Posts tagged: BMC Medicine

Mood disorders: Exploring the placebo effect, improving treatment and the promise of pharmacogenetics


Antidepressant drugs which alleviate symptoms of depression have received much attention in the news recently, showing that the UK is the 7th highest country in the West to prescribe the drugs. The astounding rise in NHS spending on these pharmacological agents is suggested to be due to “medicalization” of normal sadness. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of antidepressants are commonly used to treat moderate to severe depression with new evidence showing one of these drugs, citalopram could slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. However, on the other hand another recent study cautions the use of SSRIs during pregnancy as they are found to be linked to a higher incidence of autism spectrum …

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“You like to-may-to, I like to-mah-to”…what’s the problem with studying the Mediterranean diet?

Wholegrain (Kaldari)

The Mediterranean diet has been linked to many health benefits, from improved longevity to reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer and depression. However, while the positive impact of this dietary pattern is well-documented (see our previous blog), a number of unanswered questions and unresolved controversies remain.

As editors at BMC Medicine, we have encountered differences in opinion during the review and publication process of studies investigating the link between diet and health, with authors and reviewers raising pertinent questions such as:

Should alcohol and dairy products be included in the definition of the Mediterranean diet?

Can the Mediterranean diet be applied to non-Western settings?

How can we measure adherence to this dietary pattern?

To explore these open questions, we invited clinicians and …

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The global fight against TB: identifying childhood infection and diagnosing complications

Wikimedia Commons (Jmh649)

Recent estimates suggest that childhood tuberculosis (TB) rates are much higher than previously reported. The predictions, carried out by researchers at the University of Sheffield, Imperial College London and the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, took bacterial behavior and adult infection rates into account across 22 countries with the highest incidence of TB, and suggest that more than 650,000 children develop TB each year. This figure is around 25% higher than current World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, suggesting that health officials may be missing a great opportunity to prevent the spread of infection. Leading the research, Peter Dodd highlighted that:

Children are an often ignored but important part of TB control efforts…our findings highlight

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Polio eradication – the race continues…


In May 2014, the World Health Organisation declared the rapidly increasing spread of polio an international public health emergency. The virus, which usually affects children under five years old, is typically spread through faeces contaminated drinking water, causing irreversible paralysis and death in the most severe cases, where respiratory muscles are immobilised.

Polio is currently endemic in three countries; Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is an amazing feat considering that polio was rife worldwide little over 60 years ago. Advances in vaccines in the 1950s, and the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, led to an enormous 99% reduction of cases narrowing the incidence of polio to just a handful of countries.  March 2014 marked a …

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Creating impact – a game of two halves

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This is a guest blog by Prof Jonathan Grant, Director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London and Professor of Public Policy. He tells us about his recent experiences publishing with BMC Medicine.

Two weeks ago I was involved in the publication of a research article in BMC Medicine that attempted to measure the economic returns from cancer research.  It showed that for every £1 invested by the UK government and medical research charities you got 10p back in terms of the value of health gains every year thereafter, and if you combined that with previous estimates of the ‘spillover’ (or broader economic effects), the return was 40 pence in the pound.

The work built on a previous …

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Endocrine disorders: the impact of stress and epigenetics


Endocrine disorders span a range of conditions, from diabetes and thyroid disease to stress-related conditions. Stress has been linked to a number of health problems, with the most recent evidence suggesting its involvement in male infertility, allergies and headache.

During the normal stress response, glucocorticoid hormones secreted by the adrenal glands cause several physiological effects, but chronic stress can result in continual release of these hormones, leading to serious mental and physical health problems.

The impact of stress on chronic disease

In a video Q & A published in BMC Medicine, George Chrousos talks about the impact of stress on chronic non-communicable diseases including obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and …

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What’s it worth? The economic case for medical research

pound coins

This has been reposted, with kind permission from the author and the Wellcome Trust.

What’s it worth, a report published today in BMC Medicine, is one of the first ever estimates of the economic gains from investment in publicly funded UK cancer research. The research was commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, Academy of Medical Sciences, Cancer Research UK and the Department of Health. Liz Allen, Head of Evaluation at the Wellcome Trust, argues the case for investing in medical research…

Bill Clinton achieved a lot in the White House. He presided over the longest period of peacetime economic growth in American history, he signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, and he was the first Democrat since FDR …

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What is cancer research worth?


A report published today in BMC Medicine has shown that for every £1 the public has spent on cancer research in the UK, 40p has been returned to the country’s economy every year following that investment. In this guest blog, Daniel Bridge of Cancer Research UK – one of the organisations that funded the research – takes a look at the findings of the report in more detail.

Today sees the launch of the joint RAND Europe, HERG and King’s College London study ‘Cancer Research: What’s It Worth’ funded by the Academy of Medical Science, Cancer Research UK, Department of Health and Wellcome Trust. The full paper is published today in …

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Recent advances in understanding breast cancer: focus on lifestyle, genes and molecular profiling


Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with over a million cases diagnosed every year. Increasing evidence supports the benefits of consuming a healthy diet for preventing breast cancer incidence and maximizing the chances of recovery in patients with the disease. Last week, results from a study carried out in mice suggested that consuming a low calorie diet could stop the spread of breast cancer by strengthening tissues surrounding the tumor, and a number of different foods have been reported to modify breast cancer risk.

In an Opinion article published in BMC Medicine, Michel de Lorgeril and Patricia Salen explore the association between diet and breast cancer further, emphasizing that high …

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Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: from the no-man’s-land disorder to a worldwide-recognized syndrome

Gluten foods

This is a guest post by Dr. Umberto Volta from Bologna University (Italy). He tells us more about non-celiac gluten sensitivity and the multicenter prospective survey he coordinated on it, which was promoted by the Italian Association for Celiac Disease and has been published today in BMC Medicine.

As a pioneer of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), I can testify that until a few years ago this syndrome was surrounded by such skepticism as to be confined to a ‘no man’s land’.

However, awareness of the existence of NCGS has grown so much that nowadays this syndrome is recognized  all over the world. It’s one of the main topics at international gluten-related meetings, as it was at …

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