Newspaper headlines: DNA revolution, and 'the great light switch-off'

In a mixed bag of headlines, only one story features on the front of more than one of Monday's papers.

That story is about the 100,000 genomes project - a scheme that aims to "revolutionise healthcare" and personalise treatment for thousands of patients, the Times says.

The paper explains that in the New Year, 11 hospitals in England will recruit the first batch of 40,000 patients who will donate DNA enabling their genetic code to be studied.

Image copyright Science Photo Library

The patients either suffer from breast, prostate, bowel, ovarian or lung cancer, or one of 110 rare diseases, the Times continues.

By looking at the genomes collected, doctors hope to understand more about the causes of such conditions, develop better diagnostic tools, and tailor drugs and treatments to individuals.

The "project aims to make DNA analysis a routine part of NHS care," the paper adds.

The "revolution" is possible because the cost of reading a person's entire genetic code has fallen from £1bn to £1,000 in the last decade, the report says.

The Independent also leads on the story.

The paper says advances in genetics research have "led to the idea of 'personalised' medicine when doctors will prescribe targeted drugs or treatments aimed at patients with specific DNA sequences, rather than the traditional approach of prescribing treatments based on symptoms".

The £300m project, details of which will be unveiled later, will "mean that the UK - and more specifically England - will lead the world in bringing genomic medicine to thousands of ordinary patients with serious illnesses".

The paper notes that the genome data will be governed by strict rules: patients will all give consent, and the information cannot be copied or hosted on computers outside the UK.

The Daily Mail says there are fears that drug companies and insurers will take advantage of research material - and that confidential medical information could be made public. "Some campaigners fear it is the first step towards a national DNA database," it says.

The paper also fears that cyber-criminals will be looking for ways to access and exploit the information.


Our dark evenings and starless nights are getting a bit blacker, according to a story running in many papers.

The Daily Mail says there has been a "great street light switch off" across England.

The paper quotes research from the Labour Party which suggests that the lights in 75% of local authority areas are now either switched off or dimmed in order to save money.

The move "has sparked fears of an increase in crime and road accidents" the Mail adds.

Labour's survey suggests that 1.36m street lights are now turned off or dimmed, compared to 148,000 before the coalition came to power.

Some counties are darker than others, the Mail reports: 83% of street lights in Essex are now switched off, while 99% of lamps in Surrey are on, but shining dimmer than in the past.

The paper quotes Labour's Hilary Benn, who says: "Britain has been plunged into darkness. [Communities Secretary] Eric Pickles has... boasted that he 'loves' switching off street lights, which will do nothing to reassure people walking home in the dark."

Conservative Communities minister Brandon Lewis tells the Mail: "This Government values the role of street lighting - but it should be a local decision, street by street, on what local residents actually want."

The Sun pictures the Mr Pickles as a WWII air raid warden in "put that light out" role.

The paper recalls that he claimed earlier this year that burglars liked "ambient light" more than they liked darkness.

The Sun says he was "left red-faced" after police "ordered" the lights to be turned back on in his Essex constituency after a spate of burglaries.


With hard news at a premium, gallons of printers ink are devoted to the wedding of long-time partners, Sir Elton John and David Furnish.

The Daily Express said that by putting the "star-studded" ceremony on online picture site Instagram, the couple had "invited the world" to their nuptials.

Amongst the stars studding the ceremony at their Windsor estate were David and Victoria Beckham; Elizabeth Hurley; Lulu; Ed Sheeran; David Walliams and Hugh Grant.

The Daily Telegraph's extensive page three spread on the wedding includes pictures of the invite (white lettering on a background of roses) and analysis of the wedding menu.

Image copyright Elton John
Image caption Sir Elton was "uncharacteristically soberly attired" for the "legal bit" ceremony , the Daily Telgraph says

Reporter Anna Roberts judges the fare: "simple, unfussy and low-key, but still a very classy menu".

The paper notes Sir Elton: "is one of a host of celebrities to take advantage of new laws which came into force earlier this month and allowed gay couples to convert their civil partnerships into marriages.

"Mary Portas and Sandi Toksvig have also married their partners."

The Daily Mail also takes advantage of the many Instagram snaps of the ceremony - some taken by David Beckham's son Brooklyn - to fill two pages on the occasion.

"Nothing was held back, with pictures beginning in the morning of the pair making the union official as they signed their legal documents, right up to the sweet moment they said their vows.

"And the couple's sons and ring-bearers got in on the action, with Zachary even taking a picture of Elijah during the ceremony, which was promptly uploaded," it notes.

Up to 13,000 people are believed to have virtually "attended" the wedding in real time.

The Mail also notes the event was "low-key" by the flamboyant standards of the entertainer.

The Sun notes that Sir Elton has "fought tirelessly for gay couples to be legally recognised as spouses".

"'Partner' doesn't come close to describing the love I have for David. 'Husband' does," the paper quotes him as saying.

David Beckham's Impulse

There is one sort of story not in short supply as the festive season draws on - stories about Christmas.

Perhaps the whole event is "overhyped"? The Daily Mail reports research suggests that the majority of Britons would be happy to forego the pleasure of a couple of days off with their family and friends, in return for £250.

Accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 57% of people would go into work on Christmas and Boxing Day for a £250 bonus.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Seasonal shoppers are more likely to impulse buy socks than buy David Beckham's Impulse, the press suggests

"Our research highlights that cash is still king this Christmas," a man from the City firm tells the Mail.

Cash may be king, but socks are the monarch of men's Christmas present piles, the Times reveals.

Despite being a "cliche", 75% of men still receive socks as presents, the paper says, quoting a survey from Kantar Worldpanel.

The man from Kantar Worldpanel - they are market researchers in case you were wondering - says the enduring appeal of socks as presents for men is partly down to impulse buying, and partly due to a "lack of imagination when it comes to what we give".

Another old festive present favourite, which many of us can recall receiving in Christmas "gift packs" in the past, may get a new lease of life (and a sales boost), from an article in the Daily Telegraph.

Old Spice aftershave - a brand launched in 1930, the paper tells us - has proved to be one of women's most preferred scents on a man, a survey has found.

The Telegraph says the brand proved more popular than celebrity scents such as David Beckham's Impulse.

And a lot of us must be buying it: the survey suggested 16m people wore aftershave or perfume every day, with 10% of them having separate day and night-time aromas.

But after the presents are opened, what sort of Christmas Day might the average family enjoy?

An even more stuffed one than usual, the Daily Telegraph suggests in another story.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Turkeys: their enjoyment of Britain's mild weather may be abruptly curtailed

It says the warm autumn means that Britain's turkeys are "fatter than ever".

The National Farmers Union - who might be said to have an incentive in saying this - tell the paper that the heavier, fatter birds will be tastier as well, due to the extra layer of fat.

The only drawback, the NFU says, may be a shortage of small turkeys, for those hosting more modest festive feasts.

Perhaps the extra big portions will make us religious.

That isn't quite as mad a statement as it appears at first, because the Sun reveals Coventry University research which has found that religious Britons are heavier on average than their Godless compatriots.

A religious 6ft man will be 8lbs heftier than an atheist, the study suggested, with religious male Sikhs being the tubbiest worshippers of all.

Dr Deborah Lycett, who led the study, says the findings may mean that "those who engage with religion may feel more justified in eating more as they neither smoke nor drink alcohol".

Which may bring us back to those fat Christmas turkeys!

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