News digest – tobacco toll, coffee and skin cancer, mouth cancer treatment, and more
Posted Jul 07 2012 12:00am
Most of the UK public know that smoking causes lung cancer but struggle to list many of the other cancers associated with the habit, according to a Cancer Research UK survey published this week ( here’s our press release ). This graphic highlights that the tobacco toll extends far beyond just lung cancer, and serves as a powerful reminder of the need to help people who want to quit and to discourage the next generation of smokers:
The results of our survey were published to celebrate the fifth anniversary of England going smoke free in pubs, bars and public spaces. This piece in the Guardian discusses the growing evidence revealing the health benefits of this move, including a drop in heart attack emergency admissions in hospitals – something that’s been seen in other places that have brought in similar laws. We know that the effect on cancer rates will take longer to kick in.
Moving into the lab, US researchers found that healthy cells in the tumour ‘microenvironment’ could be giving tumours an innate ability to resist cancer drugs, even before treatment starts. As our expert commented in the coverage , on the surface this looks like a daunting discovery. But work like this gives us hope – it shows we can start to unpick these resistance mechanisms early on, even before a new drug is widely used in the clinic. Nature News also covered the research .
A protein that is overactive in aggressive mouth cancers and encourages tumours to grow could be a target for new treatments for the disease, according to new findings from our scientists this week ( press release ). The work is only in the lab at this stage, but what’s really exciting is that we already have potential drugs that can target this protein.
US research showing that people who drank the most caffeine had a smaller chance of developing the most common type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), doesn’t mean that “ a cup of coffee a day can help keep skin cancer at bay ”. It’s a bit more subtle than that. Importantly, caffeine wasn’t associated with lower risk of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. And even if caffeine could reduce the risk of developing BCC, drinking coffee wouldn’t be enough to protect you completely. Check our SunSmart pages for more practical tips on how to reduce the risk of skin cancer.