On the pulse – 30th March 2012

Cancerkin’s news…

Annual lecture

We had a full house at Cancerkin’s annual lecture given by Professor Waxman on 27 March. It was wonderful to see so many of our supporters there to help us begin the year of 25th Anniversary celebrations and we would like to thank you all for coming. The lecture was followed by a lively question and answer session, chaired by our Medical Director Mr Tim Davidson ChM, MRCP, FRCS, which stimulated a fascinating debate on topics including the patient/doctor relationship, the side effects of tamoxifen and the future of breast cancer treatment. Thank you to our Chairman John Carrier for leading the evening and to all those who contributed to our Q&A.

Goodbye to Pilotlight

This week marks the final stop on our journey with Pilotlight, an organisation which matches charities with talented business professionals. Cancerkin has been working with the team of ‘Pilotlighters’ over the last 18 months examining every aspect of our organisation and culminating with the  creation of  a new Cancerkin five year strategic plan. It has been an incredibly productive experience for us all and we would like to thank the team for all the invaluable help and advice they have given us.

Hyde Park Walk 2012 – registration open!

Our biggest event of the year, the annual Hyde Park Walk, is on 17th June 2012 and you can now register to take part. We will be sending out invitations from next week, but if you just can’t wait to register, you can find the 2012 entry form here on our website.  If you have any questions, contact Laura on l.smith@cancerkin.org.uk.

Volunteers needed

Yes it’s that time again…we need your help to fold letters and stuff envelopes! We are looking for volunteers to help with the mail out for the Hyde Park Walk over the next few weeks. If you have any time to spare and would like to come along and help, have some tea and biscuits, and meet our other volunteers, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Laura on l.smith@cancerkin.org.uk.

In the news…

New study into alcohol and breast cancer

The link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk is a topic frequently discussed by the media. It is know that a causal link between the two exists, with recent studies suggesting that even small amounts of wine, beer or spirit consumed regularly increase the risk of developing the disease. A review of research into alcohol and breast cancer published this week suggests that just one alcoholic beverage a day can increase risk significantly.

Researchers at the University of Heidelberg in Germany and the University of Milan in Italy analysed the results of 113 studies into breast cancer risk and alcohol. Their report was published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism. They found that women who drank one alcoholic drink a day had an increased risk of five percent. They found that the higher the consumption of alcohol, the higher the risk of breast cancer. The review suggested that women who drank heavily, meaning three or more drinks a day, were up to 50 percent more likely to develop the disease than those who did not drink. A drink was defined as 10 to 12 grams of ethanol, equivalent to 1.5 units, or to one 125ml glass of average strength red wine or a pint of lager. The review was not able to establish whether there is a safe threshold of low level alcohol consumption, under which the amount of alcohol has no effect on breast cancer risk.

The review stated: “Since several populations show a high prevalence of light drinkers among women, even the small increase in risk we reported — in the order of five per cent — represents a major public health issue in terms of breast cancers attributable to alcohol consumption.” Lead author Prof Helmut Seitz wrote: “Since there is no threshold level of ethanol for breast cancer risk, the breast is one of the most sensitive organs for the carcinogenic action of alcohol. Healthy women should not exceed one drink a day (equivalent to 10–12g of ethanol). Women at an elevated risk for breast cancer such as those with a positive family history, or conditions associated with an increased breast cancer risk should avoid alcohol or consume alcohol only occasionally.”

In response to the review, Sarah Williams, health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “Research has already shown that the risk of breast cancer increases the more alcohol a woman drinks. But this new study adds to the evidence that drinking even small amounts of alcohol – about one drink a day – can slightly increase the risk of breast cancer. Women can help reduce their risk of breast cancer by reducing the amount of alcohol they drink, keeping a healthy weight, and being physically active.”

To read more, please click here.

Laura Smith

On the pulse – 23rd March 2012

Cancerkin’s news…

Annual lecture just around the corner

Our annual lecture with Professor Jonathon Waxman MD FRCP takes place next Tuesday 27 March 2012. There are a few spaces still available at the event so if you would like to reserve a place, you can contact Laura on l.smith@cancerkin.org.uk. The lecture will take place in the Atrium at the Royal Free Hospital at 6pm for a 6.30pm start. Click here to find out more. We look forward to seeing you there!

