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News digest – Britain’s sweet tooth, cancer mysteries and… superman glasses?

by Misha Gajewski | Analysis

18 July 2015

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  • Britain has a sweet tooth, and it’s becoming a problem. So this week, doctors said that sugary drinks should be taxed by 20 per cent. The BBC covered this as did the Guardian, Daily Mail among others.
  • On Friday the government published its new sugar consumption recommendations, suggesting that sugar intake ‘should be halved’. The BBC has this story as does the Guardian. We also blogged about the recommendations.
  • A study out this week comparing women aged 50-74 doing 150 minutes of exercise a week with those doing 300 minutes of exercise a week found the group doing more exercise lost more weight. Both being a healthy weight and being physically active can reduce a women’s risk of breast cancer after menopause. Don’t fret if six hours a week sounds like too much, any amount of exercise is better than none. The Daily Mail has more on this.
  • Some cancer mysteries were solved this week. In a study we partly funded, scientists found that chromosomes put out signals that influence how cells divide. Sci-News has everything you need to know.
  • And our scientists solved a breast and ovarian cancer genetic mystery showing how key molecules can jump start a specific protein that repairs cancer-causing DNA damage in cells. Here’s the press release.
  • Time Magazine covered another study looking at weight gain in breast cancer. But the study relied on people reporting their own weight, and the majority of the participants in the study were Caucasian and had a strong family history. So it’s not clear how reliable or general the findings are.

Number of the week:


New recommendations say that just five per cent of energy intake for children and adults in the UK should come from ‘free sugars’.

  • Public Health England’s latest Be Clear on Cancer campaign, launched this week and was covered by the BBC and Guardian. It encourages older women (70+) to tell their GP about any unusual changes to their breasts. And this doesn’t have to be a lump, any unusual or persistent change to your breasts should be checked out by your GP.
  • Our researchers at the University of Manchester found a new combination of drugs that could overcome cancer’s defences and help kill cancer cells in the lab. We blogged about this, and it was also picked up by the BBC and the Daily Mail.
  • Reuters and Bloomberg reported on our new partnership with Monopar Therapeutics and Cancer Research Technology to develop a new experimental treatment.
  • And GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) became the first pharmaceutical company to join forces with The Francis Crick Institute. The Financial Times has more on this.
  • Early in the week Reuters reported that Monsanto had commissioned an independent panel to review the World Health Organisation’s findings that one of the ingredients used in its weed killer Roundup is a ‘probable cause of cancer’.
  • The same weed killer was also under scrutiny in a German Government report, which – according to the Guardian: “has drawn contrary conclusions from the IARC’s data”.
  • According to a new study, nearly 9,500 people die each year in London because of the poor air quality. The Guardian and Independent have the story.
  • The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting story about a very small study showing that prenatal blood tests can detect cancer in expectant mothers. While it’s rare for pregnant women to be diagnosed with cancer the study opens up the possibility of using a non-invasive test to diagnose cancer earlier. WebMD also has more on this story.

And finally…

Reuters reported a story about a professor of radiology from Washington University who developed a pair of ‘cancer glasses’ that can be worn during surgery and allows the wearer to see the glowing dye-injected cancer cells. It could allow doctors to see the cancer cells ‘in real-time’ while they operate instead of just relying on scans. The glasses are currently being tested during surgery for skin and breast cancer patients.