Behind the headlines

"Embarrassment makes women avoid smear tests, charity says," reports BBC News. This follows a survey by the charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust of more than 2,000 women in the UK, half of whom either delayed or didn't attend screening. 

More than 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the UK, and nearly 900 die annually. All women aged 25 to 49 are invited for a screening test every 3 years, while those aged 50 to 64 are invited every 5 years. 

"Blood test could use DNA to spot eight of the most common cancers, study shows," The Guardian reports.

The test, called the CancerSEEK blood test, was developed to spot cases of cancer early on, by looking at markers in the blood such as proteins and fragments of DNA from tumours. 

Researchers carried out the test on a group of people who had already been diagnosed with cancer, as well as some who had no previous disease. They focused on 8 specific types of cancer which had not yet spread. 

"Testing all women for the 'Angelina Jolie gene', even if not considered at risk, would prevent cancers, save lives and is cost-effective, say doctors," BBC News reports.

The actress Angelina Jolie helped raise awareness of the genetic risks of both breast and ovarian cancer after tests showed she had "faulty" BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. 

Both mutations are known to significantly increase the risk of a woman developing breast or ovarian cancer (or, in some cases, both).

Exercise "can protect against a heart attack, stroke and cancer – even if you're obese," reports the Mail Online. Researchers in Denmark who studied almost 11,000 people found that those with better heart and lung function had lower levels of inflammatory markers in the blood. 

"Statins have been found to be safe for children as young as seven-years-old," the Mail Online reports. Researchers examined records of 300 children taking statins for a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolaemia and concluded that the cholesterol-lowering drugs were safe and did not affect children's growth.

"Energy drinks 'trigger nasty side effects like heart problems and seizures in half of kids'," is the potentially terrifying, but misleading, headline in The Sun. 

"Cycling does not negatively affect men's sexual health or urinary function, a study has found," BBC News reports. 

The headline comes from a large survey of nearly 4,000 physically active men consisting of cyclists, swimmers and runners. 

Some commentators have previously suggested that men who cycle frequently may be more likely to develop erectile dysfunction(impotence) and prostate problems (such as having a frequent need to urinate) because of the pressure sitting on a saddle places on the groin area. 

"Diet and exercise are 'better than drugs at controlling type 2 diabetes'," the Mail Online reports. The website comments on a new Scottish study aiming to see whether attending a lifestyle weight management programme improves weight and blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes and obesity. 


NHS Content Behind the Headlines is a news service provided by NHS Choices that provides an unbiased and evidence-based analysis of health stories that make the news.