Newsroom

Cambs woman re-united with people who saved her life after horror smash

Ely Standard - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 14:24

A woman who suffered severe brain, spine and eye injuries in a “horrific” collision was reunited with the people who helped save her on Thursday.

Categories: Local Press

Next Shell chairman brings U.S. corporate experience, green agenda

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 14:11
LONDON (Reuters) - Chad Holliday, the former chairman of Bank of America and DuPont widely credited for his sustainable energy vision, will become the first American chairman at Royal Dutch Shell , an oil major with tense relations with green groups.






Trade, defence spending buoy U.S. third-quarter growth

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 13:35
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A smaller trade deficit and a surge in defense spending buoyed U.S. economic growth in the third quarter, but other details of Thursday's report hinted at some loss of momentum in activity.






RBS to reveal funds held to settle forex probes

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 13:30
LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland will announce how much it has set aside to cover potential fines for manipulating currency markets when it reports third-quarter results on Friday, several banking sources said.






JPMorgan tops pay table with 461,000 pounds for London bankers - survey

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 13:13
LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. bank J.P. Morgan pays managing directors at its investment bank in London an average of 461,000 pounds ($737,877), substantially more than pay across its rivals, according to a survey.






Shell outpaces peers with profit growth, keeps spending

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 13:07
LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell has outpaced peers with a forecast-beating rise in quarterly profit and said it would spend heavily next year on key projects, even as oil majors prepare to weather the full impact of a sharp drop in oil prices.






Chrysler recalls 33,443 light trucks in U.S. for tyre pressure issues

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 12:32
DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler Group said on Thursday that it was recalling 33,443 light trucks in two separate campaigns to prevent false warnings from the tyre pressure monitor systems.






Lufthansa shares drop after 2015 profit guidance cut for second time

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 12:22
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Lufthansa has lowered its profit guidance for 2015 for the second time this year due to a stuttering global economy and increased competition, hitting its shares and sending shivers through other airline stocks.






MasterCard profit jumps 15.5 percent as card usage rises

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 12:16
(Reuters) - MasterCard Inc, the world's second-largest debit and credit card company, posted a 15.5 percent rise in quarterly profit as more customers used its cards to make purchases.

Investigation launched after man is assaulted and forced from train

Ely Standard - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 12:12

British Transport Police officers are appealing for witnesses after a report that three men assaulted a man and forced him from a train at Waterbeach railway station.

Categories: Local Press

Barclays sets aside 500 million pounds for FX fines as profits rise

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 12:06
LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays Plc set aside 500 million pounds ($800 million) in the third quarter to cover potential fines for rigging currency markets, taking the shine off a rise in profits as its retail business performed well and costs were cut.






Soham man charged with possessing more than 150,000 indecent images of children committed to crown court

Ely Standard - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 12:05

A 53-year-old man from Soham appeared before magistrates charged with possessing more than 150,000 indecent images of children.

Categories: Local Press

Missing Newmarket woman found

Newmarket Journal - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 11:48

A 71-year-old woman who went missing from her home in Newmarket on Tuesday (October 28) has been found safe and well.

Categories: Local Press

ConocoPhillips quarterly profit up on asset sale

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 11:45
(Reuters) - ConocoPhillips, the largest U.S. independent oil company, on Thursday reported a higher third-quarter profit as results were lifted by the sale of its Nigerian business.






Does paracetamol ease pain of decision making?

NHS Choices - Behind the Headlines - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 11:45

"Paracetamol could make difficult decisions less of a headache," the Mail Online reports. The story follows a US study that looked at whether taking paracetamol could reduce the pain of making difficult decisions.

Researchers tested their theory in two experiments where young, healthy adults were given either paracetamol or an inactive placebo.

The first experiment tested the theory that being asked to choose between two equally attractive things can cause mental discomfort.

Participants were asked to rate seven mental tasks and choose one of two they rated positively. People who took paracetamol were less negative about the rejected task than those who took a placebo, suggesting they experienced less pain in decision making.

The second experiment tested the theory of "loss aversion" – where people put greater value on personal possessions they own than those they do not. Participants were given a coffee mug – half were told it was theirs, while the other half were told it was the property of the laboratory.

All were asked to give a selling price for the mug. Those who took paracetamol set lower selling prices than those taking a placebo, presumably because they experienced lower levels of loss aversion.

