Doctor suspended after getting patient pregnant

A doctor who got one of his patients pregnant and then helped to arrange an abortion has been suspended from medical practice.
Doctor suspended after getting patient pregnantStephen Carr-Bains, 56, had sexual relationships with two vulnerable patients while working at a surgery at the University of Surrey.

When one of the women fell pregnant he arranged for a termination but failed to record the details in her medical records.

Dr Carr-Bains was suspended from medical practice for a year following a two week hearing at the General Medical Council (GMC).

But he was told he would have been struck off the medical register had it not been for 49 pages of testimonials from fellow doctors, patients and friends.

The GMC heard that Dr Carr-Bains began a sexual relationship with a woman identified as Patient A in December 1995 after she visited him at the Guildowns Group Practice in Guildford, Surrey, suffering from mental health problems.

When she fell pregnant in 1999, he arranged for her to have an immediate termination, but failed to make any record of the abortion.

The GMC hearing, which took place in Manchester, was also told that he failed to put a letter from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service in her medical file and did not refer her for post-termination counselling.

In June 2003 he began a relationship with another woman, known as Patient B, who told the GMC panel, they often slept together in her university accommodation.

Both women had been suffering from mental health problems.

Andrew Kennedy, representing Dr Carr-Bains said his relationship with Patient A was one of “deep love and friendship over a long period of time”.

He added that Dr Carr-Bains had otherwise had a “blameless career spanning 32-years with no clinical concerns and utter devotion to patients and the wider profession”.

But the GMC was told Dr Carr-Bains had “abused his position of trust” to “exploit vulnerable patients”.

The panel chaired by Dr Roger Ferguson, ruled in its findings that Dr Carr-Bains’ behaviour had been “wholly unacceptable” and that he had shown a “flagrant disregard” for the doctor patient relationship.

The report read: “You exercised poor judgement in engaging in a sexual relationship with two patients registered at your practice. To this end, the Panel concluded that you have failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries and differentiate between the importance of your role as a GP and personal relationships.”

The report added: “Your actions have shown a flagrant disregard for the importance of the doctor-patient relationship.”

But Dr Carr-Bains avoided being struck off the medical register after a large number of testimonials were submitted describing him as a “highly competent, conscientious, hard working and respected doctor”, who was “caring” and “kind”.

The GMC panel stated that his case would be reviewed shortly before the period of suspension expired.

Dr Carr-Bains became Student Medical Officer at the University of Surrey in 1999 before resigning from his post at the Guildowns Group Practice in 2006.

A spokesman for the university said the college was “dismayed” at the “breach of trust”.

The spokesman said: “Dr Stephen Carr-Bains was employed by the GP practice that supplied services to the university and our students.

“We are dismayed by Mr Carr-Bains clear breach of trust and welcome the GMC’s ruling on the case which reflects our own determination to protect and treat student patients with respect at all times, affording their safety the highest level of priority.”


Drugs specials cost NHS an extra £160m

More than £70m a year could be saved from the drugs budget in England, if the government closed a legal loophole.Drugs specials cost NHS an extra £160mOfficial figures show middlemen – or wholesalers – are inflating the price of a group of drugs called “unlicensed specials” – sometimes by thousands of percent.

These are often simple drugs, sold as a liquid instead of a pill to make them easy to swallow.

Across England the cost of specials to the NHS has risen from £57m to £160.5m in just four years.

A saving of nearly £72m could be made if all specials were limited to £75 an item, according to internal NHS sources.

The problem has also been recognised in Scotland and Wales, but the relevant NHS departments were unable to provide figures.

Using Freedom of Information legislation, the BBC has obtained data that shows that the NHS in Coventry has paid anything from £50 to £1,556 for the same medicine, a blood pressure drug called Captopril Liquid Special 25mg/5mls.

That is just one example in one city.

