Skip to main content

Together we are beating cancer

Donate now
  • Science & Technology
  • Health & Medicine

News digest – missed NHS targets, DNA ‘wormholes’, debunking ‘miracle foods’ and more

by Henry Scowcroft | Analysis

21 February 2015

0 comments 0 comments

  • As the graphic below shows, new NHS England figures revealed that targets to treat patients referred with suspected cancer in England were missed during every quarter of the last year. The BBC, Independent, the Guardian and the Mail Online covered the figures.


  • Our scientists found that most women (85 per cent) would back the idea of more frequent breast screening if they are at higher genetic risk of developing breast cancer. Huffington Post covered this, and here’s our press release.
  • Some fascinating laboratory research on how UV radiation leads to skin cancer led to some overblown headlines across a range of newspapers.
  • Researchers in Edinburgh discovered how a molecular mechanism drives the growth of bile duct cancer, a rare form of the disease for which there are few treatment options.
  • The Washington Post explored why drugs that can prevent breast cancer in high-risk women are so rarely used.
  • There was a small drop in the number of women going for breast screening in England, reports the Daily Mail.
  • The New York Times told the story of a suspected ‘cancer cluster’ at a US military base (we’ve got an explainer about cancer clusters on our website).
  • The Verge reported on some fascinating early-stage immunotherapy research on a form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.
  • A study by the University of York suggested that the threshold set by NICE for cancer drugs is too high, according to the Guardian and BBC.
  • A series of papers in the journal Nature led to headlines – such as this from Reuters – about how scientists had unveiled a map of the ‘epigenome’ – an inheritable series of chemical tags on the outside of the DNA in cells, known to be involved in cancer.
  • Standardised cigarette packs would save lives by reducing the number of people who start smoking, according to an expert in tobacco control. Here’s the BBC’s take.
  • The ever-excellent UCL Health Behaviour Research Centre bloggers (disclaimer: we fund them) wrote about their research on the stigma of lung cancer.
  • Cancer survival rates in the US are improving, reports Reuters.
  • Researchers at the Institute of Cancer research, funded by Cancer Research UK and others, have linked DNA ‘wormholes’ to a person’s risk. Sounds all quite sci-fi – read their press release for more.
  • The NPR blog took a look at the science behind a new breast cancer drug, not yet available in the UK, called palbociclib.

And finally

  • We really liked this article in the Guardian, dispelling myths around so-called ‘miracle foods’ (a term which is just marketing jargon used by companies to sell nutritional products, and has no scientific basis). Which is why we weren’t so keen on this piece from Huffington Post, published a day later, about so-called ‘miracle foods’, from a company selling nutritional products, which had no scientific basis.



Broccoli image via Flickr, under CC BY-SA 2.0