What happened in health this year

What a huge year of health breakthroughs 2013 has been. One of the biggest areas of discovery this year has been in the field of memory. Given the world’s ageing population, it is not surprising that scientists are focussing on keeping our brains as young as our bodies. A dementia vaccination is being developed in Perth, cholesterol and blood sugar levels have been linked to your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and it was discovered that menopause really can affect your memory. There is the possibility that you cholesterol medication may be protecting you from dementia, and a young researcher in the USA discovered that peanut butter can be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s.

Lifestyle and beauty were also high on the list, with a cure for grey hair in development and research showing that a glaucoma drug could improve hair growth. The 5:2 fasting diet was the weight-loss breakthrough of the year, as it not only helps you to lose weight, but also theoretically improves cholesterol levels and decreases cancer risk. And a study showed that more than 70 per cent of postmenopausal Australian women have avoided intimacy as a result of associated symptoms.

Research on statins was all over the shop, with new medical benefits and disadvantages of taking these drugs being released almost weekly. It was discovered that calcium supplements can double your risk of death, and a common drug found in sleep aids and heart medication was found to be causing serious memory problems.

There were also some amazing general medical breakthroughs made. A new operation was developed to treat high blood pressure, it was discovered that sunscreen can almost completely prevent skin ageing and urine tests for both breast and prostate cancers were developed. And, for something a little weird, a man had a transplant nose grown on his own forehead.

So what can you look forward to next year? Gym junkies are predicting that the hottest exercise regime of 2014 will be High Intensity Training (HIT), in which you train as hard as you possibly can for only a short amount of time. Be careful though, as HIT is more injury prone than other fitness building exercises. 2014 is also set to be the year of delivering data directly to your doctor. More Australians are using devices, such as smartphones, to record data at home for their doctors to see. This could see people more people monitoring conditions such as high blood pressure from home, without the need for frequent visits to the GP. Telehealth is also on the rise, so virtual doctors’ visits are in our foreseeable future.

Find out more about this year’s breakthroughs:

Brain and memory health


Lifestyle and beauty


Medical breakthroughs

What do you think was the most exciting medical breakthrough of 2013? Share your opinion in the comments below.