Stephen Jones, chief executive of Coventry Primary Care Trust, said: “It concerns me because of the level of variation. I don’t understand it. I am not sure that when we dig down into it it is fully justifiable.”

The price inflation is possible when chemists do not buy directly from a specials manufacturer, but via a wholesaler. The wholesaler adds his costs to the price.

However high the rise in costs, when the chemist submits the prescription, the NHS has to pay because there is no price tariff for unlicensed specials.

Brian Hebron, head of pharmacy at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, said: “When we have received these large mark ups, we have asked the NHS Counter Fraud Office to look at it, but they have told us that it is within the law.”

Although chemists cannot benefit directly from the price on the prescription, they can receive a “special discount” or cash back at a later date.

Pam Kaur, who runs Vantage Chemist in Coventry, shops around for specials and records some of the lowest prices.

She said she has been offered up to 40% discount or money back by wholesalers who are trying to attract business in the past.

“I think that pharmacy is based around ethics. For me in my pharmacy, it is important to get good value for money for the NHS.”

She buys directly from manufacturers. One such manufacturer, Nova Laboratories in Leicester, said the average price for its specials is about £40, but it varies from a few pounds to about £100 for the vast majority of products.

For the period October 2008 to November 2009, the pharmacy with the highest average cost for specials in Coventry was A & M Pharmacies run by Ashwin Hindocha.

His charges for specials were on average 475% higher than Pam Kaur’s.

As well as the £1,556 charge for Captopril, he has submitted a prescription charge of £997 for Omeprazole which can cost as little as £50.

When questioned regarding these charges, Mr Hindocha said that he was disgusted, but that he only found out recently about the high prices.

He said that he runs a busy chemist, but has since taken steps to reduce the costs.

When asked further about being on the Local Pharmaceutical Committee when the problem with specials was discussed at a meeting he attended in 2007, his solicitor, Noel Wardle, stated that Mr Hindocha had acted in accordance with the drug tariff.

He said: “To a large extent the price claimed is set by specials manufacturers and suppliers.

“It would be impossible for pharmacists to shop around for the lowest price and other factors may be more important such as speed of service, quality, reliability.”

One of Mr Hindocha’s suppliers is Camrx, whose managing director is Rajni Hindocha, Mr Hindocha’s brother.

The company was also used by two more of the chemists that submitted the highest prices in Coventry.

In 2008 Camrx offered chemists a 51% discount through a manufacturer, Quantum Specials.

Quantum Specials has denied having anything to do with the discount.

In fact, Quantum Specials wrote to Camrx in November last year, saying customers and NHS primary trusts had made it aware of the high prices Camrx was charging which did not reflect the prices that Camrx was paying Quantum Specials for the medicines.

Quantum Specials said that it did not want to be associated with this practice and that if Camrx did not agree to stop within seven days, then it would stop supplying drugs to Camrx.

However, Camrx said Quantum Specials was aware of, and approved, the deal.

Through a statement from his solicitor, Rajni Hindocha denied any wrongdoing.

It said: “Mr Hindocha has been unable to locate any invoices for Omeprazole or Captopril for the amounts stated.

“The system is complex. Neither Campdale Pharmaceuticals nor Camrx colluded with any pharmacist to inflate the cost of specials medicinal products which were supplied.”

In the absence of government rules, the NHS is trying to tackle the high prices in other ways.

Hospitals have the right to substitute cheaper drugs which do the same job, so by using a dissolvable tablet instead of a liquid, they can save hundreds of pounds on each item.

Mr Hebron, of the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, said: “I think it is outrageous because if I can find ways around having to spend that kind of money on products, then there ought to be a system that prevents the taxpayer having to fund that sort of mark up.”

Claire Parker, assistant director of pharmaceuticals at Sandwell Primary Care Trust, has seen her specials drugs bill go up from £40,000 a month to £100,000 a month in a year.

She believes that the answer is for the Department of Health to set a limit on the price of specials as it has done for other drugs.

