Bearded dragons, lizards and snakes are ready to over Mildenhall Library on Tuesday.
Large posters of Newmarket as seen through the eyes of five homeless people are have gone on display at the National Horseracing Museum.
An allotment which pupils of Soham’s Weatheralls Primary School have visited all year long was officially opened on Wednesday.
We never know quite what weather we are going to get here in Britain. Managing a nature reserve, particularly a wetland, I do pay close attention to the weather. We need the rain to keep the reedbeds wet but we also like some dry periods for the wildlife so that we can get our work done. Our weather is so unpredictable. Will we have a glorious summer this year like last year and see a profusion of high summer butterflies during the school holidays or will it be cold and wet? Last June, July and August were warm and dry which was a pleasant change after the cold, late spring we had. This year so far has been the exact opposite.
Wind turbine protest group fights proposal “that will generate little power in one of the least windy parts of the country”
Backers of a ‘stop the wind turbines’ campaign in East Cambs claim an energy company is using the summer holidays to stifle opposition.
Fenland-based charity Eddie’s is looking for reliable volunteers to join their befriending scheme and make a difference to someone’s life.
Police are appealing for witnesses to the theft of a bicycle in Newmarket last week.
GALLERY: Grovemere Property discover that “it’s a very good English custom, Though the weather be cold or hot, When you need a little pick-up, you’ll find a little tea cup Will always hit the spot
Everything didn’t quite stop for tea but dozens did leave their offices for a while to join the celebrations for a business park celebrating its 25th anniversary.
"Two minute of exercise … is enough to boost pensioners' health," the Daily Mirror reports. A pilot study into high intensity training suggests it may be an effective method of combating the effects of ageing.
However, the UK media are guilty of hyping the implications of a small study, involving just 12 people, which lasted only six weeks.
The 12 participants were randomised into two groups – a control group (no information was given on what the control protocol involved) and a high intensity training (HIT) group.
The HIT group were asked to complete a 6-second "all-out" cycling sprint, two times a week, over the course of six weeks. The number of sprints in each session was progressively increased throughout the intervention, ranging from six 6-second sprints to 10 6-second sprints.
They found there was improvement in blood pressure, aerobic fitness and mobility in the HIT group compared with the control.
Since the results were based on findings from just 12 people, they will not accurately reflect the diverse and varying situations and experiences of older people in England as a whole. The results of HIT in larger groups of elderly people may be different from those seen in this small sample.
There was also no reported assessment of risks. This is an important issue as there have been anecdotal reports that intense activity can trigger health conditions such as a stroke, as was the case with broadcaster Andrew Marr.
The bottom line is this study has shown some promising findings for HIT in the elderly, but has not yet got to the stage of providing reliable evidence that it works or is safe.
Where did the story come from?
The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Dundee and was published as a letter to the editor in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. No funding source was specified in the publication.
While generally the media reported the story accurately, there were no adequate discussions on the limitations of a small preliminary study of this type.
This could lead readers to think this exercise approach is proven to work, with lots of evidence behind it. However, based on this small study alone, this is not the case.
Claims such as the Daily Express' "Two minutes exercise a week can beat ageing" are unsupported.
What kind of research was this?
This was a study looking at whether high intensity exercise training (HIT) might improve the physical fitness and mobility of older people.
The study authors remind us that the UK Chief Medical Officer's physical activity guidelines for elderly adults recommend moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity several days each week.
A large proportion of the elderly population do not participate in the recommended amounts, with time being reported as the most common barrier to participation, much the same as for adults of other ages.
Short bursts of high intensity training have therefore been discussed as a possible solution to the time problem, and as a way of enabling the elderly to reap the many benefits of regular exercise.
However, the authors reported nobody has investigated whether HIT actually yields physical improvements in older populations, so they designed a small study to find out.
What did the research involve?
Participants were randomly allocated to a control (n = 6; five female, one male; aged 64±2 years) or HIT (n = 6; four female, two male; aged 65±4) group before baseline measurements of mobility and physical fitness were made.
