Author Interviews, BMJ, Cancer Research, Colon Cancer, Psychological Science / 09.03.2016 Interview with: Benedicte Kirkøen, PhD candidate Bowel Cancer Screening in Norway – a pilot study Cancer Registry of Norway (Kreftregisteret) What is the background for this study? Response: Randomised controlled trials have demonstrated that screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) can reduce CRC related mortality, but the total benefit and harm of national cancer screening programmes are under debate. Saving relatively few lives requires a large number of people to be screened. Most people who attend screening will never develop cancer, but may be exposed to potential psychological stress by participation. Cancer is one of the largest threats to peoples’ health, and participating in screening for cancer might therefore cause anxiety. In Norway, colorectal cancer incidence has nearly tripled since the 1950s, and currently a large randomised pilot study of a national screening programme (Bowel Cancer Screening in Norway) is investigating the effect of screening on reduction in CRC incidence and mortality. As part of an evaluation of the benefits and harms of the pilot, we investigated the psychological effect of screening participation in a large group of participants. Of particular interest to us were participants who received a positive screening result and were referred to colonoscopy. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Prostate, Prostate Cancer, Urology / 08.03.2016 Interview with: Robert Nam, MD, FRCSC Ajmera Family Chair in Urologic Oncology Professor of Surgery University of Toronto Head, Genitourinary Cancer Site Odette Cancer Centre Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Toronto, Ontario What is the background for this study? Response: Prostate cancer treatment is associated with a number of complications including erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Two years ago, we published a paper examining other, previously undescribed complications. The most controversial finding was a significantly increased risk of secondary cancers among men treated with radiotherapy. We therefore wanted to assess this in a meta-analysis, examining all the research currently available on the topic. What are the main findings? Response: We found that, for patients with prostate cancer, radiotherapy treatment was associated with significantly increased rates of bladder cancer, colorectal cancer and rectal cancer. There wasn't an increased risk for other cancers such as lung and blood system cancer. However, the absolute rates of these cancers remained low (1-4% of patients). (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Coffee, Karolinski Institute, Multiple Sclerosis / 04.03.2016 Interview with: Anna Hedström PhD student Karolinski Institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous studies on the influence of coffee consumption on multiple sclerosis (MS) risk have yielded inconclusive results, perhaps largely due to statistical power problems since these studies comprised few cases. Caffeine consumption has a protective effect on neuroinflammation and demyelination in animal models of MS. We therefore aimed to investigate whether coffee consumption is associated with MS risk, using two large population-based case-control studies (a Swedish study comprising 1620 cases and 2788 controls, and a United States study comprising 1159 cases and 1172 controls). The risk of multiple sclerosis was reduced by approximately 30% among those who reported a high coffee consumption, around six cups daily, compared to those who reported no coffee consumption. The risk of multiple sclerosis decreased with increasing coffee consumption. Potentially important influential factors were taken into consideration, such as smoking and adolescent obesity. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, BMJ, Brain Injury, CDC, Pediatrics / 29.02.2016 Interview with: Dr. Joanne Klevens, MD, PhD, MPH Division of Violence Prevention US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Atlanta, Georgia Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Klevens: Pediatric abusive head trauma is a leading cause of fatal child maltreatment among young children and current prevention efforts have not been proven to be consistently effective. In this study, compared to seven states with no paid family leave policies, California’s policy showed significant decreases of hospital admissions for abusive head trauma in young children. This impact was observed despite low uptake of policy benefits by Californians, particularly among populations at highest risk of abusive head trauma. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, BMJ, Diabetes / 26.02.2016 Interview with: Mattias Brunström, MD PhD student Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine Umeå University Hospital Umeå, SE  Sweden Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Brunström: Current guidelines differ in their recommendations on blood pressure treatment targets for people with diabetes. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis of 49 studies, including almost 74 000 patients, to investigate the effect of treatment at different blood pressure levels. We found that treatment reduced the risk of death, stroke, myocardial infarction and heart failure if systolic blood pressure before treatment was above 140 mm Hg. However, if systolic blood pressure was below 140 mm Hg, treatment increased the risk of cardiovascular death. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Cancer Research, OBGYNE / 24.02.2016 Interview with: Jiangrong Wang PhD Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wang: Cervical screening has been proved to effectively suppress the occurrence of cervical cancer, since it detects not only cervical cancer at early stages, but also precursor lesions that can be treated before progressing to invasive cancers. However, cervical screening has mainly reduced the occurrence of squamous cell cervical cancer, the most common type of invasive cervical cancer, but not adenocarcinoma of the cervix which originates from glandular cells. Although there is a well-known connection between adenocarcinoma in situ and invasive adenocarcinoma, questions remain on the magnitude of the cancer risk after detection of the glandular intraepithelial lesion-atypical glandular cells (AGC). We also wanted to study whether the current clinical management after detection of glandular abnormalities reduced the cancer risk as much as the standard management for squamous intraepithelial lesions does. Our findings show that 2.6% of women with  intraepithelial lesion-atypical glandular cells as the first abnormality developed invasive cervical cancer after 15 years of follow up and 74% of the cancers were adenocarcinoma. A moderately high proportion of women with AGC had prevalent cancer (diagnosed within 6 months from AGC), while there was considerably high incidence of cervical cancer within 0.5-6.5 years after a detection of AGC. The incidence of cervical cancer following AGC was significantly higher than for high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions, and this increased risk remained even after having histology assessment in the initial half year.

