News roundup for May 2003

Breast scan pain ‘only mild’ / Early screening saves lives / New 3D breast scans

BBC Report 1
BBC Report 2
BBC Report 3

Three breast scan stories in the news this month. In the first, US researchers found that the pain of a mammogram is comparable to that caused by a mild headache or tight shoes. The survey of 200 women found that even women who said they were sensitive to pain did not report higher pain levels than others. In the second, a study by Cancer Research UK showed that screening women in their 40s would prevent a significant number of women from succumbing to breast cancer. At present only women between 50 and 64 are invited to have a breast scan. Finally, a new hi-tech system that can produce 3D images of the breast may help doctors spot early signs of cancer and also reduce the number of women called back for a second scan if their first mammogram is unclear.

Cab drivers promote domestic violence helpline

BBC Report

Hundreds of London cabbies are to be recruited into the government’s campaign against domestic violence. Cabs will carry helpline numbers on their seats and on special receipts. Cab drivers will also be given an ‘awareness’ talk and a checklist of ‘dos and don’ts’ if they believe a passenger has been abused. Barbara Roche, minister for social exclusion, said: “We’re not asking them to become counsellors but by using special taxi receipts or driving them to the nearest hospital or police station, they could be helping someone into a safer future.”

Women turned off by laddish beer ads

Media Guardian Report

The downturn in beer sales that could lead to wine becoming the nation’s tipple of choice has blamed on macho advertising. Beer company Interbrew believes women dislike images of beer-swilling lads such as those in the ‘He who thinks Australian, drinks Australian’ Fosters campaign. It has urged the beer industry to adopt a “genderless” style of advertising to appeal to what it calls “beer’s lost drinkers”.

Daily Mail “ditched raped woman’s story”

Media Guardian Report

The Daily Mail decided not to run a serialisation of the anguished tale of a raped woman after learning she was black, it was claimed at the Guardian’s Media Society debate. Mary Ann Sieghart of the Times said the news had been leaked to her by a journalist friend at the Mail. After being asked by her (unnamed) editor to find a woman who would speak openly about her ordeal, she interviewed “an intelligent, articulate 39-year-old who had taken a short cut home and been raped by a stranger”. The editor was happy to run the story as a five-day piece until he discovered the victim was black – whereupon his response was that she must have made it up. Sieghart said: “The piece was shown to another executive whose response was that the victim, 39 and unmarried, must have been desperate for sex anyway and must have fantasised about being raped”. The story was never published.

£1.5m fund to support women in science

Guardian Report
The F-Word: Young Women in Science by Rachael Hawkins

Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt launched a £1.5m package to keep women in science, engineering and technology. At present, only one graduate in six in these fields is female and it is estimated that at any one time there are 50,000 women with science-based degrees who are not employed in these areas. “Britain has a world-class science base, but we will only keep it this way if we use all our potential talent and not just half the pool,” Hewitt said.

Pregnant workers inquiry ordered

BBC Report

Patricia Hewitt again – this time she’s ordered a national inquiry into the extent of discrimination against working mothers. It comes after a new mother was sent her P45 along with a congratulations card from her employer. Carol Bonehill of Birmingham went on to win £9000 compensation for sexual discrimination and unfair dismissal. Hewitt said she found it “depressing that something as natural as childbirth is still seen as an alien and unwelcome concept by some employers.”

Contraceptives ‘not used properly’

BBC Report
Family Planning Association

A French study has revealed that two-thirds of unplanned pregnancies occur when couples are using contraception, such as the Pill or condoms, but do so incorrectly. For instance, 60% of those on the Pill fell pregnant after forgetting to take it and one in three of those using an IUD said it had been in the wrong position or had fallen out. One researcher said the study showed there is “often a mismatch between a women’s contraceptive needs and the methods they use.” The fpa (formerly the Family Planning Association) said the lessons learned were equally applicable in the UK, and urged doctors to take into account factors such as lifestyle, age and type of relationship when giving contraceptive advice.

Children ‘do not suffer if mothers go out to work’

Independent Report

Children cared for by childminders are just as likely to be happy, stable and stimulated as those looked after by their own mothers, new research has found. The Bristol University project found that far from leading to emotionally stunted and difficult children, childcare could actually have a positive effect. Stephen Burke of the Daycare Trust called for affordable daycare and proper parental leave to enable people to choose whether to return to work or stay at home without having to worry about any negative impact on their child.

More news this month in brief…

  • Folic acid cuts Down’s risk
  • Pre-nuptial agreements gain validity as wife loses £1.6m claim
  • BBC puts brains before beauty, says US correspondent
  • Menopause triggers sweet tooth
  • New non-surgical one-hour breast enhancement treatment launched
  • Fertility treatment hospital asks for women to donate their eggs in exchange for free IVF treatment
  • Cyberspace sperm clinic for lesbians and single women becomes first fertility organisation to accept gay donors
  • Posh Spice was ‘very close’ to anorexia
  • New study shows more women remaining childless out of fear of losing their identity
  • Premature birth linked to poor maternal nutrition
  • Yachtswoman Emma Richards becomes first woman and youngest person to finish 29,000 mile Around Alone solo race
  • ‘Singletons’ more likely to be pensioners than Sex and The City girls
  • Low dose pill ‘is good for the voice’
  • Babies should be fed solely on breast milk for first six months, government recommends
  • Pride and Prejudice tops survey of greatest books by women writers, ahead of contemporary bestsellers like White Teeth and Bridget Jones’ Diary
  • Scheme to increase the number of women feature film directors launched
  • More than half of new mothers in Wales will be unmarried this year
  • Baroness Amos becomes first black cabinet minister following Clare Short’s resignation as International Development Secretary