QuickLinks - Health
QuickLinks - Health
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Issue no. 413 - 20 February 2011
US and Europe push for patient record interoperability
The European Union and the Unites States will try to develop a common approach for the interoperability of electronic health records, according to a memorandum of understanding signed by the two parties. Digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes and US secretary of health and human services Kathleen Sebelius signed the document in Washington, calling not only for health records that can be used both in the EU and US, but also for education programmes for information technology and health professionals. They said the move would benefit companies seeking to expand the e-health sector, as well as patients.
Issue no. 411 - 3 October 2010
CN - Effect of Pathological Use of the Internet on Adolescent Mental Health
(Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine)
by Lawrence T. Lam, PhD; Zi-Wen Peng, MSc. Results suggested that young people who are initially free of mental health problems but use the Internet pathologically could develop depression as a consequence. These results have direct implications for the prevention of mental illness in young people, particularly in developing countries.
Tobacco firms' use of YouTube probed
The tobacco industry may be using websites such as YouTube to get around a ban on advertising cigarettes, a study says. Researchers in New Zealand studied 163 clips from video-sharing site YouTube and found a number of pro-tobacco videos "consistent with indirect marketing activity by tobacco companies or their proxies". They say governments should consider regulating such content on the net.
Issue no. 409 - 6 June 2010
Results of cell phone cancer study inconclusive
After spending 10 years and $24 million to see whether cell phone use leads to brain cancer, the World Health Organization has reached a verdict: it's not quite sure. In a decade-long survey of nearly 13,000 people across 13 countries, the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that most cell phone use did not lead to an increased risk of either meningioma, a common but typically benign form of cancer, or glioma, a rare but more dangerous type of brain cancer.
Issue no. 406 - 21 February 2010
Internet Addiction Spins Web of Depression
Internet users who are compulsive about going online and have more social interactions in virtual worlds than the real one may be depressed, according to a new study. Some Internet users retreat from real-life interaction and opt for chat rooms and social networking sites, and this can have an adverse effect on mental health, researchers say in the Feb. 10 issue of
. "This type of addictive surfing can have a serious impact on mental health," lead author Catriona Morrison, DPhil, of the University of Leeds, says in a news release. "The Internet now plays a huge part in modern life, but its benefits are accompanied by a darker side."
Issue no. 402 - 18 October 2009
UK - Call to get tough on eating sites
The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RC Psych) is calling for urgent action to protect vulnerable young people from eating-disorder websites. It says the number of websites promoting eating disorders has soared with the growth of social networking. The RC Psych wants the government's Child Internet Safety Council (UKCCIS) to mark such sites as harmful and raise awareness among parents and teachers.
UK - Online game addiction rising, counsellors warn
Addiction to online games is becoming more widespread among vulnerable young people, according to a treatment centre that has begun running abstinence courses in Britain. As games become more visually enticing and the recession leaves people at home in front of computer screens, therapists are encountering more cases of people obsessed with being online. In extreme circumstances game players can, they warn, become detached from normal existence and forget to eat or sleep as they interact with screen characters such as wizards and monsters. Youngsters can also develop posture problems.
Issue no. 401 - 26 July 2009
Med Students Get Training In Second Life Hospitals
that although medical simulations have been around for a long time, medical schools like Imperial College London are starting to use virtual hospitals in Second Life so students can learn their way around an O.R. before they enter the real thing. The students can also test their knowledge in the Virtual Respiratory Ward by interviewing patient avatars, ordering tests, diagnosing problems, and recommending treatment.
Issue no. 397 - 8 March 2009
Online networking 'harms health'
People's health could be harmed by social networking sites because they reduce levels of face-to-face contact, an expert claims. Dr Aric Sigman says websites such as Facebook set out to enrich social lives, but end up keeping people apart. Dr Sigman makes his warning in Biologist, the journal of the Institute of Biology.
UK - Facebook and Bebo risk 'infantilising' the human mind
Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity, according to a leading neuroscientist. The startling warning from Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution, has led members of the government to admit their work on internet regulation has not extended to broader issues, such as the psychological impact on children. See also
Why Social Networks Are Good for the Kids
(TechCrunch) by Sarah Lacy.
Issue no. 396 - 8 February 2009
DE - Bundesprüfstelle setzt Magersucht-Blog auf den Index
Die Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien (BPjM) hat mit Beschluss vom 4. Dezember ein Blog, das sich mit dem Thema Magersucht befasst hat, als jugendgefährdend indiziert. Einen entsprechenden Bericht des Fach-Blogs beck-blog bestätigte die BPjM-Vorsitzende Elke Monssen-Engberding gegenüber heise online. Nach Angaben der BPjM handelte es sich bei dem indizierten Angebot um ein sogenanntes "Pro-Ana"-Blog, das die krankhafte Magersucht verherrlicht und damit Jugendliche gefährdet habe. Das ursprünglich bei Google gehostete Blog ist inzwischen offline.