The same measures were repeated after the six-week high intensity or control intervention so see if there were any improvements, and whether the improvements in the HIT group were significantly better than the control.
Each HIT session consisted of 6-second "all-out" cycling efforts occurring two times per week over six weeks. Male participants sprinted against 7% body weight and female participants against 6.5% body weight. The number of sprints in each session was progressively increased throughout the intervention, ranging from six 6-second sprints to 10 6-second sprints.
A minimum of one minute of recovery was given between sprints, with subsequent sprints not starting until heart rate was below 120 beats per minute.
The publication did not describe what the control group were asked to do, so we do not know what the HIT group were being compared to.
Physical function was measured using a number of outcomes, including:
- a "get up and go" test – the time a person takes to rise from a chair, walk three metres, turn around, walk back to the chair, and sit down
- a "sit to stand" test – the ability of the person to repeatedly stand up from a chair and sit back down again
- a 50m "loaded walk" test – walking 50m while carrying some weight
Other measures included:
- a 12-minute single-stage walking test to determine maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) – a measure of the body's ability to use oxygen and a measure of aerobic fitness
- blood pressure – measured using an automated blood pressure monitor
What were the basic results?
Statistically significant improvements in the HIT group compared with the control group included:
- a 9% reduction in blood pressure
- 8% greater VO2 max – a measure of aerobic fitness
- 11% improvement in the "get up and go" test
There were also improvements in other measures of mobility and fitness within the HIT group, but these were matched by similar improvements in the control group, meaning the differences were not significantly different between the two groups. These included improvements in the "sit to stand" test, 50m loaded walk, positive engagement in physical activity, revitalisation, and physical functioning.
How did the researchers interpret the results?
The authors concluded their results "strongly suggest that performing two minutes of exercise per week for six weeks may be an effective strategy for counteracting age-related functional decline, reducing cardiovascular disease risk and promoting further engagement in physical activity within the elderly population."
This small preliminary study indicated high intensity training (two sessions per week for six weeks) improved blood pressure, aerobic fitness and mobility in and out of a chair, compared with a control group of 12 people over the age of 60.
While this research is promising, there are a number of limitations to be aware of.
We don't know anything about what the control group were asked to do. For example, control groups are often given lifestyle advice as part of an incentive to take part in studies and are otherwise free to continue whatever lifestyle habits they had before, but we don't know if this was the case in the current study.
Curiously, the control group also improved significantly on many measures, so it would be interesting to know what they were doing that also led to these improvements. It is somewhat of a strange oversight that no information was given on the control protocol – possibly a more in-depth description of the study is in the pipeline.
There was also no discussion of the potential risks of high intensity exercise in the elderly, a concern that has been raised in the past, particularly in the frail, and could include exercise-related injuries or a raised risk of heart attack.
As the publication was so brief, we do not know the basic fitness level of either group, as the results of the medical outcomes study were not presented, nor do we know if they had any medical conditions. Based on this study alone, we do not know if the potential benefits of HIT outweigh the potential risks.
The characteristics of the 12 participants were not described in any detail, so we don't know if they are typical of the over-60s. This means it's difficult to tell how relevant and generalisable the results are to the wider over-60s population in the UK.
Furthermore, the study was short at just six weeks long. This means there wasn't enough time to see if any beneficial effects were temporary or more long term, or whether this exercise approach could reduce the risk of certain diseases or increase a healthy lifespan.
The results are based on just 12 people, so they may be prone to sampling biases and chance findings.
This type of study is designed to provide a proof of concept that something may work using a small group. The intention is then to conduct larger studies to provide more reliable evidence to confirm or refute the initial findings.
This study has shown some promise for HIT in the elderly, but has not provided reliable evidence. Until that happens, current advice on physical activity and lifestyle in the elderly is unlikely to change.
