Pollution and Pesticides – An Environmental Health Atlas – Don’t use to decide where to, (but may be used to decide where not to) live…

Chris Smyth writing in The Times 25th April 2014 reports: Health atlas shows heart disease and cancer hotspots

People can check how their neighbourhood compares on conditions such as cancer and heart disease by using a detailed health atlas designed to help scientists to spot problems caused by pollution and pesticides.

Research has shown that Bridgend in south Wales and Trafford in Manchester are among areas where people’s health is consistently worse. Central London and Brighton prove consistently healthy.

The southwest has the highest rates of skin cancer even though the southeast has more sunshine, and liver cancer appears to be clustered in Liverpool and Manchester, according to the environmental health atlas created by scientists at Imperial College London.

Lung cancer rates vary greatly around the country, while breast cancer appears consistently across the country, according to envhealthatlas.co.uk. The atlas cannot show why disease rates vary but its creators said that it should prompt scientists to look at some connections more closely.

They urged for progress to be made in linking the controversial care data project withanonymised GP records to hospital data, as that would “hugely enhance” the level of detail available.

Anna Hansell, of the small area health statistics unit at Imperial College, said that the site was needed to improve the way Britain detected risks in the environment. “The atlas is a fantastic tool for researchers, policymakers and the public. It is the first publication in the UK to amalgamate data at this level,” she said.

Professor Paul Pharoah, of the University of Cambridge, said that the atlas did not “enable anyone to judge their individual absolute risk”, and should not used when deciding where to live…

The BBC reports “Health atlas allows on line search for risk by area”.

A new online map of England and Wales allows people to enter their postcode and find their community’s risk of developing 14 conditions, such as heart disease and lung cancer.

The map presents population-wide health information for England and Wales.

The researchers at Imperial College London pointed out that it could not be used to see an individual’s risk.

It indicated an area’s health risk, relative to the average for England and Wales, they stressed.

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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