Medical practice

The top 10 most popular news stories of 2014

10 - Scarlet fever cases on the rise in England

In March there was concern due to a sharp rise in scarlet fever cases, with more than 3,500 occurring in the first quarter of the spring. Thankfully the number of cases appears to have now fallen back.

9 - Call to make 5 a day fruit and veg into '7 a day'

Researchers called for the recommendation of eating five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day to be increased to seven. This was because they found evidence that seven portions significantly reduced the risk of premature death.

8 - Home HIV testing kits now legal in UK

Over-the-counter HIV testing kits became legal to sell in the UK in 2014. Though due to red tape and licensing issues the tests probably won’t be commercially available until 2015.

7- Low-level drinking in early pregnancy 'harms baby'

A UK study found that even drinking just 1-2 units a day during the first trimester of pregnancy significantly increased the risks of complications. This lead to calls that all pregnant women should be advised to avoid alcohol during this time.

6 - Cannabis labelled 'harmful and as addictive as heroin’

In a controversial opinion piece, a professor with an expertise in addiction argued that cannabis, far from being relatively harmless, posed a real threat to both physical and mental health, and was more addictive than most people realised. Though there was no systematic evidence presented to support the claims.

Top 5

5 - Claims of a universal cure for cancer 'misleading'

At the beginning of the year, the Daily Express (who else) made the frankly bizarre claim that a “cure for all cancers was on its way”. This “reporting” was actually based on a study into blind mole rats.

4 - Ebola could reach UK, but outbreak risk is low

Unsurprisingly one of the biggest health stories of the year was the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Public health officials were quick to reassure the public that the risk of Ebola spreading to the UK was low. A prediction, at least at time of writing, turned out to be correct.

3 - Ebola virus threat to the UK is 'very low'

An earlier story to the one above that we produced when the Ebola outbreak first appeared during the summer of 2014.

2 - Gastric balloon pill launched in UK

The prospect of a gastric balloon in a pill captured the public’s imagination. The pills are designed to be swallowed, avoiding the need for surgery, and then they expand reducing the volume of the stomach. The pills are not available on the NHS.

1 - High protein diet not as bad for you as smoking

And the most popular news story of the year, attracting close to a quarter of a million views, was a an article by us "rubbishing" media claims that a high-protein diet was as a bad for you as smoking.

While a diet that contains lots of fried meat is certainly not ideal, media reports that it is as bad for you as smoking 20 cigarettes a day were misguided at best, needlessly scaremongering at worst.

Thanks for all the support, as it is always reassuring that the stories we put out are of interest to the public. We also appreciate your feedback, either through the ratings and comments section below, or via our Twitter account @NHSNewsUK

Hopefully we can continue to please in 2015.

We do have some extra feature stories coming up over the festive period. Normal service will then be resumed on January 5 2015.

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