Posts tagged: BMC Medicine

Dairy products and type 2 diabetes: protective or harmful?

Yoghurt (cropped)

It is recommended that we should eat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt as part of a healthy diet. Because these foods are high in protein and calcium, moderate consumption of low-fat dairy products is thought to be important for growth, repair and strong bones.

However, some recent studies have suggested that eating dairy products might not be as good for us as previously thought. A study published last week suggested that drinking three or more glasses of milk a day may be linked to increased fracture risk, and a Swedish investigation found a lower incidence of lung, breast and ovarian cancer in those with lactose intolerance – people who avoid consuming dairy …

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Diabetes: Risk factors and lifestyle interventions

Diabetes definition

Today is World Diabetes Day and this year it is centred on the theme of healthy living and diabetes. To mark this, we take a look at some of the recent research and discussions on risk factors and lifestyle interventions associated with type 2 diabetes*.

The rise in the global burden of diabetes is expected to challenge healthcare systems. Already, it is estimated that 29.1 million people in the US have the condition. Diabetes is one of the four main non-communicable diseases and the World Health Organization (WHO) action plan includes a global strategy for its prevention and control. This is an important aim, as diabetes is known to lead to many co-morbid conditions, which in …

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The 10th NCRI Cancer Conference: disease prevention, patient care and genomic medicine

Claire Barnard

Having just returned from the 10th National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Conference – the UK’s biggest cancer meeting – BMC Medicine takes a look at some key themes and new research presented at the meeting.

NCRI 2014 brought together clinicians, scientists, patients, funders and many other groups in Liverpool to showcase and discuss the latest findings in cancer research.

Cancer risk and prevention

One of the key themes of the meeting was cancer prevention. As highlighted by Peter Sasieni, smoking is the number one cause of cancer, and removing tobacco would substantially reduce the number of people developing cancer. However, Tim Lobstein from the World Obesity Federation explained that after smoking, being overweight is the second most important preventable risk …

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Exposure to stress and environmental toxins: Effects across generations

Stressed Young Businessman at Office

Today is National Stress Awareness day and the theme this year is Stress: the balancing act. Here, we take a look at some recent research on stress in relation to its effect over generations and through epigenetic mechanisms.

The stress response normally results in the release of glucorticoid hormones that are secreted by the adrenal glands to enable several physiological functions. However, chronic stress leads to continual release of these hormones that are associated with serious mental and physical health problems.

Recent data show that environmental factors such as stress and toxins, for example pesticides and smoking, during prenatal and/or early life are known to result in adverse health effects not only in offspring but also in subsequent generations …

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Managing dyspnea: development of the Breathlessness Intervention Service

Attribution: Sara Booth;

A randomized controlled trial published today in BMC Medicine reports that the multidisciplinary Breathlessness Intervention Service (BIS) is effective in helping patients with advanced cancer cope with breathlessness. In this guest post, Sara Booth, co-author on the trial and founder of BIS, explains the research.

Breathlessness (also called dyspnea) is becoming recognized as one of the most important symptoms that patients with advanced disease experience – whether their condition is malignant or non-malignant.

Chronic breathlessness was neglected for many years; detection rates were low, with little research carried out, probably because clinicians did not know what to do if they diagnosed it. Happily, that situation is now changing with important statements on the subject from the American Thoracic …

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What’s killing us? The biggest causes of premature death


The general aim of medicine is to reduce the burden of ill-health and mortality, such that individuals are able to enjoy longer, healthier lives. Indeed, advances in medicine have meant that life expectancy in most countries has increased by around 10 years in the past 40 years, albeit with large variation between the richest and poorest countries.

As a result of significant medical advances, the global population has continued to grow and age, but this has led to a broad shift in the type of diseases that cause the most burden; from communicable (i.e. infectious), maternal, neonatal and nutritional causes of death to non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

So what does this mean in terms of disease burden? On which diseases …

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Viagra protects the heart: back to the future for the love pills

Viagra pills

New research published today in BMC Medicine shows that Viagra could be used as a safe treatment for heart disease. In this guest post, lead author on the paper, Andrea M. Isidori of Department of Experimental Medicine at Sapienza University of Rome, tells us more about the background to this research and what they found out.

Everybody’s heard of Viagra (sildenafil). It was the first phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5i) marketed for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. But few people are aware of the other beneficial effects and potential new uses for this class of drugs.

Viagra was originally tested for heart problems – angina pectoris, a chest pain associated with coronary heart disease – on the basis of its vasodilatory …

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Breast cancer awareness: genes, behaviors and subtypes

Wikimedia Commons (MesserWoland)

With October in full swing, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is underway to highlight the importance of breast cancer prevention, early detection and prompt treatment. Understanding the risk factors for breast cancer is key for prevention, and in BMC Medicine we take a look at how genetic and environmental factors contribute to the chance of developing the disease.

Can disease risk genes be modified by environmental factors?

While a number of validated genes are known to confer breast cancer risk, increasing evidence suggests that certain behavioral factors, such as alcohol consumption and smoking, are thought to modify the effect of genetic risk markers. In a commentary article published as part of our Spotlight on breast cancer article collection,

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Eating for two? The impact of diet, exercise and obesity during pregnancy

iStock Photo

As the global obesity epidemic continues, more and more overweight and obese women are becoming pregnant. It is estimated that around 15-20% of pregnant women in the UK have a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30, which can have serious health consequences for both mothers and their children.

The consequences of obesity during pregnancy

Obesity poses risks to mothers throughout gestation and childbirth, as well as in the postpartum period. During pregnancy, the risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia is elevated in obese women, and those with a BMI over 30 are more likely to suffer miscarriages and infections. There are also many risks to babies born to obese women, including stillbirth, preterm delivery, congenital …

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Making multiple changes to lifestyle factors can reduce risk of developing colorectal cancer

Intestines (cropped)

Deborah Gilbert from Bowel & Cancer Research and Mohamed A Thaha the National Centre for Bowel Research and Surgical Innovation at Queen Mary University of London discuss a recent article published in BMC Medicine in which it has been found that adoption of a combination of five key healthy behaviors is associated with a reduction in the risk of developing bowel cancer.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most prevalent cancer and the second most common cancer killer. In recent decades, although cancer care has improved and more people survive longer, many CRC cases are still diagnosed at a late stage, when survival is much less likely. For this reason, much attention is now focused on …

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