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1.  Longevity of screenwriters who win an academy award: longitudinal study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1491-1496.
To determine whether the link between high success and longevity extends to academy award winning screenwriters.
Retrospective cohort analysis.
All screenwriters ever nominated for an academy award.
Main outcome measures
Life expectancy and all cause mortality.
A total of 850 writers were nominated; the median duration of follow up from birth was 68 years; and 428 writers died. On average, winners were more successful than nominees, as indicated by a 14% longer career (27.7 v 24.2, P=0.004), 34% more total films (23.2 v 17.3, P<0.001), 58% more four star films (4.8 v 3.1, P<0.001), and 62% more nominations (2.1 v 1.3, P<0.001). However, life expectancy was 3.6 years shorter for winners than for nominees (74.1 v 77.7 years, P=0.004), equivalent to a 37% relative increase in death rates (95% confidence interval 10 to 70). After adjustment for year of birth, sex, and other factors, a 35% relative increase in death rates was found (7% to 70%). Additional wins were associated with a 22% relative increase in death rates (3% to 44%). Additional nominations and additional other films in a career otherwise caused no significant increase in death rates.
The link between occupational achievement and longevity is reversed in screenwriters who win academy awards. Doubt is cast on simple biological theories for the survival gradients found for other members of society.
What is already known on this topicHigh achievement has been associated with decreased all cause mortality for people in many different occupationsSuch an association is compatible with behavioural and biological theories for the role of social determinantsWhat this study addsScreenwriters nominated for an academy award show a paradoxical survival pattern, where greater success is associated with a large decrease in life expectancyThe paradox is not easily explained by talent, prestige, financial earnings, material conditions, reverse causality, measurement error, or simple demographicsIt might reflect the unusual lifestyles of writers, where success is not linked to exemplary conduct or control; this underscores the importance of behaviour
PMCID: PMC61055  PMID: 11751368
2.  “Unwarranted survivals” and “anomalous deaths” from coronary heart disease: prospective survey of general population 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1487-1491.
To assess survival in people who are at apparent high risk who do not develop coronary heart disease (“unwarranted survivals”) and mortality in people at low risk who die from the disease (“anomalous deaths”) and the extent to which these outcomes are explained by other, less visible, risk factors.
Prospective general population survey.
Renfrew and Paisley, Scotland.
6068 men aged 45-64 years at screening in 1972-6, allocated to “visible” risk groups on the basis of body mass index and smoking.
Main outcome measures
Survival and death from coronary heart disease by age 70 years.
Visible risk was a good predictor of mortality: 13% (45) of men at low risk and 45% (86) of men at high risk had died by age 70 years. Of these deaths, 12 (4%) and 44 (23%), respectively, were from coronary heart disease. In the group at low visible risk other less visible risk factors accounted for increased risk in 83% (10/12) of men who died from coronary heart disease and 29% (84/292) of men who survived. In the high risk group 81/107 who survived (76%) and 19/44 (43%) who died from coronary heart disease had lower risk after other factors were considered. Different risk factors modified risk (beyond smoking and body mass index) in the two groups. Among men at low visible risk, poor respiratory function, diabetes, previous coronary heart disease, and socioeconomic deprivation modified risk. Among men at high visible risk, height and cholesterol concentration modified risk.
Differences in survival between these extreme risk groups are dramatic. Health promotion messages would be more credible if they discussed anomalies and the limits of prediction of coronary disease at an individual level.
What is already known on this topicPeople pay attention to visible risk factors, such as smoking and weight, in explaining or predicting coronary events but are aware that these behavioural risk factors fail to explain some early deaths from coronary heart disease (in those with “low risk” lifestyles) and long survival (in those with “high risk” lifestyles)Such violations to notions of coronary candidacy undermine people's belief in the worth of modifying behavioural risk factors for coronary heart diseaseWhat this study addsVisible risk status was a good marker for other coronary risk factors at the extremes of the risk distributionMost men at low visible risk (slim, never smoked) who died prematurely from coronary heart disease had poorer risk profiles on other less visible risk factors; similarly, men at high visible risk (obese, heavy smokers) who survived often had more favourable profiles on other risk factors
PMCID: PMC61054  PMID: 11751367
8.  Effects of remote, retroactive intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients with bloodstream infection: randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1450-1451.
To determine whether remote, retroactive intercessory prayer, said for a group of patients with a bloodstream infection, has an effect on outcomes.
Double blind, parallel group, randomised controlled trial of a retroactive intervention.
University hospital.
All 3393 adult patients whose bloodstream infection was detected at the hospital in 1990-6.
In July 2000 patients were randomised to a control group and an intervention group. A remote, retroactive intercessory prayer was said for the well being and full recovery of the intervention group.
Main outcome measures
Mortality in hospital, length of stay in hospital, and duration of fever.
Mortality was 28.1% (475/1691) in the intervention group and 30.2% (514/1702) in the control group (P for difference=0.4). Length of stay in hospital and duration of fever were significantly shorter in the intervention group than in the control group (P=0.01 and P=0.04, respectively).
