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Epilepsy incidence decrease, '13,000 premature cancer deaths can be prevented' and NHS chief to hold on

A round-up of the health news headlines on Monday 4 February

The number of children diagnosed with epilepsy has fallen over the past decade due to fewer misdiagnoses and a decrease in the some causes of the condition.

The BBC reports that a study of GP-recorded diagnoses shows that incidence has fallen by more than half.

The data from more than 344,000 children showed that annual incidence had fallen by 4% to 9% year on year between 1994 and 2008. The number of children born with epilepsy between 2003-2005 was 33% lower than those born in 199-1996.

The researchers from University College London wrote in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood that better use of specialist services and increased caution in diagnosing the condition partly explained the decline in the conditions.

Staying with the BBC, the World Cancer Research Fund has claimed that at least 13,000 premature deaths could be prevented each year in the UK.

A WCRF survey of more than 2,000 adults suggested that 28% of people think there is little that can be done to prevent cancer.

Dr Kate Allen, executive director of science and public affairs at WCRF, said: ‘These results are a real concern because they show that a significant proportion of people don’t realise that there’s a lot they can do to reduce their risk of cancer.

‘By eating healthily, being physically active and keeping to a healthy weight, we estimate that about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented.’

The WCRF wants governments to challenge ‘myths’ about cancer, such as: cancer is just a health issue; that it is a disease of the wealthy, developed countries;  that it is a death sentence; and that getting cancer is down to fate.

Finally, in the run-up to the Francis Report on the scandal in Mid Staffordshire Hospital, the Guardian is reporting that NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson will survive the scandal.

Sir David was the local NHS boss at the hospital in 2005 and was chief executive of the NHS when the relatives of the 400-1,200 patients estimated to have needlessly died began campaigning.

However, the Guardian quotes a source who said Sir David retains ‘rock solid’ support from the prime minister and the health secretary.

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