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 pioneer, writer, campaigner and commentator. Formerly a clinical optometrist specialising in diabetes and visual impairment, she is the founder and Director of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal and Social. 2020health has through research, events and campaigning influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. In 2014, 2020health were founding partners of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Since 2016, 2020health has increasingly focused on digital health and public health in the community. Julia is a Fellow of the RSA and now also a part-time PhD student at the UCL Interaction Centre, studying the use of digital technology for stress management in the workplace. 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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