In Sickness and In Health

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A blog about the latest news and research in clinical medicine.

Helen Jaques
59 posts

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  • November 12, 2010
  • 06:14 AM

Competing interests at medical journals: industry sponsored trials boost impact factors

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

These days medical journals are rigorous when it comes to getting researchers to declare any associations with industry that might influence how a trial is reported. Before agreeing to publish a paper, many of the top medical journals require authors to sign a comprehensive conflicts of interest form that outlines any financial or personal relationships [...]... Read more »

  • October 26, 2010
  • 06:25 AM

What’s in placebos? No one’s telling…

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Placebos – the inert substances taken by control groups in clinical trials – are often assumed to be harmless sugar pills or something along those lines. New research has found that actually it’s impossible to know what’s in placebos because there’s precious little documentation of what exactly is used in clinical trials. Out of 176 [...]... Read more »

Golomb BA, Erickson LC, Koperski S, Sack D, Enkin M, & Howick J. (2010) What's in placebos: who knows? Analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Annals of internal medicine, 153(8), 532-5. PMID: 20956710  

  • October 15, 2010
  • 04:08 PM

Sleep starved dieters might be thwarting their fat loss plans

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

A small study from the United States has suggested that getting too little sleep might prevent dieters from losing as much body fat as they would have had they slept properly. When individuals slept for five and a half hours a night, they lost half as much body fat as when they were allowed to [...]... Read more »

Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Schoeller DA, & Penev PD. (2010) Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Annals of internal medicine, 153(7), 435-41. PMID: 20921542  

  • October 5, 2010
  • 06:00 AM

“Do it yourself” tests for chlamydia could be missing around 80% of cases

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Commercially available home tests for chlamydia could be failing to identify between 75% and 83% of people infected when compared with the “gold standard” biochemical lab test, according to new research from the Netherlands. The study of 772 women found that three “point of care” tests available on the internet and in pharmacies only correctly [...]... Read more »

van Dommelen, L., van Tiel, F., Ouburg, S., Brouwers, E., Terporten, P., Savelkoul, P., Morre, S., Bruggeman, C., & Hoebe, C. (2010) Alarmingly poor performance in Chlamydia trachomatis point-of-care testing. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 86(5), 355-359. DOI: 10.1136/sti.2010.042598  

  • September 28, 2010
  • 05:29 PM

Unexpected findings on medical imaging are usually harmless

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Imagine you go for an MRI or an x ray and the radiologist spots something they didn’t anticipate on your scan – you would be worried, right? Well, maybe you don’t need to be. A study of more than 1,400 scan found that almost 40% showed at least one such “incidental finding” but only 2.5% [...]... Read more »

Orme, N., Fletcher, J., Siddiki, H., Harmsen, W., O'Byrne, M., Port, J., Tremaine, W., Pitot, H., McFarland, E., Robinson, M.... (2010) Incidental Findings in Imaging Research: Evaluating Incidence, Benefit, and Burden. Archives of Internal Medicine, 170(17), 1525-1532. DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2010.317  

  • September 20, 2010
  • 07:09 PM

Medical students keep quiet about depression because of fear of stigma

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Not only are a considerable proportion of medical students depressed, those who are believe they’ll lose the respect of their peers and their tutors if they speak out, according to new research in published in Journal of the American Medical Association. The study of 505 medical students in Michigan found that more than one in [...]... Read more »

Schwenk T,, Davis L,, & Wimsatt L,. (2010) Depression, Stigma, and Suicidal Ideation in Medical Students. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 304(11), 1181-1190. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2010.1300  

  • May 24, 2010
  • 06:07 PM

Hosting big sports events might not benefit the local population

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Hosting an international sporting event like the Olympic Games or the Commonwealth Games is an expensive business. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, for example, will cost a total of £9.35bn, equivalent to £150 for every man, woman, and child in the United Kingdom.
Such costs are generally justified in terms of collateral benefits [...]... Read more »

McCartney, G., Thomas, S., Thomson, H., Scott, J., Hamilton, V., Hanlon, P., Morrison, D., & Bond, L. (2010) The health and socioeconomic impacts of major multi-sport events: systematic review (1978-2008). BMJ, 340(may19 4). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.c2369  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 07:23 AM

Mary Poppins was right: a spoonful of sugar DOES help the medicine go down

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

A new study has found that giving children up to one year old a sweet solution before jabs reduces the pain of the immunisation, providing a scientific basis for Mary Poppins’ maxim that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
The meta-analysis looked at fourteen randomised controlled trials that assessed the effects of oral [...]... Read more »

  • May 17, 2010
  • 06:34 AM

Hookah smokers more likely to use marijuana or other illicit drugs

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Young people who smoke tobacco through a water pipe – also known as a hookah, shisha, or goza – are more likely to use illicit drugs than their non-smoking contemporaries, according to a study of young Canadians. Most notably, hookah smokers were much more likely to smoke marijuana: 74% of water-pipe users reported marijuana use, [...]... Read more »

