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GPs 'under pressure' from dental patients, call to lower age of consent rejected and the health benefits of... bleach

A round-up of the health news headlines on Monday 18 November.

The BBC has news this morning of GPs coming under pressure from dental patients. A poll of 1,000 GPs carried out on behalf of the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) showed 87% ‘felt under pressure’ from patients with mouth problems such as toothaches or ulcers.

David Worskett, chair of the ADG, said with mouth cancer rates on the rise it was ‘more important than ever’ patients see their dentist to get the ‘right care quickly’.

He said: ‘People often think that dentists are focussed purely on teeth and gums, but actually, they are specialists in most aspects of oral health and we often find GPs refer patients back to their dentist if there is any treatment required.’

Meanwhile many papers are reporting the Prime Minister has rejected a call from a leading public health expert to lower the age of consent for sex to 15.

Professor John Ashton, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said in a Sunday Times interview that society is currently sending ‘confused signals’ about when sex is permitted and called for a national debate on the issue. With official figures suggesting up to a third of teenagers have sex before they reach 16, the legal age of consent, Professor Ashton said lowering the age of consent to 15 ‘would draw a line in the sand’ against sex at 14 or younger and make it easier for 15-year-olds to seek contraception and sexual health advice from the NHS.

But a spokesperson for David Cameron said: ‘We reject the call to lower the age of consent. The current age is in place to protect children and there are no plans to change it.’

Finally, scientists claim household bleach could be the answer for skin damage due to sunbathing or radiotherapy, the Telegraph reports.

Tests in mice showed diluted bleach reversed sunburn-like symptoms caused by radiation therapy. The researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, believe it works by dampening the inflammation in the skin cells, and could be used for treating other skin problems such as diabetic ulcers.

Lead author Dr Thomas Leung, from Stanford University in California, said: This is exciting because there are so few side effects to dilute bleach. We may have identified other ways to use hypochlorite to really help patients. It could be easy, safe and inexpensive.’

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