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Science news in numbers: January 2018

A breakdown of science news this month.

Science news in numbers January 2018

Contraceptive study

New research shows a 20% higher risk of breast cancer among women who were currently using or had recently used hormonal contraceptives than among those who had never used them. 

The study included 1.8 million women in Denmark who were followed up for nearly 11 years on average.

Among women taking the pill for five years, the study suggests, there would be an extra one case for every 1,500 women.

Childhood obesity

A study of nearly 12,000 UK children:

25% were overweight or obese at age seven, rising to 35% at 11

Rates of excess weight varied by nation:

40% of young people in Northern Ireland

35% in both Scotland and England

38% in Wales

UK life expetancy

The Office for National Statistics has released the latest figures for life expectancy in all regions across the UK


Best - Camden, 86.8

Worst - West Dunbartonshire - 78.8


Best - Chelsea and Kensington, 83.7

Worst - Glasgow City, 73.4

Exposure to higher levels of damaging PM2.5 particles caused by traffic can mean a 6% increase in risk of giving birth to a baby with low birthweight. The figure comes from a study by scientists from Imperial College London, King’s College and St George’s, published in the British Medical Journal.

120% - The increase in the patients who have waited more than four hours at A&E in the last 12 months in the UK. By comparison, the number of visits has risen by just over 7%.


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Preventing allergic reactions

Researchers have discovered a new mechanism in which an antibody can prevent allergic reactions in a broad range of patients.

No antibiotics for sore throats

Doctors should not prescribe antibiotics for most people with sore throats, say new guidelines. While most sore throats are caused by viral infections, research suggests antibiotics are prescribed in 60% of cases.

The enzyme that defines colon cancer

Researchers have identified an enzyme that is absent in healthy colon tissue but abundant in colon cancer cells. It appears to drive the conversion of normal tissue into cancer by attaching sugar molecules, or glycans, to proteins in the cell.

Repurposed Zika drug

A drug used to treat hepatitis C effectively protected and rescued neural cells infected by the Zika virus. The results were consistent across cell cultures and mouse models. It also blocked transmission of the virus to mouse foetuses, the research found.