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News digest – new cancer data, e-cig ban in Wales, stress…and nuclear power stations?

by Nick Peel | Analysis

13 June 2015

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  • Vapers in Wales could be asked to take it outside as the Welsh Government proposed a ban on e-cigarettes indoors. This is due to concerns the devices could make tobacco smoking seem normal again. We don’t agree, as you’ll see in the BBC’s coverage.
  • In related news, our researchers found that children aged 11 to 16 who have never smoked do not regularly use e-cigarettes, supporting earlier work showing that young non-smokers aren’t regular users of the devices.
  • Our latest figures revealed that oesophageal cancer rates in men have increased by 50 per cent since the early 1980s. PharmaTimes covered the news, and here’s our press release for more details.
  • Several new bits of data emerged from the annual National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) conference in Belfast this week. The first showed that women are four times less likely to get potentially-lifesaving surgery if their breast cancer is diagnosed as an emergency rather than by an urgent GP referral. Our press release has the details.
  • Next, figures from Public Health England showed that bladder cancer survival is lower in women than in men, which could be down to later diagnosis or developing rarer forms of the disease. The Mail Online has more.
  • As more people are surviving cancer, the NHS will need to be prepared to handle the longer-term health effects of beating the disease, according to another report. The Guardian has more on this one.
  • And new data on rarer cancers in England highlighted the challenge facing researchers and doctors tackling these forms of cancer. Here’s the Guardian’s analysis.
  • A single dose of Cervarix – a vaccine against two types of the human papillomavirus (HPV), linked to cervical and other cancers – could be as effective in preventing infections as multiple doses, according to an international study. We took a look at the findings.

Number of the week:


The number of cases of oesophageal cancer diagnosed in men in 2012, compared with around 2,700 cases 30 years ago.

  • This interesting article in the Guardian took a look at the changing face of the Brits, in sickness and in health.
  • Tobacco researchers identified additives in cigarettes that could have made them more acceptable and addictive, according to a new analysis of tobacco company documents.
  • The Mail Online covered the disappointing news that the prostate cancer drug enzalutamide was judged too costly for use on the NHS under draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
  • An interesting study from Belgium that initially set out to try and improve a blood test used to spot foetal disorders, found unexpected signs of cancer in three of the 4000 pregnant women on the study.
  • “One of breast cancer’s most deadly secrets has been solved by scientists,” says the Mail Online. But when you follow that with “in experiments on mice” it becomes clear that this research looking at signals inside immune cells is at a very early stage. NHS Choices sets the story straight.
  • Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) launched a new report, which we funded, outlining a five year plan for tobacco control. The Guardian ran a couple of articles on the report, and we published our chief executive’s speech from the launch event.
  • A study tracking 67,000 post-menopausal women confirmed that being overweight or obese was linked to a greater risk of breast cancer, and the more excess weight women carried the higher this risk became. But despite what some of the media coverage suggests, this study wasn’t set up to give us a clear answer on the impact of weight loss. It’s still a good idea to keep to a healthy weight, as we know this reduces the risk of many cancers and other diseases.
  • The Mail Online covered a far from ideal study suggesting cases of breast cancer were higher around a particular nuclear power station. But the study wasn’t good enough to draw this conclusion. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if something’s really a ‘cancer cluster’, or just down to chance, you can read more about these here.
  • Several media outlets covered news of the world’s first birth from a frozen ovary, including the Daily Telegraph, New Scientist and the Guardian.
  • Could Facebook or Twitter help you quit smoking?” asked the Mail Online. This could be an interesting approach, particularly among younger smokers, but as this NHS Choices article points out there were limitations to the study. And the NHS Stop Smoking Services offer you the best chance of quitting successfully.

And finally

  • You’d be crazy for thinking that a small study of around 800 people looking at markers of inflammation in their blood could be turned into a story about how avoiding stress could prevent cancer. But then the Daily Express published this. Cancer wasn’t even measured as an outcome in the study, so this isn’t one to get stressed over (and we’ve debunked stress as a cause of cancer on our website).