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Cancer cell diversity explained, possible smoking ban in cars and cold weather equals longer ambulance waits

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Thursday 28 February

Researchers in Nature have revealed how cancer cells can manipulate their genetic code and spread around the body, the BBC reports.

It had been thought that when a cancer cell split to create two new cells, the chromosomes were not split evenly between the two.

However, scientists at the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute and the University College London Cancer Institute carried out tests on bowel cancer that showed ‘very little evidence’ that was the case.

The study showed that cells that used up their raw materials became ‘stressed’ and made mistakes copying their genetic code. This diversity helps tumours to adapt and spread to new parts of the body.

This led to the researchers’ conclusion that it might help to feed the cancer cells so they replicate.

Lead researcher Prof Charles Swanton told the BBC: ‘If you can provide the building blocks of DNA you can reduce the replication stress to limit the diversity in tumours, which could be therapeutic.’

He admitted ‘just seems wrong’ to fuel the cancer, but it may help treat it. He also said there will be further studies.  

Meanwhile, the prime minister has said tobacco companies could be forced to display graphic images of diseased body parts on cigarette packets, the Guardian has reported.

David Cameron also said he was looking at the possibility of a ban on smoking in cars where children were present.

The images could include colour photographs of feet damaged by gangrene and pictures of eyes blinded by smoking.

This came after Anna Soubry, the public health minister, said she was in favour of a ban on smoking in cars if children are present.

Finally, if you are going to get sick, remember to do it on weekdays and during a period of mild weather, the Mail advises.

This is because a new study has found that every degree dropped in temperature slows an ambulance’s response time by more than 1%. The attribute this to a combination of increased demand and treacherous road conditions are behind the effect.

Researchers looked at how the weather affected daily ambulance call-out and response times in Birmingham over a five year period between 2007 and 2011.

They concluded that every one degree fall in air temperature corresponded to a 1.3% drop in performance, as the number of 999 calls increased call-out and adverse weather conditions worsened road travel.

With this winter seemingly getting colder and colder, it might be best to go into hibernation for a couple of months.

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