The Anonymous Widower

Care Homes In England Had Greatest Increase In Excess Deaths At Height Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the University of Stirling web site.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Care homes in England experienced the highest increase in excess deaths at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to those in the rest of the UK, according to new research.

The actual figures are as follows.

  • England – 79 %
  • Northern Ireland – 46 %
  • Scotland – 62 %
  • Wales – 66 %

So why are the three Celtic nations, doing better than England?

In A Thought On Deaths Of The Elderly From Covid-19, I said this.

How many undiagnosed coeliacs are there in those over seventy, who because they are coeliacs, have a compromised immune system?

I would be undiagnosed but for that elderly locum!

How many other coeliacs are there in the UK population?

    • Age UK has a figure of twelve million who are over 65 in the UK.
    • If 1-in-100, as stated by Coeliac UK, in the UK are coeliac, that is 120,000 undiagnosed coeliacs over 65.

Will these 120,000 people have a compromised immune system, that makes them  more susceptible to Covid-19?

It has been said, that a good immune system helps you fight Covid-19!

If those 120,000 elderly undiagnosed coeliacs have a compromised immune system, how many are in poor health with cancer, arthritis and general poor health and have decided that a care home is best.

Coeliac Disease And The Celts

The Irish have a history of coeliac disease, which I have heard suggested goes back to the potato famine.

Certainly, the whole island of Ireland is a coeliac friendly place compared to some parts of England. Although, Liverpool with its strong Irish heritage is an exception.

Conclusion

I do wonder, if understanding of coeliac disease in the three Celtic nations is better than it is in England and a higher proportion of elderly coeliacs have been diagnosed.

Any younger coeliac born after about 1980, has probably been picked up, for the simple reason, that most GPs these days take regular blood tests and do seem to be more knowledgeable about the disease than GPs were before about 1980.

According to my GP, to test a child, is normally just a simple blood test and an analysis at a lab. Only a few cases, will need an endoscopy.

So do we have this population of undiagnosed coeliacs with compromised immune systems in English care homes?

Perhaps, everybody in a care home, should be tested for coeliac disease?

If nothing else, it may save money on cancer care, as diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet are 25 % less likely to suffer from cancer.

 

August 30, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Pancreatic Cancer Deaths Around The World

This data is from a web site called World Life Expectancy.

My son died at just 37 and if I can save one person’s family, from the same anguish, that I have suffered, it would have been worth it.

The data is World Health Organisation data from 2018, and the figures shown are as follows.

  1. Age adjusted death rate per 100,000 of the population
  2. World ranking
  3. Rating in the country of pancreatic cancer amongst all deaths.

The country name links to the data.

These are a few of my thoughts.

The Top Ten Countries

These are the top ten countries.

  1. Hungary
  2. Uruguay
  3. Armemia
  4. Malta
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Estonia
  7. Iceland
  8. Israel
  9. Slovakia
  10. Austria

The full list is on the World Life Expectancy web site.

From the top ten, it looks to me, that pancreatic cancer seems to be common in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.

I also think there could be a Jewish connection.

In the history of Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire on Wikipedia, this is an extract, that talks about Jews around 1900.

In that period, the majority of Jews in Austria-Hungary lived in small towns (shtetls) in Galicia and rural areas in Hungary and Bohemia; however, they had large communities and even local majorities in the downtown districts of Vienna, Budapest and Prague. Of the pre-World War I military forces of the major European powers, the Austro-Hungarian army was almost alone in its regular promotion of Jews to positions of command. While the Jewish population of the lands of the Dual Monarchy was about five percent, Jews made up nearly eighteen percent of the reserve officer corps. Thanks to the modernity of the constitution and to the benevolence of emperor Franz Joseph, the Austrian Jews came to regard the era of Austria-Hungary as a golden era of their history.

That doesn’t sound like they were suffering large amounts of anti-semitism, as they had for a long time in the Baltic States and East Prussia, where my ancestor emigrated to England around 1800.

I need some help here from a Jewish historian.

But the statistics and geography  are indicating to me, that Jews from the Austro-Hungarian Empire could have chosen to emigate through the Balkans to Palestine, when they saw the way the tide was turning after World War One.

I know a bit about life in Palestine in the 1930s, because at one period of my life, my next-door neighbour was a retired British Officer, who was stationed in the country. He was actually in the King David Hotel, when it was blown up. Charles is long-dead now, but I wished I’d recorded his memories, as in today’s Middle East climate, they would be an unusual insight.

