FlyPink - Supporting breast cancer research
FlyPink – Supporting breast cancer research

Qantas Group employees will FlyPink from this month , to show their support during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

FlyPink is an initiative started by QantasLink Captain Susan McHaffie whose aunt was diagnosed and beat breast cancer. Joining the airline in 2013, Susan was inspired by the National Breast Cancer Foundation-branded pink QantasLink aircraft to find a way to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research that would encourage airlines around the world to join together for the cause.

The launch of FlyPink last year saw more than 3,000 Qantas Group pilots swap their normal gold epaulettes (shoulder stripes) for pink epaulettes. This year, they will be joined by Qantas and QantasLink cabin crew who will swap their silver wing badges for pink, customer service agents in our airports and lounges will wear pink ribbons and ground crew will wear pink caps.

QantasLink Captain Susan McHaffie said she was heartened to see more

FlyPink - Supporting breast cancer research
FlyPink – Supporting breast cancer research

employees across the airline join forces to support FlyPink this year.
“With more of our team members involved this year, I have high hopes that together we can raise $100,000 for breast cancer research,” she said.
“My ultimate aim is to see other airlines around the world joining us in support of FlyPink. I hope this October I’ll walk past a pilot I don’t know in an international airport wearing pink epaulettes in support of breast cancer research.

Customers and Qantas employees can support FlyPink by donating to #WeFlyPink #showyoursupport

Carers UK responds to report warning of growing strain on sandwich generation of carers

Carers UK responds to report warning of growing strain on sandwich generation of carers
Carers UK responds to report warning of growing strain on sandwich generation of carers

Carers UK responds to research published today by Macmillan Cancer Support, which shows that around 110,000 people in the UK are caring for a parent with cancer, whilst also looking after their own children [1].

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, said:

“In raising awareness of the pressures facing people who are caring for a parent with cancer whilst also looking after their young children and often juggling work, Macmillan’s research highlights a far wider and deeper issue for carers who support loved ones across many conditions.

“Indeed, there are a staggering 2.4 million people who are sandwiched between raising families of their own whilst providing care to an older loved one with a disability or chronic illness. And it is women who are more likely to shoulder this responsibility, with our research showing that they are four times more likely than men to have given up work due to multiple caring responsibilities.

“Today’s report adds to growing evidence that this is fast becoming one of the hardest pressed generations [2]. As a society, we must recognise that we all likely to either receive or provide care at some point in our lives. Without the right support at the right time, caring can take a serious toll on carers’ health, finances and ability to have a life outside of caring. With this in mind, the Government must use the opportunity of its new Carers Strategy to make lasting change in the way public services and workplaces support families.”

Carers UK is here with advice, information and support wherever you are on your caring journey. For practical advice and information about caring:

[1] Under Pressure – The growing strain on cancer carers (2016) Macmillan Cancer Support

[2] Caring responsibilities in

Cancer and Lifestyle – Are sunbeds safe?

Sunbeds give out ultraviolet (UV) rays that increase your risk of developing skin cancer (both malignant melanoma and non-melanoma). Many sunbeds give out greater doses of UV rays than the midday tropical sun.

The risks are greater for young people. Evidence shows that:

people who are frequently exposed to UV rays before the age of 25 are at greater risk of developing skin cancer later in life

sunburn in childhood can greatly increase the risk of developing skin cancer later in life

It’s illegal for people who are under the age of 18 to use sunbeds. The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 makes it an offence for someone operating a sunbed business to permit those under 18 to:

use a sunbed at the business premises, including beauty salons, leisure centres, gyms and hotels

be offered the use of a sunbed at the business premises

be allowed in an area reserved for sunbed users (unless they’re working as an employee of the business)

The GOV.UK website has further details about the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010.

UV rays from sunbeds

Sunbeds, sunlamps and tanning booths give out the same type of harmful radiation as sunlight. UVA rays make up about 95% of sunlight. They can cause your skin to age prematurely, making it look coarse, leathery and wrinkled. UVB rays make up about 5% of sunlight and burn your skin.

A tan is your body’s attempt to protect itself from the damaging effect of UV rays. Using a sunbed to get a tan isn’t safer than tanning in the sun. It may even be more harmful, depending on factors such as:

the strength of UV rays from the sunbed

how often you use a sunbed

the length of your sunbed sessions

your skin type – for example, whether you have fair or dark skin

your age

In 2006, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products concluded the maximum ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from sunbeds should not exceed 0.3W/m2, or 11 standard erythema doses per hour (erythema means reddening of the skin caused by sunburn). These 11 standard doses are the same as exposure to the tropical sun, which the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as extreme.

