Category Archives: Health News

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Supercharge your wellness this winter

We think this year has gone by so quickly and now we find ourselves in winter again, we wanted to bring you some tips to supercharge your wellness this winter! Here at Covance Leeds, we are all about health and wellbeing and we wanted to share some wisdom with you, to make you feel better in body and mind this winter!

Nutrition

Eating a balanced diet with a healthy amount of protein and carbohydrates is a crucial way of staying healthy this winter. There are plenty of healthy winter recipes to be found in this collection from BBC Good Food – https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/healthy-winter

At this time of year many of us can fall prey to the dreaded common cold, but there are some easy ways you can boost your immune system by adding a few key things to your diet. Citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C, known to improve the production of white blood cells, which are key to warding off infections.

Antioxidants are found in a variety of sources, such as green vegetables like broccoli and leafy vegetables like spinach and courgettes. The more fruits and vegetables in your diet the merrier as most are rich in vitamins and antioxidants!

Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is key to feeling good throughout the day and being productive. Lack of sleep affects mood and concentration and it can contribute to more serious health problems such as obesity and diabetes. The NHS has an excellent resource of tips for getting a good night’s sleep on their website : https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/how-to-get-to-sleep/

Exercise

Most of us know the benefits of regular exercise to our health and wellbeing but finding the time to exercise when you lead a busy lifestyle can be difficult. Thirty minutes of brisk walking a few times per week  is a simple way to boost your exercise regime and walking to work or university is a good way to make time for this. Try setting your alarm half an hour earlier or making time for a walk in your lunchbreak during busy times. According to NHS ‘Sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, walking briskly can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier.’ Check out these easy ten minute workouts from NHS if you are pushed for time : https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/10-minute-workouts/

Fresh air

Being outside is sometimes less appealing during the winter months due to the weather, but as long as you wrap up warm getting outside is so beneficial to health and wellness. Check out this interesting article from Mental Floss ‘11 Scientific Benefits of Being Outdoors’, which links being outdoors to boosting energy, creativity and the immune system : http://mentalfloss.com/article/70548/11-scientific-benefits-being-outdoors

We hope that you all find these winter wellness tips helpful and thank you for reading our latest blog from here at Covance Leeds!

World Mental Health Day

Here at Covance, we believe that raising awareness of mental health issues is vital. ‘World Mental Health Day’ is this week on Thursday 10th October, and this year’s theme, set by the ‘World Federation for Mental Health’ is suicide prevention. In 2018 there were 6507 deaths in the UK from suicide. Anybody killing themselves is too many.

For those that may be suffering from mental health issues there is a range of support available here in the UK.

The NHS have a superb website called ‘Every Mind Matters’ where you can find useful information about mental health, and get your own ‘Mind Plan’ with advice for how to look after your own mental health, by taking a short quiz. Visit the link to their website to find out more: https://bit.ly/2Iy49s1  

The charity ‘Mind’ does amazing work to break down the barriers surrounding mental health and encourage open dialogue surrounding the topic. You can visit the information & support section of their website here to learn more: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/

A valued colleague and friend of ours here at Covance Leeds, James is helping to raise funds for the Mind charity in Leeds. James is taking part in ‘Rat Race Hell Runner 2019’ on Sunday 12th October in memory of his friend Maud, a young woman who took her own life recently. You can support his fundraising by visiting this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hell-run-for-maud  

Rat Race Hell Runner is a half marathon, which sees participants running a course of 13 miles through hills, bogs and water, so we want to say a huge ‘good luck’ to James, who is taking part along with a group of his friends to raise money for this worthy cause.

Photo of sunset at a beach

Put the fun in to summer

Summer is here at last and there has been a welcome heatwave lately which has made us feel the summer vibes more than ever! Here at Covance Leeds we wanted to put together a few ideas for how to add some fun to your summer, which are sure to make it even more special.

Host a picnic.

