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News digest – tobacco’s grubby fingerprints, ‘devastating’ childhood obesity levels, blood tests and… ‘man-made stars’?

by Nick Peel | Analysis

5 November 2016

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  • A detailed study of the damage tobacco wreaks on a cell’s DNA revealed distinct ‘fingerprints’ that are left in tissues around the body. The BBC and Guardian were among the many news outlets to cover the findings, and we blogged about the results.

Number of the week


The number of overweight or obese children leaving primary school in England in 2015/16.

  • A Channel 4 investigation claimed the Government’s childhood obesity plan had been ‘watered down’ ahead of its release in August. We covered this, as did the Guardian and Mail Online.
  • Analysing prostate cancer cells fished from blood samples could indicate whether the disease may spread, according to early research. The Mail Online and Express covered the findings, but larger studies will be needed before any potential benefit for the blood test becomes clear.
  • In more blood news, bold claims emerged from the Wired 2016 conference as US scientist Jimmy Lin spoke about the potential promise of blood tests for detecting the earliest signs of cancer.
  • A breast cancer drug will be made available on the NHS for patients with advanced disease after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said the treatment was cost effective. The Guardian and Telegraph have more on this one.

And finally

  • A €138m project in France will use specialised machinery to create ‘super-tiny particles’ not found on earth, reports Sky News. Scientists claim the particles could be turned into new radiotherapy treatments for cancer (as well as being used for nuclear energy). But whether there’s a bright future ahead for these ‘man-made stars’ remains to be seen.