Newspaper headlines: Cancer 'down to bad luck', new year 'carnage' and Miranda ends

Research suggesting that "bad luck" - rather than lifestyle or genetics - is to blame for most cancer cases creates headlines.

The i leads on the report, pointing out the conclusion that two thirds of cases are caused by "random mutations" that occur in DNA when cells divide.

Image copyright Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

The Daily Telegraph indicates the types of cancer to which the findings apply through a graphic of a human body, alongside another showing the varieties affected by "environment, genes and lifestyle" - such as skin, throat, lung and liver cancer.

"The findings suggest that it may be difficult for individuals to significantly reduce their risk of developing cancer by altering their lifestyle," reports the Independent, although - confusingly - it adds that the scientists warn that alcohol, smoking and poor diet can add to the "bad luck factor".

In an editorial column, the Daily Mirror warns that it "doesn't mean we should lead unhealthy lives", adding: "The main lesson to be learned from the research is that improved screening would be a life-saver, earlier detection improving the odds of neutering the disease."

Meanwhile, the Times is among the papers reporting claims from a former editor of the British Medical Journal that contracting cancer is the best way to die. Richard Smith is quoted saying: "You can say goodbye, reflect on your life, leave last messages, perhaps visit special places for a last time, listen to favourite pieces of music, read loved poems and prepare, according to your beliefs, to meet your maker or enjoy eternal oblivion."

Unsurprisingly, Cancer Research UK dismisses his suggestion that the government should stop "wasting billions" in taxpayers' cash trying to cure the illness.


'Winter Chunderland'

The annual excesses of New Year's Eve inspire a Daily Mirror front-page headline reading simply: "Carnage." Inside, a photo spread shows people in various states of dishevelment, as the paper declares: "'Tis the season to be trollied." It lists emergency services statistics - such as London's Met Police making 90 arrests and East Midlands Ambulance Service taking a call every 21 seconds - before deciding: "It seems that from north to south we partied like it was 999..."

Image copyright London Ambulance Service

"Out with the old and in with the spew," says the Sun, which labels its picture spread: "Winter Chunderland". However, it's "no joke" as far as the Daily Express is concerned. "A few decades ago public drunkenness was seen as a matter of shame: these days it is a rite of passage, 'letting your hair down'. In reality it's a repulsive and anti-social way to behave."

The Daily Mail singles out some "rather unseemly behaviour from the gentler sex" over a spread of photographs of various women lying prone, and one of a reveller trying to ride a bike chained to a lamp post in Manchester.

That city suffered "meltdown", according to the Guardian, when the council fireworks display heralding the new year was delayed until 12.04am after a tram "pulled into the fireworks 'fallout' zone just at the wrong moment, halting the display for safety reasons". Describing the scene, Shiv Malik writes: "'Five, four, three, two, one. Let's have the fireworks!' ordered the show's host, but after a massive roar, nothing happened."


Sublimely funny?

TV reviewers offer their verdicts on the final episode of BBC sitcom Miranda, which ended with comedian Miranda Hart's character marrying her boyfriend, and some were impressed.

"It was a sublimely funny last outing with all the pratfalls, wordplay, catchphrases and nonsense we expect from this rumbustious performer, and some touching moments too," says the Daily Mail's Christopher Stevens, who reckons "we'll be laughing with her for 50 years".

Mark Lawson, in the Guardian, points out that Miranda has plenty of critics who find it "silly and soppy" or too "retro", saying the "laments of the goodbye backslappers risk being drowned out by the backlashers holding their own leaving party". However, he writes: "Each of the old-fashioned elements - pratfalls, signature sayings and love story - is handled with panache... The show also contains originality, in such painfully funny sequences as Miranda pretending to be on an exotic holiday while staying in a hotel around the corner from her flat."

Telegraph columnist Tim Stanley reckons you "had to be there" to get the jokes. "'There', in this case, was thirty-something singlehood," he explains. "The private life of Miranda Hart's eponymous heroine was filled with the kind of desperate distractions that only the lonely would understand."

Other reviewers were assigned to ignore any nagging new year hangovers and tune in to BBC Radio 4's 10-hour adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, with the Telegraph's Pete Naughton describing it as "by quite some margin, the most surreal day of broadcasting that the network has ever embarked upon". And he wasn't impressed, concluding: "This was, indeed, a mistake: a giant, hilariously ungainly slab of drama, unloaded on to an unsuspecting public on the most inappropriate day of the year."

The Times labels the production "snore and peace", although media editor Alex Spence was a little kinder in describing the audience reaction: "Some used it as an opportunity to potter around doing chores. Others, perhaps hungover, stayed in bed all day to listen. Most were enthralled... while a handful thought it a bit too much like 'the Archers with Russian accents'."


Crystal balls

As befits the early days of January, several papers concern themselves with resolutions. The Telegraph's Peter Oborne, embarking on a Dry(ish) January, predicts he will have fallen off the wagon before he's finished a last festive lunch ahead of the resumption of normal work. "People planning a Dry January are well advised to avoid all social events," he says. "It's a heroic undertaking, only to be tackled by those of exceptional moral calibre."

Times cartoonist Morten Morland pictures David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg declaring their respective resolutions: "Stay on course to prosperity", "get recovery that reaches the kitchen table" and "make 2015 the year of optimism for all". However, a voter responds with one of her own: "Demand more from politicians than meaningless twaddle."

All three party leaders also feature in the Independent's cartoon. Brian Adcock draws them looking glum as fortune teller "Madame Zelda" peers into her crystal ball to find it laughing back at her hysterically.

Meanwhile, the Sun reports on a different sort of clairvoyant - the world's only "asparamancer". Jemima Packington, or "Mystic Veg" as the paper christens her - tosses asparagus spears in the air and reads them by the shapes they make when they land. Among her predictions for 2015 are scandals for football and royalty, reality TV shows being cancelled and rising oil prices. "She also forecasts a narrow general election win - but will not say who for," adds the paper.


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