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Flu vaccination is most certainly not a ‘no-brainer’

The winter heralds ‘flu season’, and many will be urged to get them themselves adequately protected through vaccination. A recent piece in the British Medical Journal [1] by Dr Peter Doshi (from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, US) makes the point that public health campaigns often present flu vaccination as a […]

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Should this elderly lady get the flu vaccination?

I had an email this week from 67-year-old lady asking about flu vaccination. She’s had a phone call recently from her surgery asking her to attend for this. She asks if the “flu threat really worse this year or are the drug manufacturers up to their old tricks again!?” Flu vaccination is generally promoted as […]

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Higher cholesterol levels associated with improved outcomes in stroke

‘Heart disease’ is a term usually used to describe the gradual ‘furring up’ of the arteries around the heart due to a process known as atherosclerosis (or arteriosclerosis). Eventually, one or more artery may become completely blocked, starving some of the heart muscle of blood. If this persists, heart muscle will die, and this is […]

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The medical director of the British Heart Foundation does not want to engage with the troubling science on sterols

Last month, I wrote a blog post about how there was no evidence that cholesterol-lowering ‘stanols’ and ‘sterols’ (found in some margarines and other ‘functional foods’) have benefits for health. In fact, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence explicitly states that they should not be used. Yet, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) recommends […]

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What dietary change appears to have cured this man’s hay fever overnight?

I was away for the weekend on a walking trip with a couple of good friends. The proprietor of one of the guesthouses where we stayed knew that two of us were doctors, and at breakfast asked for some friendly medical advice. It was about the medication he was taking for his quite-severe hay fever. […]

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Study finds thyroid extracts to be a viable treatment for some people with hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition that, traditionally, is characterised by low levels of thyroid hormone (such as thyroxine), which in turn can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, mental sluggishness and low mood, weight gain, sensitivity to cold, cold hands and feet, dry skin, dry hair and thinning of the hair. The diagnosis of hypothyroidism is […]

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How reliable are cardiovascular disease calculators?

Cardiovascular diseases (such as heart disease and cerebrovascular disease which can give rise to heart attack and stroke respectively) represent the most common cause of death in Western countries. Not surprisingly, health agencies and the medical profession focus on them a lot. In recent years, there has been a vogue for assessing cardiovascular disease risk […]

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Constipation can cause colon cancer? Probably not

Epidemiology is a branch of research which analyses data to look for associations between things. This brand of research will very often throw up ‘facts’ like ‘red wine lowers risk of heart disease’, because of evidence that red wine drinkers are at reduced risk of heart disease. However, epidemiological evidence can never tell us if […]

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Research points to obesity as a potential cause of vitamin D deficiency (not the other way round)

Previous research has found a link between lower levels of vitamin D and higher body weight, causing some to speculate that vitamin D deficiency may be a factor in obesity. The problem with this sort of evidence is that while it can show a link between vitamin D deficiency and, say, obesity, we can’t tell […]

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Antibiotics don’t work for diverticulitis, so what does?

Diverticular disease is a condition characterised by the presence of small out-pocketings in the wall of the large bowel. The condition is common in the western World, and is usually symptomless. However, if one or more of the pockets becomes inflamed or infected, symptoms such as diarrhoea, pain, abdominal bloating and the passing of blood […]

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