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News digest – vaping, kidney cancer blood test, leafy greens and elephant zombie gene?

by Gabriella Beer | Analysis

18 August 2018

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Scientists reveal how some veg could protect against bowel cancer

Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet and a good source of fibre which reduces bowel cancer risk. By studying mice in the lab, scientists at the Francis Crick Institute in London think they’ve discovered another reason why some veg like cabbages, kale and broccoli could help protect against bowel cancer. The BBC reports that a chemical found in these leafy greens can help regulate and control the constantly dividing cells that line the gut. The study showed that this chemical protected mice with a high chance of developing bowel cancer from the disease, but it’s too early to say if the same is true in humans.

MPs call for e-cig rules to relax

A new report on e-cigarettes has led to MPs to call for less strict ruling around the use of e-cigarettes, according to the BBC. MPs say this could help the stop-smoking aids, which are safer than smoking tobacco, to be more widely used and accepted by society. We also covered this.

Vaping may affect lung immune cells

More headlines on e-cigs from the BBC this week: a new study, suggests that e-cig vapour might weaken the activity of immune cells found in the lung. However, this research was carried out in a small number of cells in a lab so can’t tell us about the effects of vaping in real life situations in people. The evidence so far still suggests that vaping is far less harmful than smoking.

Blood test could help detect kidney cancer early

Our scientists have discovered a new molecule in the blood that could indicate if someone has the beginning stages of kidney cancer. The study showed that the greater concentration a person has of the molecule, the more likely they are to develop kidney cancer in the next 5 years. ITV News covered the story and the full details can be found in our press release.

Chemical causes brain cancer cells in mice to ‘self-destruct’

An experimental chemical has been shown to make aggressive brain tumour cells in mice self -destruct, says the Independent. It works by destroying the vital energy centre in tumour cells.

Boost in funding for leukaemia research

Researchers studying a rare type of leukaemia have been given £3.1 million by Cancer Research UK to find more treatments. They’re planning lab experiments alongside a clinical trial to monitor how leukaemia cells interact with a new set of experimental drugs. The data will be used to see if treatments can be matched to individual patients.

UK skin cancer rates are not greater than Australia’s

According to the Mail Online, more Brits now die from skin cancer than Australians. Although our skin cancer rates are rising, this news can be explained by the fact that the UK’s population is roughly two and a half times as large as the population of Australia.

Emergency hospital visits more likely in deprived bowel cancer patients

Patients with bowel cancer living in the most deprived areas of the UK are more likely to go to hospital in an emergency before they’re diagnosed with cancer, than those living in more affluent areas. The PharmaTimes covered the finding and our press release has more.

And finally

Even though elephants live for an average of 70 years and have way more cells than humans, they don’t tend to get cancer. And scientists have found new genetic clues that could explain this strange phenomenon. They found that elephants have an anti-cancer gene that has ‘come back from the dead’. The gene had become inactive sometime during evolution, but it has been switched back on in elephants, helping their cells to respond to DNA damage. The Medical News Today explains the rise of the ‘zombie’ gene in detail.