Tag Archives: Doctors

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 25th August 2016

Universal Social Charge the best we can hope for is a very long goodbye

Replacing universal social charge would require big tax hikes elsewhere

Image result for Universal Social Charge the best we can hope for is a very long goodbye  Image result for universal social charge budget 2016

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has acted to freeze property tax bills until 2019.

The Department of Finance quite likes the universal social charge – or so you might conclude from various communications from senior officials to the Minister. The latest, released in a freedom-of-information request to Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty, outlines what would be needed to replace the €4 billion revenue if the USC was abolished.

Needless to say, all the options are horrific. The USC accounts for not far off €1 in every €10 raised in tax each year (9.1%), to be precise). And so, were it to be abolished in one fell swoop, replacing it would require big tax hikes elsewhere – for example, a sixfold increase in the property tax combined with a range of other hikes in capital taxes, or a rise in the two main income tax rates by five points each to 25% and 45%.

Everyone knows that this is not going to happen. We are never going to be able to afford to abolish the USC in a year or two, even if the tone of the general election debate might have suggested otherwise. The documents, drawn up as briefing notes for a new Minister for Finance – in the event,Michael Noonan was reappointed – look designed to drive home the point that progress in cutting the USC was going to have to be slow.

Gradual phasing out process? 

The department said the notes predate the programme for government and the plan was for the “gradual phasing out” of the USC to continue. The plan was never to abolish it in one go.

  • Property tax may need to be increased by 600% if USC scrapped
  • Department says USC advice predates Programme for Government

The statement added: “While scope is limited in this year’s budget there will be a further move to curb USC, especially for mid- to low-income earners”. The statement also noted that there was “absolutely no intention” to increase property tax in the forthcoming budget. In fact, Noonan has acted to freeze property tax bills until 2019, a move which will introduce so many anomalies that the tax could yet be wide open to legal challenge.

What we will see in the budget is some limited further relief for USC. It would be a surprise if the main rate – cut from 7% to 5.5% in the last budget – was not cut again. But the room for manoeuvre on budget day will be limited – about €330 million will be available to reduce taxes, compared with €750 million last year. A bit more may be available in subsequent years, but that depends on the ability of the economy to continue to grow at 3% plus a year, post-Brexit.

The plan of the Government – if it lasts – is to continue to use the spare resources in the budget to cut the USC year by year. This is because the alternative route to phasing out the USC – raising significant money elsewhere – is seen as unpalatable. Cash will be raised from a new tax on sugary drinks in the next few years. And it is likely that income tax credits and the standard-rate band will not be adjusted for wage inflation – effectively a sneaky tax increase on people getting wage rises, which will offset some of the gains of USC cuts. But there is no way the Government will take the potential political hit of raising a large sum elsewhere after the water charges debacle.

But there will be no big move to , say, hike property taxes or indirect taxes. And the scale of the revenue raised by the charge mean we will all be living with it for years yet. We are talking, at best, about a decade-long phase-out of the charge, if that is the route successive governments chose to take.

Political capital

Sinn Féin, whose plans were more modest in terms of USC reduction than those of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, will seek to make some political capital out of this in the run-up to the budget. Fine Gael, meanwhile, by refusing to give way on its plans to phase out the charge, will struggle to make the case that this is achievable in a reasonable time frame.

Calculations presented by the department in prebudget tax documents set out a programme which could see the USC roughtly halved by 2020. It would require all the estimated room for tax cuts to be allocated to USC reductions – and in fact for new revenue to come on stream to meet some of the cost after 2018. And remember that for the room to manoeuvre to emerge we need economic growth to continue.

So the painful USC charge on our payslips is here to stay for quite some time yet. The best we can hope for is a very long goodbye.

The number of complaints against doctors in Ireland has increased “with many blamed for poor communication”

Image result for complaints against doctors in Ireland has increased Image result for complaints against doctors in Ireland has increased Image result for complaints against doctors in Ireland has increased

The number of complaints against doctors rose last year with many patients accusing medics of poor communication.

