Skip to main content

Together we are beating cancer

Donate now
  • Science & Technology
  • Health & Medicine

News digest – toast and roast potatoes, artificial intelligence, pancreatic cancer progress and… toothpaste?

by Justine Alford | Analysis

28 January 2017

0 comments 0 comments

Could an ingredient in toothpaste raise the risk of cancer?
  • Monday sparked fears over breakfast and Britons’ favourite Sunday meal as various outlets reported that some foods cooked at high temperatures – including toast, chips and roast potatoes – were a ‘potential cancer risk’. Our blog post has the details on why it’s too soon to make these claims.
  • The results of a clinical trial we funded could change the way pancreatic cancer patients are treated and help more people survive their disease. The encouraging findings were widely reported, and our press release has the details.
  • It’s far from Rise of the Machines, but new research has found that artificial intelligence could help diagnose skin cancer. It’s too early to say whether image-scanning computers could be used in the clinic, but it’s an exciting idea that could help diagnose cancers in the future. Check out the BBC’s coverage for more info.
  • Ministers in Scotland may have to sacrifice popularity in order to tackle the country’s obesity crisis. Restricting offers on junk food and hiking up parking charges may be unpopular, but are necessary to get more people active, said Holyrood’s Health Committee.
  • Research that found distinct genetic ‘fingerprints’ in cervical cancers may lead to better ways to define the disease. And as our news report explains, this could pave the way for more personalised treatments.

Number of the week:


The number of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in the UK

  • Researchers at Imperial College London may have discovered a new way that breast cancers escape the effects of certain drug treatments – by developing their own fuel supply. Find out here what this could mean for patients.
  • In a bid to help GPs diagnose cancer we’re putting £5 million towards a pioneering project called CanTest. Bringing various diagnostic tests into GP surgeries could reduce waiting times and the number of referrals to specialists, as our press release explains.
  • A new study found that providing personalised information about the health risks of smoking in invitation letters can double the chance that a person uses NHS Stop Smoking Services. Our news report has the details.
  • Those with mental distress may have a higher risk of dying from cancer, according to new UK research. The study didn’t show that mental illness could cause cancer, like some news outlets suggested, but our Chief Clinician, Professor Peter Johnson, said the issue deserves “serious attention”.
  • Adding MRI scans to the way prostate cancers are diagnosed could save some men from invasive biopsies, according to new research. This could help improve prostate cancer diagnosis, but may require a big investment from the NHS, as our news report explains.

And finally…

  • Don’t take headlines claiming an ‘ingredient used in toothpaste could cause cancer’ as an excuse not to brush your teeth. The reports came from a study which found that rats given a chemical called titanium dioxide (also known as E171) – which is found in toothpaste and some foods like sweets and biscuits – developed precancerous changes in their bowel. But as the research was carried out in animals, there’s no evidence to suggest the same happens in people. So you can rest easy brushing those pearly whites.