Health and Medicine

This subject area encompasses research and studies in the field of human medicine.

Among the wide-ranging list of topics covered here are anesthesiology, anatomy, surgery, human genetics, hygiene and environmental medicine, internal medicine, neurology, pharmacology, physiology, urology and dental medicine.

Should women be screened for domestic violence?

Over a third of women attending general practices have experienced physical violence, but doctors and nurses rarely ask about it. Researchers in this week’s BMJ ask:
Should women be screened for domestic violence when they visit their general practitioner?
Is there a high risk group of women for whom screening might be more appropriate?
Is screening acceptable to women?

A sample of women visiting 13 general practices in Hackney, east London were surveyed about different aspects o

Researchers Find 30% Improvement in Overall Casualty Waiting Times If Hospitals Separately Stream Minor Injury Treatment

Researchers at the University of Warwick`s Emergency Medicine Research Group have shown that the introduction of a separate stream for minor injuries in a hospital casualty department can reduce the overall number of trauma patients having to wait over an hour for treatment by around 30%.

Dr Matthew Cooke from the University of Warwick`s Centre for Primary Health Care Studies Emergency Medicine Research Group led a research team which looked at a scheme where the University Hospitals Coventr

Preventing overload in the brain

Brain researchers in Amsterdam have observed a double control system in the hippocampus. This double control system contributes to the memory and ensures that the brain does not `crash`, as is the case during an epileptic seizure.

The neurobiologists from the University of Amsterdam carried out their observations on the hippocampus of rats. The hippocampus probably plays an important role in converting the short-term memory to the long-term memory.

The hippocampus contains two sorts

Clamping down on a cancer-causing protein

Many of today’s medicines were discovered by trial and error: a substance is found which helps alleviate the symptoms of a disease, and it may take years before scientists really understand how it works. Typically they find that a drug has its effects by attaching itself to a particular molecule in a cell and blocking part of its activity, the way you might prevent someone from turning a light on or off by putting a lock over the switch. Scientists now hope to take the opposite approach, and custom-d

Proximity To Landfill Sites Linked To Increased Risk Of Congenital Chromosomal Abnormalities (p 320)

New data from a 1998 study to assess the potential risks of chromosomal abnormalities of residents living near landfill sites is detailed in a research letter in this week’s issue of THE LANCET. The findings suggest that the increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities is of a similar magnitude to the increased risk of non-chromosomal abnormalities previously reported.

Previous findings of the EUROHAZCON study (Lancet 1998; 352: 423–27) showed a 33% increase in the risk of non-chromosomal ano

An HIV Vaccine is within reach

An effective, affordable, and accessible HIV vaccine is 7-10 years away, according to scientists at the Medical Research Council of South Africa, in this week’s BMJ. However, its success depends on a complex interplay of politics, science, and public-private partnerships.

Equitable public-private partnerships between researchers, manufacturers, and distributors and partnerships between rich and poor countries are the best strategy for the development of the vaccine, say the authors. Successf

Reining in cancer – first laboratory study to show that combining novel targeted therapies may keep cancer cells under control

A team of Italian researchers has demonstrated in the laboratory for the first time that combining two of the newest anti-cancer targeted agents may produce a powerful new combination against breast cancer – and possibly many other cancers as well. Their findings are reported (Thursday 24 January) in the journal Annals of Oncology.*

They found that trastuzumab (Herceptin) and the as yet unlicensed drug ZD1839 (Iressa), act synergistically against two rogue genes commonly involved in breast c

An intelligent combination of mathematics and cell biology could spell death to brain tumours

Combining two separate observations of cells in brain tumours could enable doctors to improve the success rate of radiotherapy. Speaking today (23 January) at the Institute of Physics Simulation and Modelling Applied to Medicine conference in London, chemical engineer Dr Norman Kirkby from the University of Surrey will explain how using the correct time intervals between a sequence of low dose radiotherapy sessions could increase the chance of curing brain cancers that tend to resist treatment.

Babies Who Wheeze Don’t Have To Develop Asthma

Researchers at the University of Bristol have discovered that not all babies who wheeze will develop asthma in later life.

Dr Andrea Sherriff and asthma experts from the Institute of Child Health in Bristol and St George`s Hospital Medical School in London studied around 10,000 children taking part in the Children of the 90s project in Bristol.

The researchers discovered that over 60% of babies who wheezed in the first six months had stopped by 3½ years of age. When they we

Herbal extract is an effective treatment for hay fever

The herbal extract, butterbur, is as effective as antihistamines for treating hay fever, and does not have the sedative effects often associated with these drugs, finds a study in this week’s BMJ.

Researchers in Switzerland identified 125 patients with a history of hay fever. Patients received either butterbur extract tablets or a commonly used non-sedating antihistamine (cetirizine) as recommended by the manufacturers.

After two weeks, the effects of butterbur and cetirizine were s

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