Why not host a picnic for family and friends this summer? Invite a few people who are special to you and find a local park or woodland which will make the perfect place for an outdoor feast! BBC Good Food has a great selection of picnic recipes here:

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/picnic

Get active.

30 minutes of exercise a few times per week can do wonders for both your mental and physical wellbeing. Try going for a brisk walk somewhere scenic and take your headphones with you so that you can enjoy your favourite tunes wherever you go. Joining a gym can be a great way to motivate yourself in to exercising more frequently too and asking a friend to workout with you makes the whole experience more fun!

Take a day at the beach. 

Being by the seaside is a pleasure in itself and there is something so relaxing about watching the waves roll on to the shore. A day at the beach is an ideal way to put fun into summer. Stroll on the sand, eat an ice cream, paddle in the sea and build a sandcastle! Just don’t forget to pack some tasty food, water and of course sunscreen!
Watch a movie.

In the heat of summer, retreating to the cinema might not be a bad idea! There are plenty of great films out this summer and make sure to buy some popcorn when you go, to complete the experience.

Enjoy barbecue season.

There is nothing better than inviting people over for a barbecue in the summer months. We may as well make the most of  the opportunity to cook outside while we can and there is a great selection of barbecue recipes here: https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/entertain/best-ever-bbq-recipes/

Go stargazing.

Stargazing is a lovely activity and in the summer months the night sky is often very clear, making it easier to see more stars and even planets! Check out the beginner’s guide to astronomy from the BBC Sky At Night Magazine here : https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/tag/astronomyforbeginners/

Don’t forget, if you want to be part of something valuable you could become a volunteer for one of our clinical trials. Our Covance Leeds Clinic is located in the heart of the city, surrounded by attractive gardens. We hope to see you soon!

Woman at the beach during sunset

Wellbeing Week

It is World Wellbeing Week and here at Covance Leeds we wanted to share some important tips with you on how to boost your wellbeing! Life is often so busy nowadays that we can easily neglect our own wellbeing in favour of keeping up with work, life and family commitments. Why not try these ideas to make your wellbeing a priority?

Self – care

When life is hectic, it can often be difficult to make time to do the things we enjoy, but it is essential to find the time to unwind in order to beat stress. Try soaking in the bath, cooking your favourite meal, reading a book or watching a movie to give yourself some essential time to switch off from the world.

Try something new

Challenging yourself to try something new can often be such a rewarding experience. Try taking up a new hobby which you have always wanted to try, volunteering for a worthy cause or simply visiting a new place where you have always wanted to go.

The great outdoors

There is no doubt that spending time outside enjoying nature is an instant way of boosting your mood and feeling uplifted. Whether it is a hike in the mountains, a walk on the beach or even just a short stroll close to where you live, taking time to enjoy being outside is an instant recipe for happiness.

Exercise

Exercise is an easy way to improve your wellbeing and even walking for just thirty minutes a day is beneficial in terms of improving both mental and physical wellbeing.

Don’t forget, if you want to be part of something valuable you could become a volunteer for one of our clinical trials. Our Covance Leeds Clinic is located in the heart of the city, surrounded by attractive gardens. We hope to see you all soon!

Spring clean your wellbeing

This is the time of year when many of us think about spring cleaning our homes and getting everything nice and tidy, but what about some simple ideas for spring cleaning your wellbeing too? Here at Covance Leeds, we have put together some tips for how you can inject some new energy in to your daily routine just in time for spring!

Get creative

It can be so rewarding to take up a new hobby which allows you to unleash your creative side – whether it is painting, drawing or gardening it is the best feeling to do something creative and it can be such a challenging experience.

Self-care

Many of us are so busy during the average day that we forget to make time to do the things we enjoy. Self-care is so important for emotional wellbeing, so put aside some time to do something nice for yourself every day whether it is reading a good book, having a long soak in the bath, or treating yourself to a slice of cake – it is important to spoil yourself now and again!

