In Sickness and In Health

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

Helen Jaques
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  • November 17, 2008
  • 08:30 AM

Testosterone skin patches improve sex drive in postmenopausal women

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

A considerable proportion of women - between 25% and 53% in fact - suffer from sexual problems, with libido taking a nosedive after the menopause as estrogen levels drop. Although low libido isn't a health problem per se, it has been shown to have a negative effect on sexual relationships and overall wellbeing.It has been known for several years that testosterone, administered as a skin patch, improves sexual function in postmenopausal women. Previous studies on sex drive in women have only lo........ Read more »

Davis SR et al. for the APHRODITE Study Team. (2008) Testosterone for Low Libido in Postmenopausal Women Not Taking Estrogen. N Engl J Med, 359(19), 2005-2017. DOI: 18987368  

  • October 1, 2008
  • 05:21 PM

Irresponsible reporting of clinical trials by the news media

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

It is important for journalists to highlight any potential bias in medical research so that patients and physicians alike can judge how valid clinical trial findings are. Today the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study showing that almost half of news stories on clinical trials fail to report the funding source of the trial. In addition, two-thirds of news articles refer to study medications by their brand names instead of by their generic names.The authors Hochman et al........ Read more »

  • November 12, 2008
  • 05:53 PM

Cardiologists circumspect on stellar JUPITER results

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

The publication this week in New England Journal of Medicine of the JUPITER trial - which found that the statin rosuvastatin reduces the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular events in people with normal cholesterol levels - has cause quite a stir. The likes of the BBC and the Daily Mail squealed that statins should be prescribed to all healthy adults, but what did the study actually look at, and what do doctors think of the findings?In patients with raised cholesterol levels, treatment ........ Read more »

P. M Ridker, E. Danielson, F. A.H. Fonseca, J. Genest, A. M. Gotto, J. J.P. Kastelein, W. Koenig, P. Libby, A. J. Lorenzatti, J. G. MacFadyen.... (2008) Rosuvastatin to Prevent Vascular Events in Men and Women with Elevated C-Reactive Protein. New England Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa0807646  

  • October 10, 2008
  • 01:41 PM

Skin test to detect Parkinson's disease

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

A recent study published in the Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology has shown that neural signs of Parkinson's disease can be identified by taking a simple skin sample.Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects about 1 in every 500 people in the UK. There is no biochemical test to definitively diagnose Parkinson's disease; diagnoses are instead made on the basis of various clinical assessments. Parkinson's disease is, however, characterized b........ Read more »

Ikemura M, Saito Y, Sengoku R, Sakiyama Y, Hatsuta H, Kanemaru K, Sawabe M, Arai T, Ito G, Iwatsubo T.... (2008) Lewy Body Pathology Involves Cutaneous Nerves. . J Neuropathol Exp Neurol, 67(10), 945-953. DOI: 18800013  

  • November 20, 2008
  • 12:00 PM

Chronic kidney disease patients claim to know nothing about their condition

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

A study by Finkelstein and colleagues published recently in Kidney International has found that as many of a third of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) claim to know nothing about their disease or about their treatment options when their kidneys ultimately fail.CKD encompasses many types of kidney damage and is characterized by the gradual loss of renal function, often with few symptoms bar raised blood pressure and nonspecific signs such as fatigue and reduced appetite. CKD is graded o........ Read more »

Fredric O Finkelstein, Kenneth Story, Catherine Firanek, Paul Barre, Tomoko Takano, Steven Soroka, Salim Mujais, Kathleen Rodd, & David Mendelssohn. (2008) Perceived knowledge among patients cared for by nephrologists about chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease therapies. Kidney International, 74(9), 1178-1184. DOI: 10.1038/ki.2008.376  

  • April 27, 2009
  • 08:00 AM

Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to essential tremor

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Drinking three or four alcoholic drinks a day can double the risk of developing essential tremor - or ‘the shakes’ - in old age, suggest new findings from a Spanish research group.  In a report published earlier this year, the same researchers found that individuals with essential tremor were four times more likely to develop [...]... Read more »

  • September 16, 2008
  • 07:17 PM

Do common pain medications mask signs of prostate cancer?