This small study proves very little about the effect of paracetamol on the pain of decision making. The suggestion that we should take paracetamol every time we face a difficult decision in life is certainly not advisable. Sustained regular use is not recommended, and even a small overdose can cause potentially fatal liver damage.

 

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Kentucky. There is no information about external funding.

It was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

The study was covered uncritically by the Mail Online, with no comments from independent experts.

 

What kind of research was this?

This US study involved two experiments carried out in the laboratory setting, testing the theory that taking paracetamol can reduce the pain of certain types of decision making.

The researchers say people often talk of decisions being "painful". They specifically explored the theories of "cognitive dissonance" and "loss aversion".

Cognitive dissonance is the theory that if we have to choose between two equally attractive things (such as paying for a luxury holiday or buying a new car) it can cause mental discomfort.

To make this less painful, the researchers say, we rationalise the decision by adopting a negative attitude towards the choice we rejected ("I don't really need a new car" or "Sitting on the beach all day would have been boring").

Loss aversion is the theory that people endow their personal possessions with greater value than things they do not own.

The researchers say both cognitive dissonance and loss aversion involve regions of the brain associated with physical pain (the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex [dACC] and anterior insula), and hypothesise that paracetamol may reduce the pain of decision making.

 

What did the research involve?

In the first experiment, researchers recruited 112 undergraduates, three-quarters of whom were women, with an average age of 19.

They were screened for conditions that might have affected the results, including dependence conditions such as alcohol misuse or daily paracetamol consumption. They were randomised to consume 1g of paracetamol (one standard dose) or an inactive placebo pill.

After half an hour they were given descriptions of seven cognitive tasks and asked to rate their desirability. The tasks were described as puzzles, but frustratingly no detailed information was provided on the type of tasks described to the undergraduates.

The researchers then selected two tasks rated positively by each participant, who then chose which task he or she would perform later. After another half hour they were instructed to rate the tasks again and try to ignore their earlier evaluations, as they were told by the researchers that preferences can change over time.

In the second experiment, researchers recruited 95 undergraduates (just over half were women with an average age of 20) who met the same criteria as in the first experiment. They were randomised to be given either 1g of paracetamol or a placebo pill.

They were also handed a mug with the university logo. Participants were randomised again so that half were told the mug was theirs to keep, while the other half were told it was the property of the laboratory.

They were all instructed to examine the mug for 30 seconds. They were not told about the mug's true value. After 30 minutes they were instructed that they could sell the mug and were asked to list the selling price.

 

What were the basic results?

In the first experiment, participants rated their rejected task with fewer positive attributes to try to reduce any mental discomfort. However, people who took paracetamol were less negative about the rejected task compared with those taking placebo, suggesting they experienced less pain in decision making.

In the second experiment, among participants who had been told the mug was theirs, those who took paracetamol set lower selling prices than those who took the placebo drug.

People who took paracetamol and were told the mug was theirs also set lower prices than the other group, who were told the mug was not theirs.

Among all those who took a placebo, mug prices were not significantly higher among those told the mug was theirs than those told it was university property.

 

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers say their experiments showed that paracetamol reduced the pain of decision making. They say that in the first experiment, paracetamol reduced participants' need to reduce discomfort by adopting a more negative attitude towards the rejected task.

In the second experiment, in which they were asked to set the price of a mug, participants who took paracetamol set lower selling prices, presumably because they experienced lower levels of loss aversion.

"Making decisions can be painful, but a physical painkiller can take the pain away," the researchers concluded.

 

Conclusion

This experimental study involved giving people paracetamol or a placebo, then asking them to take part in two very specific decision-making scenarios to test the psychological states of cognitive dissonance and loss aversion.

The results of the first experiment suggested people who took paracetamol were less negative about the rejected task than those who took a placebo, suggesting they experienced less cognitive dissonance.

The results of the second experiment found those who took paracetamol set lower selling prices than those taking a placebo, presumably because they experienced lower levels of loss aversion.

However, the researchers' hypothesis that paracetamol can help with the mental discomfort associated with decision making remains just that – a hypothesis.

There are many limitations to this study, including its small specific sample of healthy young adults, and these are highly experimental scenarios that do not necessarily relate to real-life situations.

The results also do not give a clear and consistent pattern. For example, people who took a placebo in the second experiment didn't rate the value of the mug differently regardless of whether they were told it was theirs or not, suggesting they were not experiencing loss aversion in any case.

