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1.  Validation of suicide and self-harm records in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink 
The UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) is increasingly being used to investigate suicide-related adverse drug reactions. No studies have comprehensively validated the recording of suicide and nonfatal self-harm in the CPRD. We validated general practitioners' recording of these outcomes using linked Office for National Statistics (ONS) mortality and Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) admission data.
We identified cases of suicide and self-harm recorded using appropriate Read codes in the CPRD between 1998 and 2010 in patients aged ≥15 years. Suicides were defined as patients with Read codes for suicide recorded within 95 days of their death. International Classification of Diseases codes were used to identify suicides/hospital admissions for self-harm in the linked ONS and HES data sets. We compared CPRD-derived cases/incidence of suicide and self-harm with those identified from linked ONS mortality and HES data, national suicide incidence rates and published self-harm incidence data.
Only 26.1% (n = 590) of the ‘true’ (ONS-confirmed) suicides were identified using Read codes. Furthermore, only 55.5% of Read code-identified suicides were confirmed as suicide by the ONS data. Of the HES-identified cases of self-harm, 68.4% were identified in the CPRD using Read codes. The CPRD self-harm rates based on Read codes had similar age and sex distributions to rates observed in self-harm hospital registers, although rates were underestimated in all age groups.
The CPRD recording of suicide using Read codes is unreliable, with significant inaccuracy (over- and under-reporting). Future CPRD suicide studies should use linked ONS mortality data. The under-reporting of self-harm appears to be less marked.
PMCID: PMC3703237  PMID: 23216533
Clinical Practice Research Datalink; General Practice Research Database; nonfatal self-harm; suicide; validation
2.  Hospital Presenting Self-Harm and Risk of Fatal and Non-Fatal Repetition: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89944.
Non-fatal self-harm is one of the most frequent reasons for emergency hospital admission and the strongest risk factor for subsequent suicide. Repeat self-harm and suicide are key clinical outcomes of the hospital management of self-harm. We have undertaken a comprehensive review of the international literature on the incidence of fatal and non-fatal repeat self-harm and investigated factors influencing variation in these estimates as well as changes in the incidence of repeat self-harm and suicide over the last 30 years.
Methods and Findings
Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Google Scholar, article reference lists and personal paper collections of the authors were searched for studies describing rates of fatal and non-fatal self-harm amongst people who presented to health care services for deliberate self-harm. Heterogeneity in pooled estimates of repeat self-harm incidence was investigated using stratified meta-analysis and meta-regression. The search identified 177 relevant papers. The risk of suicide in the 12 months after an index attempt was 1.6% (CI 1.2–2.4) and 3.9% (CI 3.2–4.8) after 5 years. The estimated 1 year rate of non-fatal repeat self-harm was 16.3% (CI 15.1–17.7). This proportion was considerably lower in Asian countries (10.0%, CI 7.3–13.6%) and varies between studies identifying repeat episodes using hospital admission data (13.7%, CI 12.3–15.3) and studies using patient report (21.9%, CI 14.3–32.2). There was no evidence that the incidence of repeat self-harm was lower in more recent (post 2000) studies compared to those from the 1980s and 1990s.
One in 25 patients presenting to hospital for self-harm will kill themselves in the next 5 years. The incidence of repeat self-harm and suicide in this population has not changed in over 10 years. Different methods of identifying repeat episodes of self-harm produce varying estimates of incidence and this heterogeneity should be considered when evaluating interventions aimed at reducing non-fatal repeat self-harm.
PMCID: PMC3938547  PMID: 24587141
3.  Diurnal variation in probability of death following self-poisoning in Sri Lanka—evidence for chronotoxicity in humans 
Background The absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of medicines are partly controlled by transporters and enzymes with diurnal variation in expression. Dose timing may be important for maximizing therapeutic and minimizing adverse effects. However, outcome data for such an effect in humans are sparse, and chronotherapeutics is consequently less practised. We examined a large prospective Sri Lankan cohort of patients with acute poisoning to seek evidence of diurnal variation in the probability of survival.
Methods In all, 14 840 patients admitted to hospital after yellow oleander (Cascabela thevetia) seed or pesticide [organophosphorus (OP), carbamate, paraquat, glyphosate] self-poisoning were investigated for variation in survival according to time of ingestion.