Issue no. 386 - 20 April 2008
UK - Fears over pro-suicide web pages
People searching the web for information on suicide are more likely to find sites encouraging the act than offering support, a study says. Researchers used four search engines to look for suicide-related sites, the British Medical Journal said. The three most frequently occurring sites were all pro-suicide, prompting researchers to call for anti-suicide web pages to be prioritised.
Issue no. 385 - 21 March 2008
Ban junk food advertising on internet, say campaigners
Food and drink companies should be banned from marketing unhealthy snacks and drinks to young children via new media such as social networking sites and text messaging, a coalition of international consumer groups and health bodies recommends. The group is urging governments to adopt a code that they say would curb the rising obesity rates among children. The code would restrict junk food marketing, including outlawing the use of cartoon characters, celebrity tie-ins, free gifts and competitions aimed at younger audiences.
Issue no. 384 - 24 February 2008
Mobiles 'not brain cancer risk'
Mobile phone use does not raise the risk of brain tumours, a Japanese study suggests. The research is the first to look at the effects of hand set radiation levels on different parts of the brain. Tokyo Women's Medical University found no increased risk of the three main types of brain cancer among regular mobile phone users. The study, comparing 322 brain cancer patients and 683 healthy people, appears in British Journal of Cancer.
Issue no. 383 - 27 January 2008
Mobiles linked to disturbed sleep
Using a mobile phone before going to bed could stop you getting a decent night's sleep, research suggests. The study, funded by mobile phone companies, suggests radiation from the handset can cause insomnia, headaches and confusion.
US - Study children and cell phones, experts advise
Researchers should study more children and pregnant women in trying to figure out if cell phones or other wireless devices could damage health, the U.S. National Research Council advised. A few studies have indicated a possible link between mobile telephone use and brain tumors, although far more show no connection. But because wireless devices have become almost ubiquitous, researchers want to ensure their safety. More study needs to be done on multiple, long-term, low-intensity radio frequency (RF) exposure, the report said.
Issue no. 382 - 6 January 2008
FR - France warns of health risks from mobile phones
A French health ministry has issued a warning against excessive mobile-phone use, especially by children, though it recognised cellular technology had not been scientifically proved to be dangerous.
Issue no. 381 - 8 December 2007
UK - Wi-fi health study gets go ahead
The government is taking another look at the effect that wireless networks have on health. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has announced it will carry out "systematic" research into how wireless networks are being used. The research will aim to establish average exposure to the low level radiation emitted by wi-fi access points and wireless links on computers. The HPA said it expected the results of the research to be "reassuring". In its statement outlining its intentions, Professor Pat Troop, chief executive of the agency, said there was "no scientific evidence to date" that wi-fi or wireless local networks could have an adverse effect on the health of the general population.
Issue no. 376 - 10 June 2007
UK - Wi-fi health fears are 'unproven'
Scientists have said there is no evidence to suggest a link between the use of wi-fi and damage to health. BBC programme Panorama found that radiation levels from wi-fi in one school was up to three times the level of mobile phone mast radiation. The readings were 600 times below the government's safety limits but there is ongoing debate about wi-fi use.
Issue no. 375 - 9 May 2007
UK - Wi-fi laptop fears for children
Computers with wireless internet should not be placed on children's laps, says the head of the government's committee on mobile phone safety research. Professor Lawrie Challis told the Daily Telegraph children using wi-fi networks should be monitored until research into potential health risks is completed. He says children should keep a safe distance from the embedded antennas. The Health Protection Agency has said wi-fi devices are of very low power - much lower than mobile phones.
Issue no. 372 - 25 February 2007
UK - Pan European medical records system proposed
UK patients' medical records could be shared across Europe in a European Commission scheme that could compound controversy over the NHS's patient records system. The Department of Health has faced a barrage of criticism over its handling of the Connecting For Health computer system. "Interoperability and integration of data can improve the care provided to patients, the reduction of medical error, and the human and economic cost savings that can be achieved," said a Commission document "Connected Health: Quality and Safety for European Citizens".
Issue no. 370 - 3 December 2006
Google 'aids doctors' diagnoses'
Using internet search engine Google can help doctors diagnose tricky cases, researchers have said. A team of Australian doctors Googled the symptoms of 26 cases for a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. In 15 cases, the web search came up with the right diagnosis, the paper published on the British Medical Journal website reports. he authors say Google can be a 'useful aid', but UK experts said the internet was 'no replacement' for doctors.
Issue no. 365 - 15 August 2006
UK - Warning of online drugs 'danger'
People who buy medicines over the internet could be unwittingly putting their health at risk, warn UK doctors. Some drugs are fake and contain ingredients bearing little resemblance to the medicine named on the bottle, the Sunderland team told the Lancet. Even if patients get the right drug, there is a risk of unchecked side effects and dangerous interactions.