Damage from UV rays

Prolonged exposure to UV rays increases your risk of developing malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

You can’t always see the damage UV rays cause. The symptoms of skin damage can take up to 20 years to appear.

UV rays can also damage your eyes, causing problems such as irritation, conjunctivitis or cataracts, particularly if you don’t wear goggles.

Advice about using sunbeds

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued advice on the health risks associated with UV tanning equipment, such as sunbeds, sunlamps and tanning booths. They recommend you should not use UV tanning equipment if you:

have fair, sensitive skin that burns easily or tans slowly or poorly

have a history of sunburn, particularly in childhood

have lots of freckles and red hair

have lots of moles

are taking medicines or using creams that make your skin sensitive to sunlight

have a medical condition made worse by sunlight, such as vitiligo (a long-term skin condition caused by a lack of a chemical in the skin called melanin)

have had skin cancer or someone in your family has had it

already have badly sun-damaged skin

The HSE advice also includes important points to consider before deciding to use a sunbed. For example, if you decide to use a sunbed, the operator should advise you about your skin type and how long you should limit your session to.

Read more about the HSE guidance on the use of UV tanning equipment (PDF, 102kb).

Is there a connection between Bacon and Leukaemia?


Bacon and leukaemia
Bacon and leukae

“Youngsters who eat bacon or ham twice a week increase their chances of getting leukaemia by 74%”, reported The Sun. It said that a study in children and teenagers in Taiwan found that those who ate processed meat more than once a week were more likely to have the condition. The newspaper said that other processed meat, such as hot dogs and sausages, also increased the risk, which could be caused by preservatives in the meat.

This case-control study found an association between leukaemia in two to 20-year-olds and eating cured or smoked meat and fish. However, this sort of study cannot prove that one thing causes another, and it has several limitations. This study should be regarded as preliminary evidence of an association. Larger further studies are needed to explore whether there is a causative link. There is an established link between eating cured meat and colorectal and stomach cancer. Other studies have found that a high consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of several cancers.

Where did the story come from?

The research was carried out by Dr Chen-yu Liu and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan and Yuh-Ing Junior College of Health Care and Management. The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal BMC Cancer.

What kind of scientific study was this?

This population-based case-control study compared 145 individuals with acute leukaemia to people matched for age and sex without leukaemia (controls).

Leukaemia is the most common childhood cancer. This study investigated how nutrition might contribute to its cause in a Han Chinese population in southern Taiwan. Studies have established a link between eating cured meat and colorectal and stomach cancer. Other studies have suggested that a high consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of breast, colon, lung, pancreas, bladder, larynx, stomach, oesophageal and oral cancers.

The researchers found new leukaemia cases among residents of the Kaohsiung area, aged between two and 20 years and diagnosed between 1997 and 2005. The cases were identified by searching hospital records and records from the national health insurance system. By using both these sources, researchers believe they have identified all of the cases occurring in the area. Controls (people without leukaemia) were selected through a population registry of the study area. Up to three controls per case were matched for age and gender.

A face-to-face interview was conducted (with the patient or their parent, depending on age). The interview captured information on demographics, medical history, occupational history, smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, and exposure to various environmental hazards. The dietary questions were detailed, and they asked about frequency of consumption of various food groups, including fruit and vegetables, bean-curd foods, cured or smoked meat and fish, pickled vegetables and alcohol.

Using statistical methods, the researchers then compared responses between cases and controls to see whether consumption of any particular food group was more common in people with leukaemia. They also combined some food groups to assess the risk of these. They combined the two types of leukaemia for their analyses (acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and acute myeloid leukaemia), and performed separate analyses for two to five-year-olds and then for two to 20-year-olds.

What were the results of the study?

The researchers found some significant results in their analyses. For children aged two to five years, frequent consumption of bean curd food slightly reduced risk of leukaemia compared to rare or occasional consumption (though this was of borderline significance). Frequent vegetable intake reduced odds of leukaemia by 56%.

For two to 20-year-olds, frequent intake of cured or smoked meat and fish increased the risk of leukaemia by 1.74 times, while frequent consumption of bean curd food and vegetables reduced the odds.

What interpretations did the researchers draw from these results?

The researchers conclude that cured and smoked meat or fish in the diet “may be associated with leukaemia risk”. They also say that soy bean curd and vegetables may have a protective effect against leukaemia.

What does the NHS Knowledge Service make of this study?

This case-control study provides some evidence of a link between leukaemia and eating cured or smoked meat and fish.