Results We found strong evidence that the outcome of oleander poisoning was associated with time of ingestion (P < 0.001). There was weaker evidence for OP insecticides (P = 0.041) and no evidence of diurnal variation in the outcome for carbamate, glyphosate and paraquat pesticides. Compared with ingestion in the late morning, and with confounding by age, sex, time of and delay to hospital presentation and year of admission controlled, case fatality of oleander poisoning was over 50% lower following evening ingestion (risk ratio = 0.40, 95% confidence interval 0.26–0.62). Variation in dose across the day was not responsible.
Conclusions We have shown for the first time that timing of poison ingestion affects survival in humans. This evidence for chronotoxicity suggests chronotherapeutics should be given greater attention in drug development and clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3535746  PMID: 23179303
Circadian rhythm; self-injurious behaviour; toxicology; poisoning; Cascabela thevetia; pesticides; Sri Lanka
4.  Physicians' prescribing preferences were a potential instrument for patients' actual prescriptions of antidepressants☆ 
Journal of Clinical Epidemiology  2013;66(12):1386-1396.
To investigate whether physicians' prescribing preferences were valid instrumental variables for the antidepressant prescriptions they issued to their patients.
Study Design and Setting
We investigated whether physicians' previous prescriptions of (1) tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) vs. selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and (2) paroxetine vs. other SSRIs were valid instruments. We investigated whether the instrumental variable assumptions are likely to hold and whether TCAs (vs. SSRIs) were associated with hospital admission for self-harm or death by suicide using both conventional and instrumental variable regressions. The setting for the study was general practices in the United Kingdom.
Prior prescriptions were strongly associated with actual prescriptions: physicians who previously prescribed TCAs were 14.9 percentage points (95% confidence interval [CI], 14.4, 15.4) more likely to prescribe TCAs, and those who previously prescribed paroxetine were 27.7 percentage points (95% CI, 26.7, 28.8) more likely to prescribe paroxetine, to their next patient. Physicians' previous prescriptions were less strongly associated with patients' baseline characteristics than actual prescriptions. We found no evidence that the estimated association of TCAs with self-harm/suicide using instrumental variable regression differed from conventional regression estimates (P-value = 0.45).
The main instrumental variable assumptions held, suggesting that physicians' prescribing preferences are valid instruments for evaluating the short-term effects of antidepressants.
PMCID: PMC3824069  PMID: 24075596
Instrumental variables; Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD); Physicians' prescribing preferences; Confounding by indication; Causality; Translational epidemiology
5.  Circulating folate, vitamin B12, homocysteine, vitamin B12 transport proteins and risk of prostate cancer: a case-control study, systematic review and meta-analysis 
Disturbed folate metabolism is associated with an increased risk of some cancers. Our objective was to determine whether blood levels of folate, vitamin B12 and related metabolites were associated with prostate cancer risk.
Matched case-control study nested within the UK population-based ProtecT study of PSA-detected prostate cancer in men aged 50–69 years. Plasma concentrations of folate, B12 (cobalamin), holo-haptocorrin, holo- and total-transcobalamin, and total homocysteine (tHcy) were measured in 1,461 cases and 1,507 controls. ProtecT study estimates for associations of folate, B12, and tHcy with prostate cancer risk were included in a meta-analysis, based on a systematic review.
In the ProtecT study, increased B12 and holo-haptocorrin concentrations showed positive associations with prostate cancer risk (highest vs lowest quartile of B12 odds ratio (OR)=1.17 (95% CI 0.95–1.43), P-for-trend=0.06; highest vs lowest quartile of holo-haptocorrin OR=1.27 (1.04–1.56), P-for-trend=0.01); folate, holo-transcobalamin and tHcy were not associated with prostate cancer risk. In the meta-analysis, circulating B12 levels were associated with an increased prostate cancer risk (pooled OR=1.10 (1.01–1.19) per 100 pmol/L increase in B12, P=0.002); the pooled OR for the association of folate with prostate cancer was positive (OR=1.11 (0.96–1.28) per 10 nmol/L, P=0.2) and conventionally statistically significant if ProtecT (the only case-control study) was excluded (OR=1.18 (1.00–1.40) per 10 nmol/L, P=0.02).
Vitamin B12 and (in cohort studies) folate were associated with increased prostate cancer risk.
Given current controversies over mandatory fortification, further research is needed to determine whether these are causal associations.
PMCID: PMC3759018  PMID: 20501771
folate; vitamin B12; cobalamin; transcobalamin; haptocorrin; homocysteine; folate-mediated one-carbon metabolism; prostate cancer
6.  Assessing the exposure risk and impacts of pharmaceuticals in the environment on individuals and ecosystems 
Biology Letters  2013;9(4):20130492.
