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When science hits the headlines, we seek the views of expert sources who assess the news rigorously and quickly, according to the available evidence.

Correlation between prenatal diet and autism diagnosis in children analyzed

A healthy diet during pregnancy is associated with a lower likelihood of children being diagnosed with autism or communication difficulties, according to a study. The research team did not find a correlation between prenatal diet and repetitive and restricted behaviors (characteristic of these disorders). The analysis is published in JAMA Network Open and gathers data from more than 96,000 mother-child pairs in England and Norway.

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Potential of GLP-1 drugs to treat diseases beyond obesity explored

A paper published today in the journal Science explores the potential of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1)-based drugs such as semaglutide to treat diseases beyond diabetes and obesity. For example, recent studies suggest that they could improve conditions ranging from depression to neurological disorders to cardiovascular and kidney disease.

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Type of endometriosis influences risk of ovarian cancer

Several studies have linked endometriosis to an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. New research conducted in the United States on nearly half a million women has confirmed this association. Although the absolute risk remains low, the overall likelihood is four times higher than in the general population. However, the risk is higher when the endometriosis is of the infiltrative type or when an endometrioma develops in the ovary. The authors, who publish their results in the journal JAMA, raise the possibility of screening these women, because "precision medicine is more than just genetics".

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Blocking a protein improves health and lifespan in mice

An international group of researchers has shown in mice that inhibiting an inflammatory protein called interleukin 11 improved the animals' metabolic status, health and frailty. In addition, it increased their life expectancy by an average of around 25%. These effects have not been tested in humans, but clinical trials are underway testing an antibody directed against the same protein to see if it benefits cystic fibrosis patients. The results of the new research are published in the journal Nature.

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Cycling to work is associated with a 47% reduction in risk of death

According to a large long-term study published in BMJ Public Health, people who cycle or walk to work or school have a lower risk of mental and physical illness. Cyclists benefit the most, with a 47% lower risk of death from any cause, a 24% lower risk of hospital admission for cardiovascular disease, a 51% lower risk of dying from cancer and a 20% lower risk of being prescribed drugs for mental health problems.

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Hormone therapy for breast cancer has a protective effect against dementia in over-65s

Hormonal therapy to treat breast cancer is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia in women over 65, a study says. The retrospective analysis is based on data from more than 18,000 women with breast cancer in the US: two-thirds of them had received hormone therapy and one-third had not. The "protective effect" of hormone therapy declines with age and varies by ethnicity, adds the article published in JAMA Network Open

 

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Earth's days are getting longer due to climate change

Climate change is influencing the length of the day, according to an analysis published in PNAS. As melting ice accelerates due to rising temperatures, sea levels rise and large masses move from the polar to the equatorial regions. This redistribution affects the Earth's rotation and results in longer days. During the 20th century, sea level variations were associated with changes in day length between 0.3 and 1 millisecond per century, but since 2000 this variation has increased to 1.33 (±0.03) milliseconds per century and the authors estimate that it will accelerate further in the coming decades.

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Boys respond aggressively when they perceive their masculinity is threatened

Adolescent boys respond aggressively when they perceive that their masculinity is threatened, an analysis shows. In the study, aggression was higher when boys' motivation to follow what is considered 'typical' for their sex came from external expectations - for example, when their parents believed that men should have more power - rather than their own expectations. The study, which analysed data from 207 boys aged 10-14 and one of their parents, is published in Developmental Science.

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Global child immunisation levels stagnate in 2023, according to WHO and UNICEF data

Global childhood immunisation coverage stagnated in 2023, with 2.7 million more children unvaccinated or under-vaccinated than at pre-pandemic levels in 2019. This is one of the data published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF in the World Health Organization's Worldwide Estimates of National Immunisation Coverage (WUENIC), which captures global vaccination trends against 14 diseases. More than half of unvaccinated children live in 31 countries with fragile and conflict-affected environments. 

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