World Humanitarian Day 2019: MAMA Centre celebrates Humanitarian Women, calls for safe operation spaces

As the world commemorates the World Humanitarian Day 2019, the Mothers and Marginalised Advocacy (MAMA) Centre honours humanitarian efforts and support by Women Humanitarians, who passionately propagate the idea of supporting people in crisis worldwide.

While we acknowledge the unique role of women in peace and conflict resolution, we commend and celebrate the dogged contributions of Women Humanitarians in making the world a better place, despite the associated risks identified with Humanitarian world.

We continue to appreciate Women Humanitarians as the first responders to the “darkest hours of crisis”, revealing their incomparable exceptionality, while validating the global affirmation of female strength, power and perseverance at all levels.

We are not unaware of the existing life-threatening challenges and unjustified attacks targeted at Women Humanitarians at various humanitarian stages and processes.

We condemn in totality, discrimination and violence against female aid workers in any form or place across the world, while calling for more robust and supportive policy environment through implementation of appropriate surveillance system and competent reporting mechanism to encourage and address the plights of Women Humanitarians.

We encourage every humanitarian effort to take as cognisance, the essential role of women and girls as first responders, agents of change, as well as the best representatives of needs in humanitarian situations.

We also call for specific effort to reach marginalized women and girls, including women with disabilities, indigenous women, elderly women, and women of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, to building on their needs and capacities in order to effectively engage them as active partners in humanitarian process.  

We further advocate for safe operation spaces for women and adolescent girls in every humanitarian response to enable them brainstorm and devise appropriate response strategies at all levels.

Signed:

Barr. (Mrs.) Ola E. Onyegbula  

Executive Director, MAMA Centre

Secret to world’s oldest man’s long life

Guinness World Record holder Masazo Nonaka has died at the ripe old age of 113. But the secret to his long life was simple.

The world’s oldest man has died at the age of 113 after living a stress-free life, his family revealed.

Masazo Nonaka, recognised by Guinness World Records in April, died at his home in Japan earlier today.

He passed away peacefully while sleeping in Ashoro, Hokkaido, revealed granddaughter Yuko Nonaka.

Masazo Nonaka was recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living man in April,then aged 112 years and 259. Picture: Masanori Takei/AP

Masazo Nonaka was recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living man in April,then aged 112 years and 259. Picture: Masanori Takei/APSource:AP

The supercentenarian, whose family has run a hot springs inn for four generations, was recognised last year as the world’s oldest living man then aged 112 years and 259 days.

Nonaka was born on July 25, 1905, two years after the Wright Brothers celebrated the first power-driven flight and just months before Einstein published his theory of relativity.

FORTY YEARS OLD AT THE END OF WORLD WAR II

He was already 40 when America dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War.

Nonaka grew up in a large family and succeeded his parents running the 106-year-old inn, now managed by Yuko.

She said her grandfather appeared to be fine until her elder sister noticed he was not breathing.

He was pronounced dead by his family doctor soon afterwards.

“He didn’t have any health problem … He went peacefully and that’s at least our consolation,” his granddaughter said.

Nonaka died peacefully, and had no health problems. Picture: Masanori Takei/AP

Nonaka died peacefully, and had no health problems. Picture: Masanori Takei/APSource:AP

HIS LONGEVITY DOWN TO A STRESS-FREE LIFE

Nonaka, who enjoyed eating sweets, used to regularly soak in the springs, and would move about in the inn in a wheelchair, wearing his trademark knit cap.

He spent his retirement watching sumo wrestling on TV, reading newspapers and eating sweets and cakes.

He often ate sweets and lived a stress-free life. Picture: AFP

He often ate sweets and lived a stress-free life. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

His family put his long life down to the fact he lived his life in a way that did not bring him stress.

He outlived all seven of his siblings, as well as his wife and three of their five children.

The world’s oldest living person celebrated her 116th birthday on January 2.

Kane Tanaka, who is also from Japan, took over the title of the world’s oldest person in July 2018.

Nonaka was 92 when Princess Diana died in Paris . Picture: Supplied

Nonaka was 92 when Princess Diana died in Paris . Picture: SuppliedSource:News Limited

THE HISTORIC EVENTS HE WITNESSED IN HIS LIFETIME

– He was born the year Einstein proposed the Theory of Relativity.

– Tonaka was 3 when the Model T Ford hit the roads.

– He was 9 at the outbreak of World War I.

– His 13th year saw The Russian Revolution.

– He was 31 when Edward VII abdicated.

– Tonaka was 48 when the Queen was crowned.

– 57 when The Beatles had their first hit.

– He was 61 when England won the World Cup.

– 92 when Princess Diana died in Paris.

– And 100 when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

Source: News.com.au

FrankenSWINE? Scientists bring some functions in a pig’s BRAIN ‘back to life’

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Scientists have been able to partially revive the brains of decapitated pigs that died four hours earlier in a groundbreaking study. 

Experts used tubes that pumped a chemical mixture designed to mimic blood into the decapitated heads of 32 pigs to restore circulation and cellular activity.

Echoing Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, billions of neurons began acting normally and the deaths of other cells was reduced over the course of six hours.

Electrical brain activity across the brain associated with awareness, perception and other high level functions were not observed, however.

While the find is an exciting breakthrough, it is still a long way from proof that a person’s consciousness can be recovered after they die, experts caution.

But it may open the door to salvaging mental powers in stroke patients, however, as well as new treatments that boost recovery of neurons after brain injury. 

A research team led by Yale School of Medicine obtained the pigs’ brains from abattoirs and placed them in a system they created called BrainEx. 

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Bringing a person back from the dead may have moved a step closer after scientists were able to restore the cells in the brains of pigs that died four hours earlier. Experts uses tubes that pumped a chemical mixture designed to mimic blood into the decapitated heads of 32 pigs to restore circulation and cellular activity

Bringing a person back from the dead may have moved a step closer after scientists were able to restore the cells in the brains of pigs that died four hours earlier. Experts uses tubes that pumped a chemical mixture designed to mimic blood into the decapitated heads of 32 pigs to restore circulation and cellular activity

Echoing Mary Shelley's classic novel Frankenstein, billions of neurons began acting normally and the deaths of other cells was reduced over the course of six hours. This image shows inactive brain cells ten hours after death (left) and cells that were active after the same duration having been hooked up to the system (right)

Echoing Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, billions of neurons began acting normally and the deaths of other cells was reduced over the course of six hours. This image shows inactive brain cells ten hours after death (left) and cells that were active after the same duration having been hooked up to the system (right)

HOW DOES BRAINEX WORK? 

BrainEx involves connecting a brain to a closed loop of tubes and reservoirs.

These circulate a red perfusion fluid, which is able to mimic bloody by carrying oxygen around the brain.

That includes to the brain stem, the cerebellar artery, and areas deep in the centre of the brain.

The system can regulate circulation of the synthetic blood around a mammalian brain. 

In this case researchers were working with pigs, but they have previously stated any species could be hooked up to the machine – including primates.

Past studies saw the machine used to keep hundreds of pig brains alive outside of their bodies for up to 36 hours.

It mimics pulsating blood flow – known medically as perfusion – at normal human body temperatures of 37°C (98.6°F).

The team saw a reduction in the death of the brain cells over the course of six hours.

There was also revival of some cellular functions, including the firing of synapses – vital connections between neurons that transport signals.

The study suggests some brain activities have the capacity to be restored at least partially – even a few hours after death.

It also challenges long-held assumptions about the timing and irreversible nature of death, say the researchers.

Senior author Professor Nenad Sestan described the results as ‘mind-boggling’ and ‘unexpected’ but believed the technique could work on humans.

Professor Sestan, a neuroscientist at Yale, said: ‘The intact brain of a large mammal retains a previously underappreciated capacity for restoration of circulation and certain molecular and cellular activities multiple hours after circulatory arrest.’ 

