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News digest – bowel screening age, reducing childhood obesity, NHS delays, and biological ‘drones’

by Katie Roberts | Analysis

11 August 2018

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A sample being sent for testing.

Bowel screening age to be dropped to 50 in England

Bowel cancer screening will be offered 10 years earlier in England, Public Health England announced this week. This follows evidence that screening people at a younger age would save more lives. The change brings England in line with Scotland, where bowel screening is already offered from the age of 50. BBC News and the Telegraph have the details.

Working with new parents may reduce childhood obesity

Advising first-time parents on how to respond to their child’s needs could help to reduce obesity in children, results from a US study suggest. BBC News and the Telegraph covered the research, which coached parents on sleep routines, physical activity and comforting babies without using food. It was a small study in a well-off group of parents, so we can’t draw too many conclusions.

NHS cancer appointment delays in England

Record numbers of patients are waiting too long to see a cancer specialist in England, reports the Guardian. The new NHS figures show that over 130,000 people had to wait more than two weeks to see a specialist after being referred by their GP between June 2017 and June 2018.

KFC and Kellogg’s broke ad rules

Ads by KFC and Kellogg’s have broken current junk food ad rules, according to the Advertising Standards Authority. These rules are meant to prevent companies advertising high fat, sugar or salt products to children. BBC News and the Evening Standard have the details.

New NHS survey reveals GP pressures

One in four patients are waiting a least a week for a GP appointment, reports the Telegraph. The latest figures also revealed that 3 in 10 people find it difficult to get their GP practice on the phone. Despite the pressure on services, 84% of patients describe their experience with their GP practice as either fairly or very good.

Increase in UK life expectancy stalls

Life expectancy improvements in the UK have stalled in recent years, reports The Guardian and the Independent. The new figures show increases in life expectancy in the UK have slowed more than most other leading economies.

Study explores e-cig use in young people

One in 10 students had tried e-cigarettes in a new survey of 499 pupils aged 11-16 years old, and more than half of those who had experimented with e-cigarettes had never smoked. The Telegraph was quick to talk about a “gateway” effect, but the study didn’t look at who went on to become regular users of either e-cigarettes or traditional cigarettes, or if those who tried e-cigarettes would have tried smoking anyway.

Scottish bowel screening target not being met

A target for the number of people taking up bowel screening has been missed in Scotland. The new figures also showed that those living in the poorest areas were the least likely to take up bowel screening. The Scotsman and Glasgow Evening Times have the story.

And finally

Scientists have uncovered a new trick that cancer cells can use to avoid the body’s immune system: releasing biological ‘drones’. Sky News covered the early research, which found that melanoma skin cancer cells release tiny, fluid-filled sacks to tire out immune cells before they even get to the tumour. Scientists think they could use this information in the future to help predict who could benefit from immunotherapy treatments.