She said: “There’s nothing that we can specifically do in primary care and I believe that they are looking at setting a national tariff, but we need it done quickly so that we can control prices.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We recognise the system needs to be reformed.

“The department is working with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) on proposals for new payment arrangements for these products.”


NICE- killer quango wants taxpayers to bribe obese and smokers

NICE the killer quango wants to waste taxpayers money by suggesting that the NHS should bribe fat people to lose weight and smokers to quit, and give children toys for eating their fruit and vegetables.NICE- killer quango wants taxpayers to bribe obese and smokersThe Killer Quango- the National Institute for Curbing Expenditure (NICE) was set up in early 1999 by the labour Secretary of State for Health Frank Dobson and has since condemned hundreds of cancer sufferers to early deaths and blighted thousands to painful existences by restricting payments- creating postcode lotteries for health care.

Now during the credit crunch nice want to waste millions of taxpayers pounds bribing people when earlier pilot studies showed that there were high drop out rates and up to 80% failed to reach their targets.

The advice, which will be published by the National Institute for Curbing Expenditure, has been greeted with anger by critics who claimed such “bribes” were draining the public purse of money which could be better spent elsewhere.

The study examined a series of schemes, including one in Kent which pays dieters up to £425 for losing weight and another in Scotland which gives pregnant women shopping vouchers worth up to £650 for quitting the habit.

It also looked at programmes in Oxford, Manchester, London and Bangor in Wales, where schools have been given toys such as juggling balls, stickers and pencils to children who have eaten their fruit and vegetables.

Fiona McEvoy, from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said state funds should not be used to pay people to change their lifestyles,

She said: “Bribing people to lose weight or quit smoking is nothing but a quick fix which patronises the individuals in question and drains much-needed money away from the public purse. At a time when cancer drugs are being denied to sufferers due to lack of funds, many will be disgusted to learn that NICE are considering such a costly approach.”

Other schemes examined in the report include a pilot in Manchester which rewards overweight parents for walking their children to school.

As part of a £30m project, supermarket points are given to unfit people who attend keep-fit classes, weight loss clubs or go for a run in the park.

Overweight people gain credit points they can cash in for groceries just for turning up, with extra rewards depending on how much weight they lose.

In Newcastle, Bristol, Torbay, Manchester and Bury St Edmunds, those aged 16 to 22 are given subsidised gym membership if they visit at least once a week.

However, the report found limited evidence about whether the schemes make a difference.

In the Scottish antismoking project, for instance, the study acknowledged that four fifths of the women in the £43,000 scheme were smoking again within three months of giving birth.

The recommendations from NICE’s independent citizens council do not constitute its official advice to the NHS. Its board will launch a public consultation on the matter before considering the paper, which would inform future guidance.

However, the rationing body has already supported financial rewards for heroin addicts.

Originally NICE recommended that addicts who attended treatment programmes should be given the chance to win prizes, such as televisions and MP3 players.

The body dropped the idea following a public outcry but instead recommended that shopping vouchers worth up to £10 could be awarded to those who completed programmes, or showed they were clear of drugs.

NICE has been widely criticised for refusing to pay for dozens of cancer drugs on the grounds of cost. Medicines rejected include the drugs Avastin for advanced bowel cancer and Nexavar for advanced liver cancer.

Last year the institute fuelled controversy when it ruled marriage guidance counselling should be funded by the NHS, and supported the use of acupuncture for back pain, despite finding there was no good evidence it worked.

The report follows a three day meeting of NICE’s citizens council, where members were asked to vote about the use of incentives.

“More than 60 per cent said they were in favour of such schemes, as long as they were only used as a “last resort” and were not exchangeable for tobacco or alcohol.

Sir Michael Rawlins, the chairman of NICE said: “We clearly face several public health challenges in today’s society, some more obvious than others, and we must seek to improve these in ways that are likely to achieve the best outcomes to those affected.

“The majority of the council has voted in favour of the use of incentives under certain circumstances, but this clearly remains a divisive issue”.

Public consultation on the report starts today.

From: killer quango taxpayers-bribes-for-obese-and-smokers.html

Health Direct finds this new waste of taxpayers money a disgrace. Research in pilot studies has clearly showed that bribing people to lose weight and stop smoking DOES NOT WORK in the vast majority of cases.

On June 10, 2010 Health Direct published research :Nanny state cash bribes for good health fail three quarters of patients at

A Department of Health spokesman has already described them as an undesirable use of money and should only be adopted as a “last resort”.

If you would like to tell the killer quango NICE what you think of this scheme, comments should be sent to Clifford Middleton, Research and Development Project Manager at by 5pm on Friday, 26 November 2010.

If email is a problem for you, please send your comments in a letter to Clifford Middleton at:

MidCity Place,
71 High Holborn,
London WC1V 6NA.

Dementia cost to top 1% of GDP

Dementia care costs are rising fast with the costs associated with dementia amounting to more than 1% of the world’s gross domestic product this year at £388bn a report says.Dementia cost to top 1% of GDPThe World Alzheimer Report says this is more than the revenue of retail giant Wal-Mart or oil firm Exxon Mobil.

The authors say dementia poses the most significant health and social crisis of the century as its global financial burden continues to escalate.

They want the World Health Organization to make dementia a world priority as the number of people with dementia is expected to double by 2030, and more than triple by 2050.

But experts say the costs of caring for people with dementia are likely to rise even faster than the prevalence, especially in the developing world, as more formal social care systems emerge and rising incomes lead to higher opportunity costs.

Data from individual countries such as the UK suggests that dementia is already one of the costliest illnesses.

The report brings together the best available data and the most recent insights regarding the worldwide economic cost of dementia.

It calls on the World Health Organization to declare dementia as a world health priority.

Professor Martin Prince, of the UK’s Institute of Psychiatry and who co-authored the report, urged nations to develop better plans for caring for the millions who have the disease.

“Governments must show greater leadership, working with all stakeholders, to drive solutions to the long term care issue.”

Marc Wortmann, head of Alzheimer’s Disease International, an umbrella group of organisations, said: “The scale of this crisis cries out for global action.

“History shows that major diseases can be made manageable – and even preventable – with sufficient global awareness and the political will to make substantial investments in research and care options.”

Dementia experts say governments must lead the way in ensuring national dementia strategies are fully implemented and dementia research is given enough funding to find new tests, treatments and possibly a cure.


Almost a thousand GPs earn more than £200,000

Almost 1,000 GPs are being paid more than £200,000 a year with the average wage topping £100,000, new figures have shown.
Almost a thousand GPs earn more than £200,000Ten percent of GPs earnt between £150,000 and £200,000 in 2008/9

Some 700 GPs were paid between £200,000 and £250,000 in 2008/09, an increase of 50 from the previous year, according to data from the NHS Information Centre.

A further 250 earned more than £250,000, slightly down from 260 in 2007/08, according to the figures, which cover full and part-time doctors in the public and private sectors across the UK.

The average wage for a GP working under a contract last year fell for the third year in a row to £105,300, down from £106,100.

A breakdown of the figures showed 14,020 GPs – 42 per cent of the total – earned £50,000 to £100,000, while 12,820 (38 per cent) earned £100,000 to £150,000 and 3,280 (10 per cent) earned £150,000 to £200,000.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “While there has been an overall decrease in GPs’ earnings, we must ensure better value for money from the overall investment in the GP contract, and make sure resources are used to the greatest benefits of patients and the taxpayer.

“The coalition Government recently announced a two-year pay freeze for all NHS staff earning more than £21k a year.”

She said the Government was currently considering how this could be applied to groups such as GPs and dentists.

The figures also showed the rise in GP salaries over the last decade.