Electrical brain activity across the brain associated with awareness, perception and other high level functions were not observed, however. This image shows what happened when scientists pumped chemical solution into dead pig's brain

Electrical brain activity across the brain associated with awareness, perception and other high level functions were not observed, however. This image shows what happened when scientists pumped chemical solution into dead pig’s brain

Although there was no evidence of global network activity or full-brain function during the experiments.

But many basic cellular functions – once thought to cease seconds or minutes after oxygen and blood flow stop – were observed.

Cellular death within the brain is usually considered to be a swift and irreversible process.

Cut off from oxygen and a blood supply, electrical activity and signs of awareness disappear within seconds – while energy stores are depleted in minutes.

Current understanding maintains a cascade of injury and death molecules are then activated leading to widespread, irreversible degeneration.

But researchers in Professor Sestan’s lab – who focus on brain development and evolution – found that small tissue samples routinely showed signs of cellular viability.

This was the case even when they were harvested many hours after death. 

While the find is an exciting breakthrough, it is still a long way from proof that a person's consciousness can be recovered after they die, experts caution. This image shows magnetic resonance imaging scans of  the brains

While the find is an exciting breakthrough, it is still a long way from proof that a person’s consciousness can be recovered after they die, experts caution. This image shows magnetic resonance imaging scans of  the brains

It may open the door to salvaging mental powers in stroke patients, however, as well as new treatments that boost recovery of neurons after brain injury. This image shows an analysis of synaptic organisation, neuronal activity, and wider brain activity

It may open the door to salvaging mental powers in stroke patients, however, as well as new treatments that boost recovery of neurons after brain injury. This image shows an analysis of synaptic organisation, neuronal activity, and wider brain activity

A research team led by Yale School of Medicine obtained the pigs' brains from abattoirs and placed them in a system they created called BrainEx that mimics pulsating blood flow.  This image shows the restoration of brain circulation and cellular functions hours post-mortem

A research team led by Yale School of Medicine obtained the pigs’ brains from abattoirs and placed them in a system they created called BrainEx that mimics pulsating blood flow.  This image shows the restoration of brain circulation and cellular functions hours post-mortem

Intrigued, they used the pigs’ brains to discover how widespread this is.

Four hours after death they connected up the blood vessels to circulate a uniquely formulated solution they developed to preserve the tissue using BrainEx.

They found brain cell integrity was preserved and certain neurons, glial cells found in the central nervous system, and blood vessel cells, began working.

The breakthrough may also shed light on the structure and function of the human brain – which is difficult to analyse.

This hinders investigations into topics like the roots of brain disorders as well as neuronal connectivity in both healthy and abnormal conditions.

The chemical solution used lacks many of the components found in human blood – such as the immune system and other cells.

This makes the experimental system significantly different from normal living conditions.

Any future study involving human tissue or possible revival of global electrical activity in ‘dead’ animal tissue should be done under strict ethical oversight, the researchers said. 

‘Death is a process and it takes time, not just seconds or minutes – we knew that,’ said Dr Martin Monti, associate professor in the departments of psychology and neurosurgery at the University of California Los Angeles, who was not involved in the research.

‘The advance here is that, with the right technology, we might now have more time to recover some molecular, cellular, and microvascular function before these are completely compromised in the non-human animal model, a prospect which might some day extend the potential timeline for restorative interventions in human tissues. 

‘However, this should not be confused with acts of magic restoring any function in one’s favourite long-gone hero, which is not going to happen any time soon, and it should also not be confused with re-infusing cognitive processing or, much less, sentience in the decapitated head.’

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature

 

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Fresh red meat could be safe to eat for SEVEN weeks, which could lead to shake-up, study suggests

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Fresh red meat could be safe to eat after 50 DAYS in the fridge: Beef, pork and lamb are edible for weeks as long as they are chilled below 46F (8C), study finds

  • New research shows botulism bacteria not present at toxic level for first 49 days
  • Study could revolutionise industry by changing sell-by dates and cutting waste
  • Food Standards Agency vows to examine report before any changes to rules

Red meat may be safe to eat up to seven weeks after it was produced, research suggests.

Currently, UK watchdogs advise that fresh, chilled meat should only be consumed up to ten days after processing.

The new study credits improved hygiene standards together with the development of vacuum packaging – however it is also important the meat is kept chilled to prevent bacteria growing.

New study suggests red meat may have a much longer shelf life than experts realise, which could potentially revolutionise the industry

New study suggests red meat may have a much longer shelf life than experts realise, which could potentially revolutionise the industry

If the research – conducted by the British Meat Producers Association (BMPA) and jointly overseen by Meat And Livestock Australia – is validated, it could revolutionise food sell-by date labels and cut waste.

The study could also mean thousands of tonnes of meat have been needlessly binned since the 10-day shelf life guidance was introduced in 1992 by the Advisory Committee for the Microbiological Safety of Foods. 

Tests showed beef does not become toxic with Clostridium botulinum – which causes botulism – until 50 days after first developing spores, so long as it is chilled at 8C (46F) or below. 

In comparison, it takes 35 days for lamb and 25 for pork at the same temperature.

A BMPA spokesman said the findings would give meat processors the ammunition they need to apply longer retail shelf-lives to products.

They added it will ‘benefit consumers and the environment through lower wastage and better sustainability’.

Botulism, produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, causes an unpleasant poisoning with nerve paralysis and weakness

Botulism, produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, causes an unpleasant poisoning with nerve paralysis and weakness

What is the 10-day shelf life rule for fresh meat? 

Food officials in the UK first announced the 10 day shelf life rule for certain chilled foods, such as beef, pork and lamb, in 1992.

The guidance applies to foods that are vacuum or ‘modified atmosphere’ packed – methods that allow no air into the food – and stored between 3C to 8C.

Clostridium botulinum – which causes botulism – is able to grow and produce a harmful toxin at temperatures of 3C and above.

The Food Standards Agency was keen to halve the time limit in 2005, cutting it down to just five days. However, it never went ahead.

The Chilled Foods Association, an industry body that represents many manufacturers, argued the five-day restriction was unnecessary.

BMPA’s David Lindars, who co-ordinated the research project, told FarmingUK: ‘The shelf life of fresh red meat held at 3C to 8C is of great significance to industry. 

‘New findings will give meat processors the ammunition they need to apply longer retail shelf lives to their products.

‘It is not just the commercial benefit to producers, processors and retailers that will result from these findings. Longer shelf life of products will also benefit consumers and the environment through lower wastage and better sustainability.

‘It’s a significant piece of research which will bring significant benefits to everyone involved in the production, selling and consumption of British meat products.’ 

The UK’s ten-day shelf-life rule was officially set by the Food Standards Agency, with revised guidance issued in 2008 formed using ‘robust scientific evidence’.

A spokesman for the FSA said: ‘The FSA guidance was developed using robust scientific evidence, drawing on the expertise of the independent Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF).

‘The ACMSF recommended a maximum ten-day shelf life for vacuum and modified atmosphere packed foods stored from 3C to 8C in the absence of other controlling factors.

‘However where such controlling factors are present and where food businesses can satisfactorily demonstrate the safety of their product throughout its shelf life, then longer than ten days may be applied.

‘When relevant new science is generated it is standard practice to revisit the evidence base and we will now consider the findings of this report.’

Food officials in the UK first announced the 10 day shelf life rule for certain chilled foods, such as beef, pork and lamb, in 1992.

The guidance applies to foods that are vacuum or ‘modified atmosphere’ packed – methods that allow no air into the food – and stored between 3C to 8C.

Clostridium botulinum is able to grow and produce a harmful toxin at temperatures of 3C and above.

WHAT IS BOTULISM? 

Botulism, produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, causes an unpleasant poisoning with nerve paralysis and weakness.

They can thrive in canned foods, deep wounds and the stomach.

