Cancer Epidemiology Unit

INDOX expansion boosts cancer research across India

Five cancer centres across India are joining the INDOX Cancer Research Network throughout January 2013. INDOX is a partnership between the University of Oxford and leading Indian cancer centres which coordinates research aimed at reducing the death and suffering caused by cancer in India. This expansion of the network brings the total number of Indian partner centres to 12, and was made possible by a grant from Sanofi Oncology as part of their commitment to help build research capacity for Indian cancer centres.

INDOX Director Dr Raghib Ali of the University of Oxford said: ‘We now have centres in all the major regions of India which is important for clinical research in a country of over a billion people. There are large differences in the lifestyle and habits of people in different parts of India as well as genetic variation, and the incidence of different types of cancer also varies by region.’

Originally published on India Education Diary, via India Education Bureau on 1 February 2013 (link to original)


Vegetarians 'cut heart risk by 32%'

Ditching meat and fish in favour of a vegetarian diet can have a dramatic effect on the health of your heart, research suggests. A study of 44,500 people in England and Scotland showed vegetarians were 32% less likely to die or need hospital treatment as a result of heart disease. Differences in cholesterol levels, blood pressure and body weight are thought to be behind the health boost. Scientists at the University of Oxford analysed data from 15,100 vegetarians and 29,400 people who ate meat and fish. Over the course of 11 years, 169 people in the study died from heart disease and 1,066 needed hospital treatment – and they were more likely to have been meat and fish eaters than vegetarians. Dr Francesca Crowe [of Oxford University] said: ‘The main message is that diet is an important determinant of heart health. I’m not advocating that everyone eats a vegetarian diet. The diets are quite different. Vegetarians probably have a lower intake of saturated fat so it makes sense there is a lower risk of heart disease.’

Originally published on BBC News online by James Gallagher on 30 January 2013 (link to original)


Going vegetarian can reduce your risk of heart disease by a THIRD

Vegetarians are a third less likely to need hospital treatment for heart disease or die from it, claim researchers. The largest study of its kind found vegetarians have healthier hearts than those who eat meat or fish. It is thought the benefits come from lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels through eating low-fat diets based on vegetables, whole grains and fruit. The study of almost 45,000 volunteers included a high proportion of vegetarians – 34 per cent – and mostly women, which resulted in ‘clear findings’, said researchers. Co-author Professor Tim Key, deputy director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford, said: ‘The results clearly show the risk of heart disease in vegetarians is about a third lower than in non-vegetarians.’

Originally published in the Daily Mail on 31 January 2013 (link to original)


Active Lifestyle Helps Reduce Chance Of Breast Cancer

An active lifestyle such as doing housework, brisk walking and gardening helps to reduce the chance of getting breast cancer, new research has showed. The research – the largest ever looking at physical activity and breast cancer – is part of ongoing work by the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC), a Cancer Research UK co-funded study and one of the biggest studies into the links between diet, lifestyle and cancer. Researchers looked at over 8,000 breast cancer cases in women. They found that the group who were the most physically active were 13% less likely to develop breast cancer compared with those who were physically inactive. Even women who were moderately active had an 8% lower chance of developing breast cancer. Professor Tim Key, a Cancer Research UK epidemiologist based at the University of Oxford who works on the study, said: “This large study further highlights the benefits of being active – even moderate amounts.”

Originally published on The Huffington Post on 5 September 2012 (link to original)


Mothers who breastfeed are slimmer into their 50s

Researchers from Oxford University calculated that if every mother in Britain breastfed for six months then there would be 10,000 fewer obesity related deaths, from conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, over ten years.

A study of 740,000 post-menopausal UK women, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that both childbearing and breastfeeding had significant, but opposite, effects on long-term weight.

The more children a woman had, the higher her BMI decades later. However, the average BMI was significantly lower in women who breastfed than in those who had not, regardless of how many children they had.

For every six months women had breastfed, their BMI was 1% lower, even after accounting for other factors known to affect to obesity such as smoking, exercise and social deprivation.