The use of human and veterinary pharmaceuticals is increasing. Over the past decade, there has been a proliferation of research into potential environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals in the environment. A Royal Society-supported seminar brought together experts from diverse scientific fields to discuss the risks posed by pharmaceuticals to wildlife. Recent analytical advances have revealed that pharmaceuticals are entering habitats via water, sewage, manure and animal carcases, and dispersing through food chains. Pharmaceuticals are designed to alter physiology at low doses and so can be particularly potent contaminants. The near extinction of Asian vultures following exposure to diclofenac is the key example where exposure to a pharmaceutical caused a population-level impact on non-target wildlife. However, more subtle changes to behaviour and physiology are rarely studied and poorly understood. Grand challenges for the future include developing more realistic exposure assessments for wildlife, assessing the impacts of mixtures of pharmaceuticals in combination with other environmental stressors and estimating the risks from pharmaceutical manufacturing and usage in developing countries. We concluded that an integration of diverse approaches is required to predict ‘unexpected’ risks; specifically, ecologically relevant, often long-term and non-lethal, consequences of pharmaceuticals in the environment for wildlife and ecosystems.
PMCID: PMC3730660  PMID: 23804293
wildlife; endocrine-disrupting chemicals; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; vultures; risk prediction; bioindicators
7.  Fate and Transport of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Upland Irish Headwater Lake Catchments 
The Scientific World Journal  2012;2012:828343.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a concern due to their carcinogenicity and propensity for transboundary atmospheric transport. Ireland is located on the western periphery of Europe and assumed to receive clean Atlantic air. As such, it has been used as an atmospheric reference for comparison to other regions. Nonetheless, few studies have evaluated concentrations of PAHs within the Irish environment. In the current study, PAHs were measured at five upland (500–800 masl) headwater lake catchments in coastal regions around Ireland, remote from industrial point source emissions. Semipermeable membrane devices were deployed in lakes for a 6-month period in July 2009, and topsoils were sampled from each catchment during October 2010. The concentrations of PAHs were low at most study sites with respect to other temperate regions. Homologue groups partitioned between lake and soil compartments based on their molecular weight were: “lighter” substances, such as Phenanthrene and Fluorene, were found in higher proportions in lakes, whereas “heavier” compounds, such as Chrysene and Benz[a]anthracene, were more prominent in soils. Concentrations of PAHs were highest at the east coast sites, potentially due to contributions from historical transboundary and regional combustion sources.
PMCID: PMC3549342  PMID: 23346024
8.  Associations of Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D with prostate cancer diagnosis, stage and grade 
Epidemiological studies suggest that vitamin D protects against prostate cancer, although evidence is limited and inconsistent. We investigated associations of circulating total 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) with PSA-detected prostate cancer in a case-control study nested within the Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) trial. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) quantifying the association between circulating total 25(OH)D and prostate cancer. In case-only analyses, we used unconditional logistic regression to quantify associations of total 25(OH)D with stage (advanced vs localized) and Gleason grade (high-grade (≥7) vs low-grade (<7)). Pre-determined categories of total 25(OH)D were defined as: high: ≥30ng/mL; adequate: 20-<30ng/mL; insufficient: 12-<20ng/mL; deficient: <12ng/mL. Fractional polynomials were used to investigate the existence of any U-shaped relationship. We included 1,447 prostate cancer cases (153 advanced, 469 high-grade) and 1,449 healthy controls. There was evidence that men deficient in vitamin D had a two-fold increased risk of advanced versus localized cancer (OR for deficient vs adequate total 25(OH)D=2.33, 95% CI: 1.26,4.28) and high-grade versus low-grade cancer (OR for deficient vs adequate total 25(OH)D=1.78, 95% CI: 1.15,2.77). There was no evidence of a linear association between total 25(OH)D and prostate cancer (p=0.44) or of an increased risk of prostate cancer with high and low vitamin D levels. Our study provides evidence that lower 25(OH)D concentrations were associated with more aggressive cancers (advanced versus localized cancers and high- versus low- Gleason grade), but there was no evidence of an association with overall prostate cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3378478  PMID: 22033893
Prostate cancer; vitamin D; 25-hydroxyvitamn D
12.  The causal roles of vitamin B12 and transcobalamin in prostate cancer: can Mendelian randomization analysis provide definitive answers? 
