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3.  Visible signs of illness from the 14th to the 20th century: systematic review of portraits 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7378):1499.
To see whether a collection of portraits depicting inhabitants of a defined geographical region and covering several centuries is a useful source for studying the sociocultural significance and epidemiology of particular visible diseases, such as goitre, which is known to have been common in this region.
Systematic review of portraits and description of visible signs of illness.
The Burgerbibliothek (archives of the burghers' community) in Berne, Switzerland.
Data sources
3615 portraits; 2989 of individuals whose identity is known and 626 of individuals whose identity is unknown.
Main outcome measures
Visible signs of illness evaluated by means of a standardised visual assessment.
Visible signs of illness in portraits were common and appeared in up to 82% (451/553) of paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The most common findings were signs of goitre in women and overweight in men. In only the portraits where the neck region could be evaluated, 41% of women with known identities (139/343) had goitre compared with 24% of men with known identities (21/86). The prevalence of goitre was even higher in sitters whose identities were unknown: 63% in men (5/8) and 68% in women (82/121). Overweight in people with known identities was more common in men than in women (30%, 346/1145 v 44%, 811/1844). Overweight was most common in sitters aged >40 than in those aged 40 or younger. Other conditions, such as missing teeth, amputated limbs, or osteoarthritic deformations were surprisingly rare in the portraits under evaluation.
Goitre and other diseases are under-represented in the people depicted in these portraits. Artistic idealisation is a likely explanation for this observation: what was reproduced depended on what was considered pathological or shameful at the time, and therefore depended on age and sex. Stigmatising details may have been omitted. Further, artistic skills and contemporary fashion may have influenced the way in which people were reproduced. People depicted are possibly not representative of the general Bernese population as they constituted a socioeconomically advantaged group.
What is already know on this topicReviews of individual portraits from the past have found clinical signs of illness that have led to discussions of underlying diseasesGoitre probably affected in excess of 80% of the population of the canton of Berne up to the beginning of the 20th centuryWhat this study addsIn a large series of portraits from the Bernese region, goitre and other diseases are under-representedFindings of age dependent overweight (a survival advantage in times of potential famine) were probably more realisticLikely explanations for this include idealisation depending on sex and age, artistic skills, fashion, and sociocultural significance of illnessA decline in depicted signs of illness from the 19th century may indicate progress of preventive medicine and hygiene
PMCID: PMC139054  PMID: 12493682
5.  The Soviet “Doctors' Plot”—50 years on 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7378):1487-1489.
PMCID: PMC139050  PMID: 12493677
7.  The mummy's curse: historical cohort study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7378):1482-1484.
To examine survival of individuals exposed to the “mummy's curse” reputedly associated with the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamen in Luxor, Egypt, between February 1923 and November 1926.
Retrospective cohort study.
44 Westerners identified by Howard Carter as present in Egypt at the specified dates, 25 of whom were potentially exposed to the curse.
Main outcome measures
Length of survival after date of potential exposure.
In the 25 people exposed to the curse the mean age at death was 70 years (SD 12) compared with 75 (13) in those not exposed (P=0.87 for difference). Survival after the date of exposure was 20.8 (15.2) v 28.9 (13.6) years respectively (P=0.95 for difference). Female sex was a predictor for survival (P=0.02).
There was no significant association between exposure to the mummy's curse and survival and thus no evidence to support the existence of a mummy's curse.
What is already known on this topicThe methods of evidence based medicine have not been used to investigate the reality of the “mummy's curse”The arguments against the curse have been as anecdotal as the contemporary newspapers that reported itWhat this study addsThere was no association between potential exposure to the mummy's curse during the excavation of Tutankamen's tomb and death within 10 yearsNo evidence was found for the existence of a mummy's curse
PMCID: PMC139048  PMID: 12493675
11.  Time and tide wait for no man 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7378):1466-1468.
PMCID: PMC139043  PMID: 12493670
14.  Revalidation: the real life OSCE 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7378):1454-1456.
PMCID: PMC139039  PMID: 12493666
18.  A paradigm shift in the medical literature 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7378):1450-1451.
PMCID: PMC139035  PMID: 12493662
21.  Sex—can you get it right? 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7378):1446-1447.
PMCID: PMC139032  PMID: 12493659
23.  Scared to death? 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7378):1442-1443.
PMCID: PMC139029  PMID: 12493656
24.  Admissions for myocardial infarction and World Cup football: database survey 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7378):1439-1442.
To examine hospital admissions for a range of diagnoses on days surrounding England's 1998 World Cup football matches.
Analysis of hospital admissions obtained from English hospital episode statistics.
Population aged 15-64 years.
Main outcome measures
Ratio of number of admissions for acute myocardial infarction, stroke, deliberate self harm, and road traffic injuries on the day of and five days after England's World Cup matches, compared with admissions at the same time in previous and following years and in the month preceding the tournament.
Risk of admission for acute myocardial infarction increased by 25% on 30 June 1998 (the day England lost to Argentina in a penalty shoot-out) and the following two days. No excess admissions occurred for other diagnoses or on the days of the other England matches. The effect was the same when only the two days after the match were treated as the exposed condition. Individual analyses of the day of and the two days after the Argentina match showed 55 extra admissions for myocardial infarctions compared with the number expected.
The increase in admissions suggests that myocardial infarction can be triggered by emotional upset, such as watching your football team lose an important match.
What is already known on this topicPhysical and emotional triggers, such as environmental disasters and vigorous physical exercise, can precipitate acute myocardial infarctionAn increase in cardiovascular mortality among Dutch men was associated with the 1996 European championship match between the Netherlands and FranceWhat this study addsAdmissions for myocardial infarction increased on the day England was eliminated from the 1998 World Cup by Argentina in a penalty shoot-out and on the two subsequent daysNo effect was seen on admissions for other diagnoses or after other matchesThese data support the hypothesis that intense emotional reactions can trigger myocardial infarction
PMCID: PMC139028  PMID: 12493655

Results 1-25 (3936)