Cancer Vaccines, toothbrushing and publicising bugs

The most significant health story this weekend was the publication of trials showing that a vaccine had been created that prevented mice from developing breast cancer. This is an exciting development because breast cancer is still such a killer (though deaths in the UK have reduced by a third in recent years). As ever, we need caution to – no human trials have started, side effects could still occur, it can only apply to women who will not have (any more) children so may be dependent on sterilisation before application. If all goes well, we may have a vaccine in 10 years and a very happy pharma company to boot.

The better-heart-health-if-you-brush-your-teeth makes me wonder who thought up such a study! And despite it showing that daily tooth-brushers are less likely to have heart disease, and a link between recurrent gum disease and systemic inflammation, I still think that someone who brushes their teeth regularly will be someone who looks after themselves better in general, no matter their circumstances…..

and from tomorrow hospitals will publish their infection rates. They already do this, but it will become weekly, not monthly. Will this change behaviour? I don’t know – the hospital where my mother has been a frequent visitor is dire – yet we are told there are is no choice as there are no other beds for her to go to. I am still in dispute with them over their policy – they proudly relayed their staff reported hand washing high figures while recent outbreaks closed 10 wards. The ‘target’ of hand washing means nothing when patients are still being cross-infected by staff… it’s not visitors who move from bed to bed.

About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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