East London Project and the Funding Network

Last Saturday 17 March, Victoria Todd, CEO, and Cherry Cheung, East London Project Manager, gave a presentation to The Funding Network who had donated £6000 to the project in March last year. Victoria and Cherry explained how their money helped towards recruiting and training Awareness Ambassadors from University of East London as well as train 5 East London Experienced Patients to do the same supportive one-to-one work as our Experienced Patients here at the Cancerkin Centre have done so well over the years and help us continue to provide our therapies in East London. The work of our Awareness Ambassadors who raise awareness about the warning signs of breast cancer and the importance of early diagnosis in their local communities was highlighted. The fear that some women feel about breast cancer treatment and the power of peer support was brought home vividly by a story Cherry told of a woman who had cancelled her mastectomy operation at the last minute after a panic attack. At her first Cancerkin complementary therapy session in East London, it was touching to see the encouragement the other women gave her as they said “Go for it!” and “Get rid of that cancer!”  She left the session upbeat and positive, having decided to have the mastectomy.

Looking good at Cancerkin

This week, Cancerkin hosted a Look Good…Feel Better workshop. The workshops teach women how to use skincare and make-up to combat the visible side-effects of cancer treatment, giving them a confidence boost and some much needed pampering. We would like to thank the lovely volunteers from LGFB – Suki, Clementine, Debbie, Asiya and Jodie – who ran Tuesday’s session and gave 15 women an enjoyable and relaxing afternoon. Cancerkin has enjoyed a happy partnership with Look Good…Feel Better for many years now and hosts their monthly workshops here at the Cancerkin Centre. We thank them for all their hard work in providing such a valuable service to our patients. To read more about the workshops, click here.

Patient Support Group in March

Please note that there will be no patient support group next Tuesday 27 March, as it falls on the same day as the annual lecture (see above). The next group will take place on Tuesday 24 April 2012, with a talk from Mr Tim Davidson ChM, MRCP, FRCS, Consultant Breast Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital.


In the news…

Aspirin and cancer risk explained

Over the last few years, evidence has been building that taking a daily dose of aspirin may help to reduce cancer risk. The results from three new studies into the effects aspirin has on cancer risk and cancer spread, published this week in the Lancet and the Lancet Oncology Journals, suggest that the drug can not only help to reduce the risk of developing cancer in healthy individuals, it can also help to reduce the risk of cancer spreading in those who have the disease. However, anyone considering taking aspirin regularly is advised to discuss the drug with their GP as there are other associated risks, such as internal bleeding

Each of the three new studies was led by Professor Peter Rothwell, Professor of Clinical Neurology at Oxford University and a world expert in aspirin research. They looked at data from several large trials of aspirin, where small daily doses were taken and the drug’s effect on heart disease and cancer risk was monitored. Earlier studies had suggested that aspirin specifically affected the risk of bowel cancer and other cancers of the digestive system, but the new research found that, after three years of taking low dose aspirin daily, the risk of all cancers decreased significantly in both men and women. In the study, there were nine cases of cancer per thousand people taking aspirin and twelve cases per thousand who were not, with the risk most significantly reduced in oesophageal, stomach, bowel and lung cancer.

The research also unexpectedly revealed the possible benefits of aspirin in helping to reduce the risk of cancer spread.  It found that regular aspirin takers were less likely to be diagnosed with cancer that had already spread and that in those diagnosed with early localised cancers it was less likely to spread later on. This is a significant finding as cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is much more difficult to treat and suggests that aspirin may be useful for certain people who have already been diagnosed with cancer. Overall, because of aspirin’s suggested effect on reducing cancer risk and preventing cancer spread, the research also suggested that aspirin taken for over five years reduced the risk of dying from cancer by nearly 40 per cent.

The studies also looked at the balance of the benefits and harms of taking aspirin regularly, in order to decide whether the drug does more good than harm overall. Aspirin is known to have serious side-effects such as internal bleeding in certain people. Researchers found that the benefit of reduced cancer risk increased over time but that the risk of internal bleeding was significantly increased in the first three years of taking aspirin before reducing over time to the same as those not taking aspirin after 5 years. Overall, the combined risk of cancer, serious internal bleeding and major heart and circulatory problems was lower in those taking aspirin, suggesting its benefits may outweigh its risk.

Cancer Research UK explains the research in much more detail and provided a balanced description of the possible benefits and risks. To read more, please click here.