This type of study, a case-control study, cannot prove causation. The problem with case-control studies is that unmeasured factors that are linked to both diet and leukaemia risk (i.e. confounding factors) can influence the result. The researchers report that they initially adjusted their analyses for age, sex, maternal age, birth weight, breastfeeding, parental education levels, parental and subjects’ smoking history, maternal vitamins and use of iron supplements. These factors were found to have no effect on the outcome. However, there are other factors which can have an effect that could not be measured, such as family history, genetics, medical history and specific environmental exposures.

Case-control studies are particularly susceptible to recall bias, i.e. parents/patients may not accurately remember their exposure (the food they ate) and other variables. The questionnaire asked about things that happened up to two years before individuals were born which, for some participants, would be 22 years ago. Food questions also asked about usual intake for the previous six months.

It is also important to explain further the 74% increased risk as reported in the newspapers. This is actually an increase in odds of leukaemia of 1.74 times (i.e. people who ate cured or smoked meat and fish were 1.74 times more likely to be from the group of leukaemia cases rather than controls). In absolute terms, 25% of people (aged two to 20 years) who rarely ate cured or smoked meat and fish had leukaemia, while 37% of people who ate it frequently had the condition. This is an increase of 12 cases in 100 people.

The increased risk from eating cured and smoked foods was only significant in people aged two to 20 years. When the researchers limited their calculations to two to five-year-olds, no link with leukaemia was found.

Although the researchers looked at bacon among all the other cured meats eaten in Taiwan (Chinese-style sausage, salted fish, preserved meat, ham, hot dog and dried salted duck), it is not clear how many people ate bacon or if the type of bacon eaten is similarly prepared to the bacon sold in the UK.

Overall, while this study provides preliminary evidence of a link between eating cured or smoked meat and fish and leukaemia, the link needs to be confirmed in larger studies.


“Youngsters who eat bacon or ham twice a week increase their chances of getting leukaemia by 74%”, reported The Sun. It said that a study in children and teenagers in Taiwan found that those who ate processed meat…

Links to Headlines

Bacon is ‘danger’ for kids. The Sun, February 2 2009

Leukaemia risk soars if your children in love bacon. Daily Express, February 2 2009

Bacon ‘gives kids cancer’. The Mirror, February 2 2009

Links to Science

Liu C-y, Hsu Y-H, Wu M-T, et al. Cured meat, vegetables, and bean-curd foods in relation to childhood acute leukemia risk: A population based case-control study. BMC Cancer 2009; 9: published: 13 January 2009

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: the financial impact of childhood cancer revealed

Cancer in children costs families typically  an extra £600 a month. Thereby  putting huge strain on cashflow and causing many families  to fall into debt.

The cost of childhood cancer
The cost of childhood cancer

Research carried out by children and young people’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent has shows that costs can massively increase when a child is diagnosed with cancer.

Families spend extra £600 a month when child is treated for cancer.  That is nearly $1000 in US terms.

Many plunge into debt as a result of extra costs

Travel and food biggest additional spend.  Please note that the UK has more or less socialised medicine which is free at the point of usage.

The charity has launched a new report Cancer costs: The financial impact of treatment on young cancer patients and their families and is trying to persuade the UK  Government, banks and energy suppliers to help ease the financial burden caused by a cancer diagnosis.

CLIC Sargent’s research reveals 3 in 5 parents they asked ended up in debt as a result of a child’s diagnosis of cancer.  In some cases  borrowing more than £5,000. The average extra spend of £600 per month is close to a third of the normal UK monthly income.

Treatment for children and young people’s cancer can be miles from home at specialist treatment hospitals, requiring families to stay away from home for long periods of time, or embark on regular long distance travel.

These travel costs and additional food are the biggest extra expenditure but families also find themselves spending more on clothing, parking and accommodation while having to keep up with regular bills including mortgage, rent and energy.

Many families reported that the benefit system was not fit for purpose for young cancer patients or their needs, often taking too long and still leaving families with a financial shortfall.

But CLIC Sargent say more needs to be done and is calling on the government, banks and energy suppliers to provide more assistance to affected families.

It is calling for:

A review of travel assistance available to parents and young people, with recommendations for reform to be made by the end of 2017

Immediate financial support to be provided from the point of diagnosis to every patient

Financial services and energy companies to review their vulnerable customers policies to ensure they include parents of children with cancer and young cancer patients.

Kate Lee, Chief Executive of CLIC Sargent, said: “The pressure of managing finances causes considerable stress and anxiety during what is an already impossible time for families. This is not right or fair.”

CLIC Sargent has launched a petition to Prime Minister Theresa May to act now to ease the financial burden of childhood cancer. To sign the petition visit