Skip to main content

Together we are beating cancer

Donate now
  • Science & Technology
  • Health & Medicine

News digest – smoking mortality, tobacco industry tactics, ‘head-transplants’ and more.

by Misha Gajewski | Analysis

28 February 2015

0 comments 0 comments

Plain, standard packs give kids one less reason to start smoking
  • Our new statistics predict that half a million (500,000) children would die from smoking when they’re adults unless more is done to cut smoking rates. The sobering statistic renews our push for MPs to introduce standardised packaging. The Daily Mail covered the story; here’s our press release and graphic summarising the figures.


  • Research from Australia calculated that 2 in 3 long-term smokers will die from their habit – higher than the current best estimates of 1 in 2. While we can’t generalise these results to the UK, the figure further highlights the need to cut smoking rates. Read our coverage of the story. The BBC, Daily Mail and The Guardian also reported on it.
  • A new analysis revealed that the tobacco industry went to great lengths to try and derail the EU anti-smoking legislation. Our news report has the details on how the tobacco industry failed to subvert the legislation. The Independent and Mirror also covered the ‘David and Goliath’-esque battle.
  • Later in the week, British American Tobacco threatened to sue the UK government if the plain packaging law is approved. Read the full story in Reuters
  • A tobacco expert blogged for the Guardian about how there’s no evidence to support the claim that e-cigarettes are as harmful as smoking. We’ve also blogged about a similar topic recently.
  • A new study blew the myth that smoking relieves stress out of the water. Researchers, who were in part funded by Cancer Research UK, found that smokers were nearly 70 per cent more likely to say they felt anxious or depressed than non-smokers. Read all about it in our news report.
  • The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined the makers of an app after they claimed it diagnosed skin cancer based on a picture of a mole. ‘Truth in advertising’ laws apply to apps too. Read all the details in The Guardian or TIME
  • The Daily Mail ran a story about a man who claimed he got brain cancer from being on his mobile phone all day. But the very next day, they published this story with the headline ‘No brain cancer boom despite more phones’. If you want the low-down on mobile phones and cancer, read this.
  • Health experts writing in the BMJ suggested that smoking should be banned in parks and other outdoor public spaces. The tobacco industry is less keen – fancy that. The BBC covers the full debate
  • Our researchers in Cambridge found that ovarian cancer is more serious if the genetically-different cells are more varied, as they were more likely to become resistant to treatment.
  • And our scientists in Glasgow – working as part of an international consortium – made the fascinating discovery that pancreatic cancers can be grouped into four separate types. Tantalisingly, one of these might be extremely sensitive to an existing chemotherapy drug not often used to treat the disease – something further studies will now investigate. We blogged in detail about the discovery, and here’s our press release 
  • NICE published new guidelines on diagnosing bladder cancer. However, some felt this might make it harder to refer young patients who have blood in their urine. Pulse has the details.
  • A study confirmed long-term benefits of melanoma immunotherapy among a subset of patients. Our news report has the details.
  • Fascinating research looked at how ‘liquid biopsies’ could be used instead of tumour biopsies in lung cancer patients. Read our news report to find out more.
  • The BBC reported that mutations linked to leukaemia become much more common in our blood as we age than previously thought. BUT this doesn’t mean everyone who carries them will get leukaemia. We also covered this important discovery on our newsfeed.
  • The Communication Breakdown blog published this great interview with the NHS chief data officer, Dr Geraint Lewis. Read it here.
  • As you know, we love things that dispel myths, so it’s no surprise that we really enjoyed this US blog that busted some myths about clinical trials. You can find our clinical trials database here.
  • For an interesting perspective on the future of cancer surgery check out this interview with Dr Peter Scardino from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in the US.
  • If you haven’t seen it yet here is the trailer for the documentary on Siddhartha Mukherjee’s brilliant book The Emperor of all Maladies. Watch it here.

And finally…

  • It’s a story that both intrigues us and makes us a bit queasy. An Italian surgeon is predicting that the first human head transplant could happen ‘in two years’. He wants to develop a technique to extend the lives of people who have motor neuron diseases or those with cancer. Read more in the New Scientist – here’s their article, and a thoughtful editorial about this slightly far-fetched-but-fascinating idea.