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

A study recently published in the journal Cancer has suggested that common painkillers such as paracetamol and aspirin might affect blood levels of a marker commonly used to diagnose prostate cancer.In this study, Singer et al. examined levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the bloodstream of 1,319 men aged over 40 years. PSA is a protein produced in the prostate gland. Blood levels of PSA will be minuscule in healthy men, but raised levels often indicate the presence of prostate cancer........ Read more »

  • February 23, 2009
  • 08:00 AM

Financial altruism leads to depression

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Do you give cash to people who aren’t your direct family or close friends, including people on the street begging for money? A new study in PLoS One suggests that such charitable behaviour will eventually lead to major depression.

Author Takeo Fujiwara found that financial altruism towards someone other than a family member or close friend [...]... Read more »

  • April 1, 2009
  • 05:20 PM

Squeamish? Don’t worry, medical students are too

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

BMC Medical Education has just published an interesting study that examined the incidence of fainting among medical students observing surgery.  Apparently, more than 1 in 10 medical students almost or completely pass out in the operating theatre.

The authors of this study surveyed 630 clinical medical students in their fourth or fifth (final) year of study [...]... Read more »

  • July 20, 2009
  • 08:00 AM

Cycling or walking to work reduces risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease… but only in men

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

OK, so it seems pretty obvious that cycling or walking to work is better for you than taking the car. New research published in Archives of Internal Medicine has clarified the beneficial effects in terms of fitness and cardiovascular health of walking or cycling to work – but they’re largely only seen in men.

This study [...]... Read more »

Penny Gordon-Larsen, Janne Boone-Heinonen, Steve Sidney, Barbara Sternfeld, David R Jacobs Jr, Cora E Lewis. (2009) Active Commuting and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: The CARDIA Study . Arch Intern Med, 169(13), 1216-1223. DOI: 19597071  

  • January 5, 2009
  • 05:56 AM

One in five children with cancer receive wrong chemotherapy doses

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

A study of nearly 1,400 adult and pediatric cancer patients published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has found that 19% of children taking chemotherapy drugs in outpatient clinics or at home were subject to some sort of medication error.  In addition, 7% of adult cancer outpatients also were on the receiving end of chemotherapy [...]... Read more »

K. E. Walsh, K. S. Dodd, K. Seetharaman, D. W. Roblin, L. J. Herrinton, A. Von Worley, G. N. Usmani, D. Baer, & J. H. Gurwitz. (2008) Medication Errors Among Adults and Children With Cancer in the Outpatient Setting. Journal of Clinical Oncology. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2008.18.6072  

  • January 13, 2009
  • 06:37 AM

A stressful job doubles the likelihood of stroke - but only for men

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine has found that men with a stressful job are twice as likely to have a stroke than are men with less demanding jobs.  Interestingly, there was no correlation between job stress and incidence of stroke among women.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is [...]... Read more »

Akizumi Tsutsumi, Kazunori Kayaba, Kazuomi Kario, and Shizukiyo Ishikawa. (2009) Prospective Study on Occupational Stress and Risk of Stroke. Arch Intern Med, 169(1), 56-61. DOI:  

  • March 24, 2009
  • 05:00 AM

Red meat consumption increases the risk of early death

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Results from a huge study published in Archives of Internal Medicine have shown that consumption of a high level of red and processed meat is associated with a raised risk of early death.

