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  1. Stand up for health - study

    Standing rather than sitting during idle moments could help burn up fat and blood sugar, researchers report today.

    The Australian study is the latest to investigate the perils of spending too much time sitting.

    One recent analysis suggested employers find ways to ensure their staff spend part of the day working from a standing position.

    For the latest study, the researchers monitored nearly 800 adults, up to the age of 80, using activity monitors.

    They found that the more time people spent standing, the lower their levels of blood sugar and blood fats.

    They found that people who spent that two hours extra a day of standing rather than sitting was linked to an 11% reduction in weight and a 7.5cm - three inches - reduction in waist circumference.

    The findings are reported in the European Heart Journal.

    Julie Ward, of the British Heart Foundation, backed the findings.

    She said: “We know that people who spend long periods of time sitting down have been found to have higher rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

    “We are not saying you mustn’t sit down, but when you are break up sitting down for long periods of time. A common sense rule of thumb is to get up for five minutes every half an hour.

    “You can also reduce your sitting time at work by holding walking meetings, getting outside at lunchtime and simply taking five minutes to stand up and stretch."

    Researcher Dr Genevieve Healey, of the University of Queensland, Australia, said: “Standing takes up nearly a third of waking hours, and among this group of participants who could choose when they sat, stood or walked, the standing had health benefits.

    "Notably, we did not measure upper body movement, so someone could be standing up doing the dishes, which involves some extra physical activity.”

    Genevieve N. Healy et al. Replacing sitting by standing or stepping: associations with cardio-metabolic risk biomarkers European Heart Journal 31 July 2015; doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehv308

  2. Hospital finance problems mount

    Two troubled hospital groups have growing financial problems, regulators warned yesterday.

    The intervention by Monitor means that in eastern England the Peterborough and Stamford NHS Trust must find another £13 million of savings this year - while improving accident & emergency services.

    The trust has been plagued by financial problems after it emerged it could not afford to pay for its new hospital in Peterborough.

    In London, the St George's University Hospital group has faced a "sudden deterioration" in finances, Monitor said.

    It recorded a loss of £16.8 million in the last year and predicts a loss of some £46.2 million in the current year.

    Regional Monitor director Mark Turner said: “St George’s faces some serious financial challenges and needs to act decisively, so that patients can continue to receive quality healthcare.

    “Our action is designed to support the trust in getting a better grip on its finances by improving their financial management and planning.

    “These steps if implemented effectively and promptly should enable the trust to stabilise its financial position and improve how it is run.”

  3. How cancer delays disillusion patients

    Delays in cancer diagnosis undermine patients' confidence in their subsequent treatment, according to the latest findings of a major UK study today.

    The extent of the disillusionment came from a survey of some 13,300 people who saw a doctor three or more times before being referred for cancer testing.

    They were part of a survey of 60,000 cancer patients, which revealed the extent of the delays in diagnosis that underlie the UK's high death rates for cancer.

    Researchers found that these delayed patients expressed higher levels of dissatisfaction than others throughout their care.

    The findings are published in the European Journal of Cancer.

    Researcher Dr Georgios Lyratzopoulos, of University College, London, UK, said: “This research shows that first impressions go a long way in determining how cancer patients view their experience of cancer treatment.

    "A negative experience of diagnosis can trigger loss of confidence in their care throughout the cancer journey.

    “When they occur, diagnostic delays are largely due to cancer symptoms being extremely hard to distinguish from other diseases, combined with a lack of accurate and easy-to-use tests. New diagnostic tools to help doctors decide which patients need referring are vital to improve the care experience for even more cancer patients.”

    Sara Hiom, of Cancer Research UK, said: “This is the first time we’ve had direct feedback from patients on such a large scale to show how the timeliness of their diagnosis colours their experience of the care they later receive.

    "It’s another good reason to highlight the importance of diagnosing cancer as quickly as possible, not just to give patients the best chances of survival, but also to improve their experience of the care they receive throughout their cancer journey.”

    Mendonca S.C. et al, Pre-referral general practitioner consultations and subsequent experience of cancer care: evidence from the English Cancer Patient Experience Survey. European Journal of Cancer 31 July 2015; doi: 10.1111/ecc.12353

  4. Nutrition advice crucial to pregnancy

    Services need to step up the amount of advice they give to women about healthy eating during pregnancy, according to guidelines issued yesterday.

    The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence also wants care directed at women who may become pregnant.

    It suggests that health professionals focus on low-income and disadvantaged households.

    NICE wants pregnant women to eat one portion of oily fish a week and five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

    It also wants women who are obese following childbirth to be offered a structured weight-loss programme.

    And it says breastfeeding support from a service using an evaluated, structured programme.

    NICE deputy chief executive Professor Gill Leng said: "Women who may become pregnant need to be aware of the importance of a healthy diet as there’s most benefit from good nutrition before conception and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. There’s a strong link between poor maternal and child nutrition and deprivation, so improving the nutritional status of mothers and pre-school children who are disadvantaged is vital.

    "The quality statements set out the priority actions to enable better nutrition for women who become pregnant and their children – such as advice on eating healthily during pregnancy, and support for breastfeeding.

    "Making sure that these priority steps are put into practice will help to improve the health of mothers-to-be and give their babies the best start in life.”



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