On the pulse 28 November 2012

  • Christmas Tombola
  • Look Good…Feel Better
  • Well-publicised study that suggests women in certain professions may face a higher risk of breast cancer has several drawbacks

Christmas Tombola, 10am – 4pm 4th December 2012

December is nearly upon us, and so here’s the final reminder that our annual Christmas Tombola will be taking place outside the Atrium of the Royal Free Hospital on Tuesday 4th of December, from 10am to 4pm. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of local businesses and supporters, which include meals from restaurants such as Zara and the Hampstead Tea Rooms, a cut and blow dry from Enz and (my personal favourite) the Coast series 1-4 box set!

As well as the Tombola, we are running a stall selling small items, perfect for stocking fillers, including little bags of cosmetics, kindly donated by Revlon. There will also be, of course, a selection of Christmas cards to buy and plenty of mince pies! And, if that’s not enough, there will also be a second-hand book stall.

It’s also not too late to donate a gift! If you have any new items or second hand books you no longer want, you have until Friday 30th November to donate them. Please contact Holly on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or call 020 7830 2323 and we will be happy to help. Alternatively, simply bring the items into the Cancerkin Centre from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

We look forward to seeing you there for what is sure to be the start of the festive season!

Look Good…Feel Better

This week we hosted our monthly ‘Look Good…Feel Better’ workshop designed to help women disguise the visible side-effects of cancer treatment and increase their confidence. Attended by 17 women, the time flew by accompanied by lots of fun and laughter as everyone received some much needed pampering! All the women who attended were overwhelmingly positive about the session and it was lovely to hear Suki, one of the volunteer beauty advisors comment on the “wonderful energy” that they brought. We would like to give a massive “thank you” to Suki, Margarida, Jo, Adeana and Sacha, the volunteer beauty advisors who donated their time to provide yet another fantastic, and valuable, session for our patients.

Cancerkin hosts monthly ‘Look Good…Feel Better’ sessions here at the Cancerkin Centre. To learn more, or book onto a session, please click here, or call Matilda on 020 7830 2323.

Well-publicised study that suggests women in certain professions may face a higher risk of breast cancer has several drawbacks

A study suggesting that women in “chemical jobs” may face a higher risk of breast cancer has had a lot of media coverage this week.

The headlines were based on a new study published in the journal Environmental Health, which considered how likely women in different jobs are to develop breast cancer. The researchers compared 1,006 women with breast cancer and 1,146 women without to see whether those with breast cancer were more likely to work in particular jobs, and the findings were reported as showing that women working in certain jobs, including chemical exposures and bar/gambling work, had a higher risk of breast cancer. However, there were a number of limitations with the study which meant there was no justification for these headlines.

Firstly, as so many different occupations were considered, the number of women in each group was very small. This means it is much harder to generalise to the whole population when the result is based on only a few people. For example, in automotive plastics manufacturing, a job where women appeared to have a higher risk, only 26 women with breast cancer were included. This number is far too small to start drawing firm conclusions from.

A second problem is a serious case of misreporting, not by the newspapers, but by the study authors themselves. Some of the most alarming headlines were about bar work or gambling, including stories such as “Women who work in bars, factories or casinos face higher risk of cancer due to exposure due to ‘toxic soup’ of chemicals” in the Daily Mail.

The researchers did say that women in these jobs had a higher breast cancer risk. However, the result they found (as well as being based on only 16 women with breast cancer) was not statistically significant – the researcher s were not able to be confident that this result was real and it could just have happened by chance.

To conclude, these drawbacks mean it is difficult to conclude anything particularly meaningful from the study. As Sally Greenbrook, Senior Policy Officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, says: “No solid conclusions can be drawn from this research and there is little evidence to suggest that exposure to occupational chemicals increases breast cancer risk. This is a small study with some serious limitations, including making the assumption that women will recall specific details about their exposure to chemicals. We urge women who work in these industries not to worry.”

For more information see here or here.