Cybermed Update January 2001


"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need".

Kahlil Gibran


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"Despite heavy lobbying from US officials to allow for greater leniency where placebo trials are concerned, the revised Declaration of Helsinki (.pdf) states that a new treatment must be tested against the best therapeutic method available. Simply put, the placebo is to be used only as a last resort." See also Doctors revise Declaration of Helsinki BMJ 2000;321:913 ( 14 October ) and For and against: Declaration of Helsinki should be strengthened FOR AGAINST Rothman and Michels' riposte BMJ 2000;321:442-445 ( 12 August ).


Are asthma, a chronic lung condition, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) connected? Is GERD a trigger for asthma attacks?


French food safety experts have linked the popular training supplement creatine to a potential risk of cancer and have called for it to be listed as a banned substance.


The controversial drug Thalidomide is being used to help treat the most deadly form of lung cancer. The drug became notorious in the 1960s when it was prescribed to pregnant women to ease morning sickness. It was found to cause severe birth defects by limiting the blood flow to developing limbs. Many children were born limbless or with severely shortened limbs. Now scientists hope to use the blood limiting properties to help small cell lung cancer patients by starving the blood supply to tumours. Researchers are already using Thalidomide in drugs trials to treat Kaposi's sarcoma (a type of cancer involving blood vessels in the skin) and brain cancer.


Washington University physicians at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis completed the first use of a Magnetic Navigation System designed to use computer-controlled magnetic fields to steer a catheter within the heart to discover the source of cardiac arrhythmias, or irregular heart beats. The procedure was successfully completed Monday on a 40-year-old woman. Although clinicians regularly guide catheters manually through the heart to detect and fix a variety of cardiac arrhythmias, this is the first time the catheter has been steered via a computer.


THE FOOD and Drug Administration has launched a criminal investigation to track down whoever sold the fake drug, which so far has been found in seven states but could have been sold nationwide.The composition of the fake substance is not known. So far, its only reported side effects are skin irritation and redness where patients injected the substance. But officials noted that AIDS patients risk at least getting worse if they go without their real Serostim.



A record number of people in the United Kingdom are believed to have been infected with HIV last year, the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) reported Thursday. Warning that more than 20,000 adults were now living with HIV and that one new infection was being diagnosed every 3 hours, it called for new campaigns to make the risks of infection clear to the public. The latest figures show that 2,868 new HIV diagnoses have so far been reported for the year 2000, but the PHLS said this number was set to rise as more reports of diagnoses made last year continue to come in. ``By the time all the reports are in, the year is expected to be the highest ever for new HIV diagnoses in the UK.''


Glycated haemoglobin concentration is known to predict cardiovascular risk in diabetic people, but it is unclear whether there is a threshold for the effect. Khaw et al studied men in the Norfolk cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition to determine the effect of glycated haemoglobin in the whole population. They found that glycated haemoglobin concentration not only largely accounts for the increase in risk of death associated with diabetes but predicts mortality across the whole population distribution. The authors suggest that preventive efforts should consider lowering the concentration in the whole population through modification of lifestyle.


Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan and Sri Lanka may become the next victims of mad cow disease after buying potentially tainted animal feed from Britain at the height of the UK epidemic, scientists said on Wednesday. ``The countries that stick out because they were importing animal feed at the height of our epidemic in the 1990s are Indonesia, India, Thailand, Taiwan and Sri Lanka. They really stick out a long way,'' said scientist Iain McGill, who worked at Britain's farm ministry at the height of the BSE crisis. See also Commercial test for mad-cow disease gets scientific OK Yahoo (25 January 2001 ) (Down)

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