BBC News

Newspaper headlines: HRT 'cancer risk' and Olympic honours

By Nigel Pankhurst
BBC News


A "cancer risk" from hormone replacement therapy, a gender pay gap, and honours for Olympic athletes make the headlines.

The Telegraph reports on a study of 100,000 women over 40 years that suggests hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can triple the risk of breast cancer.

The paper says: "Following more than a decade of controversy over the risks of the treatment, researchers believe the dangers have been underestimated and the longer women take one of the most commonly prescribed pills, the higher their chances of getting the disease.

"The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which last year changed its guidance to encourage more doctors to prescribe HRT, claiming that too many menopausal women had been left suffering in silence, said its advice remained that the benefits may outweigh the risks.

"HRT is used to treat uncomfortable symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes, migraines, disrupted sleep, mood changes and depression, by topping up the decreased levels of hormones produced by the body.

"Doctors became reluctant to prescribe it after a study in 2002 suggested it could raise the risk of cancer, but this claim was later widely disputed.

"Now new findings by the Institute of Cancer Research and Breast Cancer suggest the original risk had actually been underestimated."

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The Times says researchers said millions of menopausal women must be told the true risk of HRT before they decide whether to undergo the treatment.

"The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence said yesterday that in the light of the latest findings it may have to change the advice given to women," the Times continues.

"About a fifth of the two million women going through the menopause at present are thought to be prescribed HRT after experiencing symptoms including hot flushes, sweats, low mood and tiredness.

"Hundreds of thousands of older patients are also likely to be taking hormones."

The Guardian says the study said the risks of illness have been previously understated.

The paper reports: "The study leaders added that HRT was an individual choice, but one for which accurate information was essential."

Working mothers

The Guardian leads on research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) that suggests that women earn 18% less than men on average.

The paper says it highlights the challenge facing Prime Minister Theresa May in closing Britain's stubbornly wide gender pay gap.

The Guardian continues: "In her first statement as prime minister, May highlighted the gulf between men's and women's earnings, and vowed to create 'a country that works for everyone'.

"However, underscoring the struggle her government faces on pay equality, the IFS study hints at an entrenched penalty for women with children.

"According to the research, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the pay gap widens consistently for 12 years after a first child is born, by which point women receive 33% less pay per hour than men."

The i says the financial impact of motherhood is laid bare in a "shocking new report" that shows working mothers can expect to earn a third less than men even 12 years after giving birth.

The paper states: "The document is expected to spark renewed calls for action, with its claims that the gap between higher-educated men and women has not closed at all in the past 20 years."

The Times notes that while the overall gender wage gap has narrowed during the past two decades, women with children were falling dramatically behind.

The Telegraph says this is mainly as a result of mothers tending to work fewer hours than colleagues who are not parents.

Knights and dames

The Olympics may have come to a conclusion but the implications for Team GB are still on the front pages.

The Guardian reports that Theresa May has opened the door to the possibility of a Sir Mo Farah and a Dame Laura Trott after Downing Street indicated that an extended number of honours would be handed out to recognise Great Britain's "phenomenal" achievements.

"The prime minister's spokeswoman said yesterday that there was no formal cap on the number of honours that could be distributed and added that the success of Team GB in Rio de Janeiro amounted to 'special circumstances'," says the Guardian.

The Telegraph says Mrs May is in favour of an extra-long honours list to celebrate Britain's Olympic heroes and believes there should be no cap on the number of athletes who are knighted or made dames.

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Some bookmakers have already paid out on bets on Mo Farah being knighted in the New Year Honours after he completed his "double double" of 5,000m and 10,000m golds, it adds.

The Times predicts that Farah could be in line for a knighthood after he became Britain's most successful Olympic track and field athlete by winning two golds in Rio.

The Mail says at least 50 Olympic athletes are set to be honoured while the Sun says it clears the way for gold medal heroes such as Mo Farah, Andy Murray, and cycling sweethearts Jason Kenny and Laura Trott to be made sirs and dames.

Fringe festival

Finally, the Guardian records that annual accolade in the world of stand-up comedy, the best joke at the Edinburgh fringe festival.

He is a 35-year-old care worker from West Bromwich who is a diehard Newcastle United fan. But that is not the joke, says the Guardian.

Masai Graham's joke is: "My dad has suggested that I register for a donor card. He's a man after my own heart."

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But an honourable mention has to go to Will Duggan whose gag was ranked fifth.

"I went to a pub quiz in Liverpool, had a few drinks. Just for a laugh I wrote the Beatles or Steven Gerrard for every answer... came second."