evidence that changing what you eat can reduce symptoms of depression in young adults. Levels of depression amongst young adults has risen significantly in the past decade. Many factors are thought to be at play, but diet is increasingly being recognised as a modifiable factor in tackling the issue. The new study found symptoms of depression reduced significantly in young adults who reduced the amount of processed foods they ate in favour of increasing vegetables and fruit. Participants reported lower levels of anxiety and stress and saw their depression ‘score’ reduce from moderate to normal. Diet has huge power to improve mental health particularly when combined with other interventions such as exercise, spending time in nature along with mindfulness or meditation practices.

Fasting and exercise

Exercising before breakfast burns more fat than exercising after eating. Involving thirty obese and overweight men, a new study found those who exercised before eating breakfast burned twice the amount of fat as those exercising after eating. Exercising in a fasted state encourages our bodies to burn fat as fuel and helps reset our metabolism. Timing of exercise didn’t have a major effect on weight loss, but those exercising before eating saw a dramatic overall improvement in their health lowering their risk of developing type-2 diabetes and heart disease. A new mouse study also supports the benefits of fasting before exercise. Mice that fasted (two meals a day) experienced increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin which researchers believe pushed them to exercise more. The benefits of fasting are myriad helping to reduce your risk of developing many of the chronic diseases that now afflict us as we age allowing you to live life to the full.

New charity to monitor UK patient safety

Following his tenure as Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP has launched a charity called Patient Safety Watch, to monitor patient safety and report on avoidable harm in the UK’s NHS. Research published this year revealed approximately 1 in 20 patients suffer preventable medical harm. It’s nothing new though. Dr Peter Gøtzsche suggested prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death. Studies commissioned by ANH a few years ago using data from the UK and EU found harms from mainstream medical treatments are one of the biggest preventable risks of early death in society, but natural forms of health management are amongst the safest available.

Biodiversity essential for crop production

Preserving biodiversity is essential to creating sustainable food production systems globally. Monocultures reduce numbers of pollinating and pest-controlling insects in turn reducing crop yields according to a new study. The findings reinforce the need to move away from increasingly industrialised food production systems and return to sustainable agroecological systems that work with nature, not against it.