In 2008/09, average income before tax for GPs on a general medical services contract was £99,200 compared with £51,500 in 1998/99.

According to the Information Centre, this latter figure is equivalent to £65,900 in real terms at 2008/09 levels.

However, it said GP contracts and the nature of work has changed over that period.

Fiona McEvoy, from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Though GPs do an important job, their salaries have increased at an astonishing rate over the last decade, despite the fact they’re working fewer hours.

“These salaries show the folly of ring-fencing the NHS budget.”


The scale of NHS pay scales was highlighted in a Health Direct post:
More than 300 NHS executives have a larger salary than the prime minister on August 25, 2010 when an investigation found that 320 hospital, ambulance and health authority chiefs are paid more than David Cameron’s annual salary of £142,500.

Small dose of aspirin can ward off bowel cancer

Taking a quarter of an aspirin pill every day can help prevent bowel cancer, with the benefits growing the longer it is taken, scientists claim.
Small dose of aspirin can ward off bowel cancerA daily 75mg dose – lower than the recommended dose for a child – can provide significant protective effects after just one year, researchers said.

Even people not considered to be at high risk of the disease could benefit from taking the painkiller, they said, regardless of their diet or lifestyle.

According to the study, taking 75mg of aspirin every day for between one and three years cut the chances of developing bowel cancer by 19 per cent.

After three to five years the risk decreased by 24 per cent, and after five to ten years of taking the drug the chance of bowel cancer was down by 31 per cent.

There was no noticeable benefit in taking aspirin or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, for people who already had bowel cancer.

The disease, which is the second most common cause of cancer death in the world, kills more than 16,000 people in Britain every year, with 38,500 cases diagnosed in annually.

Previous research had indicated that aspirin protects against bowel cancer, but it was unclear what the most effective dose was, and how often it should be taken.

The usual aspirin dose for an adult, when used for pain relief, is between 300mg and 900mg.

NSAIDs have previously been linked to an increased risk of internal bleeding.

But the study of 2,800 people with bowel cancer and 3,000 healthy people, published in the journal Gut, showed that a much smaller dose of just 75mg could provide significant protection against the disease.

The same dose is sometimes recommended for people recovering from heart attacks and stroke.

Some 18 per cent of healthy people studied said they were taking a low dose of aspirin, or other NSAIDs, at least four times a month, along with 16 per cent of those who had bowel cancer.

While there was no evidence taking NSAIDs influenced the risk of death in bowel cancer patients, it did have a significant protective effect for those who did not have the disease at the start of the trial.

Steve Williamson, Consultant Pharmacist in Cancer at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “This study adds to the weight of evidence already around that daily low dose aspirin can reduce risk of developing bowel cancer.

“However people must remember that aspirin even at its lowest dose isn’t suitable for everyone, and patients should always talk to their doctor or pharmacist about the potential benefits of taking aspirin.”

Mark Flannagan, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, said: “These findings are encouraging, particularly as, unlike previous studies, this shows that even the lowest daily dose can have an effect on risk reduction after just one year.”


Single prostate cancer test could save tens of thousands of lives

A single blood test for every man aged 60 could save tens of thousands of lives by pinpointing those most at risk from prostate cancer, scientists claim.

Single prostate cancer test could save tens of thousands of livesThe national screening programme would rule out the risk in half of the male population and also identify those most in danger of dying from the disease, the second most deadly cancer in men.

The procedure, which costs just £10, would allow doctors to concentrate their scarce resources on those most susceptible to developing and dying from the condition.

Controversy currently surrounds the tests, which are already available, as there has been debate over when is the optimum time to administer it.

The fear is many men could be “overdiagnosed” and be so worried they will undergo unnecessary and risky surgery.

But the new report suggests that 60 is a watershed age and having one then can definitely eliminate the risk of the disease becoming life-threatening in up to 50 per cent of men, eliminating the need for them to be screened in future, experts said.