Between 2000 and 2006, just six cases of food-borne botulism were reported in England.

Diarrhoea, vomiting, blurred vision, difficulty swallowing and a general all-over body weakness and paralysis.

These symptoms normally occur within a day but can be as late as a week after eating the food.

Antitoxins can slow down the process and allow recovery.

Most people make a complete recovery, although five per cent of cases are fatal.

The same toxin is used for cosmetic Botox procedures, to paralyse facial muscles and reduce wrinkles.



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Mother with varicose veins so painful she struggled to walk was refused NHS treatment TWELVE times

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A woman with varicose veins so painful she broke down and cried to her GP for treatment was told only to come back when they had caused open sores.

Shannon Hutchinson, 30, from Telford, Shropshire, was unable to walk upstairs due to being in agony from the common condition.

The mother-of-two gained weight because walking was so uncomfortable and she became anxious that people thought she was exaggerating her pain.

She was denied treatment on the NHS, despite asking her doctor more than 12 times over a two-year period.

Instead she was given stockings to wear ‘which did nothing’ and claims she was told to come back if she lost feeling in her feet. 

In the end Mrs Hutchinson had ‘life-changing’ private treatment at the Veincentre’s London clinic, which cost nearly £2,600, and has since lost two stone.

Shannon Hutchinson had varicose veins so painful she broke down and cried to her GP for treatment - but claims she was told only to come back when they had developed into open sores. Pictured after treatment she paid for privately

Shannon Hutchinson had varicose veins so painful she broke down and cried to her GP for treatment – but claims she was told only to come back when they had developed into open sores. Pictured after treatment she paid for privately 

Mrs Hutchinson, 30, from Telford, Shropshire, was unable to walk upstairs due to being in agony. Her veins pictured before (left) and after treatment (centre and right)

Mrs Hutchinson, 30, from Telford, Shropshire, was unable to walk upstairs due to being in agony. Her veins pictured before (left) and after treatment (centre and right)

Mrs Hutchinson's varicose veins started as a small lump in her left leg in 2012. By 2015 they had grown bigger and had become aching and itchy. Pictured before treatment

Mrs Hutchinson’s varicose veins started as a small lump in her left leg in 2012. By 2015 they had grown bigger and had become aching and itchy. Pictured before treatment 

It comes at a time that the NHS is cutting the number of varicose vein patients referred for surgery. 

Mrs Hutchinson, who is a qualified hairdresser but now a stay-at-home mother, first developed a small lump in her left leg in 2012 following the birth of her first son, who’s now six.

But her GP at Donnington Medical Practice, Shropshire, told her it was ‘just a lump’ and to ignore it.

In 2015, after the birth of her second son, who’s now three, Mrs Hutchinson noticed the vein had grown bigger and another had appeared on her right leg.

She began experiencing symptoms such as aching, burning and itchy, and her legs would swell in the warm weather.

The veins on both legs continued to grow, and on her left they reached round the back to her ankle.

Mrs Hutchinson, who always enjoyed being active and loved taking her young children for walks, said the pain began to restrict her lifestyle. 

She said: ‘By 2017 my left leg was especially painful. I’ve always loved running and as a family we’ve enjoyed going on long walks.

‘But my symptoms were getting so severe, by the end of each day I was limping and struggling to walk down the stairs.

‘I couldn’t even get down on the floor to play with my children.’

She also stopped wearing dresses and shorts because she didn’t like the way her legs looked – and her veins were so big, they would protrude through her jeans. 

Mrs Hutchinson, a qualified hairdresser who is now a stay-at-home mother, stopped wearing dresses and shorts because she didn't like the way her legs looked

Mrs Hutchinson, a qualified hairdresser who is now a stay-at-home mother, stopped wearing dresses and shorts because she didn’t like the way her legs looked

The mother-of-two gained weight because walking was so uncomfortable and unable to move from the sofa. Pictured at Christmas wearing a dress for the first time in years after having treatment in the autumn

The mother-of-two gained weight because walking was so uncomfortable and unable to move from the sofa. Pictured at Christmas wearing a dress for the first time in years after having treatment in the autumn 

Mrs Hutchinson said the ‘breaking point’ came in summer 2018 when she and her husband Adam took their children to a safari park.

Halfway through the family day out, Mrs Hutchinson had to sit down on a bench because her legs were so painful – leaving Mr Hutchinson to take the kids round the park.

She said: ‘Missing out like that was the final straw. I had to do something about it.

‘I must have gone to the GP a dozen times, telling them how much it was affecting my life.

‘It wasn’t so much the cosmetic side than the symptoms. They were just making my life a misery, and my husband told me how much he hated seeing me in pain.

‘I even broke down and cried on one visit to the GP. It felt like I was constantly being fobbed off by the doctors, who said they would only do something if I lost the feeling in my feet or if my veins deteriorated into sores.

‘Instead they just offered me stockings, which did nothing.’

Mrs Hutchinson said her painful varicose veins also affected her mental health. She was used to being active, but went through a ‘low period’ because her movement was restricted due to being in agony.

Often she would be forced to spend all day sitting it on the sofa because she was in so much pain, and that led to her gaining weight.

She said: ‘It really got me down and often cried to my husband because I was struggling and felt anxious because people just didn’t understand.

‘The doctors made me feel like I was overreacting, which I then thought everyone else thought, and that left me terribly anxious.

‘My doctor told me the only way I would get them sorted was going privately.’

Mrs Hutchinson said her varicose veins were 'making her life a misery' and her husband, Adam, struggled to see her in pain. Pictured, the couple together

Mrs Hutchinson said her varicose veins were ‘making her life a misery’ and her husband, Adam, struggled to see her in pain. Pictured, the couple together 

The tipping point came in the summer of 2018 when Mrs Hutchinson was unable to spend quality time with her children. Halfway through a family day out to a safari park (pictured), Mrs Hutchinson had to sit down on a bench because her legs were so painful – leaving Mr Hutchinson to take the children round the park

The tipping point came in the summer of 2018 when Mrs Hutchinson was unable to spend quality time with her children. Halfway through a family day out to a safari park (pictured), Mrs Hutchinson had to sit down on a bench because her legs were so painful – leaving Mr Hutchinson to take the children round the park

WHAT ARE VARICOSE VEINS?

Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins, which typically affect the legs and feet.

For many these are just unsightly, but some may experience pain and discomfort.

Varicose veins could also raise the risk of circulation problems.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Throbbing, cramping and swelling in the lower legs
  • Worsened pain after sitting or standing
  • Itching around veins
  • Bleeding
  • Colour changes, hardening or inflammation around the affected skin

Varicose veins are more likely to affect the elderly as age causes skin to lose elasticity and valves in veins to weaken.

They are also linked to pregnancy as gestation causes the volume of blood in the body to increase but reduces the flow from the legs to the pelvis.

Obesity and a family history of the condition also increases the risk. 

Varicose vein complications can include:

  • Ulcers 
  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding

People can reduce their risk of varicose veins by exercising, eating a healthy diet, avoiding high heels, elevating the legs and changing their sitting or standing position regularly.

Treatment can include compression socks or laser surgery.

Varicose veins are a common condition, affecting up to three in 10 adults. 

Mrs Hutchinson opted for treatment at the Veincentre’s London clinic.

She underwent endovenous laser ablation, which is carried out with local anaesthetic and involves inserting a laser into the vein through a needle and burning the faulty vein, to both of her legs.

She also required foam sclerotherapy injections, where medication in the form of foam is injected into the affected vein to shrink it.

At her follow-up appointment, Mrs Hutchinson also needed a non-invasive duplex ultrasound scan, a further session of foam injections and microsclerotherapy – injections of a liquid called Sclerovein, which destroys the veins.

The total cost of her treatment was £2,595, and Mrs Hutchinson said she ‘cried with relief’ after having it done, calling it ‘life changing’.

