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News digest – oxygen scan, tiny tech, Chief Medical Officer’s report, ovarian cancer drug approval and… contradicting articles?

by Nick Peel | Analysis

12 December 2015

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Two computer screens with imaging data on them
  • Our scientists revealed a new approach to MRI scanning that could help doctors spot areas of low oxygen inside tumours in a less invasive way. This could be important for guiding treatment, but the Mail Online and Express got a little carried away with this, as the research is still at an early stage.
  • An analysis of data from the Million Women Study – which we part-fund – found that being unhappy or stressed doesn’t shorten your life. So it’s ok if you’re not feeling festive just yet.
  • A new report from England’s Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, warned of the growing need to tackle obesity. The BBC has more on this, and we’ve blogged before about the leading theories on how obesity can cause cancer.
  • Scotland’s new food standards body warned that the country had made little progress in hitting certain dietary targets like fibre consumption. The BBC covered this.
  • Asking patients to keep track of certain symptoms and report them online to their doctor could help improve their quality of life. Reuters has the details.
  • Sticking three twisted strands of genetic material inside a special gel could help get an experimental treatment into cancer cells, according to early US research. Gizmag has more.
  • Gizmag also covered more tiny technology, as US scientists found that microscopic nanobubbles could help sneak drugs into cancer cells. It’s still early days on this one though.

Punctuation marks of the week


An analysis from the Million Women Study found that found that being unhappy or stressed doesn’t shorten your life

  • Our scientists found that five in six women with increased risk of breast cancer turn down drugs likely to prevent the disease. The Express covered this, and here’s our press release for more info.
  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved the drug olaparib for use on the NHS. Women with ovarian cancer who carry faulty versions of the BRCA1 and 2 genes that have already responded to chemotherapy will be eligible for the drug. Here’s the Mail Online’s report.
  • Former US President Jimmy Carter was treated with a new immunotherapy drug, with promising results.
  • A small study trialling an experimental urine test for bladder cancer launched in Southampton, reports ITV News.
  • Beijing smog levels hit an all time high. Wired has the story (air pollution increases the risk of certain cancers).
  • Good news: the Welsh Government changed its plans to ban e-cigarettes in public places. The BBC has the story.
  • Surprise, surprise, four big tobacco companies have begun legal challenges over upcoming regulations on plain packaging of cigarettes. Here’s the BBC’s report.
  • In more fascinating research into the immune system, UK scientists are testing engineered immune cells as a possible treatment for head and neck cancer. The Guardian has the details.
  • The BBC gave an update on two new proton beam therapy centres being built in Manchester and London. Here’s our most recent blog post on the technology.
  • NPR explored the complex world of personalised cancer treatment.
  • This excellent Guardian comment article tackles the tough balance of pricey cancer drugs and patient care.
  • Tough times for a Japanese ham-giving tradition, reports the BBC.

And finally

  • “Recently there were newspaper reports linking IVF to a higher risk of ovarian cancer,” says a balanced article from The Mirror noting how the stories “must have been pretty scary for women who’d had IVF or were contemplating it”. Can you guess which newspaper covered the original ‘scary’ story?