Circulating vitamin B12 (cobalamin/B12) and total transcobalamin (tTC) have been associated with increased and reduced risk, respectively, of prostate cancer. Mendelian randomization has the potential to determine whether these are causal associations. We estimated associations of single nucleotide polymorphisms in B12-related genes (MTR, MTRR, FUT2, TCN2, TCN1, CUBN, and MUT) with plasma concentrations of B12, tTC, holo-transcobalamin, holo-haptocorrin, folate, and homocysteine and with prostate cancer risk in a case-control study (913 cases, 895 controls) nested within the UK-wide population-based ProtecT study of prostate cancer in men age 45-69 years. Instrumental variable (IV) analysis was used to estimate odds ratios for effects of B12 and tTC on prostate cancer. We observed that B12 was lower in men with FUT2 204G>A (rs492602), CUBN 758C>T (rs1801222) and MUT 1595G>A (rs1141321) alleles (Ptrend<0.001); tTC was lower in men with the TCN2 776C>G (rs1801198) allele (Ptrend<0.001). FUT2 204G>A and CUBN 758C>T were selected as instruments for B12; TCN2 776C>G for tTC. Conventional and IV estimates for the association of loge(B12) with prostate cancer were: OR=1.17 (95% CI 0.90-1.51), P=0.2 and OR=0.60 (0.16-2.15), P=0.4, respectively. Conventional and IV estimates for the association of loge(tTC) with prostate cancer were: OR=0.81 (0.54-1.20), P=0.3 and OR=0.41 (0.13-1.32), P=0.1, respectively. Confidence intervals around the IV estimates in our study were too wide to allow robust inference. Sample size estimates based on our data indicated that Mendelian randomization in this context requires much larger studies or multiple genetic variants that explain all of the variance in the intermediate phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3243448  PMID: 22199995
Vitamin B12/cobalamin; transcobalamin; prostate cancer; Mendelian Randomization
13.  A community-based cluster randomised trial of safe storage to reduce pesticide self-poisoning in rural Sri Lanka: study protocol 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:879.
The WHO recognises pesticide poisoning to be the single most important means of suicide globally. Pesticide self-poisoning is a major public health and clinical problem in rural Asia, where it has led to case fatality ratios 20-30 times higher than self-poisoning in the developed world. One approach to reducing access to pesticides is for households to store pesticides in lockable "safe-storage" containers. However, before this approach can be promoted, evidence is required on its effectiveness and safety.
A community-based cluster randomised controlled trial has been set up in 44,000 households in the North Central Province, Sri Lanka. A census is being performed, collecting baseline demographic data, socio-economic status, pesticide usage, self-harm and alcohol. Participating villages are then randomised and eligible households in the intervention arm given a lockable safe storage container for agrochemicals.
The primary outcome will be incidence of pesticide self-poisoning over three years amongst individuals aged 14 years and over. 217,944 person years of follow-up are required in each arm to detect a 33% reduction in pesticide self-poisoning with 80% power at the 5% significance level. Secondary outcomes will include the incidence of all pesticide poisoning and total self-harm.
This paper describes a large effectiveness study of a community intervention to reduce the burden of intentional poisoning in rural Sri Lanka. The study builds on a strong partnership between provincial health services, local and international researchers, and local communities. We discuss issues in relation to randomisation and contamination, engaging control villages, the intervention, and strategies to improve adherence.
Trial Registritation
The trial is registered on ref: NCT1146496 (
PMCID: PMC3227631  PMID: 22104027
14.  Development of a New Method for Monitoring Prostate-Specific Antigen Changes in Men with Localised Prostate Cancer: A Comparison of Observational Cohorts 
European urology  2009;57(3):446-452.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) measurements are increasingly used to monitor men with localised prostate cancer (PCa), but there is little consensus about the method to use.
To apply age-specific predictions of PSA level (developed in men without cancer) to one cohort of men with clinically identified PCa and one cohort of men with PSA-detected PCa. We hypothesise that among men with clinically identified cancer, the annual increase in PSA level would be steeper than in men with PSA-detected cancer.
Design, setting, and participants
The Scandinavian Prostatic Cancer Group 4 (SPCG-4) cohort consisted of 321 men assigned to the watchful waiting arm of the SPCG-4 trial. The UK cohort consisted of 320 men with PSA-detected PCa in the Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) study in nine UK centres between 1999 and 2007 who opted for monitoring rather than treatment. Multilevel models describing changes in PSA level were fitted to the two cohorts, and average PSA level at age 50, change in PSA level with age, and predicted PSA values were derived.
