• New research picked up by Reuters and us suggests that teens who try e-cigarettes might be more likely to try tobacco cigarettes. But the study doesn’t prove that vaping causes adolescents to take up smoking, and smoking rates in young people have continued to fall in recent years. The evidence so far shows that e-cigarettes are far safer than their tobacco counterparts.
  • The Express and others claimed that diets rich in junk food could raise the risk of cancer in postmenopausal women who are a normal weight. But the study these reports were based on doesn’t convincingly show that eating junk food has a direct effect on cancer risk beyond its impact on people’s weight.
  • A year after the Government’s children’s obesity plan was published and Public Health England announced its plans to slash hidden calories in the food that children are eating most, like ready meals and pizzas. That’s in a bid to reduce the UK’s worrying levels of childhood obesity which, as cancer prevention expert Professor Linda Bauld blogged about for us, will also require government to look at junk food ads on TV.
  • A glass of wine a day could keep the doctor away, or so you might think reading various headlines this week. A study suggested that light to moderate drinking could be linked with a lower risk of death. But don’t go skipping to the pub just yet – even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of some cancers.
  • Concerns over air pollution were raised by The Times this week, highlighting an upward trend in lung cancer among non-smokers. But some experts aren’t convinced that this explains the trend, and smoking is still by far the biggest cause of lung cancer in the UK. Air pollution can cause other diseases too, which is why we want to see the Government take steps to cleaning up our air. Check out our website for more info.

Number of the week


The number of deaths in the UK each year that are estimated to be caused by being overweight or obese.

  • The Express attempted to unpick why more men than women are diagnosed with cancer in the UK. Lifestyle factors could be playing a role, with men being more likely to drink alcohol and be overweight.
  • An experimental blood test has been able to correctly identify patients already diagnosed with early stages of cancer, reports the Huffington Post and Mail Online. Picking up the disease earlier is important because it becomes harder to treat at later stages, but this test needs refining before it can make it to the clinic as, for some cancers, it could only detect around half of the earliest stage cases.
  • An imaging technique was able to pick up changes in the lungs of mice with breast cancer that could indicate the likelihood of the disease spreading there. If confirmed in people, the researchers say that the test could help guide treatment.
  • We released figures showing how deaths from bowel cancer have plunged by more than 30% over the last 2 decades. Experts think that’s down to better treatments, but greater public awareness and bowel screening could have also had a hand in the trend. The Daily Mail and Express picked this up.
  • The dangers of choosing alternative medicines were raised this week, after a small study found that patients forgoing conventional cancer treatment in favour of these therapies had a significantly greater risk of dying from their disease. This is a subject we’ve blogged about extensively before, highlighting the harms of these treatments and the need to ask for evidence.
  • Joining other large-scale efforts to map cancer, a new ‘Pathology Atlas’ of the disease has been created, documenting the relationship between the activity of genes in cancer and patient survival. The ultimate goal is to personalise treatments. MIT Technology Review has this one.
  • A misleading headline from the Mail Online suggests that women with faulty BRCA genes, which raise the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, should avoid folate-rich foods to lower their risk. But the study the Mail’s report is referring to didn’t actually look at whether eating folate affects cancer risk. In fact, the scientists suggest that folate could be investigated as a cancer treatment, but they haven’t tested this idea yet. So the good news is we can all keep enjoying our greens.

And finally

  • Findings from a lab study looking at vitamin C in leukaemia were over-egged this week. Researchers found that giving mice very high doses of the vitamin slowed down progression of leukaemia, pointing towards a possible role against cancer-fuelling cells called stem cells. But as we told The Express, this isn’t the same as eating foods containing vitamin C, and people are very different from mice. So this shouldn’t be taken as advice to swap cancer treatment for oranges and lemons.