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Men more likely to develop skin cancer, NICE funding changes, and the dangers of text messaging

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Thursday 27 March.

Men aged under 20 and over 64 are at greater risk of developing skin cancer than women because they are far more likely to ignore warnings to protect themselves against sunshine by wearing suncream or a hat, a new study shows.

The Guardian reports that males in these two age groups are the least likely to heed advice about the need to minimise the harmful effects of UV radiation from sunlight, according to French research published in the British Journal of Dermatology based on 2,215 French people detailing what steps they took to reduce their risk from the sun.

The same two groups of men also know the least about how to protect themselves and the risks they run from getting browned or burned skin.

It is already known that death rates from malignant melanoma are 70% higher in men than women. Although similar numbers of both sexes develop it – 6,200 men and 6,600 women a year – far more men (1,300) than women (900) die.

Death rates are rising among men, but stable among women. Deaths have risen by 185% among men and 55% among women over the last 40 years, mainly as a result of the increased popularity of tanned skin, beach holidays and tanning salons.

Meanwhile the Telegraph warns that the new NHS rationing plan could mean more dying patients are denied life-extending medicines.

It reports that thousands of terminally-ill cancer patients could be denied life-extending drugs under new plans from the NHS rationing body, according to charities.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will today announce proposals to change the way it decides which medicines the health service should fund.

The body was asked to change its funding formulas to ensure the NHS gets best value from the drugs it funds.

But last night charities said the new proposals amounted to a ‘devastating’ attack on cancer sufferers - which could mean more than 12,000 terminally-ill patients a year are denied drugs they currently receive.

Under its existing formula, Nice uses ‘end of life’ criteria to approve some drugs if they are the only hope of extending life, and might otherwise have been ruled out on cost grounds.

The criteria is among several considered before decisions are taken about which drugs to fund.

But the new proposed formula removes the ‘end-of-life’ criteria.

Instead NICE’s committees will try to assess the burden of illness on individuals, the wider impact on society and other objectives - such as whether a new drug is innovative -before taking decisions.

An earlier draft - which said drugs should be recommended if it brought benefits to wider society - has been rewritten amid concerns that pensioners could be denied drugs because they did not contribute economically.

The new proposals specify that the impact of society should only compare those of the same age.

And the Daily Mail reports on a new study that warns sending texts messaging may cause heart disease and breathing problems in later life.

The study, by the UK United Chiropractic Association (UCA), says that poor posture could pose as big a risk to a person’s health as obesity.

Chiropractic experts believe the hunching posture adopted by phone or tablet users can cause breathing problems, leading to cardiovascular issues later in life and a higher risk of death in older age.

The new research could also suggest a link between forward leaning postures that people use while texting, going online, sending emails and playing video games, and hyperkyphosis, which is associated with pulmonary disease and cardiovascular problems.

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