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A round 207,000 chil- dren aged 11-15 start smoking in the UK eve- ry year according to new re- search published by Cancer Research UK. This means that nearly 570 children are lighting up and becoming smokers for the first time every day. The new figures show this number has jumped by an extra 50,000 from the previous year, when 157,000 started smoking. Around 27 per cent of all under 16s have tried smok- ing at least once – equivalent to one million children. Eight out of ten adult smokers start before they turn 19. With so many children starting to smoke each year, Cancer Research UK is urg- ing the government to com- mit to plain, standardised packaging of tobacco. Re- search has shown that chil- dren find the plain packs less appealing and are less likely to be misled by the sophisti- cated marketing techniques designed to make smok- ing attractive to youngsters. A public consultation on the future of tobacco packag- ing closed in August 2012 and there has been no decision an- nounced from the government on whether this will proceed. Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s executive di- rector of policy and informa- tion, said: “With such a large number of youngsters starting to smoke every year, urgent action is needed to tackle the devastation caused by tobac- co. Replacing slick, brightly coloured packs that appeal to children with standard packs displaying prominent health warnings, is a vital part of efforts to protect health. Reducing the appeal of ciga- rettes with plain, standard- ised packs will give millions of children one less reason to start smoking. “These figures underline the importance of sustained action to discourage young people from starting. Smoking kills and is responsible for at least 14 different types of can- cer. Standardised packaging is popular with the public and will help protect children. We urge the government to show their commitment to health and introduce plain, stand- ardised packs as soon as pos- sible.” DT More than 200,000 children start smoking every year Almost 600 children a day take up smoking W ales’ Chief Dental Officer (CDO), Da- vid Thomas, has launched the Welsh Govern- ment’s National Oral Health Plan on the same day a survey shows a decrease in tooth decay in Welsh children. During a visit to the Primary Care Dental Unit at St David’s Hospital, Cardiff, the CDO Da- vid Thomas welcomed the re- sults of the survey, and outlined the aims of the five-year Plan: “A dental survey of five- year-olds published today by the Welsh Oral Health Information Unit confirms just over 41 per cent of children in Wales cur- rently experience dental decay and whilst this figure is still too high it represents a decrease of six per cent since 2007/08. “The data also shows for the first time there is no evidence of widening inequalities, and dental disease levels in children are improving across all social groups in Wales. “The National Oral Health Plan looks to the future and outlines an agenda for improv- ing oral health, reducing oral health inequalities in Wales over the next five years and be- yond.” An integral part of the Plan is the Welsh Government’s Na- tional Oral Health Improvement Programme, Designed to Smile, which has more than 78,000 children now taking part. Stuart Geddes, BDA Direc- tor for Wales, said: “We wel- come the Welsh Government’s intention to ‘vigorously address this inequality in experience of child tooth decay’, and their call to Health Boards to ensure stra- tegic action is taken to meet the oral health needs of all groups of the population. “However, dentists and their teams have worked hard to deliver improvements in oral healthcare in Wales, and need continued support in terms of adequate funding, to deliver the aspirations of the Oral Health Plan.” DT Wales launches five-year plan oral health plan A Polish translation of the General Dental Council’s (GDC) Smile patient leaflet has been launched online. Available as a PDF on the GDC website www.gdc-uk. org,itexplainstheroleoftheGDC; what patients can expect from their visit to a dental professional; and what they can do if they’re unhappy with their experience. The Smile leaflet is also avail- able in print in English and in EasyRead format. The EasyRead version fea- tures larger font, pictures to sup- port and help explain the text, shorter sentences and language that sounds natural when spo- ken. The PDF is compatible with screen readers with tagged imag- es and can be printed or ordered from the GDC website. The final version was user checked by the Making it Easier Group which gave its seal of ap- proval to the leaflet. Smile can be downloaded as a PDF in Welsh, Polish, Bengali, Chinese, Punjabi and Urdu from the GDC website. DT GDC launch Polish version of patient leaflet More than 41 per cent of Welsh children experience dental decay Bitter melon could treat head and neck cancer 2 News United Kingdom Edition April 1-7, 2013 A Saint Louis University (SLU) researcher has re- ceived a $39,425 grant from the Lottie Caroline Hardy Charitable Trust to continue her research on treating cancer with a natural substance. Ratna Ray, Ph.D., professor of pathology at SLU, is studying the effect of the extract from bit- ter melon, which is often used in Indian and Chinese cooking, on head and neck cancer cells. “The goal of our study is to see if a complementary alterna- tive medicine treatment based upon bitter melon can stop the spread of head and neck cancer,” she said. In a controlled lab setting, she previously found that bitter mel- on extract activated a pathway that triggered the death of breast cancer cells, stopping them from growing and spreading. The ef- fectiveness of using bitter melon extract to treat breast cancer in people has not been tested. “We have pretty good indi- cations that bitter melon extract works in cancer cell lines to halt the growth,” Ray said. “I think it might be effective to treat solid tumours, and our grant will help us to get pre-clinical data to show whether something that looks promising in fighting breast can- cer could work in other cancers.” If bitter melon extract stops the growth of cancer cells in animals, the findings could lay the groundwork for studying the treatment in a phase I clinical trial of human patients who have head and neck cancer, Ray said. “Treatments for head and neck cancers often include sur- gery and radiation, which impacts a patient’s quality of life, such as how he or she feels, looks, talks, eats and breathes. It’s important to develop additional new thera- pies that are effective and much less invasive,” Ray said. Bitter melon, a vegetable that is a staple of diets in India and China, is also a folk remedy in those countries for treating diabetes. Metformin, a drug de- veloped to treat diabetes, is used for cancer therapy. Ray hypoth- esised that a folk medicine for diabetes also might work to treat cancer. DT Melon extract could treat cancer