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Weekly News Summary – 8th February 2018

Tech Addiction

Welcome back to the weekly edition of the news summary blog. This blog gives you the key stories in health news that occurred between 2 – 8 February. News stories this week include: evidence has indicated that food may alter the spread of cancer; former workers of social media companies are launching a campaign to fight technology addiction; and drinking hot tea could increase the risk of developing oesophageal cancer.

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Research published this week in Nature has shown that breast cancer growth is altered by diet. The research conducted in animals indicated that breast tumours struggled to grow and spread without the nutrient asparagine. Asparagine is a protein that is found in foods such as asparagus, seafood and poultry. The study could impact cancer treatment in the future by introducing drugs that block the uptake of asparagine or by oncologists recommending patients to avoid certain foods. However, further trials are necessary before treatment recommendations are made as studies have only been conducted in animal models.

A campaign run by former workers of Facebook and Google is being launched to warn people about the consequences of technology addiction. The campaign known as “Truth About Tech” aims to highlight the potential harm of digital platforms and encourage technology companies to change their practice to reduce the addictive nature of their applications. Jeremy Hunt has warned this week that overuse of social media sites are as “great a threat to children’s health as obesity”. The government has launched a £5 million scheme to encourage and train primary school staff to spot mental health issues in younger children. The government are meeting with executives of social media platforms such as Facebook to work with them to reduce levels of mental health illnesses in children.

Drinking hot tea is linked to the development of oesophageal cancer in those who smoke and drink alcohol. The link was found in a group of participants in China who drank almost 2 units of alcohol per day, smoked and drank very hot tea. No link was found between those who drank hot tea and did not smoke or drink. Drinking scalding hot tea is more common in China to the risk to those in the UK is uncertain. Other risk factors for oesophageal cancer include obesity and acid reflux.

Words: Joelle Booth

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