PSA level.
Results and limitations
In the SPCG-4 cohort, mean PSA at age 50 was similar to the cancer-free cohort but with a steeper yearly increase in PSA level (16.4% vs 4.0%). In the UK cohort, mean PSA level was higher than that in the cancer-free cohort (due to a PSA biopsy threshold of 3.0 ng/ml) but with a similar yearly increase in PSA level (4.1%). Predictions were less accurate for the SPCG-4 cohort (median observed minus predicted PSA level: −2.0 ng/ml; interquartile range [IQR]: −7.6–0.7 ng/ml) than for the UK cohort (median observed minus predicted PSA level: −0.8 ng/ml; IQR: −2.1–0.1 ng/ml).
In PSA-detected men, yearly change in PSA was similar to that in cancer-free men, whereas in men with symptomatic PCa, the yearly change in PSA level was considerably higher. Our method needs further evaluation but has promise for refining active monitoring protocols.
PMCID: PMC2910432  PMID: 19303695
active surveillance; localised prostate cancer; PSA doubling time; PSA velocity; reference ranges
15.  Does consideration of either psychological or material disadvantage improve coronary risk prediction? Prospective observational study of Scottish men 
To assess the value of psychosocial risk factors in discriminating between individuals at higher and lower risk of coronary heart disease, using risk prediction equations.
Prospective observational study.
5191 employed men aged 35 to 64 years and free of coronary heart disease at study enrolment
Main outcome measures
Area under receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves for risk prediction equations including different risk factors for coronary heart disease.
During the first 10 years of follow up, 203 men died of coronary heart disease and a further 200 were admitted to hospital with this diagnosis. Area under the ROC curve for the standard Framingham coronary risk factors was 74.5%. Addition of “vital exhaustion” and psychological stress led to areas under the ROC curve of 74.5% and 74.6%, respectively. Addition of current social class and lifetime social class to the standard Framingham equation gave areas under the ROC curve of 74.6% and 74.9%, respectively. In no case was there strong evidence for improved discrimination of the model containing the novel risk factor over the standard model.
Consideration of psychosocial risk factors, including those that are strong independent predictors of heart disease, does not substantially influence the ability of risk prediction tools to discriminate between individuals at higher and lower risk of coronary heart disease.
PMCID: PMC2660009  PMID: 17699540
cardiovascular disease; risk assessment; Framingham risk score; primary prevention; psychosocial factors
16.  Life course sun exposure and risk of prostate cancer: population-based nested case-control study (ProtecT) and meta-analysis 
There is currently no means of primary prevention for prostate cancer. Increased exposure to ultraviolet-radiation may be protective, but the literature is inconclusive. We investigated associations of life-course exposure to sunlight with prostate cancer. The study design was a UK-wide nested case-control study, based on 1,020 PSA-detected cases and 5,044 matched population controls and a systematic review with meta-analysis. Men with olive/brown skin (OR= 1.47; 95% CI: 1.00 to 2.17), men who burnt rarely/never (OR= 1.11; 0.95 to 1.29) and men with the lowest levels of intense sun exposure in the 2 years prior to diagnosis (OR = 1.24; 1.03 to 1.50) had an increased prostate cancer risk. However, amongst men with prostate cancer, spending less time outside was associated with a reduced risk of advanced cancer (OR = 0.49; 0.27 to 0.89) and high Gleason grade (OR = 0.62; 0.43 to 0.91), and men who burnt rarely/never had a reduced risk of advanced cancer (OR = 0.71; 0.47 to 1.08). The meta-analysis provided weak evidence that men with the lowest (versus highest) sunlight exposure had an increased prostate cancer risk (4 studies, random-effects pooled relative risk = 1.13; 0.98 to 1.29) and higher advanced or fatal prostate cancer risk (6 studies, random-effects pooled relative risk = 1.14; 0.98 to 1.33). Our data and meta-analyses provide limited support for the hypothesis that increased exposure to sunlight may reduce prostate cancer risk. The findings warrant further investigation because of their implications for vitamin D chemoprevention trials.
PMCID: PMC2873563  PMID: 19444909
Prostate cancer; sun exposure; pigmentation
17.  Prediction of melanoma metastasis by the Shields index based on lymphatic vessel density 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:208.
