Should Epi Pens, a lifesaving medication, be government subsidised?

Doctor Lance O’Sullivan says anaphylaxis is a real problem and this could be one solution to make them more accessible Source: Breakfast

Watch: 'The kids are the victims' – Bill English fires up over Labour's plan to scrap charter schools

National Party leader Bill English has slammed Labour's new legislation aimed at scrapping charter schools set up under his government.

Speaking from the National caucus retreat in Tauranga this morning, Mr English was quick to turn his discussion with TVNZ 1 Breakfast host Jack Tame to the proposed Bill which has its first reading in Parliament next week.

"The government has introduced nasty vindictive legislation to close the partnership schools, picking on 1000 kids, the kids are the victims of that.

"There are 1000 kids who are going to get dealt to by Jacinda Ardern, who refuses to look them in the eye and tell them why she is going to close the school they love," he said passionately.

Mr English also said that the closures would hit Maori students particularly hard.

"They are going to close schools that deal with Maori students who don't fit into the system and love their new school," he said.

The proposed law will allow some existing charter schools to continue, decided on a "case by case" basis.

That comes after MPs Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson said they were in favour of the model. Mr Jackson's Manukau Urban Maori Authority runs a charter school in South Auckland and had plans to open another.

The Bill also puts into law plans to dump National Standards and introduces a penalty for those who lie about their eligibility for free tertiary education.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the bill "ends the previous government's failed National Standards and charter schools experiments".

He wants "early termination" of charter school contracts by the end of the school year.

The National leader says Jacinda Ardern refuses to look the kids in the eye and explain her decision. Source: Breakfast


'This is a really important study' – food protein found in asparagus linked to spread of cancer

Researchers have linked an amino acid found in a variety of foods including asparagus to the spread of breast cancer, work that has been labelled as a "really important study" by Cancer Society New Zealand. 

A team of international cancer researchers have shown in mice that limiting the consumption of the amino acid asparagine stopped the spread of triple-negative breast cancer.

Published in medical journal Nature, experts say the study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests diet can influence the course of the disease.

Speaking on TVNZ 1's Breakfast programme this morning, Cancer Society New Zealand's chief medical director Chris Jackson says "this is a really important study."

"Many people who have cancer worry about whether or not what they eat will fuel the growth of their cancer, and so naturally people are very interested in this," he said.  

"What the study did is it look at a particular amino acid which is a building block of protein and looked at whether asparagine concentrations could lead to cancer spread and cancer growth.

"Researches deprived mice of asparagine through a few strict diet or used a drug to stop asparagine metabolism and found quite surprisingly that the breast cancer cells didn't spread.

"This is a rare sub type of breast cancer called triple-negative breast cancer so it does not apply to all breast cancers and of course it is a mouse model so we can't really say the same is true for humans."

Amino acids are used by cells to make proteins. Foods rich in asparagine include dairy, whey, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy and whole grains.

Most fruits and vegetable are low in asparagine.

"Extreme dieting is certainly going to be very bad for you if you have cancer, but what it does show is that this is a really important potential mechanism and there is actually a drug out there already which we use for leukemia called L asparaginase which actually blocks the metabolism and so this means... this old drug could be used in a new way and could prevent against the spread of cancer," Dr Jackson said. 

"I think if people are worried about their risk of cancer, there are many things that we know that we already need to do. We need to not smoke, if we are smokers we need to quit, we probably all need to think before we have that second drink and we need to make sure we maintain our weight in a healthy range. 

"Cancer is the number one cause of death in New Zealand, it's the most important cause of death and the rates of cancer are actually going up or the number of people affected by cancer but also the rate of cure from cancer is going up and the cure rates are higher than they have ever been but there is still a lot of work we need to do for cancer in terms of prevention, detection and treatment in order to reduce the impact on thousands of New Zealanders every year." 

Cancer Society New Zealand's Medical Director Chris Jackson says the study will help in the development of drugs. Source: Breakfast