• Two new breast cancer drugs have been given the green light for use on the NHS in England for certain patients. We reported that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved palbociclib (Ibrance) and ribociclib (Kisqali) after an undisclosed discount was agreed with the makers of the drugs. The drugs can slow the growth of certain advanced breast cancers for an average of 10 months, delaying the need for chemotherapy. Check out our blog post for the story of the research that led to the treatments.
  • We reported on the UK Supreme Court’s ruling that Scotland can set a minimum price for alcohol. It dismissed a challenge to legislation that was passed by the Scottish Parliament five years ago. Health experts said the minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol should be enforced as soon as possible. BBC News also had this story.

Number of the week


Women who could be eligible for treatment with either newly approved breast cancer drug.

  • ‘Indulgent’ grandparents could be bad for children’s health, reports BBC News. This comes from a widely-covered review that looked at grandparents’ influence on their grandchildren’s weight, diet and physical activity. But the study doesn’t take into account positive factors like being cared for by a family member and the financial cost of childcare. The Telegraph and Independent also had this story.
  • A group of health bodies and charities said more needs to be done to help smokers with mental health conditions quit, including accessing e-cigarettes and other treatments. We reported on the statement, which highlighted that smoking rates in people with mental health conditions have barely changed in the last 20 years, despite a steady decline in the rest of the population.
  • The UK is the most obese nation in Western Europe, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The UK’s obesity rates are rising quicker than similar countries, doubling in the last 20 years. More than 6 in 10 UK adults are overweight or obese according to the OECD. BBC News and the Guardian covered this story.
  • We’ve blogged before about organoids – tiny bundles of cells that mimic organs – which are used in research as they more closely resemble conditions in the body than cells in a dish. Now The Economist describes how scientists have gone one step further by nudging them to become tumouroids, which they can use to work out what goes wrong in cancer, and test new drugs.
  • Gene-editing has been tried on cells inside a patient for the first time, reports BBC News. A man in California was given an experimental treatment to try to fix DNA faults that cause a degenerative disease called Hunter’s syndrome, which is incurable and can be fatal.
  • Progress against pancreatic cancer is slow, and survival remains stubbornly low. So these discoveries – reported by STAT News – are positive, though still at an early stage.

And finally

  • ‘Drink coffee to beat cancer’ screamed the front page of the Express. The piece reported that drinking 3-5 cups a day reduces the risk of liver cancer. It’s a story that comes from a report by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC), whose members are six of the major European coffee companies. We’ve blogged about coffee and cancer before – there’s some evidence that it reduces the risk of certain cancers, but things like overall diet and keeping a healthy weight are more important.