The Guardian

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Following the Labour Party leader Ed Miliband’s operation to correct a deviated septum, there has been much speculation that he has merely undergone this operation to improve the sound of his voice.

The political editor of The Guardian, Patrick Wintour, was particualrly dismissive of the medical need for Mr Miliband’s medical procedure, and also seems to grossly underestimate the seriousness of sleep apnoea:

“Ed Miliband had been asleep for an hour, recovering from an operation his team ludicrously continued to insist was solely about tackling a deviated septum in his nose, so making it easier for him to sleep, and possibly for his wife Justine to be spared the odd snore.”

I can only assume that Mr Wintour and his partner have never suffered from sleep apnoea, which as any sufferer will tell you is a serious and chronic condition that can ruin your quality of life, and that of your partner. There is also a growing body of evidence that sleep apnoea contributes to heart disease, and also road traffic accidents.

While this kind of surgery is only undertaken in a minority of cases (CPAP treatment is effective in 90% of cases), it can be an effective treatment for sleep apnoea, and I can only assume that this was the diagnosis Mr Miliband received as his operation was done on the NHS.

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Continuing on the diet theme, Sarah Boseley reports in the Guardian today on a new piece of research from Newcastle University. Researchers there have discovered that a very harsh 600 calorie a day diet can reverse type 2 diabetes in some cases. 7 out of 11 participants in the study were free of diabetes after two months of the strict regime. Given the strong links between diabetes and sleep apnoea some further research into the impact (besides the benefits of weight loss) this diet may have on sufferers would be very welcome.

In the UK about two and a half million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, the large majority with type 2, and numbers are rising across much of the world. The condition has to be controlled with drugs and eventually insulin injections. It can cause blindness and end in foot amputation, as well as shortening life.

“To have people free of diabetes after years with the condition is remarkable – and all because of an eight-week diet,” said Roy Taylor, professor at Newcastle University, who led the study. “This is a radical change in understanding type 2 diabetes. It will change how we can explain it to people newly diagnosed with the condition. While it has long been believed that someone with type 2 diabetes will always have the disease, and that it will steadily get worse, we have shown that we can reverse the condition.”

The research, presented today at the American Diabetes Association conference, shows that an extremely low-calorie diet, consisting of diet drinks and non-starchy vegetables, prompts the body to remove the fat clogging the pancreas and preventing it from making insulin. However, as the study’s funders Diabetes UK warn, this diet should only be attempted under the supervision of a medical professional.

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