Thursday, 25 March 2010

Immigrants and benefits, aspirin and cancer

Yesterday's Daily Express:

Over the past week or so the Express has had front pages stories about foreigners taking your jobs (twice), your home and now, your money.

You'd almost think the Express has some kind of anti-immigrant agenda...

For this story, the Express is upset that the High Court Judgment has ruled a Portuguese man who came to the UK and worked for four years until being incapacitated following an accident in his work place is entitled to child benefit for his children in Portugal.

The Express considered this a 'scandal', a 'monstrous injustice' and an 'unacceptable burden'. The editorial ranted:

the message goes out to the indolent classes across the EU that Britain is the place to be.

A man works for four years before being seriously injured, and yet is dismissed as 'indolent'? Charming.

The paper's daily phone poll asked 'Should benefits to immigrants be stopped?' The result won't be a surprise.

But buried in the story is a quote from a lawyer involved in the case. Gareth Mitchell said:

The EU rules that Mr Ruas has relied on also benefit the 1.5 million UK workers who live outside the UK and elsewhere in the EU.

The EU rules say that where parents go abroad to work and children stay behind, it should be the country in which the parents are working that should pay child benefit.

Up to 1.5million Brits working in the EU may be benefiting from such reciprocal social security agreements as the man in this case?

That figure came from Angela Eagle, Minister of State for Pensions and Ageing Society, in a House of Commons debate in December 2009 (column 525).

She said:

However, we are bound by EU reciprocal laws on social security that enable the 1.5 million UK citizens who live and work in the European Union to benefit in turn from local arrangements in the countries in which they work.

And as the Department of Work and Pensions website makes clear:

If you are in another EEA country and you are employed or self-employed; and you are insured under that country's insurance scheme you can usually get the children's allowance paid by that country. You can get it even if your child stays, or your children stay, in the UK.

So does the Express think it's a 'scandal' and 'monstrous injustice' that British workers abroad may also receive child benefit from their host country for children living in the UK?

Alas, they don't say. Indeed, they don't seem very interested in that point at all. After all, it wouldn't fit with their view that it's only ever Britain that is paying out to immigrants.

The other main story on the Express' front page was 'Now aspirin may cut risk of breast cancer'.

This may seem surprising given that a year ago, the paper ran this front page:

So, the Express' advice on aspirin appears to be: take it and get brain bleeding or don't and get cancer.

Not to mention that in November the Express said aspirin 'can be bad for your health' but in December it could stop you going blind.


So does aspirin cut the risk of breast cancer, as also reported by the Sun?

Here's the verdict from the NHS Behind the Headlines team:

this study does not provide any evidence that aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs or paracetamol reduces the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast or ovarian cancer.

This study did not examine cancer outcomes in these women.


And as for the presentation of the research:

Withstanding the headline, the Daily Express generally gave an accurate representation of this research by discussing how regular use of aspirin was associated with lower oestrogen levels, and this in turn may be related to risk of cancer.

It is not clear where The Sun's claim that aspirin can cut the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer by up to 10% originated.
The Sun also did not mention that regular aspirin use is associated with the risk of serious side effects such as internal bleeding.

Neither newspaper mentioned that this was a cross-sectional analysis, and so cannot prove that current painkiller-use is the cause of current hormone levels.

So the Express headline was exaggerated and then stuck on the front page, while the Sun seems to have exaggerated in other ways.

Either way: it's eye-catching but unsubstantiated reporting about cancer. As usual.

1 comment:

  1. This is fine, all that will happen is the 1000's of Brits that are working in Continental Europe can do the same for their kids back home in the UK - swings and roundabouts aint it!

    Carl (x-pat - Canada)


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