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Public ‘blood in pee’ campaign begins, air pollution pregnancy threat and urgent call for Hep C testing

A round-up of the health news headlines on Tuesday 15 October

GPs will already be bracing themselves for this one – people who notice blood in their urine should go and see their GP straight away in case they have kidney cancer, the BBC reports this morning, as another ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign is launched. The new Public Health England campaign – which urges patients to make an appointment with the GP if they notice blood in their urine even just once – comes as the public health body highlights that deaths from kidney cancer have risen by 7% in the past 10 years in England, an increase blamed on unhealthy lifestyles.

Professor Kevin Fenton, PHE director of health and wellbeing, said: ‘Our message is clear - as soon as you spot blood in your pee, visit the GP.’

‘It’s probably nothing serious, but it could also be a sign of something else that needs treatment, so don’t ignore the symptoms or put off a trip to the doctor.’

Air pollution has been linked to another major poor health outcome in new research. According to the Independent, a study has found women exposed to even low levels of common air pollutants are at increased risk of having small babies, weighing under 2.5 kg and with lower than average head circumference.

For every 5 micrograms per cubic meter increase in exposure to very small carbon particles – known as PM2.5s – the risk of low birthweight goes up by 18%.

Lead author Dr Marie Pedersen, from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Spain, said: ‘Our findings suggest that a substantial proportion of cases of low birth weight at term could be prevented if urban air pollution, particularly fine particulate matter, was reduced.’

And the Guardian reports this morning that the Hepatitis C Trust has accused the government of ‘dragging its heels’ in tackling disease caused by the virus.

The trust says deaths and hospital admissions from liver disease caused by hepatitis C have quadrupled in 15 years, but of 160,000 people living with the infection, half are not aware they are infected and only 3% are receiving treatment.

The charity is urging the Government to get a move on with plans to address the problem. Chief executive Charles Gore said: ‘Many people with hepatitis C face a postcode lottery of care due to the lack of a national liver strategy. Four years after it was promised, the Government is yet to confirm a publication date.’

He added: ‘Instead of letting this virus continue to take the lives of the poorest fastest, we could effectively eradicate it in England within a generation. However, to do this we must diagnose and offer care to everyone, regardless of their geographical location or background.’

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