Skip to main content

Together we are beating cancer

Donate now
  • Science & Technology
  • Health & Medicine

News digest – bowel cancer campaign, the young in the sun, coffee, alcohol, and more

by Oliver Childs | Analysis

1 September 2012

0 comments 0 comments


Read our summary of this week’s news

  • We returned from the August Bank Holiday to widespread coverage of the Department of Health’s re-launch of their Be Clear on Cancer bowel cancer campaign. Sharon Osbourne is quoted alongside our CEO Harpal Kumar in this Daily Mirror article about the campaign, which encourages people who have had blood in their poo or looser poo for three weeks or more to see their doctor. For most, any symptoms will turn out to be nothing to worry about. But for those people with cancer, the earlier they go to their doctor, the more likely they are to survive.
  • On the theme of bowel cancer, The Telegraph and others covered a story suggesting that drinking coffee can lower the risk of bowel cancer. But previous studies have not found any consistent positive effects of drinking coffee, suggesting that it’s unlikely that coffee has a strong effect on cancer risk overall.  We’ve written before about the evidence on coffee.
  • A third of young people are putting themselves at risk by not taking care in the sun, according to figures we released this week. Our survey showed that 35 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds use sunbeds and tanning oils and do not apply sun cream properly. The Metro wrote a good piece on this, and ITV news published an informative page covering our advice and some key skin cancer facts.

  • The Department of Health released new figures on Thursday showing that a temporary government scheme has allowed 18,500 cancer patients in England to receive drugs that are not routinely available on the NHS. The Cancer Drugs Fund was set up by the coalition government to pay for cancer drugs that have not been approved by NICE. Read our news story to see what we think about these figures.
  • The Independent and others ran a story that even light drinking – one alcoholic drink a day – can increase the risk of cancer.  This study adds to the evidence linking alcohol consumption to several types of cancer. It also confirms that even light drinkers have a small but definite increase in risk, particularly for those parts of the body that come into direct contact with alcohol, like the throat and oesophagus.
  • And you’ll be a fat drunk before wine saves you from cancer, according to a newspaper headline this week. While the headline certainly isn’t our style, we agree with the general sentiment that red wine should not be recommended as a cancer-busting substance. The study the news article talks about looked at the effects on cancer cells of a chemical called resveratrol, which is found in red wine. If you want to know more, we’ve written before about red wine and resveratrol.
  • The BBC reported on Monday that a centre for research into genetics at Edinburgh University is to benefit from almost £60m of additional funding. The Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine in Edinburgh is already one of the largest in Europe, and is a partnership between the Medical Research Council, the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Molecular Medicine and Cancer Research UK.
  • We spotted this interesting article in The Telegraph about a team of scientists working to create sperm cells from skin cells. What’s this got to do with cancer? The team hope that the technique could help men who had cancer during childhood become fathers, as infertility can be a side effect of some cancer treatments.
  • It didn’t get much coverage in the UK, but we spotted this interesting article in the Chicago Tribune about the discovery of a potential new subtype of prostate cancer. While more work needs to be done to confirm this research, it’s is yet another example of how high-tech DNA sequencing technology is helping us understand cancer in unprecedented detail.

And finally

  • We loved this Guardian article about  ‘a day in the life’ of Breast Cancer Care’s clinical director Dr Emma Pennery. It resonated with many of us here, particularly our nurses team, who also spend their time on the phone to people affected by cancer, as well as answering their queries via email.