Preventative lessons are better than finding a cure

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LESLEY KEATING: A white-knuckle pursuit ending with a lesson in trust

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There is a great deal of common sense to be found in the old adages that seem sadly to have fallen out of general use. One that stands the test of time is the axiom ‘prevention is better than a cure.’

And surely a perfect example of this is the work to be done by experts at the University of Portsmouth to help schoolgirls in the city avoid health problems in years to come. They have identified a worrying trend in girls opting out of exercise as they develop because an incorrect bra size leads to insufficient support – and that leads to pain.

It’s a major problem, of course, to the individual girls concerned, but it’s also a major problem for society at large.

Dr Joanna Scurr, who heads a six-strong team of psychologists, physiotherapists and engineers who will be visiting secondary schools in September to give breast health advice, says incorrectly-fitted bras cause breast pain which affects at least 50 per cent of the female population. In the worst cases, the pressure of a bra strap can damage nerves and cause paralysis in the arm and cause severe problems in the back, neck and shoulders,

That means treatment, very probably on the NHS, which costs money. Add to that the amount lost by women who need time off work because of such health problems.

And consider the net effect of youngsters failing to get as much exercise as they need at a crucial point of their development in life.

All of this shows why the current initiative is important not just to the girls concerned but to all of us.

The lessons to be learned by girls aged 12 to 16 are simple. But, with the aid of Dr Scurr and her team, they can make a crucial difference to the life ahead of each young women who learns them.

As Dr Scurr says: ‘The right support can give them confidence and help them access a healthier lifestyle and emotional frame of mind.’

That’s something that any woman would wish for out of life – and represents a saving for all of us in dealing with later health issues. Prevention is undoubtedly better than cure.