She wore a stocking for a week and when she removed it she could ‘see straight away the veins were no longer protruding’.

Mrs Hutchinson said: ‘Within two weeks all the pain had vanished and within six weeks I was walking long distances again.

‘After my treatment I gained new confidence not just to go out bare legged but confidence in myself.

‘My anxiety reduced and I finally had the confidence to get back into the world, which is when the workouts and outdoor activity started again.

‘Now everything is different. At Christmas I wore a dress for the first time in years.

‘There are no scars on my legs, and I can run and climb with the kids, and I have started to work out, losing more than two stone since my last treatment in the autumn.

‘It’s had a huge knock on effect for my family life, and my husband is so happy for me.’

Mrs Hutchinson underwent endovenous laser ablation and sclerotherapy privately to treat her varicose veins. Pictured, her legs after treatment

Mrs Hutchinson underwent endovenous laser ablation and sclerotherapy privately to treat her varicose veins. Pictured, her legs after treatment 

Mrs Hutchinson has been able to exercise again since her treatment, losing two stone since the autumn. Pictured, before her veins became bad and she was active

Mrs Hutchinson has been able to exercise again since her treatment, losing two stone since the autumn. Pictured, before her veins became bad and she was active

Mrs Hutchinson, pictured with her children, said: 'The doctors made me feel like I was overreacting, which I then thought everyone else thought, and that left me terribly anxious.' Her anxiety has now reduced

Mrs Hutchinson, pictured with her children, said: ‘The doctors made me feel like I was overreacting, which I then thought everyone else thought, and that left me terribly anxious.’ Her anxiety has now reduced

Dr David West, founder of the Veincentre, said the guidance from NHS England and NICE regarding referring patients for varicose veins treatment ‘contradicted’ one another.

It comes at a time that the government is reducing the number of people undergoing surgery for varicose vein surgery from 28,000 a year to 20,000, he said.

Dr West added that because the condition is so common, if everyone with a varicose vein demanded ‘expensive NHS treatment, it would overload the system’.

He said: ‘You can quite easily see why NHS England takes this stance because there’s only a limited amount of staff and money available.

‘Another problem is that varicose veins are unlike most medical problems as they are mostly both a cosmetic problems and can cause symptoms and could ultimately cause a significant threat to health if the skin breaks down.’

He added: ‘The numbers of patients referred for NHS treatment is reducing. At the same time the numbers of patients suffering with the problems are increasing.’ 

Christine Morris, executive lead for quality, nursing and safety for Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group, said: ‘We are unable to comment on individual patient cases.

‘However, we would like to reassure patients that it is the priority of the CCG and its GP member practices to ensure every patient receives a level of NHS care and treatment that is clinically appropriate for their needs.’

WHAT TREATMENT OPTIONS ARE THERE FOR VARICOSE VEINS? 

Treatment of varicose veins is usually necessary to ease symptoms if varicose veins are causing pain or discomfort.

It may be done to treat complications – such as leg ulcers, swelling or skin discolouration. Treatment for cosmetic reasons is rarely available on the NHS.

If treatment is necessary, the doctor may first recommend up to 6 months of self care at home, involving compression stockings, regular exercise, avoiding standing up and elevating the affected area when resting. 

Endothermal ablation

This involves using energy either from high-frequency radio waves (radiofrequency ablation) or lasers (endovenous laser treatment) to heat the vein until the walls collapse. This closes and seals the vein so that blood will naturally be redirected to one of healthy veins.

Both treatments involve accessing the vein through a small cut made just above or below the knee. A narrow tube called a catheter is guided into the vein using an ultrasound scan. 

Ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy 

This treatment involves injecting special foam into your veins. The foam scars the veins, which seals them closed.

After sclerotherapy, your varicose veins should begin to fade after a few weeks as stronger veins take over the role of the damaged vein, which is no longer filled with blood.

Although sclerotherapy has proven to be effective, it’s not yet known how effective foam sclerotherapy is in the long term. NICE found, on average, the treatment was effective in 84 out of 100 cases.

But in one study, the varicose veins returned in more than half of those treated.

Sclerotherapy can also cause side effects, including blood clots in other leg veins, headaches, lower back pain and vision problems.

Surgery 

A surgical procedure called ligation and stripping to remove the affected veins involves tying off the vein in the affected leg and then removing it.

Ligation and stripping can cause pain, bruising and bleeding. More serious complications are rare, but could include nerve damage or deep vein thrombosis.

Source: NHS 

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Planned C-sections are £400 cheaper than vaginal births for the NHS, finds study 

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Delivering a baby by a planned caesarean section is cheaper for the NHS than a vaginal birth, research suggests.  

Experts claim around £400 could be saved, once all compensation costs are taken into consideration. 

The majority of expectant mothers are being denied a C-section, despite official guidelines saying they should have the choice.

This is despite studies showing that the risks of serious complications – including haemorrhaging – are higher with C-sections than vaginal births.

Planned C-sections are £400 cheaper for the NHS than vaginal births after taking compensation claims into consideration, a study has found

Planned C-sections are £400 cheaper for the NHS than vaginal births after taking compensation claims into consideration, a study has found

Maternity claims represented the biggest area of spend for NHS Resolution, the body that handles NHS compensation claims, in 2017/18. 

Gynaecological and obstetric injury claims are made when complications such as an injury arise because poor standards of care of negligence. 

They can be particularly expensive because babies may need specialist care for life if they are left brain-damaged by labour, for example.  

Of the clinical negligence claims notified to the organisation, obstetrics claim they represented 10 per cent of clinical claims by number.

But they accounted for 48 per cent of the total value of new claims – £2.17billion of the total £4.51billion. 

And the costs for negligence were around nine times higher for vaginal births than for planned C-sections, the figures showed.  

ARE C-SECTIONS MORE RISKY THAN VAGINAL BIRTHS? 

One in every four pregnant women in the UK now has a caesarean birth.

For many women, it is scheduled because a natural birth is deemed too risky.

Medical conditions include diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV that could be passed from mother to baby, or problems with the placenta during her pregnancy.

Women with no other medical reason should be offered appropriate discussion and support if they want a C-section to make an informed choice, NICE says. 

Generally it is a safe procedure, and the level of risk will depend on things such as whether the procedure is planned or carried out as an emergency, and your general health.

It’s a major surgery that involves opening up a pregnant woman’s abdomen and removing the baby from her uterus.

One study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that the chances of problems after a caesarean were 1.5 times higher for a mother than for vaginal births.

Older mothers – over the age of 35 -who give birth by caesarean are three times more likely to experience severe complications than those who give birth naturally. 

Although uncommon, needing admission to an intensive care unit is more likely after a caesarean birth than after a vaginal birth, according to NICE. It is not clear whether this happens as a result of a caesarean section or because of the reasons for needing a caesarean section.

Midwives or doctors should discuss the benefits and risks of a caesarean section compared with a vaginal birth with the pregnant woman taking individual circumstances into consideration.  

Previous economic modelling by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has found that vaginal deliveries are about £700 cheaper than a planned C-section, but these figures do not take into account compensation claims.

A planned C-section, according to this study, was over £400 per birth cheaper than a vaginal birth.

But when looking at long-term indemnity costs, it could end up being £2,000 to £3,000 less expensive than a planned vaginal birth.

They said the costs for negligence relating to the planned method of birth were found to be approximately nine times higher for planned vaginal birth than for a planned C-section.

One of the authors of new study, Jonathan West, a former NHS consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology who worked at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, said: ‘Planning to have a baby naturally is very safe when looked at from the viewpoint of the chance of something going seriously wrong, but very expensive when the human and financial cost of something going wrong actually occurs.

‘We should recognise that women have a right to informed choice, and our study shows that it is unfair to discourage mothers from choosing to Caesarean birth on the grounds of cost.’ 

