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Alcohol raises risk of bowel cancer: Two units of alcohol a day, equivalent to a pint of beer or a large glass of wine, increase risk of bowel cancer by about 10%, says research based on the drinking habits of half a million people in 10 European countries. More than 30 g of alcohol a day increased their chances of developing the disease by 25% (International Journal of Cancer 2007 Jul 19 doi: 10.1002/ijc.22966).
Pfizer likely to face revised charges: The Nigerian government has withdrawn a $7bn (£3.4bn; €5.1bn) civil lawsuit against Pfizer to refile the lawsuit with more serious charges over the use of an experimental drug, trovafloxacin, for the treatment of meningitis in children in Kano, Nigeria, in 1996 (BMJ 2007;334:1181 doi: 10.1136/bmj.39237.658171.DB). Pfizer says that the drug was in a late stage of development and had already been tested in more than 5000 patients.
UK agency issues warning after floods: The Health Protection Agency has warned people in the United Kingdom affected by flooding that they risk poisoning from carbon monoxide if they use portable generators; camping stoves; or other gasoline, propane, or natural gas heaters that are meant for use outdoors in their homes. These devices should never be used to heat or dry out rooms, the agency says. Advice on how to safely clean houses after flooding is at www.hpa.org.uk.
German plans to force health checks over-ruled: The body that decides which tests and treatments should be reimbursed by the statutory insurance system in Germany has over-ruled a parliamentary decision to force patients with cancer who have missed regular screenings for cancers of the breast, bowel, and cervix to pay a larger part of the cost of treatment (BMJ 2006;333:877, doi: 10.1136/bmj.333.7574.877-c). Instead, it has recommended mandatory counselling on cancer screening.
Environmental factors cause 30% of children's diseases: Children's exposure to harmful chemicals at key stages of their development is as critical as the concentrations to which they are exposed, says the World Health Organization in a new report. Principles for Evaluating Health Risks in Children Associated with Exposure to Chemicals says that environmental factors account for more than 30% of disease in children worldwide (www.who.int/ipcs/publications/ehc/ehc237.pdf).