The annual report of the Medical Council, the regulatory body for doctors, said it received 369 complaints about the profession in 2015, compared to 308 in 2014.

The number of complaints about poor communication rose by 40%..

The majority of grievances came from the public, but 25 were lodged by other health professionals and two by the HSE.

Other causes of allegations related to misdiagnosis, clinical investigations and examinations, professional skills, lack of dignity when treating patients and poor follow-up care.

There were 35 fitness to practise inquiries into serious allegations against doctors during the year, half of which were held in public.

Chief executive Bill Prasifka said the number of doctors registered here topped a record 20,473.

There were 1,200 doctors exiting the register during the year.

He said: ”I found it particularly interesting that although males continue to dominate the medical profession as a whole, since we began collating this data, there have been more Irish female graduates entering the medical profession than their male counterparts.

“The majority of those on the register between the ages of 30 – 44 are female; however from 44 years and on the number of females on the register begins to decrease.

“Data from our Your Training Counts report also found that 40% of female trainees – or tomorrow’s specialists – want to work less than full-time and this  definitely poses some questions for the health sector and all of those involved in the future planning of Ireland’s healthcare service.”

Medical Council President, Prof Freddie Wood said: “It is great to see that the number of specialists on the register has increased significantly this year as we are all too aware of the doctor shortages we have experienced in recent months and years and with this valuable data we have the power to share workforce intelligence with our stakeholders involved in healthcare planning in order to address these issues and deficiencies that have hindered our health system for too long”

The findings show:

• Exit rates of doctors have increased slightly on last year – from 5.6% in 2014 to 6.4% in 2015;

• The number of specialists on the register in 2015 increased by almost 7%;

• Reliance on international medical graduates is among the highest in the OECD with almost 38% of the workforce an international medical graduate

Excess body fat now linked to 13 different types of cancer

Excess body fat now linked to 13 different types of cancer      Image result for Excess body fat now linked to 13 different types of cancer   

Excess fat increases the risk of cell abnormalities.

“Experts have linked eight more cancers to being overweight or obese, nearly tripling the list from five to 13,

This is the latest finding of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a group of cancer experts from around the world that look at risk factors for cancer.

What is the basis for these reports?

The headlines are based on a report published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.

The report is not exactly new research, but a review of previously published studies that looked at the link between weight and cancers.

It is the result of a working group of international cancer researchers who met to review the evidence in April this year.

What’s the link between fat and cancer?

The IARC looked at research into the reasons why being overweight may cause cancer.

They found strong evidence that sex hormones and inflammation – both of which are affected by weight – are involved in cancer formation.

They also reviewed evidence from experiments on rats, which found animals fed a calorie-restricted diet were less likely to develop a range of cancers, and obese animals were more likely to get cancer.

They reviewed studies in humans, animals and basic science to see whether the group’s previous conclusions, published in 2002, needed to be updated.

The group’s new report concludes that, “the absence of excess body fatness lowers the risk of most cancers”, also saying that losing weight intentionally may help prevent cancer.

They list 13 cancers where they say there is “sufficient” evidence to conclude that being a healthy weight reduces the risk of cancer, three where there is “limited” evidence, and eight where the evidence is “inadequate”.

The cancers they identify as having sufficient evidence to link them to weight are:

  • oesophageal cancer
  • gastric cardia – a type ofstomach cancer
  • bowel cancer
  • liver cancer
  • gallbladder cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
  • breast cancer in postmenopausal women
  • womb cancer
  • ovarian cancer
  • kidney cancer
  • meningioma – a type of brain tumour
  • thyroid cancer
  • multiple myeloma – cancer of the white blood cells

The degree of increased risk ranged from an almost fivefold increase for oesophageal cancer in the highest BMI category compared with people with a normal weight (relative risk [RR] 4.8; 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.0 to 7.7), to a 10% increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer (RR 1.1, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.2).

