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News digest – Prostate cancer blood test, falling drinking rates, CRISPR-ing cancer cells and… a cancer-detecting bra?

by Gabriella Beer | Analysis

6 May 2017

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Blood test
Scientists are developing blood tests that could help detect lung cancers earlier.
  • An experimental blood test could help personalise treatment for advanced prostate cancer, according to various media reports. The findings need confirming in clinical trials, but if it works the test could save some men from treatment that may not work. Our news report has the details.
  • The number of Brits turning to the bottle is at a record low, according to new stats released by the Office of National Statistics. 1 in 5 have ditched booze altogether, but these trends vary across different generations. The Guardian, Telegraph and Independent have the details, and this blog post explains how drinking can affect cancer risk.

Number of the week

10.6 million

The number of people in the UK who say they now don’t drink alcohol at all.

  • The Independent covered new laws on tobacco packaging that come into effect this month. From May 21st every cigarette pack on UK shelves will be covered in what research suggests is the ‘most unappealing colour in the world’.
  • Weight loss support is being offered to some Scottish women over 50 who attend breast cancer screening, as part of a research trial funded by the Scottish Government. It aims to test if supporting these women to lead a healthier lifestyle will reduce their risk of breast cancer. The BBC and Scotsman say that if the trial’s successful we could see it introduced to other parts of the UK too.
  • New research from the US claims that taking aspirin 3 times a week reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. The scientists, interviewed by the Mail Online, suggest aspirin might reduce the amount of oestrogen in the body which can fuel the disease. But the link between aspirin and breast cancer still isn’t completely clear, and the over-the-counter drug comes with risks too, so always speak to your GP before taking it regularly.
  • The Mail Online reports that the ‘cut and paste’ genome editing technology CRISPR has been used to study cancers in mice caused by genes becoming fused together. Our recent posts on CRISPR have more info on the most pressing questions that seem to arise over the technology, and how it might be used in immunotherapy.

And finally

  • The BBC covered a story of a teenager in Mexico who says he’s invented a bra that could detect breast cancer. Julian Rios Cantu, 18, has proposed the idea that biosensors fitted in the garment could measure the temperature of the skin, but the idea needs testing first before we’ll know if it might work.