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News digest – HPV stigma, ultra-processed foods, ‘simple’ cancer blood test and why measles isn’t a cancer cure

by Gabriella Beer | Analysis

16 February 2019

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Stigma around HPV infection causes concern

Misunderstanding and perceived stigma around the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is concerningly high and could put women off cervical screening, reports the Independent and others. The results of a survey of over 2,000 women showed that the social stigmas and myths surrounding the common infection can make people anxious, and may even raise fears about their partners’ fidelity. The research was presented at Cancer Research UK’s Early Diagnosis Conference in Birmingham. Our press release has more.

Repeat urinary infections could mask symptoms of cancer

More from the conference in Birmingham: new research showed that recurring urinary infections may mask the symptoms of bladder and kidney cancer. Read the Evening Express and our press release for the details.

Double NHS decision for personalised immunotherapy in Scotland

In its latest round of drug announcements, the Scottish Medicine Consortium rejected one CAR T cell immunotherapy for some adults with aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But it approved another type of CAR T cell therapy for some children and young adults with leukaemia. Our news report follows the developments.

Study shows screening younger patients at risk of breast cancer detects cancers earlier

A breast cancer charity has said that younger women with a family history of breast cancer could receive screening earlier. The BBC covered the study showing that cancers were detected sooner when medium and high-risk 35 to 39-year-olds had a mammogram each year. Currently those at increased risk may start breast screening at 40 years old. Before extending the screening programme, we would need to see that the overall benefits outweigh the harms in this group, including looking at whether fewer women died from the disease.

‘Heat not burn’ tobacco harms cells in a dish

Chemicals produced by devices that heat tobacco instead of burning it can damage cells in the same way as traditional cigarettes, says Yahoo. The study looked at the effects of heated tobacco products, vaping and traditional cigarettes on lung cells. But the lab tests may not closely mirror how people actually use the products. We answered 5 common questions about ‘heat not burn’ products in this blog post.

Ultra-processed foods linked to early death

French scientists say a diet of heavily processed food increases the chance of early death. The Guardian says, however, that other experts were uncertain whether the study proved the link. This fits in with what we already know, that we should be cutting back on unhealthy foods.

Blood test detects lung cancer in mice

Early stage research suggests a blood test might detect the beginnings of lung cancer in mice. But media reports were quick to suggest the same might be possible in people. So far scientists have looked for DNA released by lung cancers into the blood of mice. Our Twitter thread adds some context to the coverage.

High exposure to certain type of weedkiller could increase cancer risk

The Guardian reported a study which found people exposed to very high levels of glyphosate herbicides, have an increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But this study only looked at people who were exposed to the highest levels of glyphosate, rather than people who use it as a weed killer in their garden.

And finally

The Guardian reports the anti-vaccine views of Darla Shine, a former TV producer and the wife of the White House’s communications director. In a series of tweets, Shine criticised CNN’s coverage of a measles outbreak in Washington state and Oregon where more than 50 unvaccinated people developed measles. Despite there being no evidence, Shine suggested that measles infection can cure cancer, citing a single patient case study from 2014 that was misleadingly reported in the media. Read our blog post for more.