News roundup for June 2003

Woman insures her face for £100,000

BBC Report

I think we all saw this story, and we all reeled in incredulity: a woman who is worried her husband might leave her if she loses her looks has insured her face for £100,000. Nicole Jones, 26, took out the £200 a year policy for her husband’s birthday. It will pay out if a panel of 10 builders declare her unattractive. Final words go to Nicole herself: “When I met him I knew he was the sort of person who likes good looking ladies, but I’ve had a baby now and my figure isn’t what it was before. He hated it when I was pregnant and my figure was changing and it was out of our control.” Good grief.

Breast cancer ‘at record levels’

BBC Report

More women are being diagnosed with breast cancer than ever before. Cancer Research UK has revealed that more than 40,000 women are told they have the disease each year – but, on a more positive note, more women are surviving the disease. Robert Souhami, director of Cancer Research UK said that while the increase in the numbers diagnosed is a concern, research is beginning to uncover the factors affecting risk, a major step towards prevention of the disease.

Straight-talking Lil-lets ad offends viewers

Media Guardian Report

“Distasteful”, “inappropriate” and “disgusting” were just three of the words used to describe the latest Lil-lets ad which goes out of its way to avoid the usual euphemisms. The independent television commission reported 64 complaints for the ad – mostly from men, unsurprisingly, who thought it was tasteless. The advert is filmed in the style of a 1970s children’s TV programme. The presenter, Sandy, demonstrates the benefits of Lil-lets new range to her middle-aged co-host, Mervin, who takes to the subject with unusual eagerness.

Women who give birth ‘naturally’ now in the minority

Independent Report

A new milestone in medicine has been reached with the news that normal childbirth is now a minority activity. Figures from the Department of Health show that only 45% of new mothers had a spontaneous delivery in 2001-2, with the rest undergoing some kind of medical intervention such as induction, anaesthesia or the use of forceps or a Caesarean section. Intervention in childbirth is causing increasing concern among patient groups, medical organisations and politicians, especially the sharp increase in the Caesarean rate. Peter Bowen of the Royal College of Obstetricians said: “We feel female pressure for Caesareans is becoming more and more intense. Women are asking for it. They don’t want a tear or the other side effects of a normal delivery and they are opting for a Caesarean. Professional women are keen on saying they want to come in on a particular date to have their baby…But the truth is there is unquestionably higher morbidity with Caesareans.” More than one in five women now have a Caesarean and the rate is rising despite efforts to curb it.

Employers legally required to make space for breastfeeding

Guardian Report

Employers who do not provide facilities for breastfeeding mothers could lay themselves open for claims of sexually discrimination, according to the equal opportunities commission. Its chairwoman, Julie Mellor, cited a recent ruling that the RAF had discriminated against a flight lieutenant, Helen Williams was who told she would have to take “unpaid occupational maternity absence” if she wanted to continue to breastfeed her baby after returning to work. Given a recent government recommendation that babies should be breastfed for six months, Mellor said the ruling was even more important. “Many women face problems at work because of a lack of flexibility from their employers,” she added.

Warning over sexual health crisis

BBC Report

The NHS can no longer cope with the numbers of people with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and urgent government action is needed to tackle the ‘public health crisis’, according to a Commons health committee report. The numbers of people being diagnosed with STIs is continuing to rise. One in ten young people are infected with chlamydia, which can leave women infertile, while syphilis and gonorrhea cases have risen sharply. The report found that many sexual health clinics are ill-equipped to cope and have out-of-date equipment, and blamed a lack of political direction and underfunding on the crisis. Shadow Health Secretary Dr Liam Fox accused ministers of being irresponsible, saying: “The crisis in sexual health is a ticking time bomb. The government’s woeful failure to take any meaningful action puts patients at risk and is hugely irresponsible.”

More news this month in brief…

  • New survey reveals that women in their thirties are happier, richer and having better sex than they ever dreamed of in their twenties
  • Nicole Kidman says a new love affair could be the catalyst for a break from films
  • Two IVF stories this month: the rules on when embryos can be destroyed are to be tightened, and a court has ruled out a ‘designer baby free-for-all’ as it allows a mother to try for a baby who could save her son
  • New drug regime boosts breast cancer survival rate
  • New ‘domestic violence register’ could be set up to warn women if their new partners have a history of abusive relationships