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Antibiotics provide no benefits for colds and cancer incidence to rise among men

A round-up of the health news headlines on Wednesday 19 December

Doctors should restrain from prescribing antibiotics for colds and coughs since they provide no benefits reports The Independent.

The study, run over 12 European countries, used randomised placebo-controlled trial of antibiotics and found that they were no more effective at relieving symptoms than sugar pills.

Little difference was found in the severity or the duration of symptoms between controls and those who took antibiotics. In fact those who took antibiotics reported more side effects including rashes, diarrhoea, and nausea.

The study, published in the Lancet Infectious Disease, looked at more than 2,000 patients with chest infections and found that not even age improved the effectiveness of antibiotics. Those who were over 60 also saw no significant difference in the severity of symptoms.

The Daily Telegraph announces this morning how the EU’s ruling on cigarette packets will require them to be covered in written and visual health warnings.

This will give Britain the authority to impose plain packaging on cigarettes which will remove all branding and, according to industry experts, end the legendary branding of some cigarettes.

Draft legislation seen by The Daily Telegraph says: ‘Each unit packet shall carry combined health warnings (picture plus text). The combined warnings shall cover 75 per cent of the external area of both the front and back surface of the packet.’

It also grants member states the ability to be more stringent on cigarette packing if they deem it necessary for public health.

On top of this there will be a ban on menthol cigarettes, which are accused of attracting young consumers, as well as electronic cigarettes and the Swedish snuff ‘snus’.

This last bit of legislation has been deemed by critics as ‘disastrous for public health’ because snus and e-cigarettes are healthier than conventional smoking.

Chris Snowdon, a fellow of the Institute of Economic affairs, said: ‘Instead of finding ways to help smokers quit, the commission has adopted silly and ineffective shock tactics such as bigger warning labels which are plain packaging by the back door.’

Finally the BBC says how the number of cases of men with cancer is set to be 50 in every 100 in 2027.

Currently the chances are 44 in 100, but this is set to increase over the next 15 years due to people living longer says Cancer Research UK.

The cancers set to increase are bowel, prostate, and skin. However, thanks to better screening techniques more men are set to survive cancer.

The research, done by the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London, and Cancer Research UK, predicted that by 2027 the number of cases of men with cancer will rise to 221,000, a 35% rise compared to 2010.

Currently the pressing task is to find reliable screenings for prostate cancer.

Presently doctors have no tests to show whether a prostate tumour is malignant or can be safely left alone.

Another issue is trying to encourage more men to go to cancer screenings.

Alan White, chairman of the Men’s Health Forum and professor of men’s health at Leeds Metropolitan University said that although men are more likely to develop bowel cancer, fewer men than women go to screenings. 

He said: ‘Some men are fatalistic about cancer and screening. But screening does make a difference. If cancers are spotted earlier they are easier to treat’

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