What is the link between cancer and weight?

Scientists have known for some time that people who are overweight have an increased risk of certain cancers compared with people of a healthy weight.

A healthy weight is usually defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9. People are classed as overweight if their BMI is 25 to 29.9 and obese if their BMI is 30 or over. BMI is calculated from weight and height.

Almost all of the evidence linking being overweight and cancer is from epidemiological studies, which look at large groups of people and then calculate how likely people of different weights are to have been diagnosed with cancer, compared with people of a healthy weight.

Many of these studies also try to take account of other factors that can affect cancer risk, such as whether people smoke, whether they exercise, and how healthy their diet is.

But it’s hard to account for all other factors, so individual studies can’t really show whether being overweight causes cancer.

When reviewed together, however, and when studies show that the more overweight someone is, the more likely they are to get cancer, the chances are higher that the research is showing that weight has a causal effect.

A report by the IARC in 2002 said there was enough evidence to say being overweight increased the risk of eight cancers, all of which are included in the new list of 13.

Since then other studies have strengthened the evidence, so the IARC now feels it has enough evidence to list these 13 cancers.

How does weight and cancer affect you?

Carrying excess body weight has a number of health risks, including a greater chance of having a heart attack or stroke, as well as being linked to a raised risk of the cancers listed above.

The easiest way to keep to a healthy weight is to avoid putting weight on, but if you already weigh more than you like, diet and exercise can help you achieve a healthier weight.

Talk to your GP or see our 12-week plan to lose weight through healthy eating and physical activity.

Weight is not the only factor that affects the risk of cancer. Although there’s no proven way to avoid cancer altogether?

You can lower your risk of getting cancer if you:-

  • eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • stay physically active
  • drink less alcohol
  • stop smoking
  • protect your skin from sun damage

Your daily coffee habit could be part of your genetics?

A new study now suggests

Image result for Your daily coffee habit could be part of your genetics?   Image result for Your daily coffee habit could be part of your genetics?  Image result for Your daily coffee habit could be part of your genetics?

Scientists have found a gene that appears to have an influence over the amount of coffee people drink, and how the body processes caffeine

The gene variant appears slowing the breakdown of caffeine in the body, meaning the stimulant lingers in the blood for longer and gives people a more enduring “hit” for every cup.

A gene that appears to wield influence over the amount of coffee people drink has been found by scientists who believe the section of DNA alters how caffeine is broken down in the body.

Italians villagers who carry a specific variant of the PDSS2 gene consume about one less cup of coffee per day compared with non-carriers, according to researchers at Edinburgh University.

The gene variant appears to affect people’s coffee intake by slowing the metabolism of caffeine in the body. When caffeine is broken down more slowly, the stimulant lingers in the blood for longer and gives people a more enduring “hit” for every cup.

Why drinking coffee can give you jet lag – and help you get over it.

Nicola Pirastu, a geneticist who led the study, said the discovery reinforces the idea that caffeine is one of the main drivers for drinking coffee. But he added that larger studies are needed to confirm the biological mechanism that links the PDSS2 gene to coffee drinking.

Previous searches for genes linked to coffee consumption have already thrown up more than half a dozen variants that hold sway over the metabolism and rewarding effects of caffeine. In teasing out the genetics of coffee drinking, scientists hope to learn more about the unexplained effects of the drink. “Coffee is protective against some types of cancers, cardiovascular diseases and Parkinson’s,” said Pirastu. “Understanding what is driving its consumption may help us understand what the effects on these diseases are, and so open new lines of research.”

In the study, researchers analysed the genetic makeup of 370 people living Puglia in southern Italy and a further 843 from six villages in the Friuli Venezia region in the north east. All were asked to complete a survey, which included a question about how many cups of coffee they drank each day.

The researchers found that people with a specific variant of the PDSS2 gene tended to drink fewer cups of coffee than those who carried other variations of the gene. To check the result, the researchers went to 1731 people in the Netherlands and found a similar effect, though the gene’s apparent influence over coffee consumption was weaker there.

