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News digest – ‘hibernating’ humans, 10 portions of fruit and veg, ‘hidden sugar’ and… rabbits?

by Aine McCarthy | Analysis

25 February 2017

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  • The week started with headlines in the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Times and the Telegraph following claims by scientist at a US conference that ‘putting patients in to hibernation’ will help cure cancer. This was misleading in many ways, as we explain in our blog post, because there’s no evidence to back up these claims, or that people can even be made to hibernate.
  • Breast cancer patients are being ‘denied a 43p drug’, according to the Daily Mail. The drugs, called bisphosphonates, are usually used to treat bone disease and there is evidence that they could help stop breast tumours spreading to the bone. England’s Cancer Strategy calls for clear guidelines about when these drugs should be used to treat cancer and how they will be paid for.
  • A one-off screening test called bowel-scope can reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer by a third, according to a study we part-funded. The 17-year follow-up results, which were reported in the Guardian and the Express, found that, although no screening test is perfect, the benefits of bowel scope seem to last. We blogged about the findings.
  • The Sun and the Mirror reported a study predicting that death rates for men in Europe will fall faster than in women. The study’s authors believe the variation is due to the different trends in lung and other tobacco-related cancers between men and women, something we’ve written about before.

Number of the week


The number of fruit and veg portions a new study recommends we should eat a day.

  • BBC Radio 4 presenter Steve Hewlett died on Monday at the age of 58. Diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in March of this year, the veteran presenter shared his journey and experiences with the nation through a series of interviews.
  • Headlines in the Daily Mail, BBC News and the Guardian reported that eating 10 portions of fruit and veg a day could help you live longer by reducing your chances of developing heart disease, cancer and other diseases. It’s not new news that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables every day is beneficial for you, and can also help people maintain a healthy weight.
  • Keeping with diet, a report published by the Obesity Health Alliance warns that children are eating the equivalent of 20 chocolate-chip biscuits a day in hidden sugars. Last year, as part of their childhood obesity plan, the Government pledged to reduce sugar content by 20% in 9 major food types that children eat by 2020. Following this report, public health experts are calling for this to happen in full, and soon. The Telegraph, the Guardian and the Mirror have more on this.
  • Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day can help reduce the risk of breast cancer returning, according to a review of 67 published studies. It’s important to remember that doing this, and other things such as drinking less alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer in the first place.

And finally

  • You may have read reports that rabbits ‘could be the secret weapon in the fight against cancer’. They’re not. Instead, a study  found that a virus which only infects rabbits could potentially be used as a way to treat multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that starts in the bone marrow, by boosting the immune system. But this is early stage lab research carried out in mice, so more work is needed before scientists can know if this is safe to test in people with the disease.