UK GP numbers fall

The number of GPs in the UK has fallen for the first time in 50 years. An analysis by the Nuffield Trust revealed a sustained fall in the number of GPs for the first time since the 1960s, relative to the population. This underlines the growing crisis within the NHS and highlights the relentless burden on GPs. With preventable diseases now accounting for around 70% of the burden on healthcare systems, now, more than ever, radical change is needed in how we as a society undertake to manage our health. That’s why our ‘Blueprint for health system sustainability’ has been developed, proposing a system focused on upstream disease prevention rather than one of downstream disease management creating health in sustainable ways.

The statin lottery

Statins continue to be touted as a cure-all for cardiovascular disease. New research by scientists at the University of Nottingham (UK) has revealed over half the patients taking statins did not achieve the expected reduction in LDL cholesterol levels (<40% reduction in baseline LDL-C within 24 months). The new study is good news for Big Pharma, leaving the door wide open for aggressive prescribing of newer, more expensive drugs such as PCSK9 inhibitors. In other statin news, statin use has been linked to an 18% increased risk of developing the painful condition shingles. Before you enter the statin lottery, participate in your healthcare decisions by collaborating with your GP so you can make an informed decision about taking a potentially lifelong medication. Especially important when that medication could do more harm than good versus non-drug alternatives involving dietary and lifestyle changes.

Breast cancer, obesity & mammograms

Breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women coming in third in terms of incidence worldwide. Obese women are at much higher risk of developing breast cancer. A new study explains how obesity speeds up the development of triple-negative breast cancer by causing immune cells to promote rather than fight breast cancer.

New guidelines have been issued by the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS) stating women aged under 25 should be formally assessed for breast cancer risk. With a recommendation that women with a higher than average risk should undergo yearly mammograms. In related news the US Congress has passed legislation requiring breast density information to be included with mammogram reports due to concern increased density may mask some cancers and be a risk factor for development of breast cancer. On the flip side such information may unintentionally increase women’s confusion and anxiety where no clear recommendations are made for women found to have dense breasts. Added to this is evidence suggesting mammography may increase the risks of over-diagnosis and over-treatment. Our recent article looks at the science and alternative options for checking breasts, open to all women regardless of age.

Monsanto on the rocks?

A US court has awarded $2bn in damages to a California couple alleging Roundup caused their cancer in yet another blow for Monsanto and its new parent, Bayer. As a result, Bayer stock has again tumbled, putting the future of the chemical giant in jeopardy. As Monsanto hits the ropes, more fuel has been heaped on the fire after court documents reportedly show strategic intelligence and advisory firm Hakluyt, told Monsanto that a domestic policy adviser at the White House said, “We have Monsanto’s back on pesticides regulation. We are prepared to go toe-to-toe on any disputes they may have with, for example, the EU. Monsanto need not fear any additional regulation from this administration.” Further exposing the levels of corruption and manipulation exerted by the company. GM Watch has exposed just how far Monsanto’s tentacles reach. In a recent investigation it revealed undisclosed links to the GM industry of two external advisors to a report from the Danish Council on Ethics recommending EU GMO legislation be changed. As pressure on Big Ag mounts the Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN) has won a two-year battle to have secret papers released showing the extent to which EU officials tried to corrupt the system for European pesticide assessments. Knowing the harm being wrought on the environment and human health it would seem that not a moment too soon, time is being called on Big Ag and its activities.