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News digest – startling alcohol and cancer trends, falling children’s cancer death rates, cuts to vital Stop Smoking Services and… cryogenics?

by Justine Alford | Analysis

19 November 2016

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What's behind the cryogenics headlines?
  • Over the next 20 years the UK will see a staggering 135,000 cancer deaths linked to alcohol if today’s drinking trends don’t change. And that’s going to cost the NHS a whopping £2 billion. We commissioned this Sheffield University report; read our press release for the details.
  • Our new analysis found that black African women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with late stage breast cancer compared with white women. It’s not known exactly what could be behind these disparities in England, but there are likely to be many reasons including differences in symptom awareness and barriers to seeking help.
  • Thanks to research, children’s cancer death rates in Britain have dropped by more than 30% over the past two decades – from 340 a year to 240. But we still need research to save more lives and make treatment kinder. Find out what we’re doing here.
  • Killing two birds with one stone, a modified virus could one day help turn the immune system on liver cancer cells – and the hepatitis virus that can cause the disease. Our news report has the details.

Number of the week


The number of hospital admissions for cancer forecast over the next 20 years in the UK

  • Public health budget cuts in England are meaning that funding for Stop Smoking Services is being slashed. These services are vital to help people stop smoking, which is why we’re campaigning to protect them. Find out how you can help here, and check out our blog.
  • Our Cambridge Institute launched an ambitious new trial to make breast cancer treatment more personal, tailoring treatments to the unique genes found in each patient’s tumour. Our press release has the info.
  • There could be a link between depression and survival in breast cancer patients, Reuters reports. This new study couldn’t prove cause and effect, although it suggested that women with depression may be less likely to follow recommended treatments.
  • Thanks to a heavy discount, a drug that can help make certain breast cancers operable is now available on the NHS. It will be vital to collect more data on the drug to work out how effective it is, but it could help about 1,400 patients each year, according to the Guardian.
  • Some misleading headlines suggested that drinking a glass of red wine before smoking could help prevent some of the health risks of smoking. But the study has some glaring limitations – it was very small, and only looked at 20 non-smokers. Research has shown that drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer, and that people who smoke and drink are at an even higher risk.
  • Drinking booze is linked to 7 types of cancer, but a new study has suggested that prostate cancer could now be added to this list. The Daily Mail and Mirror reported on this research, which is too early to confirm the possible increase in risk for this cancer.

And finally…

  • We end with a tragic story of a young girl who, at just 14 years old, died of cancer and had her last wish granted – to be cryogenically frozen – in a landmark legal trial, according to reports in the Guardian and the Daily Mail. This means freezing the body in a special way in order to preserve it, in the hope that the person could be revived in the distant future when their disease is curable. But it’s an expensive and, more importantly, unproven procedure. At the moment it’s unknown whether it’s possible to bring people back to life, and there are all sorts of ethical implications.