But why Iceland, Malta and Uruguay?

Ireland And The United Kingdom

As could be expected, Ireland and the United Kingdom are fairly close together in the table; at 40 and 44 respectively.

  • Just men and the positions are 49 and 51.
  • Just women and it’s 37 and 42.

In the tables, Canada and Australia are just below the United Kingdom, with New Zealand a few places further down.

Cambodia, Laos And Vietnam

To a coeliac like me, Cambodia is interesting, as they are reckoned to have the most gluten-free cuisine in the world.

But these three countries, are all in the bottom third of the table, along with some other major countries, whose food has a lot of rice; Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand.

I know gluten affects my health, but if your diet contains little gluten, does that lower, your chance of getting pancreatic cancer?

 

 

 

 

 

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

One-Hour Covid Test Approved For Rollout

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in The Times.

This article is more than the title as it details four testing methods, currently being rolled out.

After reading this article, I would not be surprised to see an affordable COVID-19 testing device being developed and available for non-professional use in the coming months.

Getting it right, will bring the team so much of a financial reward, they’ll make Dyson look like pauper. No wonder organisations like Cambridge University, Imperial College, big pharmaceutical companies and hedge funds are backing development.

As these tests are often about measuring the intricate properties of both human and virus DNA, I wonder how many other collateral benefits will aid diagnosis of diseases like cancer.

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 4 Comments

AI ‘Outperforms’ Doctors Diagnosing Breast Cancer

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Artificial intelligence is more accurate than doctors in diagnosing breast cancer from mammograms, a study in the journal Nature suggests.

An international team, including researchers from Google Health and Imperial College London, designed and trained a computer model on X-ray images from nearly 29,000 women.

I have rarely worked with healthcare data, so I can’t comment on the accuracy of this trial.

However, over fifty years ago, I was able to make a lot of progress in the analysis of mass spectrometry data, by observing operators and asking how they identified various chemicals in the scan from the mass spectrometer.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find some detailed observation of the working methods of radiologists, formed the foundation data for this research.

The research seems to have done it well, judging by the published results.

Should we trust ourselves to methods like this in healthcare?

Undoubtedly! Yes!

Many systems like this are starting to be used in the maintenance of complex entities, as diverse as trains, planes, chemical works and advanced automated distribution depots.

But every fault, is always tested by a trained person.

This is a paragraph from the BBC article.

Prof Ara Darzi, report co-author and director of the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Imperial Centre, told the BBC: “This went far beyond my expectations. It will have a significant impact on improving the quality of reporting, and also free up radiologists to do even more important things.”

I very much feel we will see very much more of this automated testing of the human body! And not just for cancer!

I already know of groups working on automatic diagnosis of arthritis!

 

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , | 1 Comment

Home Kits Signal End Of Cervical Smear Test

This is a headline on the front page of today’s copy of The Times.

Being male and living alone, I wouldn’t know what a woman thinks!

But there must surely be some women, who would think this is at least an improvement.

Health services across the world will also be able to save money, as the procedure must be more efficient and need less staff, who can probably be redeployed, where they are needed.

November 5, 2019 Posted by | Health | , | 2 Comments

Smart Lavatories Could Spot Tumours Before They Form

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on page 14 of today’s copy of The Times.

With bowel cancer being a big killer, I can understand how it might work there, but how will it spot brain tumours.

Perhaps all those school bullies, who put unfortunates’ heads down the toilet and pulled the chain, had it roight?

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Health | , | 2 Comments

Thoughts On eScooters!

Consider.

  • This article on the BBC is entitled Emily Hartridge: TV Presenter And YouTube Star Dies In Crash. It is an extremely sad tale and it has led to the inevitable call to ban electric scooters.
  • There is also this article on the BBC, which is entitled Iris Goldsmith: Teenage girl dies in ‘quad bike’ accident. This is another extremely sad tale and many are questioning, what a teenage girl was doing, riding a quadbike.
  • And then there’s this article on the BBC, Which is entitled Govia Thameslink Fined £1m Over Gatwick Express Window Death.

Young people and some older ones too, often do stupid things.

Many also crave danger and go mountaineering, riding on the tops of trains or jumping into rivers from a great height.

Doing things out of the ordinary is a natural reaction and is one of the reason, why humans are the most successful species on this planet.

