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News digest – GcMAF, hijacking immune cells, manipulation of blood vessels and… nose-to-tail eating?

by Aine McCarthy | Analysis

22 October 2016

1 comment 1 comment

Blood vessel inside a melanoma
  • The unproven cancer treatment GcMAF hit the headlines this week following an undercover investigation by BBC 5 Live Investigates. They found that a health food shop in Bournemouth has been illegally selling the unlicensed product as a ‘cure’ for cancer. But as we’ve written before, there is no scientific evidence to show that GcMAF works as a treatment for cancer.
  • Researchers in the US have shown how white blood cells, which usually help fight infections, can be coerced by cancer cells into helping them spread around the body. The study also identified a possible way to prevent this ‘hijacking’, which could help develop new treatments in the future.
  • The Telegraph, Huffington Post and the New York Times all reported a study which adds more evidence for risk factors of liver cancer. The study showed that having type 2 diabetes, a large waist circumference or a high BMI – all of which are associated with being overweight or obese – can increase a person’s chances of developing the disease.
  • Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research have discovered that bowel and breast tumours that have spread to the liver don’t always make new blood vessels in order to survive – instead they can manipulate existing blood vessels to get the blood, oxygen and food they need. The findings could explain why drugs that target new blood vessels don’t work for all patients, and could lead to the development of new treatments for cancer that has spread.
  • A new study focusing on bowel cancer patients showed that many didn’t receive emotional or practical support following treatment. The study highlights the fact that cancer treatment can have a huge impact on people’s mental health, something which is often forgotten about.

Number of the week


The amount raised in this year’s Stand Up To Cancer

  • One year into the Cancer Moonshot initiative, US Vice President Joe Biden called for a major push towards the development of blood tests that can detect, diagnose and monitor cancer. He also called for increased information sharing, and highlighted that by using what’s already known about cancer prevention, the number of people who develop cancer could be greatly reduced.
  • The Guardian reported that people in the UK, South Korea, Poland and many other countries consume more calories from alcohol than from sugary drinks. And Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said this suggests that the number of calories in alcoholic drinks should be provided by manufacturers. We’ve written before about how drinking alcohol can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.
  • From now on, breast and head and neck cancer patients will be given new consent forms which better explain the drugs they will be given during their treatment. The forms – which where were developed by us and Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust – strive to give patients the best information when deciding about their cancer treatment. They will be available on our website for medical teams.
  • The Independent reported that researchers at Hokkaido University in Japan had found that giving flufenamic acid – a drug commonly used to treat colds – to mice with bladder cancer could stop the cancer cells spreading around the body. It’s an interesting finding, but it’s in the early stages and more research is needed to figure out if the drug works the same way in people, and if it’s safe.
  • In a new study launched this month, Stand Up To Cancer-funded researchers at The Institute for Cancer Research, London are looking at how specialised viruses that hunt down and attack cancer cells could be used treat the disease alongside other treatments, including immunotherapy and radiotherapy.

And finally

  • Nose-to-tail eating is a popular trend among chefs and food connoisseurs that encourages people to eat every part of an animal – including the organs. And a report in the Daily Mail this week suggested that the trend could be linked to an increased risk of cancer. But this is very early stage research, and there’s no strong evidence to suggest that eating animal organs is worse for you than eating any other cuts of meat. So it puts a new spin on eating liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.



  • Siobhan
    24 October 2016

    Thank you sooo much. I really enjoy getting the news digest. Never too long and always wonderfully written. Appreciate your effort.


  • Siobhan
    24 October 2016

    Thank you sooo much. I really enjoy getting the news digest. Never too long and always wonderfully written. Appreciate your effort.