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Laura Tobin supports lung cancer research

13/09/2023

The weather presenter is backing ScottishPower’s support for Cancer Research UK studies which are uncovering how air pollution causes lung cancer in people who have never smoked.

ScottishPower has welcomed Laura Tobin to its Whitelee Windfarm – the largest onshore windfarm in the UK – to help raise awareness about air pollution, its impact on lung cancer and the need for more research.

Laura Tobin poses at Windfarm

The TV meteorologist, whose own family has been impacted by cancer, is backing the leading renewable energy company’s support of Cancer Research UK’s studies which are investigating the link between lung cancer in people who have never smoked and air pollution.

In the UK, it is estimated that nearly 6,000 people who have never smoked die of lung cancer each year*. Research estimates that lung cancer in people who have never smoked is the eighth most common cause of cancer death in the UK*. Outdoor air pollution causes around 1 in 10 cases of lung cancer.

ScottishPower has been a long-standing supporter of CRUK for over ten years and is covering the cost of the TOPICAL study, which hopes to help scientists better understand the link between air pollution and lung cancer. Insights from this research could shape new ways to diagnose and treat lung cancer in people who have never smoked.

Led by Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Clinician and Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute, the study is examining the role of tiny particles in the air called PM2.5, which are derived in part from burning solid and liquid fuels. Professor Swanton and his team are looking at the relationship between these tiny air pollution particles and cases of lung cancer in people who have never smoked.

Results from Professor Swanton’s lab** suggest that PM2.5 pollution can awaken dormant cells in the lungs carrying cancer-causing mutations, which go on to become tumours. This game-changing discovery could open new ways to prevent and treat lung cancer in people who have never smoked in the future.

The support of this project is part of ScottishPower’s ongoing partnership with Cancer Research UK, which since 2012 has seen more than £35m raised to help beat cancer sooner – and they aren’t stopping there.

Laura Tobin said: “Air pollution is invisible to the human eye, yet it can have a considerable effect on our health. Being at a place like Whitelee Windfarm really brings clean air to the forefront of your mind and makes you realise its importance.

“I know from my own personal experience how important it is for us to understand how cancer starts, grows and spreads, so we can find new ways to beat it. ScottishPower’s support of Cancer Research UK’s innovative research on air pollution is breaking new ground in our understanding of lung cancer.

“The funding ScottishPower has provided to Cancer Research UK over many years is vital to bringing forward the day when we beat cancer.”

Whitelee is the UK’s largest onshore windfarm and is a vital part of Scotland and the UK’s transition to a clean energy future. It was awarded with a prestigious Green Flag award for its benefit to the local community and role in providing a positive, environmentally-friendly location.

Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Clinician, said: "Lung cancer in people who have never smoked is more common than many people realise, and we need to understand it better. 

“Previously, we had thought that environmental carcinogens, like air pollution, directly mutated our DNA to cause cancer. But our research has revealed a new way in which air pollution can set off another molecular chain of events that leads to cancer.

“This finding wouldn’t have happened without funding from Cancer Research UK and partners like ScottishPower. ScottishPower’s unwavering support of Cancer Research UK is helping us work towards a world where people can live longer, better lives, free from the fear of cancer.”

Andrew Ward, CEO of ScottishPower Retail, said: “ScottishPower is committed to leading the fight against climate change, but we’re also committed to playing a leading role in the fight against cancer.

“We have a huge commitment to renewable power generation and it’s great that our aims as a business align with the wider needs of the world to decarbonise with the goal of reducing cancer related to air pollution.

“I had the pleasure of listening to Professor Swanton when he visited us at ScottishPower HQ and it’s fantastic to hear how our partnership is helping to support such ground-breaking research.

“Working with Laura Tobin at our iconic Whitelee Windfarm provides a really striking link to clean air to help us all understand the importance of combating air pollution and better understanding the impact it has on us.

“I’m thrilled that studies we’ve helped to fund are already aiding research breakthroughs and we’re committed to working in partnership with Cancer Research UK in the years to come to help beat cancer sooner.”

To find out more about ScottishPower’s partnership and support of Cancer Research UK, please visit: scottishpower.co.uk

Laura Tobin poses at Windfarm

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