Remote, retroactive intercessory prayer said for a group is associated with a shorter stay in hospital and shorter duration of fever in patients with a bloodstream infection and should be considered for use in clinical practice.
What is already known on this topicTwo randomised controlled trials of remote intercessory prayer (praying for persons unknown) showed a beneficial effect in patients in an intensive coronary care unitA recent systematic review found that 57% of the randomised, placebo controlled trials of distant healing showed a positive treatment effectWhat this study addsRemote intercessory prayer said for a group of patients is associated with a shorter hospital stay and shorter duration of fever in patients with a bloodstream infection, even when the intervention is performed 4-10 years after the infection
PMCID: PMC61047  PMID: 11751349
9.  Effect of rosary prayer and yoga mantras on autonomic cardiovascular rhythms: comparative study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1446-1449.
To test whether rhythmic formulas such as the rosary and yoga mantras can synchronise and reinforce inherent cardiovascular rhythms and modify baroreflex sensitivity.
Comparison of effects of recitation of the Ave Maria (in Latin) or of a mantra, during spontaneous and metronome controlled breathing, on breathing rate and on spontaneous oscillations in RR interval, and on blood pressure and cerebral circulation.
Florence and Pavia, Italy.
23 healthy adults.
Main outcome measures
Breathing rate, regularity of breathing, baroreflex sensitivity, frequency of cardiovascular oscillations.
Both prayer and mantra caused striking, powerful, and synchronous increases in existing cardiovascular rhythms when recited six times a minute. Baroreflex sensitivity also increased significantly, from 9.5 (SD 4.6) to 11.5 (4.9) ms/mm Hg, P<0.05.
Rhythm formulas that involve breathing at six breaths per minute induce favourable psychological and possibly physiological effects.
What is already known on this topicReduced heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity are powerful and independent predictors of poor prognosis in heart diseaseSlow breathing enhances heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity by synchronising inherent cardiovascular rhythmsWhat this study addsRecitation of the rosary, and also of yoga mantras, slowed respiration to almost exactly 6/min, and enhanced heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivityThe rosary might be viewed as a health practice as well as a religious practice
PMCID: PMC61046  PMID: 11751348
10.  The Hound of the Baskervilles effect: natural experiment on the influence of psychological stress on timing of death 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1443-1446.
To determine whether cardiac mortality is abnormally high on days considered unlucky: Chinese and Japanese people consider the number 4 unlucky, white Americans do not.
Examination of cardiac and non-cardiac mortality on and around the fourth of each month in Chinese and Japanese subjects and white controls.
United States.
All Chinese and Japanese (n=209 908) and white (n=47 328 762) Americans whose computerised death certificates were recorded between the beginning of January 1973 and the end of December 1998.
Main outcome measures
Ratio of observed to expected numbers of deaths on the fourth day of the month (expected number was estimated from mortality on other days of the month).
Cardiac mortality in Chinese and Japanese people peaked on the fourth of the month. The peak was particularly large for deaths from chronic heart disease (ratio of observed to expected deaths = 1.13, 95% confidence interval 1.06 to 1.21) and still larger for deaths from chronic heart disease in California (1.27, 1.15 to 1.39). Within this group, inpatients showed a particularly large peak on the fourth day(1.45, 1.19 to 1.81). The peak was not followed by a compensatory drop in number of deaths. White controls, matched on age, sex, marital status, hospital status, location, and cause of death, showed no similar peak in cardiac mortality.
Our findings of excess cardiac mortality on “unlucky” days are consistent with the hypothesis that cardiac mortality increases on psychologically stressful occasions. The results are inconsistent with nine other possible explanations for the findings—for example, the fourth day peak does not seem to occur because of changes in the patient's diet, alcohol intake, exercise, or drug regimens.
What is already known on this topicLaboratory studies show that cardiovascular changes occur after mild psychological stress, but it is unclear whether fatal heart attacks increase after psychological stressPrevious non-laboratory studies were unable to control for physical and medical changes associated with most stressful occasionsWhat this study addsUnlike white people, Chinese and Japanese associate the number 4 with death.Cardiac mortality in Chinese and Japanese Americans peaks on the fourth day of the month, even though this date is not consistently associated with changes in the physical or medical environmentIn The Hound of the Baskervilles, Charles Baskerville died from a heart attack induced by stress; this “Baskerville effect” seems to exist in fact as well as in fiction
PMCID: PMC61045  PMID: 11751347
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1498.
PMCID: PMC1121921
12.  Photofinish 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1498.
PMCID: PMC1121920
13.  A Christmas quiz 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1497.
PMCID: PMC1121919
14.  In grandfather's room 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1496-1497.
PMCID: PMC1121918  PMID: 11751369
16.  Scott's parabola 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1477.
PMCID: PMC1121916
18.  The twenty-krone piece 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1474-1475.
PMCID: PMC1121914  PMID: 11751361
19.  Postmortems on the kitchen table 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1472-1473.
PMCID: PMC1121913  PMID: 11751360
23.  Humbug 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7327):1466.
PMCID: PMC1121909

Results 1-25 (3468)