Can drinking too much coffee kill you?

 One explanation could be that national preferences for coffee differ in Italy and the Netherlands. While moka and espresso are popular in Italy, the Dutch favour more filter coffee. And even though the concentrations of caffeine in the drinks are much the same, the difference in cup sizes means the Dutch imbibe nearly three times as much caffeine per cup as the Italians.

Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study drew on researchers from Edinburgh, Trieste and the Netherlands. The Italian coffee company Illy participated in the project, but did not fund the work.

Many of the genes that have a role in the breakdown of caffeine also metabolise certain medicines. So unravelling the genes could help scientists understand why some patients respond differently to their drugs than others, and so help doctors to personalise their treatments, Pirastu said.

Kitten size extinct ‘lion’ named after Sir David Attenborough

Image result for Kitten size extinct 'lion' named after Sir David Attenborough Sir David Attenborough Image result for Kitten size extinct 'lion' named after Sir David Attenborough

Microleo attenboroughi was small enough to fit inside a handbag, according to Australian scientists

A miniature marsupial lion, extinct for at least 18 million year, has been named after Sir David Attenborough after its fossilised remains were found in a remote part of Australia.

Teeth and bone fragments from the kitten-sized predator, named Microleo attenboroughi, were found in limestone deposits at the Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil site in north-western Queensland.

The researchers named the new species after the British broadcasting legend because of his work promoting the famous fossil site, which provides a record of nearly 25 million years of Australia’s natural history.

When Microleo was still prowling around, in the early Miocene era (roughly 19 million years ago), the arid, outback ecosystem was a lush rainforest.

“It likely ran through the treetops, gobbling up birds, frogs, lizards and insects,” says Dr Anna Gillespie, a palaeontologist at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Ms Gillespie, who has been working at Riversleigh and preparing fossils for 20 years, helped recover fragments of the animal’s skull and several teeth.

The relatively tiny tooth row of Microleo attenboroughi (top), compared with the tooth row of its Pleistocene relative, the lion-sized Thylacoleo carnifex

It’s far from a complete skeleton, but it’s an important part of the puzzle.”Crucially, we have got the third premolar, which is an elongated tooth that looks like a blade,” she told the BBC.

The razor-sharp tooth, used to tear up prey, is a common feature found in all known members of the family.

“It immediately tells us it’s a marsupial lion,” she says.

A pocket-sized predator? But the tooth is by far the smallest of its kind ever recovered.

It’s about one-tenth the size of the 3cm-long “bolt-crunching” teeth belonging to the largest and last surviving marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex, which went extinct about 100,000 years ago.

Thylacoleo weighed about 130kg (286lbs) and was Australia’s largest carnivorous mammal. It was a fearsome predator about the size of an African lion, with the bite strength to match, and hunted megafauna such as giant kangaroo and diprotodon.

In sharp contrast, Ms Gillespie and her team estimate that their “little guy” weighed only 600g, and was about the size of a kitten.

“We weren’t expecting to find a marsupial lion of this small size,” she says. “It might have been a bit too big to fit in your pocket, but it would have fit quite comfortably in a handbag. It would have been very cute.”

Image result for Kitten size extinct 'lion' named after Sir David Attenborough The Neville’s Garden site is renowned for the rich diversity of fossils that have been discovered there over many years

The team has ruled out the possibility that the fossils belonged to a juvenile, or a malformed member of a related species. This is due to their distinctive shape, the fact that all the molars have erupted and the presence of “very clear wear patterns”.

“This animal has been running around hunting things for quite a while. So it’s definitely an adult,” says Dr Gillespie.

The team from UNSW has described the new species in the journal Palaeontologia Electronica.

Unmatched diversity?

With this find, the researchers have determined that at least three different marsupial lions were co-existing in the ancient Riversleigh rainforest.

“This level of diversity is unmatched for the family at any other time in their evolutionary history,” the researchers note.