Exercise and eat well

It may sound obvious, but regular exercise and eating a healthy diet are both shortcuts to feeling better mentally. Try to eat three healthy meals per day to keep your energy levels up and aim for thirty minutes exercise daily when possible.

Make plans

Having something to look forward to is such a great feeling, so what better way to improve your wellbeing than to plan something you really want to do. It doesn’t have to be a lavish holiday – just getting tickets to a gig or planning a picnic in the park with friends can create that same feeling of anticipation.

Set goals

Setting goals and completing them is a good way of feeling fulfilled this spring. Even setting a simple goal such as completing a long walk or learning a new skill gives that immense feeling of pride and satisfaction when the goal is completed.

Explore somewhere new

The expression ‘a change is as good as a rest’ is sound advice as far as we are concerned and going somewhere new can really change your perspective and give you a happy feeling. It doesn’t need to be a long holiday, even just a day out to a new place you haven’t visited before can give you a burst of energy. Now that the warmer weather is here, why not plan a trip to the beach or a day in the countryside with friends? Above all, try going to somewhere new!

Do something rewarding

Doing something rewarding such as helping others, taking the time to meet a friend for coffee or volunteering can be such an enriching experience. If you feel like contributing something valuable this spring why not consider taking part in one of our clinical trials here at our Covance Leeds clinic? You can relax in comfortable surroundings while helping to advance treatments for a range of conditions. We are always looking for healthy volunteers and if you would like to see which studies we currently have available, please click here: https://bit.ly/2rVYy6E

What’s happening in February

We can’t believe that February is here already, and we thought we would have a look at some of the important and fun events taking place in the month of February.

Time to Talk Day 2019
Did you know that 7th February is ‘Time to Talk Day 2019’ which encourages people to talk about mental health. Talking about mental health is so important, because many of us experience mental health difficulties at some time in our lives.

There are plenty of easy ways that you can boost your mental health and wellbeing every day. Some simple ideas to improve your mental health include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Avoiding drinking too much alcohol
  • Organising a short break or holiday
  • Talking to a friend or relative
  • Keeping a diary or journal
  • Trying yoga or meditation
  • Making time to do things you enjoy

Fun events in February
There are also plenty of fun events coming up in February too! World Nutella Day takes place on 5th February and National Pizza Day takes place on 9th February and of course who can forget St Valentine’s Day on 14th February? Valentine’s Day is all about love and the heart is something we should all take care of!

According to the NHS, some top tips for keeping your heart healthy are:

  • Give up smoking
  • Get active
  • Manage your weight
  • Eat more fibre
  • Cut down on saturated fat
  • Get your 5 A Day
  • Cut down on salt
  • Eat fish
  • Drink less alcohol

We hope you enjoyed our round up of some of the health and fun events which there are to look forward to in February!

Find out more about Time to Talk Day here:

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/timetotalkday2019
Read more about heart health here:

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/

photo of hands in a heart

Can I be healthy and still be prescribed Statins?

From time to time, many of us become concerned about our cholesterol levels and we frequently hear the terms ‘good cholesterol’ and ‘bad cholesterol’ in the media.

High levels of ‘bad cholesterol’ in your blood can lead to fatty deposits building up in your arteries, which can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which includes conditions such as coronary heart disease (leading to angina and heart attack) and stroke.

LDL cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein is often referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’ but a healthy diet, not smoking and being physically active are all important factors in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol is usually treated with Statins, so we thought we would share a quick overview of what Statins are.

Statins are a medicine usually in tablet form, which are taken to help lower cholesterol. Once prescribed treatment often continues for life, in fact according to The British Heart Foundation ‘Statins are the most commonly prescribed medicines in the UK’.

Although they are prescribed frequently, Statins have been the subject of controversy in the media as they are sometimes prescribed as a preventative measure to people seen to be at risk of heart disease, who have no history of the condition.