Melanoma usually presents as an initial skin lesion without evidence of metastasis. A significant proportion of patients develop subsequent local, regional or distant metastasis, sometimes many years after the initial lesion was removed. The current most effective staging method to identify early regional metastasis is sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), which is invasive, not without morbidity and, while improving staging, may not improve overall survival. Lymphatic density, Breslow's thickness and the presence or absence of lymphatic invasion combined has been proposed to be a prognostic index of metastasis, by Shields et al in a patient group.
Here we undertook a retrospective analysis of 102 malignant melanomas from patients with more than five years follow-up to evaluate the Shields' index and compare with existing indicators.
The Shields' index accurately predicted outcome in 90% of patients with metastases and 84% without metastases. For these, the Shields index was more predictive than thickness or lymphatic density. Alternate lymphatic measurement (hot spot analysis) was also effective when combined into the Shields index in a cohort of 24 patients.
These results show the Shields index, a non-invasive analysis based on immunohistochemistry of lymphatics surrounding primary lesions that can accurately predict outcome, is a simple, useful prognostic tool in malignant melanoma.
PMCID: PMC2891632  PMID: 20478045
18.  An ecological study of prostate cancer mortality in the USA and UK, 1975-2004: are divergent trends a consequence of treatment, screening or artefact? 
The lancet oncology  2008;9(5):445-452.
There is no conclusive evidence that screening based on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests reduces prostate cancer mortality. In the USA uptake of PSA testing has been rapid, but is much less common in the UK.
To investigate trends in prostate cancer mortality and incidence in the USA and UK from 1975-2004, contrasting these with trends in screening and treatment.
Joinpoint regression analysis of cancer mortality statistics from Cancer Research UK and the USA National Cancer Institute Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program was used to estimate the annual percentage change in prostate cancer mortality in each country and the points in time when trends changed.
Age-specific and age-adjusted prostate cancer mortality peaked in the early 1990s at almost identical rates in both countries, but age-adjusted mortality in the USA subsequently declined by 4.2% (95% CI 4.0-4.3%) per annum, four times the rate of decline in the UK (1.1%; 0.8-1.4%). The mortality decline in the USA was greatest and most sustained in those ≥75 years, whereas death rates had plateaued in this age group in the UK by 2000.
The striking decline in prostate cancer mortality in the USA compared with the UK between 1994-2004 coincided with much higher uptake of PSA screening in the USA. Explanations for the different trends in mortality include the possibility of an early impact of initial screening rounds on men with more aggressive asymptomatic disease in the USA, different approaches to treatment in the two countries, and bias related to the misattribution of cause of death. Speculation over the role of screening will continue until evidence from randomised controlled trials is published.
PMCID: PMC2760747  PMID: 18424233
Prostate Cancer Mortality; Prostate Cancer Screening; Prostate Cancer Treatment
19.  Emerging methods and tools for environmental risk assessment, decision-making, and policy for nanomaterials: summary of NATO Advanced Research Workshop 
Journal of Nanoparticle Research  2008;11(3):513-527.
Nanomaterials and their associated technologies hold promising opportunities for the development of new materials and applications in a wide variety of disciplines, including medicine, environmental remediation, waste treatment, and energy conservation. However, current information regarding the environmental effects and health risks associated with nanomaterials is limited and sometimes contradictory. This article summarizes the conclusions of a 2008 NATO workshop designed to evaluate the wide-scale implications (e.g., benefits, risks, and costs) of the use of nanomaterials on human health and the environment. A unique feature of this workshop was its interdisciplinary nature and focus on the practical needs of policy decision makers. Workshop presentations and discussion panels were structured along four main themes: technology and benefits, human health risk, environmental risk, and policy implications. Four corresponding working groups (WGs) were formed to develop detailed summaries of the state-of-the-science in their respective areas and to discuss emerging gaps and research needs. The WGs identified gaps between the rapid advances in the types and applications of nanomaterials and the slower pace of human health and environmental risk science, along with strategies to reduce the uncertainties associated with calculating these risks.
PMCID: PMC2720173  PMID: 19655050
Nanomaterials; Risk assessment; Decision analysis; Regulatory policy; Uncertainty analysis; Nanotechnology governance; Societal implications
20.  A review of reporting of participant recruitment and retention in RCTs in six major journals 
Trials  2009;10:52.
Poor recruitment and retention of participants in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) is problematic but common. Clear and detailed reporting of participant flow is essential to assess the generalisability and comparability of RCTs. Despite improved reporting since the implementation of the CONSORT statement, important problems remain. This paper aims: (i) to update and extend previous reviews evaluating reporting of participant recruitment and retention in RCTs; (ii) to quantify the level of participation throughout RCTs.
We reviewed all reports of RCTs of health care interventions and/or processes with individual randomisation, published July–December 2004 in six major journals. Short, secondary or interim reports, and Phase I/II trials were excluded. Data recorded were: general RCT details; inclusion of flow diagram; participant flow throughout trial; reasons for non-participation/withdrawal; target sample sizes.
133 reports were reviewed. Overall, 79% included a flow diagram, but over a third were incomplete. The majority reported the flow of participants at each stage of the trial after randomisation. However, 40% failed to report the numbers assessed for eligibility. Percentages of participants retained at each stage were high: for example, 90% of eligible individuals were randomised, and 93% of those randomised were outcome assessed. On average, trials met their sample size targets. However, there were some substantial shortfalls: for example 21% of trials reporting a sample size calculation failed to achieve adequate numbers at randomisation, and 48% at outcome assessment. Reporting of losses to follow up was variable and difficult to interpret.
The majority of RCTs reported the flow of participants well after randomisation, although only two-thirds included a complete flow chart and there was great variability over the definition of "lost to follow up". Reporting of participant eligibility was poor, making assessments of recruitment practice and external validity difficult. Reporting of participant flow throughout RCTs could be improved by small changes to the CONSORT chart.
PMCID: PMC2717957  PMID: 19591685
21.  The population impact on incidence of suicide and non-fatal self harm of regulatory action against the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in under 18s in the United Kingdom: ecological study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2008;336(7643):542-545.
Objective To investigate the population impact on the incidence of suicide and non-fatal self harm of regulatory action in 2003 to restrict the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in under 18s.
Design Ecological time series study.
Setting United Kingdom.
Populations Young people in the UK aged 12-19 years (prescribing trends), in England and Wales aged 12-17 years (mortality), and in England aged 12-17 years (hospital admissions).
Main outcome measures Deaths from suicide and hospital admissions for self harm.
Results Antidepressant prescribing doubled between 1999 and 2003 but fell to the 1999 level between 2004 and 2005. These large changes in prescribing did not seem to be associated with temporal trends in suicide or self harm. In the years 1993 to 2005 the annual percentage reduction for suicide among 12-17 year olds was −3.9% (95% confidence interval −6.2% to −1.5%) in males and −3.0% (−6.6% to 0.6%) in females, with no indication of a substantial change in this rate of decrease during that period. Similarly, hospital admission rates for self harm in the years 1999 to 2005 indicated an annual percentage increase for males of 1.1% (−0.5% to 2.7%) and for females of 5.7% (3.6% to 7.8%), again with no statistical evidence of a change in rate after the regulatory action.
Conclusions The noticeable reduction in prescribing of antidepressants since regulatory action in 2003 to restrict the use of SSRIs in under 18s does not seem to have been associated with changes in suicidal behaviour in young people. Specifically, these data for England do not indicate that reductions in antidepressant use have led to an increase in suicidal behaviour.
PMCID: PMC2265377  PMID: 18276667
22.  Endocrine disruption and altered gonadal development in white perch (Morone americana) from the lower Great Lakes region. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2004;112(8):898-902.
High prevalences of gonadal intersex have been observed in wild fish populations in areas affected by domestic and industrial effluents. For this study, fish were collected in 1998 from the Cootes Paradise region of Hamilton Harbour in western Lake Ontario, Canada, to determine whether gonadal abnormalities, including intersex, were present in young of the year (YOY) fish. No gonadal abnormalities were observed in goldfish (Carassius auratus), common carp (Cyprinus carpio), gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), brown bullhead (Ictalurus ameiurus), pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus). However, intersex gonads were observed in 8 of 16 male white perch (Morone americana) examined in this survey. Subsequently, in 1999 and 2000 white perch estimated to be YOY to approximately 2 years of age were collected from Cootes Paradise and from two other sites in the lower Great Lakes region. Gonadal intersex was observed in male white perch collected from the Bay of Quinte (22-44%) and Lake St. Clair (45%), although the prevalence and the extent of the intersex condition were lower relative to the 83% prevalence in white perch collected in Cootes Paradise. Intersex was not observed in hatchery-reared white perch or in white perch collected from an uncontaminated reference site (i.e., Deal Lake) in the United States. An analysis of plasma collected in the spring of 2002 from male adult white perch in Cootes Paradise revealed high concentrations of vitellogenin, ranging from 49 to 1,711 microg/mL. These observations indicate that male white perch are exposed to estrogenic endocrine-disrupting substances that may be responsible for the induction of gonadal intersex.
PMCID: PMC1242019  PMID: 15175179
24.  Effects of the isoflavones genistein and equol on the gonadal development of Japanese medaka Oryzias latipes. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(9):1158-1163.
The estrogenic isoflavone compound genistein recently has been found in the effluents of sewage treatment plants and pulp mills, and the related compound equol has been detected in the runoff from agricultural fields treated with hog manure. Waterborne exposures of Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) to equol from soon after hatch to approximately 100 days posthatch induced gonadal intersex (i.e., testis-ova) in males at incidences of 10 and 87% in equol treatments of 0.4 and 0.8 micro g/L, respectively. Exposure to the highest test concentration of genistein, 1,000 micro g/L, also caused a low incidence (i.e., 12%) of gonadal intersex in male medaka. The ovaries of female medaka from both equol and genistein treatments showed delayed oocyte maturation, atretic oocytes, an enlarged ovarian lumen, proliferation of somatic stromal tissue, and primordial germ cells; responses were concentration dependent. Alterations to externally visible secondary sex characteristics occurred in medaka exposed to both equol and genistein. In treatments with 1,000 micro g/L genistein, 72% of male medaka (as identified by the gonadal phenotype) showed feminized secondary sex characteristics. Gonadal intersex and alterations to secondary sex characteristics have been noted in several fish populations around the world. This laboratory study indicates that isoflavone compounds should be considered candidate estrogenic compounds that may be involved in the alteration of sexual development in feral fish populations.
PMCID: PMC1241568  PMID: 12842767
25.  Psychological stress and cardiovascular disease: empirical demonstration of bias in a prospective observational study of Scottish men 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;324(7348):1247.
To examine the association between self perceived psychological stress and cardiovascular disease in a population where stress was not associated with social disadvantage.
Prospective observational study with follow up of 21 years and repeat screening of half the cohort 5 years from baseline. Measures included perceived psychological stress, coronary risk factors, self reported angina, and ischaemia detected by electrocardiography.
27 workplaces in Scotland.
5606 men (mean age 48 years) at first screening and 2623 men at second screening with complete data on all measures
Main outcome measures
Prevalence of angina and ischaemia at baseline, odds ratio for incident angina and ischaemia at second screening, rate ratios for cause specific hospital admission, and hazard ratios for cause specific mortality.
Both prevalence and incidence of angina increased with increasing perceived stress (fully adjusted odds ratio for incident angina, high versus low stress 2.66, 95% confidence interval 1.61 to 4.41; P for trend <0.001). Prevalence and incidence of ischaemia showed weak trends in the opposite direction. High stress was associated with a higher rate of admissions to hospital generally and for admissions related to cardiovascular disease and psychiatric disorders (fully adjusted rate ratios for any general hospital admission 1.13, 1.01 to 1.27, cardiovascular disease 1.20, 1.00 to 1.45, and psychiatric disorders 2.34, 1.41 to 3.91). High stress was not associated with increased admission for coronary heart disease (1.00, 0.76-1.32) and showed an inverse relation with all cause mortality, mortality from cardiovascular disease, and mortality from coronary heart disease, that was attenuated by adjustment for occupational class (fully adjusted hazard ratio for all cause mortality 0.94, 0.81 to 1.11, cardiovascular mortality 0.91, 0.78 to 1.06, and mortality from coronary heart disease 0.98, 0.75 to 1.27).
The relation between higher stress, angina, and some categories of hospital admissions probably resulted from the tendency of participants reporting higher stress to also report more symptoms. The lack of a corresponding relation with objective indices of heart disease suggests that these symptoms did not reflect physical disease. The data suggest that associations between psychosocial measures and disease outcomes reported from some other studies may be spurious.
What is already known on this topicHigher psychological stress has predicted coronary heart disease in several observational studiesExposure to stress and heart disease outcomes were often based on self report so that a general tendency to negative perceptions may have generated a spurious association between higher perceived stress and heart disease symptomsWhat this study addsPerceived stress was strongly related to subjective symptoms of heart disease, including those leading to hospital admissionHowever, stress showed a weakly inverse relation to all objective indices of heart disease: socially advantaged men perceived themselves to be most stressed, and the “protective” effect of stress was probably attributable to residual confoundingSuggestions that psychological stress is an important determinant of heart disease may be premature
PMCID: PMC113276  PMID: 12028978

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