It would also help doctors predict which men may be susceptible to death from the cancer or to metastasis – where the disease spreads to other organs – and monitor their health accordingly.

Professor Mark Emberton, a leading prostate cancer expert at University College, London said the test could help get thousands of men off the “diagnostic conveyor belt”.

“It may be that PSA is actually a much better prediction of long-term outcome than we thought,” he said.

“The key question is not ‘do you have prostate cancer’ because most men are going to get it. The key thing is ‘do you have clinically important prostate cancer, cancer that will have an adverse effect on your life.

“I think this is a potential route out of the diagnostic conveyor belt from which there has been no exit before.”

The simple tests works because it highlights levels in the blood of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a protein that can leak from the prostate gland and tumour cells.

Some 90 per cent of deaths from prostate cancer occur in men with the highest levels of PSA.

Because it is generally slow to develop, taking up to 15 years to spread to other parts of the body, scientists believe that men with below-average PSA levels at the age of 60 need not worry about the threat.

Doctors would then be able to focus their attention and resources on those at risk from the disease, while patients with low PSA would not need to be exposed to potentially dangerous screening and treatment later on in life.

Prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer among British men, affecting a third of men over the age of 50 and accounting for about 10,000 deaths every year in England and Wales.

It is second only to lung cancer in terms of loss of life.

Charities last year called for national PSA screening to be introduced in Britain after a study indicated that such a programme could save 2,000 lives a year.

But doctors disagree over how valuable the testing is because more than 65 per cent of men with high PSA do not have cancer, raising the risk of misdiagnosis.

Earlier this year it was reported that one fifth of men in at-risk age groups who asked their GP for a PSA test had their request turned down.

But the latest study raises the possibility of men with low PSA being excluded from any further prostate cancer testing such as biopsies, which can cause impotence and incontinence, at a later date.

Dr Hans Lilja, who led the study, said it “adds to the arguments” for the introduction of national screening programmes.

He added: “With screening there is a balance of benefits and harms and obviously if we can be more clever in how we sift the benefits from the harms and identify that a man at the age of 60 would not benefit substantially from any further testing then I think we are shifting that balance.”

John Anderson, Vice President of the British Association of Urological Surgeons, said the “exciting” study showed that a targeted approach to testing was preferable to a screening programme, which could see men tested at regular intervals over several years.

He said: “What we have got so far is a debate as to whether we should have screening or not. “The study does a snapshot at the age of 60 and the evidence is that that is where we need to focus our energies on.”

The research, published in the British Medical Journal, was based on research by doctors at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and Lund University in Malmo, Sweden.

Experts took blood samples from 1,167 men aged 60 in 1981 and followed their health up to the age of 85.

The team, led by Professor Lilja, wrote: “Our findings suggest that 60 year old men with low concentrations can be reassured that even if they do harbour cancer, it is unlikely to become apparent during their lifetime and even less likely to become life threatening.

“None the less, a raised PSA is far from being an inevitable harbinger of advanced prostate cancer … while a concentration below the median can probably ‘rule out’ subsequent death or metastasis from prostate cancer, higher concentrations indicate only that careful monitoring might be warranted.”

According to the study, the quarter of men with the highest PSA at age 60 have a 26 times greater chance of dying from prostate cancer than those in the lowest quarter.

However, having a high PSA does not make advanced prostate cancer inevitable.

Of the five per cent of men with the highest levels of PSA, only one in six will die of prostate cancer by the age of 85, the study said.

Dr Sarah Cant, Head of Policy and Campaigns at The Prostate Cancer Charity, said the study presented an “interesting proposition which takes the ongoing PSA debate in a new direction”.

She added: “However, this is an early study, involving only 1,000 men in Sweden, and long-term research in a greater number and range of men would be needed before we can say whether this approach would work.”

The UK National Screening Committee is currently reviewing its policy on PSA screening for over-50s, and is expected to publish its results next spring.


