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Coverage of Pulse’s contraceptive pill story, ‘no convincing proof’ that mobile phones cause cancer, and a berry good way to stay mentally sharp

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 26 April

Pulse´s scoop on an NHS report which recommends girls as young as 13 should have access to the contraceptive pill without prescription is picked up by most of this morning´s papers.

We reported yesterday that the scheme - across five pharmacies in Southwark and Lambeth - successfully reached young women who had never previously taken the pill, with 46% of women using the scheme first timers.

The report recommended the controversial scheme – providing access under a patient group direction – should be rolled out across the country and that commissioners should consider widening it to girls aged 13 to 16.

The Sun says the scheme is aimed at reducing soaring underage pregnancy rates and will enable young girls to go on the pill without informing their parents.

Widening it would mean teenagers below the legal age of consent would be able to walk into their local pharmacist and get contraceptive tablets over the counter, the paper says.

The Guardian and some of the other papers report that there is no clear evidence that radiation from mobile phones can damage public health, despite a surge in scientific studies, according to the largest review yet of published research.

The review found no convincing proof that radio waves from mobile phones cause brain tumours or any other type of cancer, but cautioned that they had too little information to assess the risk beyond 15 years of usage.

The review - by the Health Protection Agency´s independent advisory group on non-ionising radiation - said it was "important" to watch for signs of rising cancer cases, including monitoring national brain tumour trends, which so far show "no indication" of increased risk, according to the Guardian.

Eating blueberries and strawberries may stave off mental decline in later life, according to the Daily Mail.

A study found brain ageing could be delayed by up to two and a half years in elderly women regularly eating high amounts of the berries.

The findings come from an ongoing study of nurses which involves only women, but may also apply to men, the paper says.

The US research team used data from the Nurses' Health Study, involving 121,700 female, registered nurses between the ages of 30 and 55 who completed health and lifestyle questionnaires beginning in 1976.

Since 1980 participants were surveyed every four years regarding their frequency of food consumption.

Between 1995 and 2001, cognitive function was measured in 16,010 women over the age of 70 years, at 2-year intervals.

Findings published in a report in the Annals of Neurology journal suggest those who had higher berry intake delayed cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years, the Mail says. 

And vitamin D supplements could be as effective as prescription medicines at reducing high blood pressure, a report in the Daily Telegraph suggests.

A Danish study presented at the European Society of Hypertension conference in London found a group of 112 patients with high blood pressure showed significant improvements in their condition after being given once-a-day supplements for 20 weeks.

Of the 112 participants, 92 were found to have low levels of vitamin D at the start of the study, the Telegraph says.


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