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Condoms, cancer and swine flu

By Laura Passi

Our roundup of health news headlines on Wednesday 22 December.

The Daily Telegraph reports on a review of the European Working Time Directive, which currently ‘decrees that no-one must work a week longer than 48 hours without a special opt-out.' It is claimed that the ‘controversial' law, stops junior doctors from ‘learning or building up experience as quickly'. One suggested change is that hours on call could be counted differently to hours on a ward.

There are a ‘record number' of patients with swine flu in intensive care, reports the Guardian today. A surge in the last five days has seen the number of intensive care cases rise to ‘70% above last year's peak', the Chief Medical Officer said.

The Sun tells the story of five-week old baby Harvey Flanagan who is ‘fighting for [his] life with swine flu.' He was originally diagnosed with indigestion and sent home from hospital and it was at the second hospital, when ‘he "turned blue" that the seriousness of his condition was picked up.'

The Daily Mail has gives us a new thing to be ashamed of: ‘Our cancer shame: Survival rates in UK are the worst among leading nations'. The ‘damning' study by researchers who include ‘cancer tsar Professor Sir Michael Richards' blame the 'shameful' figures on ‘Late diagnosis and differences in treatment compared with other countries.'

The figures are perhaps not as bad as the Daily Mail informs us. The study only compared survival rates from 1995- 2007 with five countries and the UK (not including Scotland). Plus we are on a par with Denmark, make of that what you will.

And finally, the clarity we have been holding our breaths for. The Pope explains that his ‘controversial comments about condoms and HIV' did not mean he condones condom usage as contraception . All he meant was if male prostitutes use condoms it could be the ‘first step in a more moral and responsible human sexuality.' But a condom between a husband and wife as contraception…? Absolutely not, no way!

A statement from the Vatican said: ‘The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI [that using a condom to avoid pregnancies was ok] is in no way justified either by his words or in his thoughts.'

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