Links To The Headlines
Just TWO minutes of 'high-intensity' exercise a week will keep elderly fit – study. Daily Mirror, July 27 2014
Six seconds of exercise 'can transform health'. BBC News, July 27 2014
How one-minute bursts of exercise can boost health for over-60s in just six weeks. Mail Online, July 28 2014
One minute of intense exercise a week to improve health for elderly. The Daily Telegraph, July 27 2014
Two minutes exercise a week can beat ageing. Daily Express, July 28 2014
Links To Science
Adamson SB, Lorimer R, Cobley JN, Babraj JA. Extremely Short-Duration High-Intensity Training Substantially Improves the Physical Function and Self-Reported Health Status of Elderly Adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Published online July 12 2014
"One in almost every 3,000 blood donors in England could be infected with hepatitis E, according to a new study," The Times reports.
Hepatitis E normally causes only a mild infection that usually clears up without the need for treatment. It can occasionally lead to more serious complications in more vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system.
A new study estimated the prevalence of hepatitis E virus in blood donors in England and whether the virus is transmitted to blood recipients.
The prevalence estimate, based on just under a quarter of a million blood donations, was found to be one infection in every 2,848 donors (0.04%). This was higher than expected.
When researchers investigated what happened to 49 of the 60 people receiving the infected blood, they found it did not cause significant illness and recipients were able to clear the virus from their bodies naturally in most cases.
This opens up debate about whether screening donated blood for hepatitis E is necessary to prevent infections – currently only the B and C types of hepatitis are screened for.
In an ideal world, blood donations would be screened for all known blood-borne organisms. But in the real world, screening is expensive and time consuming, and is often not accurate enough to be useful.
The rationale for not screening is because hepatitis E infections are generally considered a mild and short-term infection, unlike the other forms of hepatitis, which are screened for.
The current study does not resolve this screening debate, but it does provide useful new information to inform it.
Where did the story come from?
It was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet.
Both The Times' and BBC News' coverage was broadly accurate and provided useful expert opinions for and against screening donated blood for hepatitis E.
What kind of research was this?
This was a cross-sectional study looking at historically donated blood to see:
- how many samples were infected with hepatitis E virus
- whether these samples were given to other people
- if so, what happened to these people
Hepatitis E is an infection caused by the hepatitis E virus and is generally considered a mild and short-term infection that often goes away on its own. However, in pregnant women and people with a compromised immune system it can cause serious liver disease, which can be fatal.
It is caught by putting something in your mouth that has been contaminated with the faeces of someone with hepatitis E, eating contaminated food such as processed pork, or through infected blood donations.
The study authors indicate the prevalence of hepatitis E virus (specifically, genotype 3) infection in the English population, including blood donors, is unknown, but is probably widespread. They say the virus has been detected in donated blood products previously.
To investigate these unknowns, the researchers looked at around a quarter of a million English blood donations to find out the prevalence of hepatitis E virus in the donations.
What did the research involve?
From October 2012 to September 2013, the researchers retrospectively screened 225,000 blood donations collected in southeast England for hepatitis E virus genetic material as evidence for viral contamination. Donations containing hepatitis E virus were further investigated in the laboratory.
Recipients who received any blood components from these donations were identified and the outcome of exposure to the virus was ascertained.
They were identified and recruited using records from the NHS Blood and Transplant service, hospital transfusion teams, and GPs.
Blood samples of recipients that could be contacted were collected and analysed for signs of past and current infection.
What were the basic results?
From 225,000 individual donations, 79 donors were found to have hepatitis E, a prevalence of one in 2,848.
Most donors with hepatitis E were seronegative at the time of donation, meaning their body was not producing antibodies to fight the virus at the time of donation.
The 79 donations had been used to prepare 129 blood components. These were used to give blood components to 60 recipients before identification of the infected donation.
Of the 60 recipients, one declined to take part in the study and 16 were not available for follow-up, nine had died, five were terminally ill and therefore considered inappropriate to start hepatitis E monitoring, and two had left the country.
Hepatitis E was not judged by the clinical team to have contributed to illness or death in any of these cases.
Follow-up of the remaining 43 recipients showed 18 had evidence of infection. Absence of detectable antibody and high viral load in the donation made infection more likely.
Follow-up of the infected recipients showed a varied response to infection, reflecting their overall medical condition and inferred strength of their immune systems.
