Friday Five

Vaping risks, prescription heroin, face transplants, and Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba – this week’s Friday 5

Vaping can damage immune system

A study has found that vaping may be more harmful than previously thought. Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that e-cigarette vapour disabled important immune cells in the lung and boosted inflammation. They said the effects were similar to those seen in regular smokers and people with chronic lung disease.

A review by Public Health England, published in February of this year, concluded that there was overwhelming evidence that vaping is safer than smoking. Researchers have cautioned that more studies must be done to better understand the health impact.

Read more on the BBC.


Norway to give drug addicts ‘free heroin’

In a bid to combat the country’s overdose epidemic, Norway are trialling an experimental scheme to provide drug addicts with free heroin.

The programme will begin in 2020, and will see up to 400 addicts prescribed the drug for medicinal purposes. Norway has the highest rate of overdose mortality in Europe with such deaths accounting for 80 per million people in 2015.

Medical heroin therapy is already adopted or tested in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark and supporters of the scheme believe it will reduce death and crime rates.

Read more in the Independent.


Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba wins appeal

A doctor convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence over the death of a six-year-old boy in her care has won her bid to be reinstated to the medical register.

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, a junior doctor specialising in paediatrics, was held responsible for the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock, who suffered heart failure after going into septic shock while in her care at Leicester Royal infirmary in 2011. She was removed from the medical register in January, after the General Medical Council (GMC) appealed against a decision that she be suspended for a year. But three appeal court judges ruled on Monday that the divisional court had been wrong to interfere with the earlier decision.

Bawa-Garba welcomed the appeal court’s decision. “I’m very pleased with the outcome, but I want to pay tribute and remember Jack Adcock, a wonderful little boy that started the story, I want to let the parents know that I’m sorry for my role in what has happened to Jack.”

Read more in the Guardian.


Drugs could reduce the need for liver transplants

A potential treatment for sudden liver failure could reduce the need for transplants, say scientists at the University of Edinburgh.

The therapy is a cancer drug that restores the liver’s natural ability to self-repair. The drug is still in early stages, but has a huge potential impact, as around 200 people in the UK suffer from sudden liver failure each year.

Read more on the BBC.


Babies in prams exposed to more pollution, study finds

Researchers at the Global Centre for Clean Air Research, at the University of Surrey, found that infants in prams are exposed to up to 60% more pollution than adults. It is suggested this is due to them being lower to the ground and closer to exhaust pipes.

Roadside pollution contains high levels of toxic metals, which can the potential to impair brain development in infants, the research claims.

The authors of the study called for more to be done to reduce air pollution, but that in the meantime parents can reduce the risk to their children by using pram covers and avoiding pollution ‘hotspots’, such as traffic lights and bus stops”

Read more on the BBC.


Quote of the week

Our quote of the week is from Katie Stubblefield, who, at 21 years old, is the youngest person in the US to receive a face transplant.

“I get a second chance at life now. This is the beginning of another chapter.”

Photographers Maggie Steber and Lynn Johnson followed Katie’s story for over two years, throughout Katie’s operation and recovery. Read more in the National Geographic.