Professor Dame Valerie Beral, Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford and study co-author, said:

“Our research suggests that just six months of breastfeeding by UK women could reduce their risk of obesity in later life. A one per cent reduction in BMI may seem small, but spread across the population of the UK that could mean about 10,000 fewer premature deaths per decade from obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.”

Originally published on The Telegraph online by Rebecca Smith on 10 July 2012 (link to original)


Night shifts raise risk of breast cancer, says Danish research

The Health and Safety Executive has commissioned research into reported links between working night shifts and breast cancer in women in an attempt to establish whether working at night increases the risk of chronic disease. The HSE has asked the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University to investigate the disruption caused to people’s body clocks by lifestyle and working patterns. It describes the work as complex and challenging.

Originally published on Guardian online by James Meikle on 28 May 2012 (link to original)


BMJ Junior Doctor of the Year awarded to Dr Alexander Finlayson

Dr Alexander Finlayson was presented with the BMJ Junior Doctor of the Year award at a ceremony this week. The Junior Doctor of the Year award acknowledges the doctor in training who has most notably contributed to medicine or healthcare, and significantly impacted on the wellbeing of the wider community.

Alexander has worked across clinical medicine (Outstanding Commitment to Foundation Programme Award), training (Chairman of the Oxford Deanery Trainees Committee – representing the views of training in the Oxford Deanery), Academia (winning a Kennedy scholarship to Harvard, research for the Mayo Clinic, and Oxford University Academic Clinical Fellow, publishing a book and several peer reviewed papers), Alexander’s most notable achievement has been to establish MedicineAfrica, a programme offering medical students and graduating doctors in Somaliland the opportunity to receive weekly live case based education in small groups from faculties across the UK with follow up mentoring. This project is now being developed in Palestine, Tanzania and Ghana.

Originally published on the BMJ Group website on 28 May 2012 (link to original)


Analytical trend troubles scientists

In 2010 two research teams, one from Queen’s University Belfast, the other from the University of Oxford, separately analysed data from the same UK patient database to see if widely prescribed osteoporosis drugs increased the risk of oesophageal cancer. But whilst the QUB analysis, led by Liam Murray and reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that the increase in oesophageal or gastric cancer was 7% higher in those who took the drugs than those who didn’t, a team led by Jane Green at the University of Oxford reported in the BMJ that the oesophageal cancer risk was 30% higher for those on the drugs. The article goes on to explore some of the issues around these and other observational studies, in which scientists use statistical software and large datasets to analyse information collected previously by others and look for correlations.

Originally published on Wall Street Journal (USA) on 3rd May 2012 by Gautam Naik (link to original)


Women's height linked to ovarian cancer

Taller women have a slightly higher risk of ovarian cancer, according to a review of studies.

Taller women have a slightly higher risk of ovarian cancer, according to a review of studies. Obesity is also a risk factor among women who have never taken HRT, say international researchers. Previous studies have suggested a link, but there has been conflicting evidence. Lead researcher Professor Valerie Beral of Oxford University’s Cancer Epidemiology Unit told the BBC: ‘By bringing together the worldwide evidence, it became clear that height is a risk factor.’ She said there was also a clear relationship between obesity and ovarian cancer in women who had never taken HRT. ‘Ovarian cancer can clearly be added to the list [of cancers linked to obesity],’ she added.

Originally published on BBC News online by Helen Briggs on 3 April 2012 (link to original)


University reject claim over women medical dons

Oxford University has hit back at a report in The Times which claimed it did not have a single tenured female professor in its medical school in 2010.

Oxford University has hit back at a report in The Times which claimed it did not have a single tenured female professor in its medical school in 2010. The University said that this figure excluded women who were not qualified medical doctors and ignored a huge range of women employed by the University and partner organisations such as the Wellcome Trust. A spokesman said: ‘There are at least 43 female professors in Oxford’s medical science division, including some of the university’s most eminent medical researchers Valerie Beral, Kay Davies, Frances Ashcroft, Fiona Powrie, Irene Tracey and Helen McShane. Oxford is committed to getting more women into science at the highest level.’

Originally published in the Oxford Times by Fran Bardsley on 14 February 2012 (link to original)


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