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Breast cancer, obesity and the Brazilian blowout

By Alisdair Stirling

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Friday 25 February.

The Daily Telegraph highlights research showing that taking the breast cancer drug Herceptin significantly reduces the chance of the disease returning.

The story comes from a report published in The Lancet Oncology by Italian researchers who discovered that women with early-stage breast cancer who took herceptin for a year after having chemotherapy were almost half as likely to suffer from a relapse over that timescale, than women who did not take it. It also reduced the chance of having a relapse over four years by almost a quarter.

The authors concluded that giving Herceptin after chemotherapy had ‘significant and persistent benefits’ for women with HER-2 positive breast cancer, which accounts for about one in five cases.

Rising hospital admissions for obese patients are reported in several papers. The Independent´s take on the story is that overweight patients are opting for surgery over lifestyle changes. New figures show hospital admissions for obesity rose 30 per cent last year to top 10,000 for the first time. Most of these were for stomach shrinking operations which soared by 70 per cent to 7,200 in 2008/9, the paper says.

The Daily Mail´s line is that the 10,571 patients were admitted to hospital because doctors feared they were so overweight that their health was in immediate danger. On top of the 7,214 who needed weight loss surgery, an additional 1,450 were put on anti-obesity medication, the Mail adds.

The Mail also warns us of the Brazilian blowout – a popular hair treatment in the US that tames curly hair for months on end and is now being used in Europe. The treatment can include the use of varying levels of formaldehyde – a probable carcinogen.

Canadian authorities have issued a warning about possible health hazards while the US Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether the ingredients cause health problems. Some stylists have complained the products make them cough and have reddened the eyes of clients, the paper notes.

Spotted a story we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll update the digest throughout the day…

Daily digest