For the study, which has been published on the F1000 research website and may be submitted to a medical journal, the team looked at data from Nice, NHS Resolution and NHS Improvement.  

Research has shown that women at 75 per cent of UK maternity units are being denied their right to choose a C-section.

NICE guidance says women should be allowed to opt for a planned C-section even if it is not for medical reasons.

Women requesting a C-section with no other medical reason should be offered appropriate discussion and support, NICE says.

But ultimately, if they are regarded as making an informed choice, a C-section should be offered.

Of the 146 trusts that shared their policies with the Birthrights charity last August, only 26 per cent fully complied with the guidelines while 15 per cent refused all elective C-section.

Whether C-sections put women at more risk than vaginal birth is of debate due to conflicting evidence but some experts say that doctors should be more considerate.

While avoiding some after effects of labour such as urinary incontinence, the procedure can lead to scarring of the womb, which heightens the risk of complications during future births.

Older mothers – of which there are soaring numbers – who give birth by C-section are three times more likely to experience severe complications than those who give birth naturally, research has shown.

The numbers of C-sections have increased from 19.7 per cent in 2000 to 26.2 per cent in 2015.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF A VAGINAL BIRTH? 

To the mother:

  • Painful vaginal area (common)
  • Urinary incontinence (unknown)
  • Anal incontinence (unknown) 

To the baby:

  • Brachial plexus injury – when the nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm and hand are stretched, compressed, or in the most serious cases, ripped apart or torn away from the spinal cord.

Having an assisted vaginal birth with either vaccum or extraction or forceps rather than a spontaneous birth also has risks to the mother (such as hemorrhoids, psychological trauma and tear in perineum) and to the baby (brain injury).

Source:  Childbirth Connection

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF A CAESAREAN? 

To the mother: 

  • infection of the wound (common) – causing redness, swelling and pain
  • infection of the womb lining (common) – causing a fever, tummy pain, abnormal vaginal discharge and heavy vaginal bleeding
  • excessive bleeding (uncommon)
  • deep vein thrombosis (DVT) (rare) – a blood clot in your leg, which could  be very dangerous
  • damage to your bladder or tubes connecting the kidneys

To the baby:

  • a cut in the skin (common) – this may happen accidentally 
  • breathing difficulties (common) – this most often affects babies born before 39 weeks of pregnancy

Source: NHS 

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Heartwarming footage shows a toddler ‘who was born with BACKWARDS LEGS’ walking

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Heartwarming footage shows a toddler who was born with backwards legs walking, running and playing following life-changing surgery.

Victoria Komada was born with the one-in-a-million defect tibial hemimelia, which caused her to have a missing shinbone in her right leg and a shortened one in her left limb.

Eight specialists warned the three-year-old’s parents Marzena Drusewicz, 32, and Dariusz Komada, 41, her only option was a double amputation. 

Refusing to give up on their daughter, the pair found a limb reconstruction specialist in Florida and fundraised £180,000 to pay for her to have two surgeries. 

Medics were only able to save one of Victoria’s legs, however, a prosthetic finally enabled her to walk.

Following nine months of treatment, the family finally flew home to Norwich on Monday, with Victoria being due to start school in September. 

Victoria Komada can finally walk, run and play after undergoing life-changing surgery on her legs. She is pictured after the procedure

The youngster was born with the one-in-a-million condition tibial hemimelia, which caused her legs to be 'backwards' (pictured)

Victoria Komada can finally walk, run and play after undergoing life-changing surgery on her legs. She is pictured left after the procedure. The youngster was born with the one-in-a-million condition tibial hemimelia, which caused her legs to be ‘backwards’ (pictured right)

Her parents Marzena Drusewicz Komada and Dariusz Komada (pictured together) refused to give up on their daughter despite eight specialist saying a double amputation was her only option

Victoria's right leg had to be amputated due to the severity of her condition. Pins were then put into her left limb before a fixator (pictured) - a stabilising frame that holds broken bones in place - was attached

Her parents Marzena Drusewicz Komada and Dariusz Komada (pictured left together) refused to give up on their daughter despite specialists saying amputation was her only option. Victoria’s right leg had to be amputated. Pins were then put into her left limb before a fixator (pictured right) – a stabilising frame that holds broken bones in place – was attached

Dr Dror Paley – who performed Victoria’s surgery at the Paley Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida – said: ‘We achieved all we said we would achieve on her. 

‘The reconstructed leg is very functional. She can walk and run and do sports now. She has a superb result.’

Although thrilled her daughter can play like any other child, Ms Drusewicz admits her treatment was grueling.    

‘She was in a lot of pain all day and all night,’ she said. ‘We had all had enough. It was really horrible.

‘Of course I was so scared and didn’t know what would was going to happen. She would cry and scream so much after the operation.

‘Every week she got better and better, and now she is not in any pain at all and can walk normally and we can all start our life again now we are home.

‘We were so happy when she took her first steps we started crying. We were on the way to the car and she said “mummy, can I show you something?”‘

After a nine-month stint in the US where Victoria was treated, the family are finally home, with Mrs Komada saying they are 'so happy' with the results

Victoria is pictured after having her right leg amputated, with the fixator gradually stretching her left limb into shape

After a nine-month stint in the US where Victoria was treated, the family are home, with Mrs Komada (both left) saying they are ‘so happy’. The youngster is pictured right after having her right leg amputated, with the fixator gradually stretching her left limb into shape

With the aid of a prosthetic and frame, Victoria slowly learned to walk

But the confident youngster can now move independently like any other toddler

With the aid of a prosthetic and frame (seen left), Victoria slowly learned to walk. But the confident youngster can now move independently like any other toddler (seen right)

WHAT IS TIBIAL HEMIMELIA?

Tibial hemimelia covers a spectrum of deformities caused by a shortened or absent shinbone, known as the tibia.

The fibula – bone on the outside of the tibia – is usually unaffected. 

Tibial hemimelia often causes foot deformities, with some sufferers having extra toes. 

The knees may also be twisted inwards. 

The birth defect affects one-in-a-million births. In 30 per cent of births, both legs are deformed.

Most cases cannot be explained. 

Severe incidences are often spotted during an ultrasound while the mother is pregnant. 

Mild cases may become clear as the child grows.

Most patients require surgery, with the success depending on how much of the bone is missing and if the surrounding muscles are affected.

Procedures aim to length the leg by coaxing the bones back into place.

But in cases where the tibia is completely missing, amputation may be required. A prosthetic can then be fitted.

Source: Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America and Steps charity  

The couple, who are originally from Poland, flew to Florida in July last year to meet Dr Paley.

He told the family Victoria’s left leg could be fixed, however, her right needed amputating.  

‘The reason is on the right side, where the tibia is completely missing, the quadriceps muscles mostly missing – the functional result’s not going to be great,’ Dr Paley said.   

The youngster went under the knife for the first time in a nine-hour operation on July 24, which involved amputating her right leg above the knee.

Pins were then put into her left leg before a fixator – a stabilising frame that holds broken bones in place – was attached. This gradually stretched her limb into shape. 

Over the following months screws were twisted into Victoria’s legs every day to move the bones into the right position. 

The family stayed at the hospitality centre Quantum House throughout their nine-month stay. 

Victoria then went under the knife again on November 13, which involved medics fusing the bones in her left leg to strengthen the limb.

Just two days later, she took her first steps with the aid of a prosthetic. 

The couple hope their daughter will have a normal childhood like any other youngster.  

‘She’s a normal kid, she’s like clever, she’s happy always,’ Mrs Komada said. 

‘I just want her to have a normal life and I know she’s going to have a normal life because she’s a strong girl.’ 

