Humbug to Christmas health news

Two less than cheery stories to take us up to Christmas this week.

Firstly, organ transplants and skin cancer. One of the unintended effects of improvements in treating once-fatal conditions, is that patients live long enough to get something else. In this case, the longer lives that people can now expect after heart transplant mean that more of them suffer from skin cancer, as a result of the immunosuppressive drugs they need to take to prevent organ rejection. On the (slightly) brighter side, the most common skin cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, which are easily treated by surgery so long as they’re spotted quickly.

My second Guardian story looked at the downside of the injectable contraceptive, Depot Provera, which is known to weaken bones, potentially leading to osteoporosis and fractures. Researchers in Texas looked at risk factors to find out which women were most at risk. They concluded that smoking, eating little dietary calcium, and not having had children were all risk factors – although the associations were weak when you look at them in isolation.

I know, I know. I should have followed the herd and written about Father Christmas as a poor role model for children, or had something to say about the calorie content of mince pies. But there’s only so much Christmas one can take, after all! Have a good one.

Image: Humbugs, by Cari Wallis, from Cari Wallis photostream on, with CCL.

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