I think the problem is the way we bring up children.

  • My parents let me do anything I wanted up to a point.
  • They also taught me lots of skills.
  • From about twelve, I used to cycle all over London.
  • I spent endless hours in my father’s print works doing things that would be frowned upon now, because they are too dangerous.

A couple of months ago, I was interviewed by a sixth-form girl student, in the volunteering I do at Barts Hospital in giving experience to prospective doctors.

She had lived in an over-protective environment and hardly left home on her own.

It was almost child abuse. She didn’t say, but I suspect she’d even been driven to and from school.

When it came to our own children, C and myself were fairly liberal and it was strange how, two became very street-wise and had the occasional scrapes, whereas the other was generally well-behaved.

Perhaps, we didn’t get everything right, but I like to think, we gave them a good appreciation of risk!

And that is one of the mot important things to learn in life, as often, those that ca’t assess risk, come to unfortunate ends.

I do feel my youngest son’s unhealthy lifestyle was a factor in his getting pancreatic cancer, especially if he was coeliac like me! But then he wouldn’t get tested!

His daughter though, seems to have a good appreciation of risk, but then if your father dies, you probably do!

To return to the eScooter, which is where this post started.

They Look Fun!

They certainly look fun and I constantly want to have a go on one.

Remember, I have crashed a twin-engined aeroplae and ridden horses in the Masai Mara.

At seventeen, I also sat on the back of a motorcycle, the wrong way round and went through the Mersey Tunnel.

Was I wearing a helmet? Of course not!

Are They Dangerous?

The risk depends on where they are used and how competent the rider is!

Ask any A & E doctor, what sport causes the most injuries and they’ll say something like rugby or horse-riding!

When A & E doctors start complaining about eScooters that will be the time for action.

Would Training Help?

Training isn’t the important thing.

However experience, especially that gained in a safe environment is important.

But to legislate that training should be mandatory will only have the reverse affect.

Conclusion

It’s a difficult problem, but we must teach everybody to appreciate risk.

When I joined ICI in 1969, I went on a formal Health and Safety course.

It has proven to be invaluable all my life an I haven’t worked on a chemical plant since 1970.

July 17, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport, World | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts On a Red And Processed Meat Tax

This article on the BBC is entitled Should There Be A Tax On Red Meat?.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A “meat tax” could prevent almost 6,000 deaths per year in the UK, according to researchers, but should politicians be telling people what they can and can’t eat?

Scientists at the University of Oxford say governments should consider imposing price hikes on red meat – such as beef, lamb and pork – to reduce consumption.

They also go on to suggest these levels of tax, with examples.

In the UK, the study suggests a tax of 14% on red meat and 79% of processed meat.

This would mean the price of a 227g Tesco Sirloin Steak would increase from £3.80 to £4.33.

And for a pack of eight pork sausages from Sainsbury’s the price would increase from £1.50 to £2.69.

It is probably peer-reviewed research, but I doubt it would ever be introduced.

I have few questions.

Would I As A Coeliac Get Extra Tax Relief, As I Need To Eat Red Meat?

I don’t eat much red meat, but to keep my B12 at a good level, I need to eat a quality steak or burger.

Regular levels of B12 help to keep your immune system strong, which is the body’s first line of defence against cancer.

Why Do Coeliacs On A Gluten Free Diet Have A 25% Less Chance Of Getting Cancer?

Research at Nottingham University has shown this.

Being coeliac is unlikely to be beneficial, as whoever heard of a disease that let you live longer?

,So could it be the non-eating too of gluten?

Also, as many who eat a lot of red and processed meat, eat it with a bun or lots of bread,

Could this be significant?

Research needs to be done that considers consumption of red and processed meat, taking eating gluten into account.

How Would I Reduce Cancer?

There are other substances and circumstances that are proven to cause cancer.

  • Smoking tobacco and other drugs.
  • Eating too much and being obese
  • Drinking too much.
  • Too much sunbathing.
  • Diesel and petrol vehicles
  • Gas appliances in the home, not venting outside.

Some of these also cause other health problems.

I’d start with absolute bans on these.

  • Diesel and petrol vehicles.
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Possession of illegal drugs.
  • Gas appliances in the home, not venting outside.
  • Sales of high strength alcohol.
  • Jobs with a proven record of causing cancer like coal mining.

