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One in five with cancer 'lack support', horse meat could be bad for you (but probably isn't), and the Coalition may ban school packed lunch

A round-up of the health new headlines on Monday 11 February

Almost one in five people in Wales diagnosed with cancer each year say they lack support from family and friends. A report from Macmillan Cancer Support reveals that more than half of health professionals say they have patients who refuse treatment because of this, report the BBC.

Macmillan’s report, Facing the Fight Alone, looked at the number, profile and experiences of isolated people living with cancer. It estimated that 3,420 people - 19% - of the 18,000 newly diagnosed cancer patients each year said they lacked support from family and friends. More than half of health professionals - 53% - have had patients choose not to have treatment because they felt they did not have the support.

Susan Morris, general manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said: ‘This research shows that isolation can have a truly shattering impact on people living with cancer.’

Elsewhere, the horse meat scandal hogged the headlines as it entered the health sections of newspapers over the weekend - as a Government minister admitted that tests could reveal it was harmful to eat.

The Food Standards Agency is conducting tests to discover whether the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, known as bute, is in some of the horsemeat. Meat with the drug is not allowed to enter the human food chain, reports The Guardian.

On BBC 1’s Sunday Politics, Paterson warned of bad news this week when the tests are completed. ‘We do not know how far this incompetence or worse, criminal conspiracy, extends,’ he said.

If a health threat is detected, he may ban the import of processed meat: ‘If we find there’s a product which could potentially be injurious to public health, then emphatically I would take necessary action.’

However, according the the BBC’s report, Mr Paterson also said that ‘nothing seen so far presented a health risk’.

Continuing on the theme of a healthy diet, The Telegraph writes that the coalition’s advisors on school food said head teachers should prevent pupils bringing their own lunches into school - and ban them from visiting fast food outlets - amid continuing fears over the state of children’s diets.

The advisors said the move would effectively force parents to pay for school dinners - allowing staff to spend more money upgrading kitchens and generating healthy canteen food. Ministers have already agreed to introduce compulsory cookery classes for seven- to 14-year-olds under a newly revamped National Curriculum. From 2014, children will receive new lessons in nutrition and cooking techniques, eventually building up a repertoire of 20 dishes by the time they leave secondary school.

Readers' comments (2)

  • I love the idea of compulsory school meals and banishing school lunches. However, a quick poll of a handful of local parents reveals that the school kitchens will have to make sure they can provide food totally free of eggs, peanuts, dairy, wheat and gluten, as well as high in fat and calories for a child with cystic fibrosis and probably quite the opposite for overweight chidren, plus there are cultural and religious restrictions......sounds like horsemeat might be OK though....

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  • Not only will there be complications when school canteens have to deal with the multitude of allergies, sensitivities and "out of normal range" dietary requirements, but I have to say that in my experience, school canteen food is generally not particularly good value (and the quality can be questionable) compared to packed lunch. There will be a lot of families who are in that "mid-range" of income, who earn too much to get help but too little for a comfortable life, for who this will just be another cost pressure.

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