Dugas, E., Tremblay, M., Low, N., Cournoyer, D., & O'Loughlin, J. (2010) Water-Pipe Smoking Among North American Youths. PEDIATRICS. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-2335  

  • May 13, 2010
  • 06:44 PM

The pill could lower sex drive in young women

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the contraceptive pill, first approved by the FDA in 1960 and now the choice of contraception for more than 100 million women worldwide. By uncoupling sex from pregnancy, oral hormonal contraceptives finally allowed women to become agents of their own bodies.
Life isn’t all rosy on the pill [...]... Read more »

  • May 10, 2010
  • 06:00 AM

Viagra could help women too, but not how you think…

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Since first coming on the market in 1998, erectile dysfunction drug Viagra has improved the lives of countless men. Now new research has suggested that phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors like Viagra could also help women – but not how you think.
Researchers in California have shown that sildenafil (Viagra) and a similar drug called vardenafil [...]... Read more »

  • April 9, 2010
  • 01:00 PM

Cash for kidneys might not necessarily be unethical

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Meeting the demand for kidney transplants is a big problem worldwide. In the UK, for example, only 18% of patients waiting on the kidney transplant list and 28% on kidney/pancreas transplant list received a transplant during 2008-09.
Donations from living people only made up 37% of the total UK kidney transplant programme in the same period, [...]... Read more »

  • March 24, 2010
  • 07:15 AM

Backpackers in Australia are a sexual health risk

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Young people, especially Brits, famously head to Australia in their droves in search of travel, adventure, and, crucially, some hot weather.  In 2009-09, 560,105 international backpackers visited Australia, representing 10.9% of all international visitors.
It seems that backpackers in Oz aren’t just looking for fun and sun though – according to a new study they’re [...]... Read more »

  • March 22, 2010
  • 07:00 AM

News reports on cancer don’t give the full story

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Cancer stories seem to make the news on a daily basis.  For example, just today in the UK there are stories about a gene that could predispose non-smokers to lung cancer, how infertile men are at raised risk of prostate cancer, and how testing for the HPV virus during cervical screening doesn’t help pick up [...]... Read more »

  • March 19, 2010
  • 04:00 PM

Winter getting you down? It might also be making you unhealthy

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Do the long nights and shoddy weather over the winter months make you feel low? If so, you could also be at raised risk of cardiovascular disease and being overweight, according to new research in PLoS ONE.

This study of 11,545 Norwegian adults found that people who were classified as having considerable variations in mood [...]... Read more »

  • March 16, 2010
  • 07:00 AM

A healthy life leads to a healthy sex life

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Being in good or excellent health increases the quality and quantity of sex for middle aged and older people, according to a big study that delved into the sex lives of 6,000 American adults aged 25-85.  Plus being fit can keep you sexually active into a ripe old age, unlike your unhealthy peers.
The study also [...]... Read more »

  • March 9, 2010
  • 05:14 PM

Regular use of common painkillers is associated with hearing loss in middle aged men

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

A study has found that regular use of common painkillers – such aspirin, paracetamol, and ibuprofen – increases the risk of hearing loss in men aged 40-74 years.
Using aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, or paracetamol twice a week or more over a 20 year period increased the risk of hearing loss by 12%, [...]... Read more »

Curhan, S., Eavey, R., Shargorodsky, J., & Curhan, G. (2010) Analgesic Use and the Risk of Hearing Loss in Men. The American Journal of Medicine, 123(3), 231-237. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.08.006  

  • March 5, 2010
  • 11:00 AM

Talking therapies for depression are overrated thanks to publication bias

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

An analysis of studies into counseling therapies for depression – such as cognitive-behavioural therapy – has found that the effect of such approaches has been overestimated because studies that show a strong effect of the treatments are getting published over studies with more modest results.
In 117 studies, “talking therapies” reduced the symptoms of depression on average [...]... Read more »

  • March 2, 2010
  • 06:00 AM

Hot housed Chinese schoolkids are getting ill from the stress

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

A third of Chinese children experience high levels of school-related stress, and these kids are about five times more likely to have the physical symptoms of stress – that is, headache or abdominal pain – then their less frazzled peers.
Thanks to the combination of China’s recent economic growth – with the increased opportunities for upward [...]... Read more »

Hesketh, T., Zhen, Y., Lu, L., Dong, Z., Jun, Y., & Xing, Z. (2010) Stress and psychosomatic symptoms in Chinese school children: cross-sectional survey. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 95(2), 136-140. DOI: 10.1136/adc.2009.171660  

  • March 1, 2010
  • 06:00 AM

Medical school entrance exam favours white public school boys

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

New research has found that the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT), introduced to level the playing field in selection for medical and dental schools, favours male applicants, white people, and students from a higher socioeconomic class or who attended an independent or grammar school.
In the UK, students take advanced level (A level) exams aged 18, [...]... Read more »

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