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News digest – cancer research investment, tobacco industry mistrust, carrots and more

by Nick Peel | Analysis

21 June 2014

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  • New figures showed that investing in cancer research helps both patients and the economy. For more info, take a look at our press release, read this blog post explaining why research is a sound investment or take a look at our graphic below.

Investment in research

  • Our latest polling shows that just one in 10 people trust the tobacco industry on their policies to cut smoking rates. Our press release has more details and we wrote this blog post covering some of the industry’s dodgy dealings.
  • And bogus claims of rising smoking rates in Australia received a thorough debunking in this ABC Media Watch video.
  • New data released by the Office for National Statistics revealed a rise in the number of people being diagnosed with certain types of cancer linked to lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity. The media focused particularly on liver cancer and melanoma, and this article from the Mail Online gave a great overview of why it’s important to make a few healthy changes to your lifestyle. We also covered the story on our news feed.
  • A new US study found that a modified version of the blood-thinning drug heparin slowed the growth of neuroblastoma cells in mice. Read our news story for more details.
  • The BBC had this on a “world first” for surgery where a patient (and professional singer) sang during her operation, allowing the surgeon to keep an eye on her vocal chords while removing a tumour from her throat.
  • New NHS data revealed that, in April, nearly 17,000 patients had to wait more than the upper limit of six weeks for diagnostic testing, including tests for cancer. The BBC and The Guardian covered the announcement.
  • Early research from Australia showed how flicking a ‘genetic switch’ in mice with a certain type of leukaemia makes the cancer cells revert to a more normal state. The Guardian has more on this.
  • We enjoyed this article from io9 on the 10 scientific ideas that can sometimes get confused in conversation.
  • We spotted part two of a series of blog posts on the Guardian’s Occam’s Corner blog, looking at how chemical changes to DNA – called epigenetics – are involved in cancer (here’s part one).
  • This blog won an award (hooray!)

And finally

  • If you only go by what the headlines say, “stand up and eat carrots” would be the prevailing ‘advice’ you’d take from a couple of articles that appeared this week – one on the cancer-fighting properties of veg, and the other on the potential influence of a sedentary lifestyle. The carrot study was partly funded by the British Carrot Growers’ Association (enough said). The second study, looking at self-reported activity levels, is more subtle. Accounting for the influence of other factors that might accompany a sit-down lifestyle and which also contribute to cancer risk (like, for example, smoking, or being overweight) is really difficult. We know physical activity is good for you, but to report this as “stop sitting down if you want to avoid cancer, say scientists” as one article did, is going way too far. That said, we’re never averse to asking the British public to Stand Up to Cancer…