Our capacity to make difficult decisions is a complex area that involves many factors, and the idea that any uncertainty or conflict around a decision would be removed just by taking a painkiller is surely dubious.

In any case, even if the pain of decision making was reduced, it does not seem to necessarily follow that we would subsequently then make the "right" decision.

The suggestion that we should be encouraged to slip a pill every time we face a painful decision is certainly not advisable. Paracetamol is a medical drug that is only designed to treat physical pain and reduce fever.

It is safe to use at recommended doses and for the proper reasons, but sustained regular use is not recommended – even a small overdose can cause potentially fatal liver damage.

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on Twitter. Join the Healthy Evidence forum.

Links To The Headlines

Acetaminophen could also help to ease our anxieties: Pills could reduce the anguish of situations that cause psychological pain. Mail Online, October 29 2014

Links To Science

DeWall CN, Chester DS, White DS. Can acetaminophen reduce the pain of decision-making? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Published online September 22 2014

Categories: NHS Choices

Aviva new business rises, UK life shows surprise bounce

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 11:37
LONDON (Reuters) - Insurer Aviva's new business rose at a healthy pace in the first nine months of 2014, helped by strong growth in Europe and Asia and also by a surprise improvement in the company's UK life business in the third quarter.






Details of autism genes uncovered in global study

NHS Choices - Behind the Headlines - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 11:30

“A massive international study has started to unpick the ‘fine details’ of why some people develop autism,” BBC News reports.

A team of international researchers looked for variations in the DNA sequences of the genes in 3,871 people with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and 9,937 unaffected family members or unrelated controls.

The researchers identified 107 genes containing variations associated with ASD. In more than 5% of the people with ASD, these genes had new (not inherited) mutations that led to genes either not working at all, or working less well.

The genes encoded proteins involved in synaptic formation, the (expression) activity of other genes, and proteins involved in modifying the packaging of DNA inside cells.

Synapses are junctions where signals are passed from one nerve cell to another, and are found in the brain and nervous system. They are thought to be essential in underpinning consciousness, thinking and behaviour.

This study sheds more light on ASD, but does not necessarily mean that screening for the condition is closer.

Deciding whether screening is a good option involves considering a wide range of issues in addition to determining how well people with ASD can be identified, including an assessment of the options open to someone identified as having or being at risk of ASD.

For example, if screening was going to be offered during pregnancy, would it be ethical to terminate a viable pregnancy on the grounds that the child would develop ASD? Many people with ASD live fulfilling and rewarding lives.

 

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by an international team of researchers and was funded by the US National Institutes of Health and other sources.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature.

The news stories differed in terms of the number of genes reportedly associated with ASD; these figures differed depending on what they took to be statistically significant. For the record, there was strong evidence for 22 genes and weaker evidence for another 107 genes.

Despite headlines suggesting that autism screening is closer, this is debatable. ASD is a highly complex condition and we still don’t fully understand what causes it.

While mutations in many genes have been found to be associated with the disorder, environmental factors may also play a role.

None of the UK media considered whether screening for ASD would actually be desirable. As there is currently no cure for ASD, screening could offer the option of terminating a pregnancy (or rejecting an embryo for an IVF procedure).

However, a case could be made that screening, either during pregnancy or once the child was born, would allow parents to be given information about what to expect, and treatment could be started soon after birth.

 

What kind of research was this?

This was a case-control study that compared the sequence of genes in people with ASD (the cases) and controls, who were either family members or unrelated people. Any changes that were only found in people with ASD, or in more people with autism than without, could be contributing to the condition. They also looked at whether these variations had been inherited by the person with ASD from one of their parents, or if they were “new” variations that had happened in their very early development.

This is the ideal study design to identify variants that are associated with ASD. It is a complex disease, with many genes potentially associated with it – each contributing a small amount to a person’s risk. Environmental factors may also play a role. Different people with ASD may have different combinations of genetic risk factors, and some people without the condition may have some of these genetic risk factors. This complexity makes it very difficult to say for certain that all of the genetic variations identified definitely contribute to the condition, and to justify screening.

 

What did the research involve?

The researchers sequenced all of the parts of genes that contained instructions for making proteins (called “the exome”), and that lay on any chromosomes other than the X and Y chromosome (called the “autosomes”).

They did this in 3,871 people with ASD and 9,937 controls, and compared them to look for variations associated with ASD. The researchers noted that this is the largest sample ever studied in this way.