The recovery process was long, with Victoria being forced to get used to life in hospital

Although she stayed positive throughout most of the ordeal, it also took its toll, with the pain leaving Victoria (pictured right with her mother) in tears

The recovery process was long, with Victoria (pictured left in hospital) being forced to get used to life in the treatment centre. Although she stayed positive throughout most of the ordeal, it took its toll, with the pain leaving Victoria (pictured right with her mother) in tears

Victoria is pictured adapting to her new limbs during physiotherapy

X-ray shows the youngster's straightened leg following the grueling surgery and fitting of the fixator

Victoria is pictured left adapting to her new limbs during physiotherapy. Right X-ray shows the youngster’s straightened leg following the grueling surgery and fitting of the fixator

Mr and Mrs Komada moved to the UK 14 years ago, and were expecting a baby shortly after.  

The pregnancy went smoothly, with no signs anything was wrong until Victoria was born. 

Speaking of seeing her daughter for the first time, Mrs Komada said: ‘The nurse, she came to me and she said: ‘I’m going to give you your daughter in a minute because she’s got problems with her legs.’ 

‘I said, ‘what problem with her legs?’ and she said ‘nothing don’t worry’.

An orthopaedic surgeon diagnosed Victoria and recommended she have both her legs amputated. But the new parents refused to let her go under the knife. 

‘For me she needs her own legs, not amputate and prosthetic legs,’ Mr Komada said. ‘And I said “no I will not agree to amputate legs, no, no, no”. 

Online research eventually led the couple to Dr Paley, who specialises in limb lengthening and reconstruction.

After carrying out a series of scans on Victoria’s legs, Dr Paley was confident he could help the youngster, but it would take a year before the treatment was over.

He initially charged them £300,000, before agreeing to carry it out for £190,000.  

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Girl, 11, dies after a severe allergic reaction to TOOTHPASTE that contained a milk protein 

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An 11-year-old girl died after she suffered an allergic reaction to toothpaste and her mother is now warning other parents about the importance of reading labels.

Denise Saldate, from West Covina, California, who had a dairy allergy, went into anaphylactic shock from a milk protein in a prescription toothpaste.

She had been given the prescription by her dentist to help strengthen her tooth enamel, reported Allergic Living.

However, after years spent reading ingredient labels on toothpaste tubes and never seeing milk listed, her mother, Monica Altamirano said she didn’t think her daughter would be exposed to milk. 

Denise Saldate, 11 (pictured), from West Covina, California, was diagnosed with a dairy allergy at age one

Denise (pictured) was prescribed toothpaste on April 4 to help strengthen her tooth enamel

Denise Saldate, 11 (left and right), from West Covina, California, was diagnosed with a dairy allergy at age one.  She was prescribed toothpaste on April 4 to help strengthen her tooth enamel

That evening, Denise went into anaphylactic shock, which is when the immune system overreacts to an allergen. Pictured: Denise (in white) with her mother and sisters

That evening, Denise went into anaphylactic shock, which is when the immune system overreacts to an allergen. Pictured: Denise (in white) with her mother and sisters

Denise was diagnosed with a severe dairy allergy at age one.

For the next several years, Altamirano and Denise’s father, Jose Saldate, diligently read food labels and made sure school staff gave her appropriate lunches. 

On April 4, Denise and her mother went to the dentist, who prescribed MI Paste One, a brand of medicated toothpaste to help strengthen her tooth enamel.

Altamirano had spent most of Denise’s childhood reading the ingredients label on toothpaste tubes, but had never seen milk listed. 

‘I did not think to look at the product ingredients,’ she told Allergic Living. ‘She was just excited to have her special toothpaste.’ 

WHAT IS ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK?

Anaphylaxis, also known as anaphylactic shock, can kill within minutes.

It is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to a trigger, such as an allergy.

The reaction can often be triggered by certain foods, including peanuts and shellfish.

However, some medicines, bee stings, and even latex used in condoms can also cause the life-threatening reaction.

According to the NHS, it occurs when the immune system overreacts to a trigger. 

Symptoms include: feeling lightheaded or faint; breathing difficulties – such as fast, shallow breathing; wheezing; a fast heartbeat; clammy skin; confusion and anxiety and collapsing or losing consciousness. 

It is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.

Insect stings are not dangerous for most victims but a person does not necessarily have to have a pre-existing condition to be in danger. 

An incremental build-up of stings can cause a person to develop an allergy, with a subsequent sting triggering the anaphylactic reaction.

That evening, Denise was in the bathroom brushing her teeth with her 15-year-old sister.

Her sister told Allergic Living that just a few moments later, Denise ran out of the bathroom crying to find her mother. 

‘She said: “I think I’m having an allergic reaction to the toothpaste” and her lips were already blue,’ Altamirano said. 

Suddenly Denise’s mother realized that the sixth grader was going into anaphylactic shock.

The immune system releases chemicals that flood the body, blood pressure suddenly drops, and airways narrow, which prevents someone from breathing normally.

Symptoms usually occur within minutes and include hives, a weak pulse, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and a swollen tongue or throat.

To reverse this, an epinephrine solution – a medication and a hormone – is injected into the thigh muscle, which dilates blood vessels to bring blood pressure back and up and relaxes the muscles of the airways so the sufferer can breathe again.   

The sister called 911 while Altamirano gave Denise a shot from her EpiPen and her asthma inhaler, but neither was helping. 

Paramedics quickly arrived and attempted to administer CPR for several minutes before taking her to the hospital.

Denise was in the hospital for two days before she passed away. 

Her parents later learned that that toothpaste contained Recaldent, a cows’ milk-derived protein.

The family hopes that the tragedy will help spread awareness about anaphylaxis and encourage families, school staff, and caregivers to check all items for allergens. 

They also want dentists and other physicians to ask patients regularly if they have any allergies. 

Denise (pictured in lower right corner with her family) was in the hospital for two days before she passed away on April 6. Her mother is now warning other parents about the importance of reading labels

Denise (pictured in lower right corner with her family) was in the hospital for two days before she passed away on April 6. Her mother is now warning other parents about the importance of reading labels

Her parents discovered the toothpaste, known as MI Paste One, had Recaldent, which is a cows' milk-derived protein

Her parents discovered the toothpaste, known as MI Paste One, had Recaldent, which is a cows’ milk-derived protein

The family hopes that the tragedy will help spread awareness about anaphylaxis and encourage families, school staff, and caregivers to check all items for allergens.

‘Read everything. Don’t get comfortable, just because you’ve been managing for several years,’ Altamirano said.

This is your child’s life, and God forbid you have to go through what I’m going through.’

Memorial services have been scheduled for April 26 and 27 with mourners asked to wear clothes with bright colors to reflect Denise’s ‘bright personality’. 

The family has started a GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover the cost of funeral expenses. 

So far, more than $17,000 has been raised out of an initial $10,000 goal.

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Exercise may make you GAIN weight: People eat nearly a quarter more after a work out

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Exercise may make you GAIN weight: People eat nearly a quarter more after a work out because ‘they feel like they deserve it’

  • Volunteers upped their lunches by 150 calories after working out 
  • Repeating this at dinner would more than outweigh any benefit, scientists warn 
  • Chocolate consumption went up by 20%, particularly among the women

Many of us complain of slaving away in the gym without seeing any benefit to our waistline. 

But scientists may finally have the answer to this phenomenon.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, research suggests exercising could cause people to gain weight. 

A group of volunteers increased their portion sizes by nearly a quarter following a sweaty work out. 

Researchers believe people overindulge after a gym session because they believe they ‘deserve it’.  

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, exercising could cause us to gain weight (stock)

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, exercising could cause us to gain weight (stock)

And this may explain why people can struggle to lose weight even after exercising regularly, they added.  

The research was carried out by Loughborough University, which boasts Sebastian Coe, Paula Radcliffe and Clive Woodward among its sporting alumni.  

‘[When it comes to weight loss] aside from what we eat, a critical factor is how much we eat,’ study author and senior lecturer in nutrition Dr Lewis James said.

‘The results of the present study suggest that knowledge of a future exercise session results in an increase in planned energy intake at a meal after exercise, at least in habitual exercisers.’