Sir David Attenborough has long promoted Australia’s Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil site

One marsupial lion (Priscileo) weighed about 1.8kg, and was about the size of a cat. Another yet-to-be described species (Wakaleo) weighed around 30kg, about the size of a small Labrador dog, says Ms Gillespie.

She says it indicates that they may have been co-operating, dividing up the food resources to reduce competition between themselves.

The fossil was found in a location at Riversleigh known as Neville’s Garden, which has become renowned for its rich diversity of animals.

Caption Microleo was tiny compared to other members of the marsupial lion family, which included the enormous and fierce Thylacoleo

It’s yielded bandicoots, possums, kangaroos, toothed platypuses, small koalas, thousands of bats, fish, turtles, lizards, pythons and a range of rainforest birds.

“My colleagues have been working at Riversleigh for 40 years,” says Ms Gillespie.

“In that time we have processed tonnes of limestone, and got thousands and thousands of fossils back, but this is the only specimen from this animal.

“So it’s rather enigmatic in this way,” she says. “It might have been a rare species in that ecosystem, but we still have to hunt for more.”

‘Freakishly productive’

Stephen Wroe, an associate professor of zoology and palaeontology at the University of New England in NSW, who was not involved in the study, says the discovery raises new questions about the origin of the marsupial lion family.

“Until quite recently there were only a few marsupial lion species known. Over the last decade or two evidence from Riversleigh has seen this jump to 11 subspecies,” he says.

“This most recent find doesn’t just increase the known diversity in terms of species numbers – it greatly expands the diversity of known morphologies.”

Mr Wroe says the team has done a good job estimating the body size: “No matter how you wash it, this little guy was tiny relative to other members of the family.”

He says its diminutive size may explain why only a single specimen has been found.

“In general Australia’s fossil record is very poor over this time period,” he says. “Riversleigh is a freakishly productive area in this respect.”


News Ireland daily BLOG Monday

Monday 18th November 2013

Safety targets to feature in Ireland’s 2013 National Service Plan


The HSE’s 2014 HSE National Service Plan will set out targets in respect of each programme area “to ensure that health, safety, quality of care performance can be evaluated throughout the year, in order to identify any emerging areas of concern,

The Minister for Health Dr. James Reilly has said should any such concerns arise, this will make it possible to implement necessary remedial measures without delay.

The 2013 Service Plan required the HSE to continue to focus its delivery of services on the dual challenge of protecting patient outcomes, while at the same time.reducing costs. 2014 will be no different in this regard and any measures impacting on the health system as a result of Budget 2014 will also be assessed against these criteria — with the outcomes of this consideration set out in the NSP for 2014, Dr Reilly said. The Plan will be submitted to Dr Reilly shortly for approval.

In setting out the operating framework for the delivery of HSE services throughout 2014, the Plan will look to deliver the maximum level of safe services possible, with prioritisation, where necessary, of certain services to meet the most urgent needs.

The healthcare system has, over recent years, had to deal with a number of major challenges, including reduced overall levels of funding and employment numbers, demographic pressures and increased numbers of people with chronic illnesses, said Dr Reilly.

Despite this, major improvements in mortality and morbidity rates have been achieved in certain core areas, including diseases of the circulatory system, where the death rate per 100,000 has fallen by almost 36 per cent since 2002. Overall cancer rates have reduced by 8 per cent in the same period.

“This has been achieved during a period when the average length of stay in acute hospitals has also reduced and the number of patients receiving the treatment they require without having to stay in hospital (i.e. day-case patients) has increased as a percentage of total discharges by over 50 per cent,” Dr Reilly told the Dáil.

Forty of the Ireland’s worst ghost estates to be demolished


Developments with no hope of being finished to be bulldozed next year after list of 40 drawn up

Council officials have been in touch with the property developers involved and their banks to draw up plans for dealing with the worst cases.

