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Lung cancer set to overtake breast cancer in European women by 2015, middle-class children are more obese and why two hearts do beat as one

A round-up of the health news headlines on Wednesday 13 February

Lung cancer is set to overtake breast cancer as the biggest cause of female cancer death in Europe, according to the latest research.

This is already the case in the UK and Poland and the rest of Europe is catching up because of the surge in the number of women who started smoking in the 1960s and 1970s, writes the BBC on its news site.

Researchers say the lung cancer death rate will continue on its upward trend for the next few years - but with fewer young European women now starting to smoke, it should decrease with time. In 2013, some 82,640 European women will die from lung cancer, while 88,886 will die from breast cancer, according to study leaders. By 2015 the balance will have shifted and lung cancer will take the lead.

They looked at cancer rates for the EU as a whole (27 member states as at 2007) and also in six individual countries - France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK - for all cancers, and, individually, for stomach, intestine, pancreas, lung, prostate, breast, uterus (including cervix) and leukaemias.

Figures show that although more and more people are developing cancer - because they are living longer - overall, fewer are dying from the disease. Despite the decline in total cancer deaths, lung cancer death rates continue to rise among women in all EU countries.

Meanwhile The Independent covers a study which showed the Department of Health was wrong to say obese children come from poorer homes. In fact, children from middle-class families are generally fatter than their poorer counterparts, according to new research.

The results undermine claims from the Health minister, Anna Soubry, that an “abundance of bad food” due to a culture of TV dinners meant children from less wealthy households were more likely to be obese.

A study of thousands of children in Leeds showed that those from areas with mid-level incomes were generally fatter than those from poorer – or richer – backgrounds.

And as we approach Valentine’s Day, The Daily Mail reports that while couples in love often share the same interests, finish each other sentences, and laugh at the same jokes, now a new study suggests even their hearts may beat to the same rhythm.

Scientists found that a couple’s breathing patterns and heart rates would match up after sitting close to each other. They didn’t even have to be holding hands or talking for this to happen.

However, a similar effect was not seen among strangers.

The team from the University of California, Davis, were studying the physical effects of being in a relationship. They discovered there was more to it than their hearts both skipping a beat at the sight of each other.

 Study leader Professor Emilio Ferrer, said: ‘We’ve seen a lot of research that one person in a relationship can experience what the other person is experiencing emotionally, but this study shows they also share experiences at a physiological level.’

The team conducted a series of exercises on 32 straight couples, who were connected to heart rate and respiration monitors. They were asked to sit a few feet away from each other in a quiet, calm room but not to speak or touch. At one point they were told to mirror the movements of one another.

The data revealed both partners showed similar patterns of heart rate and respiration, but women tended to adjust theirs to their partners more.

‘In other words, we found that women adjust in relationship to their partners,’ said Jonathan Helm, a UC Davis doctoral student.

‘Her heart rate is linked to her partner’s. I think it means women have a strong link to their partners - perhaps more empathy.

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