Posts tagged: BMC Medicine

The Global Burden of Disease: non-communicable diseases increase premature death

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Up-to-date knowledge of cause-specific mortality is essential for the formulation of health policies. Obtaining this evidence is a massive undertaking, and probably the largest attempt to do so is the landmark Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010). This was the largest ever systematic effort to describe the global distribution and causes of major diseases, injuries, and health risk factors.

In the first in a series of papers has been published in the Lancet today, GBD 2010 has been updated to GBD 2013 three years later. The authors aimed to ascertain changes in the global, regional and national burden of mortality for 240 causes of death across 188 countries between 1990-2013. Using similar methods to those …

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Promise vs perils of electronic cigarettes- a new article collection in BMC Medicine

breaking cigarette_crop

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes, ECs) are the centre of much controversy due to public health concerns associated with some of its components including nicotine which is highly addictive. Additionally, the availability of such devices to young never-smokers and the re-normalization of smoking is a growing concern. This has been highlighted in the news lately where a study shows three times as many children have tried e-cigarettes than those who have smoked tobacco. However, on the other hand ECs are considered to be potentially less harmful than tobacco smoke and are used to aid smoking cessation.

The debate on ECs between clinicians and public health professionals has been discussed extensively at several meetings including the European Respiratory Society,

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Can we eliminate mosquito-borne diseases? Progress in combating dengue and malaria

Wikimedia Commons (Doc James)

Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious illnesses and cause over a million deaths annually. Infections carried by mosquitoes make a substantial contribution to the global burden of vector-borne diseases; every year, malaria is responsible for more than 600,000 deaths, and 50-100 million people are thought to be infected with dengue. After attending two tropical medicine meetings hosted by RSTMH – the biennial Measuring Progress conference and a one-day meeting on vector-borne diseases – BMC Medicine takes a look at the current impact of mosquito-borne diseases and the steps being taken to combat them.

Dengue outbreaks and surveillance

A number of dengue outbreaks have recently been reported, with infections seen in Madeira,

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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

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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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