It’s a plot worthy of Hollywood – a fatal radioactive poison, secret documents, suppressed information, and drugs.
But this isn’t fiction. This is the story of the tobacco industry’s knowledge, policy and inaction around radioactive material in cigarette smoke. And how it took a painstaking search through thousands of court-ordered documents to uncover exactly why tobacco firms are unwilling to remove this deadly radioactivity, despite knowing how for more than 30 years.
By their own admission, “creating doubt about the health charge without actually denying it” is a strategy the tobacco industry has used effectively for decades, using smoke and mirrors to deflect mounting evidence of the deadly harm caused by their products.
As politicians and the public debate the merits of putting cigarettes in plain packaging to deter new young smokers, this particular story should serve as a timely reminder of how Big Tobacco operates when faced with the possibility of falling profits.
Can cancer be prevented? Decades of research have shown that a person’s chances of getting cancer depends on a mishmash of their genes and their environment, but also certain aspects of their lives, many of which they can control.
As our press release says, these latest calculations, based on predicted cases for 2010, show that smoking, diet, alcohol and obesity are behind more than 100,000 cancers. This is equivalent to one third of all cancers diagnosed in the UK each year.
And this figure further increases to around 134,000 when taking into account all 14 lifestyle and environmental risk factors analysed in this study.
But to help make sense of the vast quantity of information contained in the 91-page report, we’ve also put together a graphic that shows the proportion of cancers that can be prevented through lifestyle changes. It’s worth spending a minute or so looking at the key to understand how to interpret the graphic (which you can download as a larger PDF version).
Wednesday morning also saw widespread coverage of research showing that bowel cancer screening was reducing deaths from the disease.
These were based on new research presented at the conference, but there were loads of other sessions too – here’s our Tuesday round-up, whch covers cancer biology, the tumour ‘microenvironment’, radiotherapy, and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster…