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BMJ. 2007 April 21; 334(7598): 858.
PMCID: PMC1853220

Minerva

Does breast feeding reduce the risk of babies being admitted to hospital for diarrhoeal and lower respiratory tract infections in the United Kingdom? Surprisingly, perhaps, it does. Exclusive, prolonged breast feeding could prevent 53% of admissions for diarrhoea, and partial breast feeding could prevent 31%. And 27% of lower respiratory tract infections could be prevented by exclusive breast feeding and 25% by partial breast feeding (Pediatrics 2007;119:e837-42, doi: 10.1542/peds.2006-2256).

Teenagers with eating disorders fare better when they engage with self care guided by cognitive behaviour therapy than when they undergo family therapy. Cognitive behaviour therapy offers the slight advantage of a more rapid reduction in bingeing but, perhaps more importantly, is also cheaper and more acceptable to them (American Journal of Psychiatry 2007;164:591-8, doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.164.4.591).

Performing high intensity weight lifting exercise during dialysis sessions results in significantly better muscle mass, strength, quality of life, and other aspects of health status that are considered important to people with kidney failure, according to a randomised controlled trial of resistance training (Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 2007 Apr 4, doi: 10.1681/ASN.2006121329). The authors of the progressive exercise for anabolism in kidney disease (PEAK) study conclude that taking exercise should be “standard practice” at dialysis centres.

Downregulated genes in lung cancer have been found to be particularly vulnerable to a specific type of chemotherapy that may leave normal tissue relatively unharmed. Researchers in Nature describe a new way to screen for cancer cells (2007;446:815-9, doi: 10.1038/nature05697). They used genome-wide RNA interference to identify 87 genes that are involved in the response to the drug paclitaxel. Reducing the expression of some of these genes caused some lung cancer cells to become sensitised to paclitaxel at concentrations 1000-fold lower than would otherwise be needed for a significant response.

Increasing numbers of Australian general practitioners are apparently afraid to go to work because of a growing trend in violence towards them or other doctors (Australian Medicine 2007;19(6):3, 2 Apr). One survey shows that in an area of Melbourne where a general practitioner had been murdered last year, doctors and other staff in a quarter of practices feel unsafe while working alone. The survey also showed that doctors are being verbally abused, threatened, sexually harassed, and assaulted in areas where aggressive drug users are increasingly common.

“Stress busting” groups for consultant psychiatrists seem to be a successful and helpful approach for their members. The most successful format in these groups is one of “problem solving with ventilation of stresses.” Other strategies for reducing stress identified by a small cohort of consultant psychiatrists included talking to colleagues for support and catharsis, having outside interests, getting support from family and friends, managing time well, and taking exercise (Psychiatric Bulletin 2007;31:128-31, doi: 10.1192/pb.bp.106.010934).

The declining incidence in adenocarcinoma of the lung in the United States since 1999 is likely to be linked to reductions in air pollution. A study in Chest concludes that use of low tar cigarettes and a general reduction in environmental tobacco smoke may also be contributors, but these are less likely to be “the driving force” (2007;131;1000-5, doi: 10.1378/chest.06-1695).

Inadequate screening for cervical cancer is the single most important factor that leads to a diagnosis of cervical cancer, according to a New Zealand study. Half of the 371 participants had not had a screening smear taken in the three years before diagnosis, and 80% were defined as “inadequately screened.” Only 11% of women diagnosed as having cervical cancer had had a high grade smear result that had been originally read as negative. Priorities, say the authors, must be geared to improve uptake and frequency (BJOG 2007;114:398-407, doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2006.01207.x).

Tying the knot whets a man's appetite for extramarital sex but not his wife's, an examination of sexual behaviour in web communities has apparently found (Null Hypothesis 2007, www.null-hypothesis.co.uk/science/strange-but-true/profs-probings/myspace_sex_married_relationship_evolution). Married men have more “online lady friends” than a man describing himself as “in a relationship,” but women seem to stop shopping around when they have a ring on their third finger. Unmarried women have 15 more friends of the opposite sex compared with women who say that they are “in relationships.” More men claimed to be unattached than women, in this survey, but the researchers say that for entirely different reasons both sexes could be lying.

Premenopausal obese women who lose weight while managing to maintain adequate calcium intake don't compromise their bones, says the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007;85:972-80, www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/85/4/972). The group that consumed high calcium, however, showed a strong relation between increased mineral density of the femoral neck bone and serum vitamin D.

A connection between periodic leg movements and repetitive fluctuations in nocturnal blood pressure could mean an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in patients who have restless legs syndrome. The mechanism isn't clear, but in this study of 10 patients with the syndrome, changes in systolic and diastolic nocturnal blood pressure increased with age and duration of the illness (Neurology 2007;68:1213-8, www.neurology.org/cgi/content/abstract/68/15/1213).


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