The demolition of the State’s worst unfinished ghost estates will begin next year under a plan devised by Minister of State for Housing Jan O’Sullivan.Ms O’Sullivan has drawn up a list of 40 estates for demolition in the next 12 months.Others are likely to be added when the initial programme is complete. A spokesman for the Minister of State said yesterday that 40 estates which have no hope of being developed will be bulldozed next year.

Some of them are at a very rudimentary stage with no completed houses in the developments.

Commercial viability
He said the Department of the Environment had been working with local authorities to identify estates with no hope of commercial viability.

Council officials have been in touch with the property developers involved and their banks to draw up plans for dealing with the worst cases.

The legal owners of the properties are now considering whether to comply with requests by the local authorities to clear the sites or propose alternative plans to deal with them.

Most of the ghost estates targeted for demolition are not close to the main urban centres and are owned by small local developers.

The spokesman said some of them have partially built houses on them but many have just foundations and groundworks and could be returned to green field status relatively easily.

The latest inventory of unfinished estates provided by local authorities to the department shows that there are less than 1,300 of them in the country. This compares with 1,770 a year ago.

A significant number of unfinished estates have been brought up to standard over the past year with local authorities providing proper road access as well as footpaths, roads, lighting and other services.

A fund of €10 million was allocated in the budget to provide these facilities in estates where most of the houses have been occupied.

Councils can apply to draw down money from this fund and Ms O’Sullivan is hoping that the provision of basic services will persuade developers to finish off the houses in the improved estates.

‘Private finance’
“If this works by attracting the private finance to finish out a number of estates we can make the case to do it again.

“As of now we have the funding for 2014 but €10 million is just enough for the first phase of a programme to deal with problem estates,” said the department spokesman.

Mothers granted leave to challenge law on resource hours for 

Down Syndrome children 


Two mothers have been granted leave to challenge the current rules on resource hours for children with Down Syndrome in the High Court next month.

The High Court has granted leave for two mothers of children with Down Syndrome to challenge the law on the provision of resource teaching hours to children with the disability.

One of the women. whose five-year-old son has Down Syndrome and is currently schooled in the mainstream system, wants her son to be allocated resource teaching hours, but Down Syndrome is not currently recognised as a disability by the Department of Education.

A child with the disability must be diagnosed with second disability from the Department of Education’s ‘Low Incidence Disability’ list in order to qualify for resource teaching hours.

“My son has Down Syndrome and he is not entitled to support in the mainstream schools,” the mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told TheJournal.ie today.

“We’re asking the State to recognise our children and give them adequate support.”

The State has been given until 5 December to respond to the case. The woman said this evening that she is “naturally nervous” but wants the nation to realise that Down Syndrome is a disability.

She said that having met with Education Minister Ruairi Quinn she feels this is now the only option left for her.

Doctors should always put patient care before cost

a Professor says


Doctors should always try to do the best they can for their patients without the consideration of cost, a leading ophthalmologist has said.

The Full Professor and Chair at the Department of Ophthalmology, University Vita-Salute, Scientific Institute, San Raffaele, Milan, Italy — described by the Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO) as one of the world’s top ophthalmic experts — commented: “Our role should not be to ask for less for our patients. As doctors, we work for the best for our patients, then someone else with responsibility for allocation of resources should worry about feasibility, maybe a politician.”

Prof Francesco Bandello, in Dublin last month for the International Retina and AMD Congress 2013, was commenting on the ongoing debate in the specialty — whether to prescribe Avastin (bevacizumab), a cheaper off-label drug originally licensed for cancer, or the relatively more expensive licensed Lucentis (ranibizumab), for the treatment of wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

Irish Medical Times reports as the results of a ground-breaking investigation into the prevalence of the chronic eye condition in Ireland (some 7 per cent of over 50-year-olds have AMD) were presented by Principal Investigator of the Macular Pigment Research Group, Waterford IT, Prof John Nolan, at the International Retina Conference hosted in Dublin last week by Irish patient-led research charity Fighting Blindness.

