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 Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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