Despite the concerns surrounding them, the benefits of treatment with Statins include reducing the risk of serious cardiovascular conditions and the side effects associated with them are comparatively rare in comparison to the positive benefits of Statin therapy, which include the reduction of heart attacks and strokes.

You can find out more about Statins at the links below:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/statins/

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/treatments/statins

https://heartuk.org.uk/statins-and-treatments/statin-side-effects/the-statin-conundrum

photo of pumpkins

Looking forward to Autumn

As the days get shorter and the evenings get colder it can be a little disheartening to say a final goodbye to summer, but there is so much to look forward to this autumn…

Halloween
Did you know that Halloween, which is widely celebrated on October 31st, evolved from the ancient Celtic festival ‘Samhain’. As we all know, the modern version revolves around trick or treating, fancy dress and carving pumpkins! Did you know the biggest pumpkin in the UK was recently grown by twin brothers from Lymington in the New Forest, weighing in at over 1000kg? While the tradition of carving pumpkins is hugely popular, in the past people used to carve turnips to make Jack o’ lanterns as these were more widely available.

One of the most iconic horror films, Halloween (directed by John Carpenter) was released in 1978 and the film grossed $70 million at worldwide box office – more than 215 times its original budget!

Hygge
Cold nights call for getting cosy and Hygge is the perfect trend for this time of year. Hygge is a Danish/Norwegian word which roughly translates to ‘a mood of cosy and comfy contentment’. Simple ways to add Hygge to your home this autumn include lighting scented candles, putting warm blankets on your sofa, making hot chocolate, reading a book next to the fire and wearing warm sweaters. It really is simple to make things Hygge, it is all about the cosy factor!

Bonfire Night
We celebrate Bonfire Night on 5th November in the UK and this tradition came about after the Gunpowder Plot masterminded by Guy Fawkes and friends on 5th November 1605. To this day, we light bonfires and watch firework displays to mark the occasion and the hearty foods served at organised bonfires such as jacket potatoes, toffee apples, hot dogs and parkin cake make us look forward to this celebration even more!

Find some Halloween and autumn events at the links below:
https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/halloween-2018-6-of-yorkshire-s-spookiest-events-this-halloween-1-9415956

https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/whats-on/bonfire-night-best-firework-displays-in-leeds-1-9415753

https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/travel/best-autumn-days-out-2018-uk-what-to-do/

Photo of wine glasses

Alcohol Consumption

It is safe to say that many of us like an occasional drink to unwind, but did you know that the alcohol consumption guidelines have recently been updated? The UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) alcohol guidelines for both men and women state that it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.

Here at Covance Leeds, we need our clinical trial participants to be within the recommended consumption guidelines when applying for our clinical trials, so we wanted to share the guidelines with you. Our clinical trial participants need to consume no more than the weekly recommended alcohol units in order to be able to take part in our studies – so that is 14 units per week or less.

Cutting down on drinking does not have to be boring now that there are so many great tasting soft drinks and low alcohol drinks on the market! Plus, there are numerous health benefits to reducing your alcohol intake and you can easily track the units of alcohol you consume each week using this handy tool from Drink Aware: www.drinkaware.co.uk/sevendaycalculator

Some of the benefits attributed to reduced alcohol intake include:

  • Overall improved physical health
  • Saving money
  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced calorie intake
  • Improved appearance
  • Increased energy levels

There has never been a better time to reduce your alcohol consumption, with the availability of tracking tools to monitor what you drink and so many health reasons to cut down on what you consume!

