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News digest – cancer deaths to drop, male breast cancer, dentists and more

by Oliver Childs | Analysis

29 September 2012

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Read our summary of this week’s news

  • The week started on a positive note, with news from our stats team that the rates of people dying from cancer are projected to fall by 17 per cent in the UK by 2030. Our blog post on the story includes a short animation outlining the headline stats, and you can listen to our CEO Dr Harpal Kumar talk about the reasons behind this trend on Radio 4’s Today Programme. Many papers also covered the story, including The Express.
  • But the news isn’t all good. While the overall death rates are likely to fall, not all cancer rates are dropping. This was highlighted by a story on Wednesday of soaring mouth cancer rates – here’s the press release and this is the BBC’s take. This has resulted in leading dentists calling for training on oral cancer detection for dental teams. We would like the recommendations to go further – for oral cancer detection and prevention to be amongst the top priorities for dentists’ professional development.
  • There was significant progress in the understanding of both male and female breast cancer this week. On Sunday, a large-scale study of female breast cancer published a “treasure trove” of information on the genetic causes of the disease – here’s our news story.

  • And on the same day, an international team of scientists published details of their discovery of an inherited gene variant that increases a man’s chance of developing breast cancer by up to 50 per cent. We covered the story on our news feed.
  • News broke yesterday of the launch of a new early-stage clinical trial that will investigate the cancer-fighting properties of a chemical related to cannabis. The trial is being led by researchers at the Cancer Research UK and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre in Newcastle. This Daily Mail story and our press release have more information.
  • We were interested to read this BBC interview with Sir David Nicholson, the head of the NHS. According to the article, the NHS is on “high alert” to ensure there are no failings during the transition to the re-structured NHS, which comes into being in April next year. We’re keeping a close eye on what the changes will mean for cancer patients, and wrote about our view on the new NHS Commissioning Board earlier in the week.
  • We were intrigued by the following headline this week: Cancer research yields unexpected new way to produce nylon. It’s an interesting story, and shows that you can never be sure where research will lead.

And finally

  • While we certainly think it’s good to be frugal with the French fries, we think these Daily Mail, The Telegraph and Metro headlines have overblown the significance of a study that found there are higher levels of the carginogen acrylamide in frozen chips. Despite being carcinogenic in the laboratory, population-based studies have repeatedly shown that everyday exposure to acrylamide in food is too low to be of concern for most people. But it’s worth pointing out that chips are generally a high-fat food, and being overweight or obese increases your risk of several cancers.