6,500 NHS staff earn more than the Prime Minister

Nine thousand public sector staff are earning more than Prime Minsiter with the majority- 6,500 working in the NHS.
6,500 NHS staff earn more than the Prime Minister An investigation by BBC1’s Panorama and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism suggested the numbers earning more than David Cameron’s £142,500-a-year are significantly higher than previously thought.

Based on the responses to more than 2,400 Freedom of Information requests to public bodies, they show that 38,000 were paid over £100,000 while 1,000 received over £200,000.

They include GPs, teachers, police chiefs, council officers and senior civil servants, as well as senior managers in the BBC itself.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude insisted that it should not be necessary to offer “stupendous amounts” of money in the public sector.

“You can square the circle of having really good people not on telephone number salaries and massive built-in bonuses,” he told the programme.

“That public service ethos is very important. People will come and work in a public sector for salaries that aren’t competitive in a private sector sense.”

The NHS was the sector found to have the the highest number of staff earning over £100,000 – 26,000 – with almost 6,500 paid more than the Prime Minister.

Those with salaries topping the PM’s included 1,465 GPs – 10 of whom received more than £300,000. The highest earner was an unnamed GP working for the Hillingdon Primary Care Trust with pay of £475,500.

The programme also highlights salaries in the BBC where 97 managers earn more than £160,000, 160 get more than £130,000 and 331 are on over £100,000.

The Civil Service has 241 senior officials receiving as much or more than Mr Cameron, with 26 in the Ministry of Defence, 22 each in the Department for Business and the Cabinet Office, 18 in the Department of Health, and 13 in the Foreign Office.

The overall figures compiled by the programme did not include publicly-owned corporations which operate on a commercial basis – some of which have very highly paid bosses.

From: minister

Colon cancer cases may rise 50%- killing thousands

The UK is heading for a 50% increase in the number of new colon cancer cases over the next 30 years, says an international team of scientists.
Colon cancer cases may rise 50%The forecast, in the European Journal of Cancer, is for 35,000 new cases a year by 2040, compared with 23,000 now.

Rising obesity is one reason – and if the UK reached US levels that could add another 2,000 to the total, they say.

“We can safely say increasingly physical activity across Europe to the level already achieved in The Netherlands, where everybody cycles, would be of substantial benefit” Professor Jan-Willem Coebergh, Erasmus University.

The study used cancer data from seven countries to predict how cancer rates might change with an ageing population.

Each year there are 38,000 cases of bowel cancer, which can split into those in the colon and those lower down in the rectum. This latest study looked just at those in the colon itself.

Two of the biggest risk factors for colon cancer are physical inactivity and being overweight or obese.

Dr Andrew Renehan, from the University of Manchester, and one of the authors of the research, said that the computer models allowed researchers to predict what would happen to cancer rates in a variety of scenarios.

If UK trends in obesity and activity stayed as they are now, the predicted figure of approximately 35,000 cases a year is reached by 2040.

If obesity gets worse, following trends set in the US, where the problem has spiralled in recent years, then the annual figure is close to 37,000.

But if that does not happen, and there is a modest increase in activity, then that rise turns into a similar-sized fall.

And if the UK managed to match levels of physical exercise in The Netherlands – the best among the countries studied, that would prevent approximately 2,000 cases.

Dr Renehan said: “The predictive modelling is beginning to tease out the independent relevance of each of these factors in the prevention of colon cancer.

“We know that large numbers of colon cancer cases could be avoided by reducing exposure to risk factors.”

And a second study published at the same time appeared to show a small additional risk not just for obese people, but anyone carrying excess fat around their middle – even if their overall weight appears near-normal.

In the group studied, every additional inch of waistline from the slimmest to the biggest-waisted meant an extra 2% risk of bowel cancer, even when the BMI of the person was accounted for in the calculations.

The research, carried out by Imperial College London for the World Cancer Research Fund, combined the results of previous studies into the issue to produce more reliable evidence of the link.