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'Shocking' news on bedsores, the breast cancer ‘timebomb’ and smoking in cars ‘pollution’ warning

A round-up of the health news headlines on Tuesday 16 October

An ageing population and advances in detection and treatment will leave the NHS dealing with a dramatically increased number of women living with breast cancer over the next few decades, several papers warn today.

The Daily Mail is among those reporting figures from Macmillan Cancer Support that by 2040, 1.7m women will be coping with the illness – three times today’s figures.

Campaigners say they are worried the NHS will not have the resources to deal with the soaring numbers of women living with the long-term effects of the disease and its treatment.

Mike Hobday, of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: ‘The NHS is not going to be able to cope unless it learns new ways to provide treatment and support for women with breast cancer. The really big concern is around older people with cancer.’

Charities are also warning that elderly people are missing out on checks for osteoporosis because of a widespread myth that it is normal for them to break bones during a fall.

The Daily Telegraph reports today that the National Osteoporosis Society and Age UK have produced a ‘falls and fractures declaration’ they want NHS trusts and councils to adopt to promote the message that many falls can be prevented.

They have also called for an end to the postcode lottery on screening for osteoporosis.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK said one in three people over 65 fall every year. ‘But falls are not an inevitable part of ageing - many falls can be prevented and there is much that can be done to help people who have fallen not to fall again.’

The row over whether smoking in cars should be banned has hit the headlines again after researchers found that even with the windows open it creates pollution that exceeds official safe limits.

BBC News online says a Scottish team took measurements during 85 car journeys using a device strapped into the back car seat. Children, the researchers said, are more vulnerable to the effects because they have faster breathing rates and an immature immune system.

Writing in Tobacco Control, the researchers said: ‘We believe that there is a clear need for legislation to prohibit smoking in cars where children are present.’

And ‘shocking’ news from the BBC: Bedsores have been estimated to cost the NHS up to £2bn a year, however, ‘shocking’ new research has shown that underwear designed to jolt the buttocks with electricity, may be the secret to preventing them.

During a short trial comprising 37 patients left immobile by spine cord injuries, Canadian researchers delivered electric shocks for 10 seconds, every 10 minutes for 12 hours a day. It was found that over the month long study, none of the patients developed bedsores. The mild current in the underwear was found to mimic fidgeting leaving the patients sitting in a slightly different position.

Dr Peter Carter, the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘The expertise is out there, and good practice in many areas shows that money can be saved, not to mention the distress which can be prevented.’ 

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