The researchers used new statistical methods to look for variations associated with ASD. Because of the large number of genes being looked at, and the multiple comparisons involved, there is a risk that some of the statistically significant associations found will be false (for example a significant association is seen when none exists). One way of overcoming this problem is to adjust the thresholds for what is considered a statistically significant result – called controlling the “false discovery rate”. For example, setting a false discovery rate of 0.05 means that 5% of significant associations would be expected to be false. The researchers looked at which genes were associated with ASD using different false discovery rates.

The researchers also looked at what the genes with variations did in the body, to understand how they might be contributing to causing ASD.

 

What were the basic results?

The researchers identified 22 autosomal genes that were associated with ASD when they set the cut-off so that at least 95% of associations are expected to be true (false discovery rate <0.05).

33 autosomal genes were associated with ASD when the cut-off was set so that at least 90% of associations seen are expected to be true (false discovery rate <0.1). Of these 33 genes, 15 were considered to already have good evidence of being associated with ASD, 11 had some previous evidence of association but not as strong, and seven had never been reported as being associated with autism before.

When the cut-off was set so that at least 70% of associations seen are expected to be true (false discovery rate <0.30), 107 autosomal genes were associated with ASD. More than 5% of the people with ASD had new (not inherited) mutations in these genes that either stop the gene from working entirely, or make it work less well.

This study would not have identified all genes associated with ASD risk, and the researchers estimated that, based on their results, there could be 1,150 genes contributing to autism risk.

The genes associated with ASD contained instructions for making proteins involved in various processes, including:

  • making the junctions between nerve cells (synapses)
  • changing how active other genes are
  • modifying the packaging of DNA inside cells

 

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers conclude that people with ASD have more loss-of-function mutations than would be expected in the population as a whole, and that these mutations are concentrated in a “handful” of genes.

They say that their findings suggest that genes involved in synapses (nerve junctions), transcription (gene activity) and DNA packaging are involved in ASD.

 

Conclusion

This large study compared the sequence of the genes in 3,871 people with ASD with 9,937 unaffected family members or unrelated controls.

Overall, 107 autosomal genes were found to be associated with ASD, with about 30% of these expected to not to be associated with the condition. These genes had new (not inherited) mutations, resulting in less or no function in more than 5% of the people with ASD. The researchers also estimated that over 1,000 genes could be contributing to autism risk. This gives some idea of how complex the genetics of autism appear to be – not all people with the condition will carry the same genetic risk factors, and some people without the condition will carry some of these genetic risk factors.

The researchers looked at what processes the genes they identified are involved in. The genes encoded proteins involved in synaptic (nerve junction) formation, the (expression) activity of other genes, and proteins involved modifying the packaging of DNA inside cells. This gives researchers more of an idea of what might be going wrong within the cells of people with ASD.

ASD is a complex condition, and mutations in many genes have been found to be associated with the disorder – with many more yet to be found. This study sheds more light on the condition, but we still have a lot to learn. This means that using this type of genetic information to screen for this condition is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future.

There is also the possibility that learning more about the genetics of ASD could lead to new treatments.

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS ChoicesFollow Behind the Headlines on TwitterJoin the Healthy Evidence forum.

Links To The Headlines

Study points to new genetic risks for autism. BBC News, October 30 2014

Autism screening closer as 100 genes linked to disorder are identified. The Daily Telegraph, October 29 2014

Autism breakthrough as researchers find over 100 new genes linked to the social disorder. Mail Online, October 29 2014

Links To Science

De Rubeis S, He X, Goldberg AP, et al. Synaptic, transcriptional and chromatin genes disrupted in autism. Nature. Published online October 29 2014

Categories: NHS Choices

Thomson Reuters posts revenue rise on legal and tax and accounting

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 11:27
(Reuters) - Thomson Reuters Corp on Thursday reported a 1 percent rise in revenue because of growth in its Legal and Tax & Accounting businesses.






Britain's 'bad bank' warns of interest rate dangers ahead

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 11:16
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's 'bad bank' has already begun contacting around 20,000 customers whom it thinks might have problems repaying their mortgages when interest rates start to rise, its chief executive said on Thursday.






BT targets big spenders as broadband battle intensifies

Reuters UK Business News - Thu, 30/10/2014 - 11:11
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's BT said it would not be drawn into a price war with rivals such as BSkyB , as it offset slower broadband growth in its second quarter with customers paying more for superfast internet connections and sports TV.






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