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Daily digest September 15 2015

Missed the news? Read our summary of the latest health stories here

Portion size key in tackling obesity, says study

Reducing the portion sizes offered in supermarkets, restaurants and at home would help reverse the obesity epidemic, say researchers.

The BBC News website reports how a review of 61 studies provides the ‘most conclusive evidence to date’ that portion size affects how much we unwittingly eat.

The team at the University of Cambridge also said smaller plates, glasses and cutlery helped people eat less.

Their data, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, shows that when people are offered more food they will eat it.

Read more on the BBC website 

English life expectancy catches up with the west but poorest lag behind

Life expectancy for the wealthiest in England has caught up with most comparable countries in the western world since 1990, but the health of people in the poorest regions is lagging behind, according to a major study.

According to the Guardian, in the first study of its kind experts at Public Health England found that 40% of ill-health is caused by our lifestyles and predominantly by our diets, with smoking, alcohol, obesity and high blood pressure cited as contributing factors.  

Although we are living longer, we are living less healthy lives with many people suffering years of disability before they die, but early deaths and much debilitating ill health could be prevented, say the researchers.  

Professor John Newton, the chief knowledge officer at PHE and one of the authors of the research, said: ‘England has done well over the past 23 years in many areas, but there is still plenty of room for bold action to reduce the significant toll of preventable conditions.’

Read more on the Guardian website

Mediterranean diet with extra olive oil cuts breast cancer risk by 68%

A Mediterranean diet high in olive oil cuts the risk of breast cancer for older women by more than two thirds, a five year study has shown.

Around 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Britain each year and nearly 12,000 will die from the disease.

But the Telegraph reports that a new study by the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, suggests that switching to a diet high in leafy greens, fruit, vegetables and olive oil could radically reduce the chance of developing cancer.

Read more on the Daily Telegraph website

DIY smear test could help millions who avoid cervical cancer screenings

The Daily Express claims many women dread a trip to the GP for a smear test, and this is backed up by figures from OnePoll which shows that eight out of 10 women find the routine test embarrassing, uncomfortable or even painful. 

New research also reveals that five million women are failing to attend cervical screenings altogether, and a further million have never had a smear test.

Now a DIY smear test kit called GynaeCheck could help those women who do not want to visit their GP.  The kit consists of a tampon-sized device which is used to collect a fluid sample from the cervix. This is then sent to a laboratory to be tested for the high-risk strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV), the virus known to be the cause of almost all cases of cervical cancer. 

The kit, which costs £129, is delivered through the post and returned  by post, with test results expected within 10 days. 

Read more on the Express website

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