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Daily Digest: 8 September 2009

Today's round-up of the GP and other health stories making the headlines

The most-widely reported health story this morning is a study suggesting that the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer may be caused by a virus.

The Guardian reports that US researchers have identified the XMRV virus (or xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus, to give it is proper name) as a possible cause for fast-growing prostate tumours. Researchers examined tissue from 101 healthy prostates and 233 malignant prostate tumours – they found the XMRV virus in 27% of the tumours and just 6% of the healthy samples. The study is also reported in the Daily Mirror, the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.

Critical care is the weak link in the Government's flu plans, according to a Freedom of Information survey carried out by the Conservative party. The BBC and the Guardian report that information obtained under the FOI Act from 80% of hospitals show that intensive care units were already under pressure before the pandemic. The Conservatives are claiming more beds are needed and suggest that demand could outstrip supply at the peak of the outbreak by 60% - the Government has said that it is in any case planning to double the number of beds.

The Daily Mail is the paper that devotes the most coverage to a warning from Professor David Reid that NICE's osteoporosis guidelines 'defy logic', claiming that thousands of patients are being denied treatment because GPs are prevented from moving patients to alternative treatments if they suffer side-effects on their first prescription.

A number of other clinical stories appear in various places, with the Mail and the Telegraph both reporting a study from Southampton University suggesting that Alzheimer's patients experience faster memory loss if they have an infection.

The Telegraph has a study from Stanford University suggesting that human fat removed during liposuction can be easily used to make stem cells – ‘Liposuction fat ‘liquid gold of stem cells' is the somewhat colourful headline.

And finally, the Daily Mail seeks to debunk a series of old wives tales around what will and will not hurry childbirth. According to a poll of 1,200 women carried out jointly by the charity Tommy's and Johnson's Baby, many mothers-to-be are still convinced that tucking into a Chicken Vindaloo or Lamb Madras will do the job. 'A curry won't hurry childbirth', warns the headline. You have been told.

Spotted a story we've missed? Let us know and we'll update the digest throughout the day…

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