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How any cancer runs in the family, anxiety levels spiral and the perils of… a cheap cuppa

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 25 July.

Latest research shows that having cancer in your family increases the chance you will develop any kind of cancer, not just the same type, the BBC reports this morning.

Researchers studied 23,000 people in Italy and Switzerland and found people with a relative – particularly a first-degree relative – with cancer were at most risk of developing the same cancer, but also had an increased chance of developing another cancer. For example, men had a 3.4-fold increased risk of prostate cancer if a first-degree relative had bladder cancer. Although some of the risk could be due to shared environmental risk factors, there was evidence of genetic factors influencing cancer at multiple sites in the body.

Jessica Harris, Cancer Research UK spokesperson, stressed that cancer risk is determined by a combination of genes, lifestyles and the environment.

‘Whether or not someone in your family has had cancer, living a healthy life can really help to stack the odds in our favour, and reduce the risk of cancer,’ she told the BBC.

Elsewhere the Telegraph reports on a ‘dramatic’ rise in anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorders and post-traumatic stress. Psychiatrists at the University of Cambridge and University of Hertfordshire found that more than eight million people suffer from anxiety disorders in Britain – much higher than the 2.3 million estimated back in 2007.

They say this is costing the country £10 billion a year. The team found brain disorders as a whole are costing the health service and economy £112 billion a year, with dementia by far the greatest financial burden, at nearly £19 billion a year.

Professor Naomi Fineberg, a consultant psychiatrist and lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, who was the lead author of the study, said: ‘These costs are probably a gross underestimation as we could not estimate the indirect costs for all of the conditions and there are some that we had no data for at all.’

Finally, the Daily Mail asks if cheap tea bags are making us ill – after a study showed supermarket value brands contained particularly high levels of fluoride. The paper says that taking in over 4 mg fluoride per day can cause pain, muscle problems and joint and tooth disease in the long-term. But the study revealed that Asda Smartprice, Morrisons Value, Sainsbury’s Basics and Tesco Value teabags contained on average of 6 mg per litre – around 75% to 120% of the recommended maximum daily intake.

Lead researcher Laura Chan said: ‘People may be drinking excessive volumes of tea in addition to other dietary sources of fluoride and may not realise these potential health implications.’

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