Daily digest September 22 2015

Missed the news? Read our summary of the latest health stories here

Lib Dem Norman Lamb proposes tax changes to fund NHS

English councils should be allowed to put up taxes to fund the NHS, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb will tell the party conference today.

Spending on the NHS should also be paid for by a dedicated tax marked on every payslip, the former health minister will suggest when he takes centre stage at the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth.

The BBC reports that under Mr Lamb's plan, taxes would not be increased as the new levy would be offset by deductions to income tax or national insurance.

Read more on the BBC News website

NHS wasting £450 million on 'mid-life MOT' health checks, doctors say

The NHS is wasting £450 million a year on health checks for 40 to 74 year olds because they often fail to spot that someone is at risk of having a heart attack or stroke, doctors have said.

A report by three leading medics says the ‘mid-life MOTs’ are a waste of time, widely ignored by patients and not based on sound evidence. The money would be better spent encouraging people to eat more healthily to reduce their risk of falling seriously ill, the Guardian reports.

The NHS introduced health checks in England in 2009 and since 2013 it has paid local authorities to use doctors, nurses, pharmacists and healthcare assistants to carry them out. Qualifying patients are offered one every five years.

Read more on the Guardian website

Arthritis drug could help treat Alzheimer’s disease

A painkiller widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis has been shown to reverse the symptoms of dementia in the brains of laboratory mice, raising hope that there may soon be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, scientists claim.

The drug, salsalate, is a licensed painkiller, but in mice with a form of dementia similar to Alzheimer’s, it reversed the changes to a key protein in the brain that builds up in patients with the debilitating neurological disease, the Independent reports.

The researchers said it is the first time any drug has been shown to have an effect on the ‘tau’ protein that accumulates in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s and a range of similar dementias known as ‘tauopathies’.

It could lead to an effective therapy even for patients in the later stages of the disease, the researchers added.

Read more on the Independent website

Research reveals that our genes alter their behaviour to suit the season

Our immune system genes are switched on and off in an annual cycle in an attempt to prepare our bodies' defences to counter the health threats most likely to arise at different times of the year, Mail Online reports.

Pioneering the new research is University of Cambridge professor of medical genetics John Todd. One of Professor Todd's PhD students made the chance discovery that immunity genes were more active in white blood cells, which fight infections during winter.

The professor then led a team who analysed blood and tissue samples from more than 16,000 people worldwide.

They examined 22,000 genes – almost all the genes humans possess – and discovered that one quarter show clear signs of changing with the seasons.

Read more on the Mail Online website

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