This site is intended for health professionals only

Major surgery for health bill; coffee and conception and a pill for all ills

By Alisdair Stirling

Our round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 26 May.

The Guardian is among the papers flagging up the BMA's criticism of the health bill in its response to the Government's NHS listening exercise. The paper reports the BMA as claiming the bill poses such 'an enormous risk' to the NHS that it should be withdrawn entirely or be significantly gutted.

The Guardian also speculates about deputy prime minster Nick Clegg's speech today on the health service reforms, predicting substantial revisions Mr Clegg expects to ensure that Lib Dem MPs feel able to support it when it returns to Parliament.

Away from politics, the Independent reports that caffeine and conception don't mix. Studies in (presumably coffee-drinking) mice suggest caffeine reduces muscle activity in the Fallopian tubes that carry eggs from ovaries to the womb. The research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology could explain why women with high caffeine consumption often take longer to conceive.

'If you are a woman hoping to get pregnant, beware of that morning espresso or lunchtime latte – and maybe hold the Red Bull, too,' Independent says.

Several papers carry a story about a 'polypill' that could halve the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The Daily Mail says the once-a-day Red Heart pill could also reduce deaths from bowel cancer and kidney failure. The £4 a month, four-in-one drug combines low-dose aspirin, a statin called simvastatin to reduce cholesterol and two blood pressure-lowering medicines, lisinopril and hydrochlorothiazide.

In a new study, researchers examined data from 378 people with a raised risk of cardiovascular disease. Half were given the polypill and half placebo. About a third of the participants were British, a third Dutch and a third Indian. Systolic blood pressure was reduced from a pre-trial average of 134 mmHg to 124 while LDL-cholesterol came down from 3.7 mmol/L to 2.9, results showed.

Spotted a story we've missed? Let us know, and we'll update the digest throughout the day...

Daily digest