The researchers had 40 volunteers, half of which were women, take part in an aerobic class at least three times a week.

HOW MUCH EXERCISE DO I NEED TO DO?

The NHS recommends all adults aged between 19 and 64 should take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week.

Examples of such activity includes brisk walking, cycling, rollerblading, hiking or volleyball. 

Alongside the 150 minutes, each adult should perform strength exercises on at least two days each week, targeting the major muscles.

However, the NHS also says that 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity is fine for those who cannot commit to 150 minutes of moderate activity.

Examples of aerobic activity include running, tennis, football, rugby or rope skipping. 

A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity is also recommended.

The participants were also weighed, and asked how much they eat after a work out and on a ‘rest day’. 

Writing in the journal Appetite, the researchers said: ‘Individuals chose a larger portion size – a 24 per cent increase in energy content of food served [after classes].

‘This increase in planned energy intake might attenuate the negative energy balance induced by exercise, and consequently might reduce any weight loss with chronic exercise training.’

The participants also upped their lunch-time portions by 150 calories after working out, the research found.

And the scientists warn repeating this at dinner would more than outweigh any benefit of exercising. 

Chocolate consumption was also up by 20 per cent, with the female volunteers helping themselves to slightly more than the men. 

Speaking of the effect this has on people’s figures, the researchers wrote: ‘Typically, there is an initial weight loss.

‘However, after this, the rate of weight loss attenuates, or weight becomes stable over time.

‘This finding suggests aerobic exercise might impact meal planning, at least in regular exercisers, which might account for some of the reasons behind stabilisation of weight loss.’

But when exercise is combined with a healthy diet, it is an effective way to lose weight, they stress.

‘Statistics suggest the prevalence of overweight and obesity continue to rise, with 61 per cent of UK adults currently classified as overweight or obese,’ Dr James said.

‘Weight gain occurs due to energy intake greater than energy expenditure, leading to accumulation of fat in adipose tissue.

‘Increasing physical activity, particularly aerobic activity, is one method of increasing energy expenditure that has been suggested to assist with weight management.’ 

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You can eat green potatoes, mouldy bread and eggs a month out of date

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Faced with a slightly green and furry block of cheddar in the fridge, do you bin it? Or cut the ugly bits off, and pop the remainder in a sandwich?

As a food scientist, I know all too well the dangers of bacteria that can lurk in food that has gone off. But I also know it’s perfectly safe to eat cheese that just looks off.

Last week’s news from the British Meat Processors Association laboratories that beef and lamb may last far longer than usual use-by dates – up to seven weeks after production – doesn’t surprise me either.

Modern packaging keeps meat fresher for longer, as long as it is stored correctly. Likewise, if I notice my eggs are a week past their best-before date, I’m not concerned because I know the simple way to tell if they’re still OK. It’s a common-sense approach but I’m aware that, increasingly, I’m in the minority.

Mountains – about 7.3 million tons, – of fruit and vegetables, bread and dried goods are also binned because the packet says they would have been better a day or two earlier (stock image)

Mountains – about 7.3 million tons, – of fruit and vegetables, bread and dried goods are also binned because the packet says they would have been better a day or two earlier (stock image)

Far more common is what has been dubbed ‘best-before paranoia’ – a growing obsession about perceived food freshness which is leading to vast amounts of edible food going to waste each year.

More than 720 million eggs are needlessly thrown away every year in the UK just because they have passed their official ‘best-before’ dates, according to recent research released by the food waste app Too Good To Go.

Mountains – about 7.3 million tons, – of fruit and vegetables, bread and dried goods are also binned because the packet says they would have been better a day or two earlier.

What those labels mean and why we have them 

According to the 1996 EU Food Labelling Directive, perishable foods such as dairy products, fish and meat have to be given use-by dates, giving a strict cut-off point when food can be eaten. It is illegal to sell food past this date in the UK. 

The date is based on thresholds set by the European Food Safety Agency for bacteria before they reach levels that cause food poisoning.

Best-before dates must be given for non-perishable foods such as dried and tinned food but it’s not illegal to sell these foods past this date, except for eggs.

Best-before dates can be pretty vague too – a date can be given as a day, a month and a year; a month and a year; or even just a year.

The length of time a best-before date gives is also not set by law, and is left up to manufacturers to decide.

Trading Standards officers do carry out spot checks to ensure that manufacturers and producers are following guidelines, and firms can be fined for ‘food labelling’ offences.

Such is the concern that the Government has already begun an initiative to reduce by half what it calls ‘avoidable household food’ waste, and supermarkets – including Tesco – have begun to remove best-before dates in an attempt to tackle the problem.

Food labelling was introduced in Britain in 1980. Before that, we all just smelled meat, or had a sip of milk, to see if they were off.

Best-before dates are not about safety but quality. Food producers, who want to ensure that consumers get their food when it is at its best, devise these using a variety of criteria which may be tests in the laboratory, mathematical modelling or just based on experience.

Display-until or sell-by dates are also used by supermarkets and food shops to rotate their stock so they know when food is past its prime.

Use-by dates, on the other hand, are strict cut-off times for foods that go off quickly, such as meat products, fish, dairy food and bagged salads. If you ignore these, you could end up with a nasty dose of food poisoning.

But even then, there is no hard-and-fast rule: food can spoil before its ‘use-by’ date if it’s left out of the fridge, for example.

Pregnant women, babies and the elderly, and those with health conditions that compromise the immune system, should never take risks. But the truth is, it IS possible to safely eat many foods well after their ‘expiry’ date.

So how do you tell if food is fresh without relying on the label?

To try to give some answers, we assessed a weekly shop, bought on April 16, 2019 – and suggest how long it may be safe to eat, despite what it may say on the label.

Eggs can stay fresh for months without needing to be kept in the fridge. An easy way to check if they are still edible is to pop them in a bowl of water

Eggs can stay fresh for months without needing to be kept in the fridge. An easy way to check if they are still edible is to pop them in a bowl of water

EGGS

Best Before: May 4, 2019

New date: June 4, 2019

Due to their shell, eggs can stay fresh for months without needing to be kept in the fridge.

The Food Standards Agency has said eggs can be safely eaten up to two days past the date shown, as long as they are cooked to the point the yolk and the white are solid. But this is a cautious estimate.

In many cases, fresh eggs are edible three to four weeks beyond the best-before date normally stamped on the carton.

How can I test to see if an egg is still fresh? 

If it floats don't eat the egg, but if it sinks you can have it

If it floats don’t eat the egg, but if it sinks you can have it

Want to know if an egg is fresh? Simply put it, uncracked, in a bowl of water. 

If it floats it is full of air which suggests it is no longer good to eat. 

When eggs start to go off, the contents produce gas. The egg is still good to eat if it stands on one end, above right, at the bottom of the bowl. 

If it sinks to the bottom and lies flat on its side, it is very fresh. 

An easy way to check that eggs are still edible is to pop them in a bowl of water. See the panel, below right, for details.

BEEF STEAK

Use By: April 24, 2019

New date: April 25, 2019

How long you can keep red meat safely before eating depends on the type of meat and how it is packaged and stored. Make sure it is kept at ideally -1C to -2C, but definitely below 5C.

Typically you can eat whole cuts of beef (rather than mince, which perishes far faster) between five to 16 days after you buy it.

This is helpful if you buy your meat from a stall or independent butcher who doesn’t have to provide use-by labels. But if there is a use-by date, eat no later than 24 hours after that date. After this meat will quickly spoil, which makes the decision easy to make.

Meat that has gone off takes on a brown or grey colour and a dull appearance. Hold it close to your nose and it will smell unpleasant. If you start cooking it and it smells nasty, just chuck it immediately without tasting.

As last week’s study suggested, vacuum-packed meat may last longer because there is no air to allow the proliferation of microbes, and this slows decomposition.

