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GPs winning battle over copying letters

'Electricity causes headache'

The story

Claims that electricity can cause headaches, fatigue and skin problems are being taken seriously by scientists, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The source

The National Radiological Protection Board has commissioned a review of the evidence on electromagnetic hypersensitivity, which is due to report in the summer.

Expert view

Dr Michael Clark, science spokesperson for the National Radiological Protection Board, said every test so far had turned out negative. 'In the lab they can't detect it but it doesn't mean they are not afflicted by something. We believe more research should be done.'

'Pill protects sunbathers'

The story

A simple pill could soon protect sunbathers from the damaging effects of solar radiation, the Daily Mail claims.

The source

A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology gave nine patients oral doses of an extract from the plant Polypodium leucotomos. It appeared to protect their skin from exposure to varying levels of artificial UV radiation.

Expert view

Dr Julia Newton-Bishop, of the Cancer Research UK cancer medical unit at St James' University Hospital in Leeds, said: 'This is a very preliminary study in which they've used a herbal preparation as a potential antioxidant. It's interesting but this is unlikely to be an easy solution [for preventing skin cancer].'

'Alert on lethal flu epidemic'

The story

Fears that a lethal flu epidemic could sweep Britain are forcing the Government to draw up emergency plans, the Daily Express, Guardian and Times report.

The source

The World Health Organisation issued a

warning over the potential of a pandemic as the death toll from the bird flu virus in south-east Asia rose to 32.

Expert view

Dr Carol Joseph of the Health Protection Agency's respiratory disease department said: 'Levels of flu are currently within the range of normal seasonal activity. The HPA considers the current level of risk to people in the UK from avian flu to still be very low.'

'Folic acid pregnancy risk'

The story

Pregnant women risk having a premature baby if they fail to take folic acid throughout pregnancy, the Daily Express reports.

The source

A nutrition study of 3,000 women between 24 and 29 weeks pregnant found folic acid intake of less than 0.5mg per day was associated with increased preterm delivery. It was published in the December issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Expert view

Mr David Liu, clinical director in obstetrics and gynaecology at City Hospital in Nottingham, said: 'We would need a few more large studies to prove a link as there are many likely causes of preterm birth. If women wanted to take folic acid it would do no harm.'

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