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Weekly news digest – glowing brains, smoking parents and sobering stats

by Henry Scowcroft | Analysis

4 November 2011

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Tabloids on a news stand

Its time for our weekly news digest

Cancer is seldom out of the headlines, and this week was no exception.

Once again, some really fascinating research has appeared in the media – here’s our weekly summary of the most significant stories:

– Monday was Halloween, so it was appropriate that the BBC and others should write about glowing brains. The stories came from a press release we put out, about a clinical trial that we’re funding in collaboration with the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust. The trial will test a new treatment that involves a chemical that causes glioblastoma brain tumours to glow under UV light, giving surgeons a helping hand. (We also made a short slideshow, here)

– Also on Monday, fascinating US research suggested that fat cells in a woman’s abdomen can fuel the spread of ovarian cancer, and points towards potential targets for the development of new treatments for the disease. We covered the story on our newsfeed.

– On Tuesday night, Channel 4 aired the first episode of The Food Hospital, an excellent new series looking at the way what we eat can influence diseases, including cancer. We wrote an accompanying piece about what to eat when you have cancer.

– Tuesday was also the start of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and we blogged about the work we’re doing in this area.

– All children really want this Christmas is their parents to quit smoking, according to new research conducted on behalf of Department of Health. And in other tobacco-related news, a Canadian study has shown that smokers and non-smokers alike strongly support the banning of tobacco adverts and displays

The Express and others ran a story about red meat and cancer, based on lab studies by a group in Norway. As we pointed out, population studies have long demonstrated that certain cancers are more common amongst people who eat a lot of red and processed meat. Nevertheless, this new study adds to what we know about the molecular details of how red meat increases cancer risk.

US researchers warned that just three small alcoholic drinks a week could increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. As our health information team commented, this study adds to already strong evidence that drinking even small amounts of alcohol affects breast cancer risk.

– We announced the launch of a new drug that blocks a protein called nitric oxide synthase. This should, theoretically, help starve cancers of nutrients by cutting off their blood supply.

– And finally, a sobering reminder of the challenge we face came in the form of new figures from our stats team, who have calculated that cancer is now the biggest cause of premature death. We blogged about the details behind the story, which was also picked up by a number of newspapers, including The Metro, the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror.

Next week, we’ll be bringing you al the latest daily research news from the NCRI Conference, the UK’s annual cancer research get together.