Issue no. 360 - 14 May 2006
EU - European Commission launches new Health Portal
In 2005 at least one third of the European adult population, 130 million EU citizens, browsed the web in search of information on health. However, searching for health-related information is not always easy. Researchers can be confronted with thousands of sites, many of them complex, and it can be hard to know which are reliable or up to date. To help European citizens answer their health questions, the Commission has launched the
. The Health-EU Portal is a gateway to simple and sound information on 47 topics that range from babies' health to bio-terrorism, and from infectious diseases to health insurance.
Issue no. 356 - 27 February 2006
UK - Virgin urges users to practise safe text
Virgin Mobile has launched a website which explains how to avoid repetitive strain injury (RSI) from sending too many text messages.
Issue no. 329 - 23 January 2005
Canada considers shutting down Internet prescription drug trade
Internet sales of prescription drugs to U.S. consumers could be banned by Canada if a proposal being drafted by health officials is approved. The changes would essentially kill a $700 million industry that has become increasingly popular with underinsured patients in search of cheaper medicine. The issue has become touchy politically for President Bush, whose administration has argued that reimporting U.S.-made drugs from Canada would put consumers at risk because U.S. regulators could not guarantee their safety.
Issue no. 317 - 22 August 2004
US - Cancer sites could pose health risk
Web sites are recommending unproven complementary medicines for cancer that could interfere with conventional treatments and be dangerous or deadly, a leading expert said. Prof. Edzard Ernst analyzed 32 Web sites and found many recommended treatments not supported by scientific evidence.
Issue no. 309 - 9 May 2004
EU - e-Health: better health and healthcare through the use of information and communications technologies
An action plan adopted by the European Commission shows how information and communication technologies can be used to deliver better quality health care Europe-wide. The "e-Health action plan" covers everything from electronic prescriptions and computerised health records to using new systems and services to cut waiting times and reduce errors. The proposals will contribute to better care at the same or lower cost. The action plan sets out the objective of a "European e-Health Area" and identifies practical steps to get there through work on electronic health records, patient identifiers and health cards, and the faster rollout of high speed Internet access for health systems to allow the full potential of eHealth to be delivered. To add momentum Member States should develop national and regional e-Health strategies and work needs to progress to allow measurement of the impact of eHealth technologies on the quality and efficiency of services, as well as overall productivity. By the end of the decade, e-Health will become commonplace for health professionals, patients and citizens.
Issue no. 298 - 18 January 2004
UK - Report hedges bets on mobile safety
Mobile phones appear to be safe, but more research is needed to be certain they pose no health risks, scientists advising the government said. An expert group, chaired by Professor Anthony Swerdlow, examined all the available evidence from research into the hazards of mobile phones and base stations over the last three years. Some experts have claimed that radiation from mobiles may be linked to brain tumours, headaches, sleeping disorders and memory loss. Professor Swerdlow's group found no evidence for any of these claims, however.
UK - 'Aggressive' e-mail health threat
The health effects of 'threatening' e-mails sent by bosses to their workers has been revealed by researchers. Experts from Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College attached blood pressure monitors to volunteers before they opened their inboxes. They found that blood pressure shot up if emails were from their superiors - or written in an aggressive tone. Organisational psychologist Professor Cary Cooper said that e-mail should never be used to discipline staff. "
Issue no. 295 - 21 December 2003
EU - La télémédecine gagne le grand public
(Electronique International Hebdo)
Plusieurs expériences en cours initient le suivi médical des patients chez eux, ou en déplacement, à l'aide de téléphones portables et d'appareils médicaux communicants. Une première étape vers la télémédecine personnelle pour tous.
Issue no. 293 - 7 December 2003
BE - Un clic, un docteur !
Trop peu de Bruxellois font appel à un généraliste. Une campagne d'information démarre le 1er décembre et s'articulera autour de plusieurs outils. Le premier, c'est un
, qui identifie les médecins généralistes exerçant à Bruxelles.
Issue no. 272 - 24 May 2003
EU - Ministerial Declaration on eHealth
was agreed by the 33 EU, EEA and Acceding Countries Ministers attending a
high-level conference on eHealth
in Brussels. Ministers expressed their renewed commitment to developing national and regional eHealth implementation plans, and to exploring the possibilities for co-ordinating these at European level. The provision of high quality health information on the Internet provides the basis for a more citizen-centred approach to healthcare delivery. The Ministers welcomed the Commission Communication on Quality Criteria for health-related Websites and encouraged the Commission to explore the possibilities of EU level Quality Seals.
Links to news items about legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, particularly those relating to information content, and market and technology.
QuickLinks consists of
a free newsletter appearing approximately every two to three weeks. The newsletter is distributed by electronic mail through an "announcement only" mailing list.
a Web site with frequent updates, an events page, news items organised by category as well as chronologically by issue and full text search.
QuickLinks is edited by Richard Swetenham
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Creative Commons Licence