Welcome to the second part of our endocrine news stories countdown. The next five stories are the ones that truly got the world talking, chalking up a combined total of at least 4,000 news articles across the World Wide Web and splashing countless front pages of newspapers around the world.
- Everyone ‘should take Vitamin D pills’
After an initially beautiful summer, August was a pretty dim affair in Britain. As we were frequently buffeted by rain and wind, the BBC kindly reminded the country that it is suffering a chronic Vitamin D shortage. Perfect timing! The news detailed government proposals to recommend that everyone take vitamin D supplements and was widely shared on social media and received a great deal of attention from the Society for Endocrinology membership. Expect to hear much more about the great Vitamin D deficiency saga in 2016!
- Parasitic worm ‘increases women’s fertility’
One of the most surprising stories of the year was news that a type of roundworm commonly found in Bolivia can alter its host’s immune system to increase their fertility. The findings raised many eyebrows in the fertility field, with one expert claiming that “further studies of the immunology of women who do have the parasite could ultimately lead to new and novel fertility enhancing drugs.”
- Taller people at greater risk of cancer
In October this year, Swedish researcher Emelie Benyi made front-page news worldwide after presenting data linking height and cancer at the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology’s conference in Barcelona. The study analysed data on 5.5 million people born between 1938 and 1991, with heights ranging from 100cm to 225cm. That much data would be a tall order for most.
- HRT could benefit one million women, says NHS menopause guidance
In an attempt to end years of debate, NICE published its first ever set of guidelines on the menopause. Its aim was clear; to clarify the benefits and risks of women receiving hormone replacement therapy. An estimated 80% of women undergoing menopause suffer symptoms for up to four years after their last period, but for 10% of women these can last up to twelve years. NICE’s message was clear: talk about the menopause with your clinician if you need advice on your symptoms and discuss your options.
- Proof of concept that Alzheimer’s is transmittable
While not strictly endocrinology, hormones played a central role in one of the, if not the biggest science news stories of the year. It’s not every day a science story makes the lead story on eight UK newspaper front-pages, but a study in Nature raising the concept of ‘transmittable Alzheimer’s’ managed it. Researchers from UCL speculated that contaminated human growth hormone extracts could pose a rare but potential risk of spreading Alzheimer’s. Though human-derived hormone injections have not been used since the 1980s, the news certainly caught the public’s imagination, making it the top hormone story that got the world talking.