Cancer found in ancient human ancestor's foot
The earliest evidence of cancer in the human fossil record has been discovered in a cave in South Africa, an international team of scientists say. The aggressive tumour was found in a 1.7 million-year-old toe from an ancient human ancestor. The toe belonged to one of the early hominins, either Homo ergaster orParanthropus robustus. The researchers said the findings clearly show cancer is not a disease of modern society, as some people claim. Tumours have been detected in remains be...Florida investigates four mysterious Zika infections
Health officials in Florida are investigating four cases of Zika that do not appear to be related to travel. So far cases outside of Latin America and the Caribbean, where the virus is prevalent, have been spread by travel to that region or sexual transmission. The four Florida cases have raised the possibility that mosquitoes in the US have begun to carry the virus. Zika causes only a mild illness in most people but the virus has been linked to severe brain defects in newborns. Florida offi...Antibiotic resistance: 'Snot wars' study yields new class of drugs
A new class of antibiotics has been discovered by analysing the bacterial warfare taking place up people's noses, scientists report. Tests reported in the journal Nature found the resulting drug, lugdunin, could treat superbug infections. The researchers, at the University of Tubingen in Germany, say the human body is an untapped source of new drugs. The last new class of the drugs to reach patients was discovered in the 1980s. Nearly all antibiotics were discovered in soil bacteria, but the...Ice Bucket Challenge funds gene discovery in ALS (MND) research
The Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral in 2014 has funded an important scientific gene discovery in the progressive neurodegenerative disease ALS, the ALS Association says. Scientists have identified a new gene contributing to the disease, NEK1, The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $115m (£87.7m) from people pouring cold water over themselves and posting the video on social media. It was criticised as a stunt, but has funded six research projects. Research by Project MinE, p...Double hand transplant: UK's first operation 'tremendous' success
The UK's first double hand transplant operation has taken place at Leeds General Infirmary and the patient says his new hands look "tremendous". Chris King, from Doncaster, lost both his hands, apart from the thumbs, in an accident involving a metal pressing machine at work three years ago. He received two new hands from a donor and says he already has some movement in them. Prof Simon Kay led the operation at the UK's centre for hand transplants. Mr King, who is 57, is the second person to ...Twycross Zoo begins great ape heart disease study
Researchers are to look into why great apes are susceptible to heart disease while in the care of humans. A study of primates at European zoos found the condition was a "major cause" in the death of primates like gorillas and chimps. Unlike humans, experts do not believe the disease in great apes is linked to poor diet and lifestyle. It is also hoped the Twycross Zoo project will uncover the specific type of heart disease affecting the animals. The Ape Heart Project is being carried out in c...Fracking linked to asthma flare-ups
The controversial method for mining natural gas known as fracking might trigger asthma flare-ups, according to a US study. Pennsylvania doctors found patients' asthma was harder to control if they lived near a fracking site, compared with other asthma patients. The findings, in more than 25,000 patients, are not proof of a causal effect. The authors say in the journal JAMA that more safety studies are needed.'Wash salad' advice after two die from E. coli
Shoppers are being reminded to thoroughly wash mixed salad leaves amid concern that this food could be the source of an E. coli outbreak that has killed two and infected more than 150 people in the UK. Public Health England says it is still working to establish the exact cause. Many of those struck down by the E. coli O157 bug had eaten pre-packed salad, including rocket leaves. The infection can cause bloody diarrhoea and abdominal pain. People usually notice symptoms three to four day...The DIY diabetes kit that's keeping us alive
"I was sending a seven-year-old to school with a drug that could kill him," says Alistair Samuelson, whose son George, now nine, has type 1 diabetes. Frustrated with traditional monitoring and its risks, Mr Samuelson and George have since joined a growing group of T1 sufferers who are building their own solutions to manage their diabetes - even though they come with their own uncertainties. Traditional monitoring involves taking blood samples from the fingertips several times a day and adminis...Obesity 'puts men at greater risk of early death'
Being overweight or obese puts men at a greater risk of dying prematurely than women, the largest ever study on obesity and death suggests. Scientists say though the reasons behind the trend are unclear, the study supports others that suggest obese men are at higher risk of diabetes and have higher levels of dangerous liver fat. The authors say second to smoking, obesity is the most significant cause of death in Europe and North America. The report appears in the Lancet.Hidden red hair gene a skin cancer risk
People can carry a "silent" red hair gene that raises their risk of sun-related skin cancer, experts warn. The Sanger Institute team estimate one in every four UK people is a carrier. The gene's effect is comparable to two decades of sun exposure in terms of cancerous changes, they say. While people with two copies of the gene will have ginger hair, freckles and pale skin and probably know to take extra care in the sun, those with one copy may not realise they are at risk. Around 25% of UK...Pregnancy multivitamins 'are a waste of money'
Pregnancy multivitamins are a waste of money because most mothers-to-be do not need them, according to researchers. In Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, researchers say they looked at all evidence and found supplements did not boost the health of mothers and babies. But pregnant women should make sure they take folic acid and vitamin D, as well as eating a well-balanced diet, as per NHS guidelines, they add. Supplements-makers said some women were not getting enough nutrients. The researchers ...Thumb-suckers and nail-biters have 'fewer allergies'
Children who suck their thumb or bite their nails are less likely to develop allergies, a study suggests. The explanation, say the authors in the journal Pediatrics, is the hygiene hypothesis - exposure to some germs strengthens the body's immune system. Thumb-sucking and nail-biting appeared to prevent some allergies among the 1,000 people in New Zealand assessed periodically between ages five and 32. But the habits had no bearing on either asthma or hay-fever risk. Thumb-sucking and n...Viral hepatitis 'kills as many as Aids or TB'
Viral hepatitis is one of the leading killers across the globe, with a death toll that matches Aids or tuberculosis, research in the Lancet suggests. The report estimates that hepatitis infections and their complications led to 1.45m deaths in 2013 - despite the existence of vaccines and treatments. World Health Organization data shows there were 1.2m Aids-related deaths in 2014, while TB led to 1.5m deaths. The WHO has put forward a global strategy to tackle hepatitis.
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