Laura Smith

On the pulse – 16th March 2012

Cancerkin’s news…

Cancerkin at the Hackney African Forum

Cancerkin, together with the local PCT and Macmillan, supported a Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Saturday 10 March in Hackney run by the Hackney African Forum. The day began with a presentation on breast awareness by the Macmillan team followed by a lively session from Cancerkin outlining the services provided for women during their course of treatment and beyond. What came across loud and clear from the questions and discussion was the hunger for information, and the power of cultural factors, such as the role that faith healers play in some communities – all of which needs to be factored in when providing a ‘hand holding’ service throughout the patient’s engagement with Cancerkin. The NHS East London and City have requested that Cancerkin give the same presentation to their staff. Any other offers will be considered! We need to shout loud and clear to get our message across.

To read more about our East London Programme, click here.


Cancerkin Annual lecture

Our annual lecture is now just over a week away and we are very much looking forward to hearing our speaker Professor Jonathon Waxman MD FRCP’s talk. There are some spaces still available at the event on Tuesday 27 March 2012 so if you would like to reserve a place, you can contact Laura on l.smith@cancerkin.org.uk. The lecture will take place in the Atrium at the Royal Free Hospital at 6pm for a 6.30pm start. Click here to find out more.

Free Breast Cancer Care information sessions

Breast Cancer Care will be giving several information sessions in London over the next few months that are free and open to anyone affected by breast cancer including family or friends.  The information sessions are reflective, interactive and educational. They provide a space for patients, family and friends to hear a talk from an expert speaker, and also to meet others and share practical tips and experiences.

Their next session will be ‘Understanding drug treatments for primary breast cancer’ on 5 April, 10.30am – 1pm (Great Suffolk Street, Southwark). They will hold further sessions on ‘Cancer-related fatigue’ on 14 June 2012, 10.30am – 1pm, ‘Lymphoedema’ on 11 September 2012, 10.30am – 1pm and Breast Reconstruction on 11 October 2012, 1.30pm – 4pm. You must register before attending events as places are limited.  If you would like more information, please contact the Breast Cancer Care regional services team on 0845 0771895 or src@breastcancercare.org.uk.

In the news…

Red meat and cancer risk

A new study conducted by scientists at Harvard Medical School in the US claims that a diet high in red meat can shorten life expectancy and can significantly increase the risk of dying from heart disease and cancer. The results, published in the Journal Archives of Internal Medicine, also suggest that swapping red meat with healthier alternatives can help to lower this risk.

Scientists looked at the diets of over 120,000 people in the US over a period of more than 20 years. They analysed data collected from 37,698 men between 1986 and 2008 and from 83,644 women between 1980 and 2008. They recorded 23,926 deaths in this time, including 5,910 from heart disease and 9,364 from cancer. After taking into account known chronic disease risk factors such as age, body, weight, physical activity and family history, scientists concluded that there was a significant association between red meat consumption and premature death, and heart disease and cancer mortality. They found that each additional daily serving of unprocessed red meat, such as a helping of beef, lamb or pork about the size of a deck if cards, increased the mortality rate by 13 percent and a portion of processed red meat, such as burgers or sausages, increased it by 20 percent. When looking at cause of death, eating any kind of red meat increased the risk of dying from heart disease by 16 percent and from cancer by 10 percent. Processed meat increased this to 21 percent for heart disease and 16 percent for cancer.

Senior author Professor Frank Hu, of Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, US, said: “This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death. On the other hand, choosing more healthful sources of protein in place of red meat can confer significant health benefits by reducing chronic disease morbidity [illness] and mortality.” The study found that cutting red meat our altogether offered significant benefits and that halving red meat consumption could have prevent the deaths of 9.3 percent of men and 7.6 percent of women taking part in the study. Replacing red meat with healthier alternatives such as fish, chicken and plant-based protein was also found to make a significant difference. Nuts for example were found to reduce the mortality rate by 20 percent.

Victoria Taylor, a dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This study links red meat to deaths from CVD [cardiovascular disease] and cancer. Red meat can still be eaten as part of a balanced diet, but go for the leaner cuts and use healthier cooking methods such as grilling. If you eat processed meats like bacon, ham, sausages or burgers several times a week, add variation to your diet by substituting these for other protein sources such as fish, poultry, beans or lentils.”

To read more, please click here.

Laura Smith