Monkeypox virus, 42m adults in UK to be overweight by 2040, prostate cancer checks and contact lens to treat glaucoma – this week’s Friday Five
Nine people in UK diagnosed with monkeypox virus
Nine people have been diagnosed with monkeypox virus in the UK, with the majority of these cases living in London. Prof Kevin Fenton said health experts were watching the situation closely to see whether infections spread. He added it was a “very, very rare condition”, but they wanted to raise awareness among those at risk.
Monkeypox is usually associated with travel to West Africa. Symptoms include fever, headaches, swellings, aches and exhaustion, although experts say the chances of infection are low. Most of the cases so far are in men who are gay, bisexual or who have sex with men. However, monkeypox is not normally a sexually-transmitted infection. It can be passed on through direct contact during sex, but also touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash, touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs or the coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash.
Dr Susan Hopkins, the UKHSA’s chief medical adviser, previously said the group was “rapidly investigating the source of these infections because the evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact. We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay. We are contacting any potential close contacts of the cases to provide health information and advice.”
More than 42m UK adults ‘will be overweight by 2040’
More than 42 million adults in the UK will be overweight or obese by 2040 and at higher risk of 13 types of cancer, an “alarming” report reveals, as health leaders accused ministers of “kicking the can down the road” when it comes to tackling the obesity crisis. Data collected by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) shows that 71% of people will be overweight by 2040, a rise from 64% today. Of these, almost 36% of adults – 21 million people – will be obese. The charity described the figures as “staggering”.
Last week, the government announced it was delaying measures to tackle unhealthy eating for 12 months. The former Conservative party leader William Hague said the weakening of the anti-obesity strategy was “morally reprehensible”. The U-turn will mean a ban on buy-one-get-one-free deals for foods high in fat, salt and sugar will be postponed for 12 months. A ban on TV junk food adverts before a 9pm watershed has also been put on hold for a year.
Michelle Mitchell, the chief executive of CRUK, said “These projections should serve as a wake-up call to the government about the state of our nation’s health. Ministers mustn’t keep kicking the can down the road when it comes to tackling the obesity crisis – delaying measures that will lead to healthier food options. I urge them to revisit this decision and take bold action on obesity, the second biggest preventable risk factor for cancer in the UK,”
Record 25,000 sent for prostate checks after lockdown dip
Checks for prostate cancer have reached an all-time high as thousands of men who missed out on a diagnosis during the pandemic have come forward. In March almost 25,000 men with prostate cancer symptoms were referred by their GP to see a specialist for further tests. This was up by a fifth compared with February and almost a third on March last year.
To tackle the cancer backlog from the pandemic the NHS and Prostate Cancer UK started a campaign in February featuring Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull, who have had the disease diagnosed, to urge men to check their risk. More than half a million have since done so via an online tool that looks at age, family history and ethnicity. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with more than 47,000 diagnoses a year and 12,000 deaths. Black men are twice as likely to get the disease. Survival rates are close to 100 per cent if caught early, falling to 50 per cent at stage 4, when it has spread around the body.
Amanda Pritchard, the chief executive of NHS England, said: “Lives are being saved thanks to a record-breaking number of men taking the vital decision to get an NHS cancer check.”
Contact lens that can release drug could be used to treat glaucoma
A contact lens that can release a drug if it detects high pressure within the eye has been created by scientists who say it could help treat glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye disease that involves damage to the optic nerve, and can lead to blindness if not treated. According to the charity Glaucoma UK, the most common form of the disease, known as primary open angle glaucoma, is thought to affect almost 10% of people older than 75. This form is generally caused by increased pressure within the eye, usually as a result of a buildup of fluid.
Researchers in China revealed they have developed a contact lens that can sense an increase in pressure within the eye and release an anti-glaucoma drug should the pressure exceed a certain level. Writing in the journal Nature Communications, the team describe how they created the device using an upper and lower lens, with a snowflake-shaped pressure sensor and wireless power transfer device sandwiched between them around the rim of the lenses. The arrangement appears to give the effect of the wearer having golden irises.However, the team say the design allows the necessary components to be included in the device without blocking the wearer’s view or irritating the eye.
Prof Zubair Ahmed from the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, said: “Here, the researchers have developed a minimally invasive contact lens that can detect these changes in pressure within the eye to provide real-time monitoring, but the contact lens can also respond by allowing on-demand drug delivery directly to the eye,”
A hospital trust is investigating after a patient was incorrectly diagnosed and treated for Alzheimer’s disease for seven years. Alex Preston, from Anstey, Leicestershire, was 54 at the time and said the diagnosis completely destroyed his life and made him feel suicidal.
“It was good but it was terrible at the same time because my wife wasn’t there to see it. Since I’ve come off the medication I’ve become a completely different person – I now want answers”