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News digest – Alcohol, tackling brain tumours, nuclear waste and… late night munchies?

by Misha Gajewski | Analysis

2 April 2016

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  • Nine in 10 people are unaware of the link between alcohol and cancer, according to a survey carried out by our researchers. We blogged about these concerning gaps in awareness, and the Guardian, Daily Mail and others also covered the report.
  • Our scientists discovered why a curable children’s brain tumour responds so well to chemotherapy. This finding could potentially pave the way for new treatments for trickier brain tumours. Read more about this on our blog or in our press release.
  • An interesting trade between the UK and US is taking place later this year as each nation simulates a cyber-attack on nuclear plants. The UK is sending nuclear waste across the Atlantic and in return, the US is sending Europe uranium which will be turned into medical isotopes that are used in scans to help diagnose cancer and in radiotherapy to treat it. Read the full story on BBC or in the Guardian.
  • A new technique developed by scientists in America, using fluorescent dyes, could one day help doctors see if chemotherapy is working eight hours after a treatment. But it still needs to be tested in humans, so it could be some time before this is a reality. More in the Telegraph and Daily Mail.

Number of the week


The percentage of people who are unaware of the link between alcohol and cancer in our new survey.

  • This opinion piece in the Guardian asked people to stop recommending alternative treatments for cancer. For more information on why alternative therapies can be dangerous check out this blog post.
  • A study published in the journal BMJ echoed other research that has shown the drug pioglitazone, that is commonly used to treat diabetes, raises the risk of bladder cancer. The Telegraph and Daily Mail reported this.
  • In some pioneering futuristic news, a UK cancer surgical operation will be live-streamed via virtual reality technology so viewers will feel like they’re in the operating theatre. Read more about it in the Guardian.
  • Professor Andrew Watterson from the University of Stirling identified cancer-causing chemicals in artificial pitches. He was quoted saying: “This report confirms and reveals the presence of a number of carcinogens at various levels in the rubber crumb.” But it is not clear if or how people playing on artificial pitches could be exposed to these cancer-causing chemicals, and there’s no good scientific evidence at the moment to suggest that playing on artificial pitches causes cancer in humans. Forbes has all the details
  • The US cancer ‘moonshoot’ is making progress. Private funders, including New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, gave $125 million for immunotherapy research. STAT News and Reuters reported this. And for more about how immunotherapy could be used to treat cancer check out this blog post.
  • The BBC reported that UK scientists at Royal Marsden NHS Hospital in London are going to start genetically testing tumours in children with cancer. They hope this will increase access to newer, more personalised treatments and improve survival rates.
  • If you have a subscription to The Times, you can read this interesting piece on the complications of cancer drug pricing and what it means for patients.
  • Gizmag reported on early research testing a new immunotherapy drug delivery system for skin cancer that’s being developed in mice. The approach uses a ‘microneedle patch’ that the researchers believe could feed immunotherapy drugs directly into melanomas.

And finally…

  • A story linking night-time snacking and breast cancer recurrence made it into the papers. But as one of the researchers nicely put it ‘in science we have a pretty good rule, we don’t go from one study to a public health recommendation’. And STAT News gets our pick for most accurate coverage of the new research.