And these things would be compulsory or introduced.

  • Everybody should keep a record in a smart-phone app of what they ate and their weight.
  • Owning a diesel or petrol vehicle would need a special permit.
  • Alcohol could only be bought in special licensed shops.

Obviously, other draconian measures could be introduced.

I doubt it will ever be acted upon, by any Government that wants to win an election.

So What Can We Do That Is Practical?

My view is that we have to nudge people into doing the right thing.

Diesel And Petrol Taxes To Subsidise Zero-Emission Vehicles

Note that I use the term zero-emission vehicle, which is a category that includes battery and hydrogen power at present. But it is a class, that could include other vehicles in future, that have yet to be invented.

If diesel and petrol taxes were to rise and the revenue were used to subsidise the purchase of zero-emission vehicles, then this might persuade more people to switch to zero-emission vehicles.

Money could also be allocated to research into zero-emission vehicles.

Zero-Emission Zones In All Towns And Cities

London is getting an Ultra Low Emission Zone, but this is only the start.

They should be Zero Emission Zones.

They should probably be paired with parking areas outside the zone and connected to it, by a zero-emission high quality rail or bus link.The link could be a segregated walking or cycling route.

The first town or city that uses this model to create healthy air quality will probably reap an enormous dividend.

From recent developments, I suspect it will be the City of London.

Smoking Would Only Be Allowed By Consenting Adults In Private

As smoking had a lot to do with the death of my son I feel strongly about this.

My wife also may have died from secondary lung cancer. But she had never smoked, although she got enough cigarette smoke from her tutor at University, who chain-smoked Capstan Full Strength.

Is There A Radical Approach?

Liverpool University Pancreatic Cancer Research Unit have one of the most impressive databases I have ever seen! It contains every pancreatic cancer case, that has been notified to the University.

They use it to look for links between factors, that might be a clue to what causes this terrible disease and for possible cures.

But imagine an enormous database of all UK cancer cases, that was processed to show how the cancers related to post codes, occupation, age, weight, smoking and drinking habits etc.

Access to an anonymised version of the database would be allowed through the Internet or a phone app.

Would access to the data, nudge people to change their bad habits?

I also know of ten-year-olds, who pester their parents to stop smoking, so imagine what a tech-savvy child would do, if given access to the app. Schools could teach them to use it responsibly.

Could it bring the whole country together to reduce levels of cancer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Treatment Turns Up Heat On Tumours

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in Tuesday’s Times.

It describes research at the Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering, where ultrasound is used to heat liver cancers to over 39.5 °C. The raised temperature then triggers the release of a drug.

The last quote of the report is from a researcher involved.

We can now begin to realise the promise of precision cancer medicine.

I’ve read about other ideas with the same outcome of precision.

I suspect my grandchildren will have a much higher chance of being cured of cancer.

July 12, 2018 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Angelina Jolie Gene Testing For All?

The title of this post is the same as this article on the BBC.

This is said.

Testing all women for the “Angelina Jolie gene”, even if not considered at risk, would prevent cancers, save lives and is cost effective, say doctors.

Having lived for forty years with my wife, who suffered breast cancer and then a few years later died from a squamous cell carcinoma of the heart, I know a lot about the emotional problems of cancer.

Many cancers and other diseases, like my coeliac disease, can be found in our genes.

Our youngest son died of pancreatic cancer, which was probably not helped by his smoking and poor eating and health habits.

If he had been a coeliac, which could have been likely because of my genes, that wouldn’t have helped either! But he wouldn’t be tested!

Speaking for myself, my life might have been very different, if I had been genetically tested as a child!

In the future, genetic testing will become much more the norm, as doctors, researchers, scientists and engineers will reduce the cost of doing a full genetic test.

The BBC article also says this.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, estimated the impact of screening all 27 million women over 30 in the UK.

They said it would:

  • prevent 64,500 more breast cancers
  • prevent 17,500 more ovarian cancers
  • save 12,300 more lives

The study also said mass screening would be cost-effective for the health service.

But why stop at breast and ovarian cancer?

I feel strongly, that anybody likely to be a coeliac, should be tested at birth.

Keeping to a gluten-free diet, is getting easier every year and research at institutions like Nottingham University has shown, that coeliacs on a gluten-free diet are significantly less likely to get cancer, than the general population.

 

 

 

 

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Health | , , , | 2 Comments