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Gold, incentives and meh

GPs help to cut prostate cancer deaths, taxing sugary drinks has ‘modest’ effect and how snoring mothers-to-be have smaller babies

A round up of the health news headlines on Friday 1 November.

Prostate cancer deaths have fallen by a fifth in 20 years, claim experts from charity Cancer Research UK.

They say there are now an estimated 24 deaths per 100,000 people every year, compared with around 30 per 100,000 two decades ago, according to a Sky News report.

The charity says this is thanks to earlier diagnosis through blood tests in GP surgeries and better treatment approaches, such as more widespread use of hormone therapy, surgery and radiotherapy.

But Professor Malcolm Mason, the charity’s prostate cancer expert, said more work needed to be done, in particular to help distinguish those men with more aggressive disease from less harmful cases.

The BBC says experts believe taxing sugary drinks would have a ‘modest’ effect on the nation’s health. Their estimates, reported in the BMJ, suggest a 20% tax would cut the number of obese adults in the UK by 180,000 (1.3%) and the number of people who are overweight by 285,000 (0.9%).

The tax would add about 12p to the costs of a can of pop, or about 40p to the price of two-litre bottles of the fizzy stuff.

Lead author Dr Adam Briggs said: ‘Such a tax is not going to solve obesity by itself, but we have shown it could be an effective public health measure and should be considered alongside other measures to tackle obesity in the UK.’

Finally, The Independent reports on research showing mothers-to-be who snored three or more nights a week had an increased risk of poor delivery outcomes, including smaller babies and Caesarean births.

Chronic snorers, who snored both before and during pregnancy, were two-thirds more likely to have a baby weighing somewhere in the bottom 10% of birthweights. The authors say snoring could be a sign of breathing problems that could deprive the unborn baby of oxygen.

Dr Louise O’Brien, from the University of Michigan’s Sleep Disorders Centre, said: ‘We have a window of opportunity to screen pregnant women for breathing problems during sleep that may put them at risk of poor delivery outcomes.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Please note that our digestive system is put into action by triggers that are of great interest. For example, if you just mention sour apples to some people, they would immediately start to salivate!

    There is a danger in taxing sugar laden drinks, in that it may push more consumers to drink the 'diet' drinks. Yet we know that since the introduction of 'diet' drinks the level of obesity has increased in the public. In fact obesity is one of the dangers associated with the artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. Although they carry no calories themselves, they trick the pancreas to release insulin purely from the sweet taste. This excess insulin will then lead to obesity.

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