We would love to see as many new recruits as possible to our paid clinical trials and we look forward to welcoming new volunteers soon!

world aids day tube advertising

10 Things you should know about HIV/AIDS on World AIDS Day 2016

Throughout the 80s and 90s, the AIDS epidemic dominated headlines making this one of the most feared diseases in living memory. In recent years, the word ‘epidemic’ is perhaps more quickly associated with emerging diseases like ebola and the zika virus. But while its progress has slowed AIDS has by no means gone away, and it’s worth reflecting on some facts this World AIDS Day.

aids-ribbon1 – AIDS has caused over 7 million deaths since 2000

We tend to think of the 80s and 90s as the height of the AIDS pandemic. Since then, the incidence of AIDS has decreased and the life expectancy of HIV patients has increased, but the disease remains a serious threat to world health.

2 – There were 2.1 million new cases diagnosed in 2015

That’s a big number. By comparison, there were 29,000 reported cases of ebola between March 2014 and Jan 2016. Clearly, this is no time to become complacent about AIDS!

3 – The rate of infection is slowing

It’s not all bad news! Since 2010, the number of new cases has decreased by 6%. The huge public awareness campaigns of the late 20th Century have had a huge effect on slowing the spread – all the more reason why AIDS should still be on our minds and in our newspapers.

4 – Routine screening is ESSENTIAL

The first symptoms of the HIV virus are easily mistaken for a cold or ‘flu. After this patients can carry HIV/AIDS for many years without showing any symptoms. By the time patients feel ‘ill enough’ to get tested, it may be too late for meaningful help. Screening is confidential, widely available through your GP surgery or sexual health clinics. Increasingly, results can be returned within 1 day, and certain tests may not even require a blood sample.

hiv-myths-ver5_05 – It is NOT spread through bodily contact

You cannot catch HIV by touching or kissing an infected person, or by sharing their cutlery, towels, clothes or living space. When AIDS was en emerging disease and not fully understood, myths and misconceptions like these heaped stigma and social isolation on top of patients’ suffering.

 

6 – Its origins are not fully known

AIDS was first observed in 1981 and named in 1982; however, it is believed that HIV might have originated in West African Primates, and may have been transmitted to humans as far back as the early 20th century.

Until very recently, a man named Gaetan Dugas was widely regarded as ‘patient zero’, responsible for introducing and spreading AIDS around North America in the early 80s. However, news broke in October 2016 that Dugas was one of many individuals with the same generation of the virus, and that circulation of AIDS in the US most likely began at least a decade earlier.

 

7 – The drugs DO work

There is currently no cure for AIDS, but antiretroviral drugs slow the progress of the virus and can give a near-normal life expectancy for HIV positive patients. Without treatment, the prognosis is around 11 years from the point of infection. With antiretroviral treatment, patients are generally expected to live into their 70s.

8 – PEP can help patients who have been exposed

PEP stands for ‘Post Exposure Prophylaxis’ – a course of drugs given to healthy individuals who have been exposed to the HIV virus – for example through unprotected sex, or a needlestick injury. It can also be given to the newborn babies of HIV positive mothers. If introduced within 72 hours of exposure, PEP is highly effective at preventing HIV from being contracted.

9 – PrEP can prevent transmission to healthy men and women

For someone who anticipates that they could be at risk of exposure, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is an effective way to prevent HIV transmission. PrEP involves healthy individuals taking a course of drugs which are normally used to treat HIV/AIDS. PrEP is not currently available on the NHS, but after a parliamentary debate, it was recently recommended that PrEP be made available to high-risk individuals, such as gay and bisexual men, or people whose partner is HIV positive.

aids vaccination clinical trials10 – A vaccine could be next

Vaccinations have allowed us to combat polio, measles and rubella, and to globally eradicate smallpox. A vaccination against HIV is one of the Holy Grails of clinical research, and a huge clinical trial is about to begin in South Africa. 5400 healthy men and women will be testing a new injection, which it is hoped will prevent HIV in at least 50% of cases.

 

Since it was first classified in 1982, AIDs has gone from being a life sentence to an increasingly manageable condition, and the development of an effective vaccine could sound the death knell for this destructive virus.

None of these developments would have been possible without clinical research, and without volunteers like you, medical developments would grind to a halt.

THANK YOU!