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
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …