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News digest – next steps for standard cig packs, couples getting healthy, e-cigarettes and more

by Nick Peel | Analysis

24 January 2015

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  • Great news: the UK Government is one step closer to introducing plain, standardised packaging for tobacco products. This announcement received widespread media coverage, and we blogged about the news and what happens next.
  • In another prominent story this week, we part-funded a study which found that people are more successful in taking up healthy habits if their partner makes positive changes too. The BBC, the Guardian and Mail Online covered this one. We blogged about it too.
  • Our new figures show that cancer deaths in children and young people have fallen by 58 per cent in the past 40 years. And we launched a new campaign to tackle cancer in young people – Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens. The Scotsman and our press release have the details and we blogged about the figures.
  • In response, the Cochrane Collaboration’s ‘Evidently Cochrane’ blog took a welcome look at recent evidence reviews on the subject of cancers in younger people.
  • We published this moving response from a terminal pancreatic cancer patient’s reaction to recent media reports claiming that cancer is ‘the best way to die’. (The Guardian subsequently ran a version on their science blog).
  • A new analysis from the King’s Fund suggests the NHS is in a ‘critical situation’ amid worsening waiting times, according to the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Independent.
  • US research sparked headlines claiming that “four cups of coffee a day” reduces the risk of skin cancer. We’re not so sure, as our comment in this Mail Online article makes clear.
  • One Guardian blogger responded to media coverage of research on the Pill and brain tumour risk, arguing that “women shouldn’t make decisions based solely on this paper” – something we’d agree with.
  • A cancer nurse gives her day-in-the-life account of treating patients in this article from the Guardian.
  • A bit like Spiderman throwing a web over a criminal (but smaller), US scientists are developing an intriguing system for trapping lab-grown bone cancer cells inside a molecular ‘net’. Capturing the cells kills them, though it’s still early days, as this Scientific American article points out.
  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) announced new draft guidelines on balancing sun exposure and vitamin D production.
  • Our work to improve early diagnosis of cancer featured in this article in the Guardian.
  • This article from the BMJ gives a patient’s take on tackling weight.
  • We absolutely loved this animation about conspiracy theories from Kurzgesagt (including why no-one is ‘suppressing the cure for cancer’ – including us).

And finally

  • Headlines suggesting that “e-cigarettes may release more cancer-causing chemicals than regular tobacco” went up in vapour this week, as several sources pointed out substantial flaws in the study. For example, it didn’t represent how people would actually use the devices in real life. And the researchers only looked at one chemical, found under specific circumstances in e-cigarettes – compared to the cocktail of thousands of chemicals we know are present in tobacco cigarettes.