Welcome back to this week’s edition of the news summary blog. This blog outlines the highlights in health news over the Christmas period, from the 21st December to the 3rd of January. News stories include: Waitrose plan to ban the sale of high-caffeine energy drinks to those under the age of 16, long ambulance wait times double in the space of a week as the NHS winter crisis hits and early research published has shown a link between processed meat consumption and breast cancer.
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From 5th March Waitrose will ban the sale of high-energy drinks to children aged under 16. Customers who are buying drinks that contain over 150mg of caffeine per litre would be asked to prove their age. The new regulations by the supermarket are due to concerns for the amount of high sugar and high caffeine drinks children are consuming. The industry labels soft drinks with more than 150mg of caffeine per litre as being “not suitable for children”, however, there is no legal requirement currently for supermarkets to check a purchaser’s age. Children in the UK are amongst the highest consumers of energy drinks in Europe and experts believe that there is a considerable lack of awareness about the effects of these drinks amongst consumers.
Official figures published this week has shown that the number of patients enduring long waits in ambulances has doubled in a week. The data was released by NHS England and indicates that almost 17,000 patients were forced to wait in ambulances outside hospitals or with paramedic in corridors of A&E departments. The figures have increased by 42% in comparison to the week before. The delays are thought to be caused by the winter crisis (more patients become unwell over the winter period with respiratory infections and flu). NHS trusts currently have an above safe level of bed occupancy, despite efforts to empty beds prior to Christmas.
A study published by the University of Glasgow has shown that processed meat such as bacon and sausages may increase the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Whilst the link between processed meat and cancers of the digestive system has been highlighted before, the link to breast cancer has remained conflicting. The study included over 260,000 women living in the UK and those who were postmenopausal and who ate processed meat had a 9% higher chance of getting breast cancer than women who did not eat processed meat. Further research needs to be conducted to confirm the link, but the World Health Organisation recommend that the amount of processed meat consumed is limited.