Recipient immunosuppression (weakening of the immune system) delays or prevents the body producing antibodies to fight the virus, and extends the duration the virus stays and replicates in the body.
Spontaneous clearance of the virus without disease was common and resulting acute illness was rare.
Three recipients cleared longstanding infection after intervention with the antiviral drug ribavirin or through alteration in immunosuppressive therapy.
Ten recipients developed prolonged or persistent infection.
Transaminitis (high levels of liver enzymes, indicating inflammation and possible liver damage) was common, but short-term illness was rare. Only one recipient developed apparent but clinically mild post-transfusion hepatitis.
How did the researchers interpret the results?
The team concluded that, "Our findings suggest that HEV genotype 3 infections are widespread in the English population and in blood donors. Transfusion-transmitted infections rarely caused acute morbidity, but in some immunosuppressed patients became persistent.
"Although at present blood donations are not screened, an agreed policy is needed for the identification of patients with persistent HEV infection, irrespective of origin, so that they can be offered antiviral therapy."
They added: "On a clinical basis alone, the resulting minimal burden of disease does not signal a pressing need for donation screening at this time."
This study estimated the prevalence of hepatitis E virus in blood donors and found a higher than expected figure of around one infection in every 2,848 donors.
They found the infection was passed to the recipient of the blood in some cases, but this did not cause significant illness and recipients were able to clear the virus from their bodies naturally in most cases.
This study, which coincides with World Hepatitis Day, increases our awareness that the prevalence of hepatitis E in England might be higher than previously assumed.
A second issue stemming from the study is whether, given the higher than expected prevalence, it is necessary to screen donated blood for hepatitis E to prevent infections – something that is not currently done.
Although most infections are mild and heal themselves, there is the potential for far more serious effects if infected donations are given to immunocompromised people or pregnant women.
The BBC interviewed Professor Richard Tedder of Public Health England, who said there was no immediate need to screen donated blood.
This view was not shared by Professor Jean-Michel Pawlotsky of the Université Paris-Est, who said this stance was "surprising" and that he believed "systematic screening of blood components for markers of hepatitis E infection should be implemented".
Another practical consideration is that screening for hepatitis E costs money that could be spent on other health areas.
Would spending money to prevent the spread of a usually mild infection be a prudent use of healthcare resources? Would the money be better spent elsewhere? These are the sorts of questions healthcare systems around the world have to consider regularly.
They base their decisions on the best available evidence and the balance of risks and benefits in their populations. There are no easy answers and debates following new evidence are a healthy part of this dialogue.
Links To The Headlines
Hepatitis E risk from blood donations. The Times, July 28 2014
Blood donors 'passing on hepatitis E'. BBC News, July 28 2014
Links To Science
Hewitt PE, Ijaz S, Brailsford SR, et al. Hepatitis E virus in blood components: a prevalence and transmission study in southeast England. The Lancet. Published online July 28 2014
Thousands of pounds has been raised through two events for a Soham-based charity that supports families of children across the country who are affected by cancer, disabilities and illness.
Littleport child and horse incident - Magpas Helimedix fly to scene after youngster is kicked in the face
A young girl was taken to hospital on Saturday evening after she was kicked in the head and face by a horse.
Air Ambulance flies to man suffering a leg injury following an awkward parachute landing near Wimblington
An air ambulance was sent to deal with a man who suffered leg injuries following an awkward parachute landing near March.
”He is the sort of young person that makes you proud to teach and support.” says the tutor who nominated Michael, 17, for award
A keen motorcyclist from Fenland who is helping other riders in Ely has revved his way into a competition that highlights the achievements of young people in Cambridgeshire.
Could Chatteris be back again in the running for a £500,000 agri tech centre? Certainly MP Steve Barclay hopes so
Chatteris could still get £500,000 investment in agri tech research and investment after the town lost out to Soham in an earlier round of funding.
Police smash car window parked outside Ely supermarket to rescue two Yorkshire terriers stifling in the heat
An eye witness spoke of the moment police smashed their way into a family car to rescue two dogs suffering in the heat.