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Breast cancer screening ‘fails to cut deaths’, Jeremy Hunt says variation in early death rates is ‘shocking’ and why the Daily Mail recommends a plate of chips

Breast cancer screening has failed to significantly cut deaths, according to a landmark study which contradicts a review commissioned by the DH.

Oxford University researchers found that although the number of women who die from breast cancer is steadily decreasing, there is ‘no evidence’ to suggest this is because of screening programmes introduced in 1988.

Published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, a study of death rates found that the largest drop in mortality has been in women under the age of 40, who are not routinely screened for cancer.

Researchers concluded that while screening can benefit individual women, it is making little difference at a national level and other factors such as better treatment are more likely to be behind improving survival.

This contradicts a DH review, which last year found that death rates were 20% lower among women invited to screening.

The Telegraph reports on new NICE guidance advises that women who request a caesarean section should have a ‘documented discussion’ with their maternity team about the risks and benefits of the operation.

There has been a dramatic rise in the number of caesareans in the past 30 years, with the rate more than doubled since 1980, and some research has suggested that the rise has been driven partly by requests of affluent mothers who are named ‘too posh to push’.

Experts say the guidance will help some women who might choose a natural birth if they were given more information.

The BBC reports that health secretary Jeremy Hunt called the local variation in early death rates ‘shocking’ and called for action to improve health.

Public Health England published its Longer Lives league table, which ranks local authorities by the number of people under the age of 75 who dies over a two year period.

It uses a colour system to rate areas on premature deaths, from red for the worst to green for the best. It shows people in north-west England are at the greatest risk of dying early.

Mr Hunt said the data could be used to tackle smoking, drinking and obesity. The DH added that the league table could ‘provide local areas with information to help them understand their own position’ and target specific health challenges’.

The Daily Mail is championing chips as a healthy meal, after research found people should consume up to four tablespoons of vegetable oil a day in order to protect their heart.

Research by food scientists from the University of Missouri said the omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid (LA) in vegetable oil reduces blood cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of heart disease.


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