Posts tagged: BMC Medicine

Time to reduce needless deaths from liver cirrhosis

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Our guest author, Ali. A. Mokdad is based at University of Texas and affiliated with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE). He is the lead author of a recent study published in BMC Medicine, focusing on deaths caused by liver cirrhosis. 

 

Liver cirrhosis is a costly disease that is devastating to families and their finances. Most of these deaths are preventable, however. Countries can reverse the tide of liver cirrhosis by implementing a variety of cost-effective solutions.

When my colleagues and I saw just how many deaths occurred each year as a result of liver cirrhosis, we decided to write a paper to raise awareness about these disease trends and the steps that could be taken …

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Combating malaria: mechanisms of immunity and vaccination strategies

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Malaria is present in over 100 countries worldwide, and it is estimated that around 3.4 billion people – half of the world’s population – are at risk of infection. There were an estimated 627,000 deaths caused by malaria infection in 2012, with over 90% of deaths occurring in African children.

The disease is caused by Plasmodium parasites including P. falciparum and P. vivax, which are carried by infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Antimalarial drugs can be used to prevent and treat malaria, but resistance to these agents frequently develops. Recent research found that P. falciparum parasites are becoming increasingly resistant to artemisinin therapies in Southeast Asia, highlighting that radical action is required to prevent the spread of malaria …

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Obesity: exploring the causes, consequences and solutions

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The World Health Organization estimates that global levels of obesity have doubled since 1980. In 2012, more than 40 million children under the age of 5 were estimated to be overweight or obese, which is an issue of serious concern as excess body weight is believed to be the driver of many non-communicable diseases, namely type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.

To tackle what is, in most cases, a preventable condition, there is increasing focus on research into understanding the mechanisms behind obesity, including our genetics and the influence of lifestyle and the environment. There is also now increased focus on introducing public health initiatives to aid long-term weight loss, which range from improving public, …

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Global health research: managing the burden of mental illnesses, diabetes and HIV

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The past two decades have shown an increase in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), affecting high-income as well as low- and middle-income countries. In fact, 63% of all deaths worldwide were due at least in part to NCDs, and around three quarters of the world’s chronic disease-related deaths that year occurred in low- and middle-income countries. These countries have to contend with a dual burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases, which pose not only a health burden, but also an economic burden. Three studies published in BMC Medicine this week explore some of these important issues.

 

Mental health disorders in Ethiopian homeless

Despite being a leading cause of disability and ill health globally, mental health

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Spotlight on breast cancer: progress, challenges and controversies

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Breast cancer – the most common type of cancer affecting women – is often thought of as a single disease. However, mounting evidence suggests that there are multiple subtypes, all of which occur at different rates, have varying levels of aggressiveness, and respond to different types of treatment.

One of the better understood subtypes is HER2-positive breast cancer, defined by high expression of the HER2 protein. Women with HER2-positive breast cancer are often treated with targeted therapies such as trastuzumab, which has dramatically improved survival rates from HER2-positive breast cancer in the past decade.

Progress in treating HER2-positive breast cancer

In a Q&A podcast published in BMC Medicine to launch our Spotlight on breast cancer

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SASA! Trial: the community intervention that is reducing violence against women

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Findings from the SASA! Study, a trial assessing the impact of a community intervention in preventing violence against women in Uganda, were published today in BMC Medicine. In this guest post, Tina Musuya, one of the activists implementing the intervention in local communities writes about her personal experience of being involved in the study.

Since 2004, I’ve worked as a grass roots activist for women’s rights, working with both men and women to prevent violence against women in Uganda. I have come face to face with women who experience violence from their partners and many men who thought that controlling their partners and disciplining them whenever necessary, was normal. Shockingly, I heard many community members say that violence was …

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

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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?

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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

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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…

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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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