However, Prof Bandello said: “The problem is financial. If we have enough money I think there is no question about it, we must use Lucentis, because it is developed specifically for ophthalmology with less side-effects. But if we have insufficient money, then it should be about watching the costs.”

Although he believes Avastin works equally well, Prof Bandello queried: “Were it your mother or brother or sister, you would give them Lucentis but what is the limit?”

Resources will become increasingly important in the future as people live longer and because all over the world nobody has money to treat everyone in the best possible way so we have become communistic,

Test’s for aggressive (tiger’s) type prostate cancer could help men

avoid tough decisions on surgery


Prostate cancer patients could be screened to detect aggressive tumours (like above left) after scientists identified a protein linked to severe forms of the disease.

Currently there is no reliable way to distinguish between life-threatening prostate cancers, known as “tigers”, and less harmful “pussycats” which cause few or no symptoms. 

Patients with high levels of the protein NAALADL2 are more likely to need surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy while those with low concentrations could be spared unnecessary treatment, researchers said.

Currently there is no reliable way to distinguish between life-threatening prostate cancers, known as “tigers”, and less harmful “pussycats” which cause few or no symptoms.

The Cancer Research UK scientists, from the University of Cambridge, studied biopsies of prostate tumours and found that NAALADL2 caused prostate cancer cells to behave more aggressively and invade healthy tissue.

Results published in the Oncogene journal showed that those with high levels of the protein were twice as likely to relapse after treatment than those with low levels.

The findings suggest that screening for high levels of the protein could help doctors pinpoint patients with aggressive tumours, researchers said.

Some 41,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the UK and about 10,700 die from the disease annually.

Lead author Dr Hayley Whitaker said: “This is early research, but if clinical trials confirm our results then it could help clinicians to tell which patients have a more aggressive tumour and need proportionally aggressive treatment, while sparing patients with low grade tumours unnecessary radiotherapy or surgery.

“This is an important step along the path to developing a much-sought after test that could distinguish between different types of prostate cancer.”

Professor Malcolm Mason, Cancer Research UK’s prostate cancer expert, added: “I hope that this research brings forward the day when I can say to patients: ‘We know that your cancer doesn’t need treatment’ – a crucial development that could spare thousands of patients from enduring arduous treatment with unpleasant side effects.

Egyptians mummified snack portions for journey of death

A study reveals

Carefully embalmed and wrapped beef ribs all set for the hungry mummy on the way to the next world, from the tomb of Yuya and Tjuiu (1386-1349 BC). Photograph: PNAS. 

Embalmed portions of ribs and roasts placed in coffin as well as cats and dogs, researchers say

Carefully embalmed and wrapped beef ribs all set for the hungry mummy on the way to the next world, from the tomb of Yuya and Tjuiu (1386-1349 BC).

Ancient Egyptians if they were rich enough, planned ahead for their journey from life into death. They had their bodies mummified and had their cats and dogs turned into mummies so they could go too. Some went further still, taking along “meat mummies” so they could enjoy a snack on the way.A new study released this evening by the US Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences shows that embalming treatments were used to prepare portions of ribs and roasts that were wrapped in bandages and placed in the coffin along with the mummy.Prof Richard Evershed and colleagues from the University of Bristol analysed four of these packed lunches to see what was used to prepare them. The recipe seems to have varied depending on the meat mummy being analysed. The external bandages wrapped round a victual calf mummy contained a mix of substances derived from animal fat, but there were no waxes or resins. The researchers established that the balm used was deliberately applied and was not something that emerged from the meat itself.

Similar animal fat-derived compounds were found on a wrapped goat leg, but the balm was not used on mummified duck meat. But mummified beef ribs were a different matter, with a treatment used made of fat or oil along with beeswax and “Pistacia resin”, a luxury item in ancient Egypt, the authors note.

It is not clear why one recipe was used over another when preparing these handy meals, but there was no risk of going hungry when crossing over to the next world.