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News digest – ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ launch, traffic light labelling, green tea and more…

by Emma Smith | Analysis

25 August 2012

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It’s news time

  • We were proud to announce the launch of Stand Up To Cancer in the UK this week. In October, we’re helping to bring a night of music and entertainment to Channel 4 in a new national fundraising event that we hope will galvanise the public in the fight against cancer and raise support for our life-saving research. The programme will also draw attention to the signs and symptoms of cancer and answer common questions with the help of Channel 4’s resident Dr Christian Jessen.
  • Australia has led the way and already made the plain packaging of cigarettes a legal requirement for the tobacco industry. In an interesting footnote to this, Tasmania, a small island state of Australia, is considering going one step further and banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone born after the year 2000. According to this Telegraph article, politicians are considering this dramatic step in a bid to create an entirely smoke free generation.
  • Also in the Telegraph, we were pleased to see this article announcing that Tesco, the UK’s biggest retailer, has joined Sainsburys and Asda and introduced traffic light food labelling to make it easier for people to make healthier food choices. As obesity is a leading cause of cancer, we strongly back this system, as we discussed earlier this month.


  • There was widespread coverage this week of a report from Macmillan predicting that the number of people over 65 living with cancer is to more than treble by 2040.Our own projections show that the cancer cases are on the rise, and the main reason for this is simply that people are living longer. There’s a good analysis in The Telegraph as to why this new report isn’t all bad news.
  • NICE has ruled out the use of bevacizumab for the treatment of advanced breast cancer (here’s our news story). This is because there is no evidence that the drug, also known as Avastin, works any better than existing treatments and is less cost effective. It is disappointing that bevacizumab has not lived up to its potential for breast cancer treatment, but research is still ongoing to find out if it would be more effective in combination with other drugs.
  • The BBC reported on new Welsh government figures showing that target waiting times for urgent cancer cases have been missed in Wales. Only 88 per cent of patients saw a specialist within 62 days of being referred instead of the goal of 95 per cent. There was also significant variation across different regions in Wales. It’s not all bad news though: an impressive 98 per cent of non-urgent patients began treatment within the target time of 31 days.
  • The Guardian reported on a new study published this week which highlights the importance of tackling inequality in the fight against cancer and other serious illnesses. The report shows that social class has a strong influence on our lifestyle choices – such as what we eat and drink, how active we are and whether we smoke – which together have a huge impact on the risk of developing cancer.
  • US scientists devised a new way to target a cancer-fuelling protein called ‘Wnt’, which was thought to be ‘undruggable’ (our news story). This protein plays a role in many different cancers, notably bowel cancer, so it’s an exciting early discovery but needs further work before it can be tested as a treatment for people with cancer.
  • There were several reports of green tea extract having potent anti-cancer effects. It’s an interesting early study, but was carried out in the lab on cancer cell samples and mice. There’s certainly no good evidence that drinking green tea has any tumour-fighting properties benefit in humans.

And finally…

  • We spotted this popular BBC video about a high school teenager in America who has won an international science fair after devising a simple dip-stick test for pancreatic cancer. It just goes to show, you can never guess where the next discovery is going to come from!