Typically you can eat whole cuts of beef (rather than mince, which perishes far faster) between five to 16 days after you buy it

Typically you can eat whole cuts of beef (rather than mince, which perishes far faster) between five to 16 days after you buy it

CHICKEN FILLETS

Use By: April 19, 2019

New date: April 20, 2019

Even when kept in a refrigerator, raw poultry will only be fit to eat one day after its use-by date. Never eat chicken that is more than 24 hours past its use-by date, and only go past this date at all if the chicken has been kept chilled.

Raw chicken can harbour bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter, which can multiply to dangerous levels when left too long. Sometimes there’s no way to tell by looking or sniffing, though chicken that is really off smells a bit like ammonia.

Even when kept in a refrigerator, raw poultry will only be fit to eat one day after its use-by date

Even when kept in a refrigerator, raw poultry will only be fit to eat one day after its use-by date

WHOLE TROUT

Use By: April 17, 2019

New date: April 17-18, 2019

Fresh fish should be eaten by its use-by date, or within the following 24 hours at a push.

It should smell of the sea, but a very fishy smell actually suggests your fish is already past its best.

Fish fillets should glisten and be firm, not soggy. If you buy a fish whole with head on, check that its eyes are clear and the scales are intact. Any visible blood should be red, not brown.

Smoked fish, such as smoked salmon or kippers, can last up to three days in the fridge after the use-by date as the curing process helps to preserve the flesh for longer.

Fresh fish should be eaten by its use-by date, or within the following 24 hours at a push

Fresh fish should be eaten by its use-by date, or within the following 24 hours at a push

SEMI-SKIMMED MILK

Use By: April 22, 2019

New date: April 24, 2019

Unopened semi-skimmed milk will usually last two days after its use-by date, and sometimes longer. Off milk separates, so it looks watery with lumps, and has a sour smell. If you’re still not sure, take a sip to check if it is on the turn – it isn’t going to kill you.

Milk with less fat lasts longer.

Butter can last for weeks after its use-by date in the fridge, but can go rancid if kept at room temperature for more than a few days. You can also easily tell if butter is rancid by the taste – it’ll be very unpleasant.

Yogurt can usually still be consumed one or two days after its use-by date if kept in the fridge. If it tastes unpleasant, it’s probably time to throw it away.

You can freeze milk and butter for up to three months.

Unopened semi-skimmed milk will usually last two days after its use-by date, and sometimes longer

Unopened semi-skimmed milk will usually last two days after its use-by date, and sometimes longer

CHEDDAR CHEESE

Best Before: July 24, 2019

New date: September 4, 2019

Hard cheese can be safe to eat for six weeks after its best-before date if kept refrigerated, as long as you cut away any visible mould.

Parmesan rinds freeze well for up to three months and they can be added directly to soups and stews.

Soft cheese such as brie and camembert can stay good to eat for up to a week after the best-before date, but less if opened. Don’t eat them if there is any mould, as this can grow alongside nasty bacteria such as listeria and E.coli.

Hard cheese can be safe to eat for six weeks after its best-before date if kept refrigerated

Hard cheese can be safe to eat for six weeks after its best-before date if kept refrigerated

SLICED BREAD

Best Before: April 19, 2019

New date: April 26, 2019

Properly stored, packaged sliced bread will last for five to seven days after its best-before date at normal room temperature. Putting bread in the fridge, even in its packet, will make it go stale more quickly because it speeds up the recrystalisation of starch in the bread. If you have a whole loaf which is not sliced or packaged, keep it in a sealed bread bin.

Bread can last for six months if frozen.

If your bread develops a little blue mould, just cut it off, taking a few centimetres away from around the mould to ensure you have cut away all the fungal threads. Throw away any bread that has developed black mould.

Properly stored, packaged sliced bread will last for five to seven days after its best-before date at normal room temperature

Properly stored, packaged sliced bread will last for five to seven days after its best-before date at normal room temperature

BAGGED SALAD

Use By: April 19, 2019

New date: April 20, 2019

Pre-cut salads can last 24 hours after the use-by date if the bag is unopened. Otherwise, stick to the date. If you open the bag and a whiff of decay comes out, bin the whole bag, whatever the date on the packet.

Don’t take risks – BBC researchers in 2016 found evidence that the environment inside a salad bag is the ideal breeding ground for salmonella, which can cause nasty food poisoning. There have also been E.coli outbreaks linked to contaminated salad.

Pre-cut salads can last 24 hours after the use-by date if the bag is unopened. Otherwise, stick to the date

Pre-cut salads can last 24 hours after the use-by date if the bag is unopened. Otherwise, stick to the date

POTATOES

Best Before: April 23, 2019

New date: May 14, 2019

Potatoes can be perfectly edible three weeks after their best-before date. If they’ve gone green and are sprouting in small patches, cut off these areas and eat the rest.

If they’ve gone mouldy, cut away these sections, as long as what you’re going to eat is creamy-coloured and firm. If they’ve gone soft, they’re still edible, but they don’t taste very nice.

Potatoes can be perfectly edible three weeks after their best-before date

Potatoes can be perfectly edible three weeks after their best-before date

STRAWBERRY JAM

Best Before: February 2021

New date: February 2022

Jams and preserves – high in sugar, which is a natural preservative – in jars can last from six months to a year unopened after their best-before dates, and I have enjoyed jams that are years old. Once opened, they’re usually good for at least a month if stored in the fridge.

If there is mould growing on the surface of your sugary jam you can scrape it off, like Prime Minister Theresa May claims to do, but make sure that you take off the top two or three centimetres since fungal spores can penetrate some distance into the jam and are invisible to the naked eye. If it’s unpleasant-tasting, chuck it.

Jams and preserves – high in sugar, which is a natural preservative – in jars can last from six months to a year unopened after their best-before dates

Jams and preserves – high in sugar, which is a natural preservative – in jars can last from six months to a year unopened after their best-before dates

DRIED PASTA

Best Before: October 30, 2021

New date: October 30, 2023

Pasta and rice can last for two years after best-before dates if dry and well-sealed.

They are unlikely to grow mould or bacteria, but they do lose flavour as they age and discolour.

Fresh pasta that is unopened should last a week after its best-before date in the fridge, but only a day or two if it is open.

Uncooked white rice can last for months after its best-before date, and uncooked brown rice can usually be eaten up to a month after a best-before date – the oils within it eventually go rancid.

Pasta and rice can last for two years after best-before dates if dry and well-sealed

Pasta and rice can last for two years after best-before dates if dry and well-sealed

TINNED TOMATOES

Best Before: December 2020

New date: December 2021

Canned foods typically have long best-before dates, and tinned tomatoes or other vegetables like beans can last for a year at least after this, as long as the can is sealed, and it’s been kept in a cool, dark place.

Once opened, remove contents from the tin and store in a sealed container. Don’t eat if the contents smell unpleasant or if there is any mould growth.

Throw away any cans with damage such as dents, leaks or bulges.

Canned foods typically have long best-before dates, and tinned tomatoes or other vegetables like beans can last for a year at least after this

Canned foods typically have long best-before dates, and tinned tomatoes or other vegetables like beans can last for a year at least after this

PIES AND MEATS

Use By: April 23, 2019

New date: April 23, 2019

Cooked meats, including processed pies, should be eaten within their use-by date as they can cause serious food poisoning.

Processed meats can harbour listeria, a bacteria introduced during the manufacturing process that can give you nasty food poisoning.

It is essential to keep cooked meats at the correct low temperature in your fridge.

Most refrigerators operate at 5C on average, but some can operate at an average temperature of up to 14C. So check your fridge temperature – some models display it. If yours doesn’t, get a fridge thermometer.

Cooked meats, including processed pies, should be eaten within their use-by date as they can cause serious food poisoning

Cooked meats, including processed pies, should be eaten within their use-by date as they can cause serious food poisoning

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