Welcome back to this week’s edition of the news summary at The Medic Portal. This blog brings you the key health news stories that occurred from 18th to 26th March. This week, scientists have developed a method of producing an unlimited supply of red blood cells, figures show that the number of children under four being hospitalised for tooth extractions has risen and the contraceptive pill has been shown to protect women against some cancers.
A team at the University of Bristol and NHS Blood and Transplant have developed a method to produce an unlimited supply of red blood cells. Red blood cells have previously been made in the lab but the problem has been upscaling production to meet the demands of blood transfusions. The process of making red blood cells is far more expensive than conventional donation so it is likely that they method will be used for people with rare blood types. The method involves using a stem cell that is programmed to become immortal and manufactures red blood cells. Currently safety trials of lab-made blood are being planned for later this year.
Research published this week has shown that the contraceptive pill protects women against some cancers for over 35 years after they stop taking it. The research, which was published by the University of Aberdeen, found that the contraceptive pill had a protective effect against ovarian, endometrial and bowel cancer. However, there was a slight increase in the risk of developing breast and cervical cancer. The statistics indicate that for every three women who would have developed ovarian cancer, one has been protected by the pill.
Data obtained by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has shown that the number of children aged four and under being hospitalised for tooth extractions has risen by almost a quarter in the last ten years. There were 9,206 extractions in this age group from 2015 to 2016. Dental surgery at a young age can be both traumatic for children and their families. It is thought that 90 per cent of tooth decay is preventable through cutting down on sugar consumption, brushing with fluoride toothpaste and visiting a dentist regularly. Figures showed that 42% of children did not see a dentist in 2015/16 despite NHS dental treatment being free for under 18s.
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