To all those using, or planning to use, faecal immunochemical tests for haemoglobin (FIT) in bowel cancer screening programmes, there was some disturbing news last week. In British Columbia (BC), Canada, use of FIT ceased due to a problem with a reagent used in analysis of the samples. On the official website, it is stated that work to resolve this as quickly as possible is underway and the organisers will have a better idea of timing in the next few weeks: however, it could take a number of months for FIT analyses to resume. The details and consequences are very well documented.
These days, it feels as though we can either be productive or live an active life. It doesn’t seem possible to fit both in to our day. With evidence suggesting that spending long periods of time sitting (independent of physical activity levels) increases cancer risk, it’s about time we became more active. So is there any way we can have the best of both worlds? Well, I’m glad to be the bearer of good news: the Pomodoro writing technique might just be what we are all looking for!
Office jobs are a diverse family; you might be a receptionist, an accountant, a marketing director, or you might even be a blog writing aficionado. Within the variety of roles that are available, there is a common physical restriction; sitting down. Many of us will relish in the fact that sitting down is part of our job, but don’t get too comfortable; the European Code Against Cancer (ECAC) have explored the health risks of sedentary behaviour and suggest that any type of physical activity is advantageous to our health.
In 2007, the International Agency for Research on Cancer|World Health Organization (IARC|WHO) concluded that the effects of shift work on the disruption of normal circadian rhythm had a probable link to breast cancer. IARC suggest that our endogenous 24-hour body clocks may be subject to interference by factors such as exposure to light at night, and it’s impact on melatonin levels may be linked to breast cancer. However, a recent meta-analysis led by Dr Ruth C. Travis published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concludes that night shift work may actually have very little effect on breast cancer risk.
There aren’t many good things to report about dietary trends in Scotland but one that does stand out is our decreasing consumption of red and processed meat – albeit by a modest amount.
Three years ago I attended my first day at the University of Dundee which didn’t get off to the best start. The first challenge I would face as an aspiring scientist was deciphering my timetable; not an easy task as I end up in the wrong class on the basement level of the building. Realising my mistake I run back up the stairs to the ground floor and think, among the profanities, “Phew! That’s my exercise done for the day“. Catching my breath, I re-read my timetable and see an insolent little “3” staring back at me. The third floor.
Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and its incidence is increasing. However, survival rates are also increasing. In Scotland, age-standardised, five year survivorship rates have increased from 42.9% in 1987-91 to 64.7% in 2007-11. More people surviving after a bowel cancer diagnosis is fantastic news, but there is considerable room for improvement in both quantity and quality of years; multi-modal treatment pathways, risk of complications and the possibility of a stoma can cause prolonged physical and psychological recovery.
At 50, my youngest daughter made me call the local breast screening centre to ask if I had missed a letter inviting me to attend. She said “the late birthday card from the bowel cancer unit came within weeks of turning 50…” Happily the screening centre staff offered to give me an appointment but said I hadn’t missed an invitation, it was just that my GP area wasn’t being called in at that point in time. I went, got an all clear and had one happy daughter.