Men who ate the most red meat - roughly equivalent to a quarter pounder burger a day - were 31% more likely to [...]... Read more »

Rashmi Sinha, Amanda J Cross, Barry I Graubard, Michael F Leitzmann, Arthur Schatzkin. (2009) Meat Intake and Mortality: A Prospective Study of Over Half a Million People . Arch Intern Med, 169(6), 562-571. DOI: 169(6):562-571  

  • November 5, 2008
  • 02:20 PM

Consumption of caffeine during pregnancy increases the risk of having an underweight baby

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Caffeine has been proposed to have all sorts of effects on health, both good and bad. Just in the last few months, it has been reported that caffeine can help repair damaged blood vessels, protect against cataract formation, and even shrink women's breasts.Now new research published in the British Medical Journal has found that consuming caffeine during pregnancy can increase the risk of giving birth to low-birth-weight baby. Underweight babies are more likely to be delivered early or by cesar........ Read more »

  • February 11, 2009
  • 05:43 PM

Make it a DIET coke break, for the sake of your kidneys

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

New research published in PLoS One has shown that drinking two or more fizzy drinks a day can double a woman’s chance of developing signs of kidney disease – but only if she drinks full-sugar sodas.

David A Shoham and colleagues studied data from more than 9,000 individuals in the population-based National Health and Nutrition Examination [...]... Read more »

  • October 23, 2008
  • 05:00 AM

Attitude has no effect on survival in women with breast cancer

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Many patients with cancer feel that their attitude towards the 'fight' is an important part of beating the disease, but maintaining a positive perspective is pretty tough in the face of a life-threatening malignancy.A large, population-based study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has now found that psychosocial factors such as fighting spirit and fatalism have no effect on survival in patients with breast cancer. The authors Phillips et al. emphasize that their results could allay t........ Read more »

K.-A. Phillips, R. H. Osborne, G. G. Giles, G. S. Dite, C. Apicella, J. L. Hopper, & R. L. Milne. (2008) Psychosocial Factors and Survival of Young Women With Breast Cancer: A Population-Based Prospective Cohort Study. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 26(28), 4666-4671. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2007.14.8718  

  • July 24, 2009
  • 08:00 AM

Does IQ affect cardiovascular disease risk?

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Err, well, maybe.  IQ does seem to account for some of the well-documented relationship between socioeconomic status and cardiovascular risk, according to new research in European Heart Journal.  Simply put, being more intelligent could be one reason why people from a high socioeconomic background are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those [...]... Read more »

  • January 26, 2009
  • 06:26 PM

So you won’t go blind, but you might get prostate cancer

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Although the schoolyard rumours that masturbation causes blindness or hairy palms aren’t true, a new study published in BJU International has found that too much playing solo in your twenties and thirties can increase the risk of prostate cancer.

The study of more than 800 men found that a high level of sexual activity or [...]... Read more »

Polyxeni Dimitropoulou, Artitaya Lophatananon, Douglas Easton, Richard Pocock, David P. Dearnaley, Michelle Guy, Steven Edwards, Lynne O’Brien, Amanda Hall, Rosemary Wilkinson.... (2009) Sexual activity and prostate cancer risk in men diagnosed at a younger age. BJU International, 103(2), 178-185. DOI: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2008.08030.x  

  • December 22, 2008
  • 08:35 AM

Drinkers don’t take their medications often enough

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

A recent study by Bryson et al. has found that moderate to severe alcohol misuse increases the likelihood that patients won’t take their medication properly.

Many patients do not take their medications as often as they should - i.e. on at least 80% of the days they are supposed to.  In fact, a recent study found [...]... Read more »

  • February 12, 2009
  • 11:23 AM

Researchers identify new prostate cancer marker detectable in urine

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

Researchers in the US have found a new marker of the aggressiveness of prostate cancer that is detectable in the urine of men with the malignancy.  Sreekumar et al. discovered that levels of sarcosine, a common amino acid found in many biological tissues, are higher in invasive prostate cancers than in benign cancers and are [...]... Read more »

Arun Sreekumar, Laila M. Poisson, Thekkelnaycke M. Rajendiran, Amjad P. Khan, Qi Cao, Jindan Yu, Bharathi Laxman, Rohit Mehra, Robert J. Lonigro, Yong Li.... (2009) Metabolomic profiles delineate potential role for sarcosine in prostate cancer progression. Nature, 457(7231), 910-914. DOI: 10.1038/nature07762  

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