The high risk of cervical cancer associated with AGC implies that the current clinical management following AGC does not prevent cervical cancer as sufficiently as the management for squamous intraepithelial lesions does.



Abuse and Neglect, BMJ, Imperial College, Microbiome, OBGYNE / 23.02.2016 Interview with: Dr. Aubrey Cunnington Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medicine Clinical Senior Lecturer Imperial College, London Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Cunnington: We noticed that increasing numbers of women who were having Caesarean section deliveries at our hospitals were requesting for their vaginal fluid to be swabbed onto their babies after birth – a process often termed “vaginal seeding”. The idea behind this, is that it transfers all the natural bacteria (microbiota) from the mother’s vagina to the baby. We know that early on in life, babies born by Caesarean section have different bacteria living on their bodies and in their guts to those of babies born by vaginal delivery. Some people think these differences in the microbiota may be responsible for differences in long-term health, although a causal link is unproven. The hope is that vaginal seeding might reduce the risk of the baby developing some diseases like obesity and asthma in the future. Unfortunately we are a long way from having the evidence to show that this is possible, and we do not know whether vaginal seeding is really safe. Babies born by elective Caesarean section are at lower risk of transfer of some potentially harmful bacteria and viruses from the birth canal, but these harmful bacteria and viruses could be transferred to the baby on a swab and potentially cause a devastating infection. Editor's note:  'Vaginal Seeding' is also known as "microbirthing",    (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Weight Research / 18.02.2016 Interview with: Dr. Mark A Green PhD Department of Geography & Planning University of Liverpool Liverpool UK Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Green: Previous research on trends in body mass index (BMI) have focused on changes in the middle value (average BMI). We extended this investigation by exploring trends both in the middle (using the median – the mid-point of BMI values), the 5th centile (the BMI value at which bottom 5% of the population with the lowest BMIs fall below) and the 95th centile (the BMI value at which the top 5% of the population with the highest BMIs fall above) to examine how trends have changed both in the middle, and at the top and bottom of the distribution. We found that median BMI increased in England in the 1990s, before beginning to slow its rate of change. This is contrary to the 95th centile which has continued to increase at a higher rate throughout the period, with little change in the 5th centile. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Clots - Coagulation, Heart Disease, Stroke / 06.02.2016 Interview with: Dr. Deborah Cohen Associate Editor BMJ BMA House, Tavistock Square London Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Cohen: Anyone familiar with warfarin understands the critical role of INR values in determining the proper dose for warfarin patients. The INR value in an individual patient is the most important piece of information a doctor considers when determining the warfarin dose. If the doctor gives too little warfarin then the patient may be at undue risk of stroke; if too much, the patient may be at undue risk of a major bleed. The BMJ investigation revealed that the INR device used to manage the ~7,000 warfarin patients in the ROCKET trial (which served as the basis for approval of the non-valvular atrial fibrillation indication) was defective. As such – doctors were relying upon a defective device in determining the dose of the warfarin patients – which has a direct influence on the stroke and bleeding risk in that patient. Since this was a comparative trial – any deficiency in the performance of the comparator arm (warfarin) would skew the results in favour of the study drug (rivaroxaban). Since INR directly influences strokes and bleeds – the primary efficacy and safety endpoints – it very much questions, if not undermines, the overall results of this trial. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Karolinski Institute, Mental Health Research, Psychological Science, Technology / 06.02.2016 Interview with: Dr. Jesper Enander Department of Clinical Neuroscience Karolinska Institutet MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Enander: Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a common anxiety disorder affecting about 2% of the general population, and is associated with hospitalization, substance dependence and suicidality. The disorder is characterized by a intense preoccupation with perceived defects in physical appearance, despite looking perfectly normal. It is common for people with BDD to seek non-psychiatric care, such as dermatological treatment or plastic surgery, however, such treatments rarely work, and can even lead to a deterioration of symptoms. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK recommends that patients with Body dysmorphic disorder should be offered cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), however, there is a gap between supply and demand of CBT. One way of increasing access to CBT is to deliver it using the Internet. In this randomized clinical trial we tested the efficacy of a Internet based CBT program for Body dysmorphic disorder called BDD-NET and compared it to supportive therapy. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Enander: Our study shows that BDD-NET was associated with large and significant improvements in  Body dysmorphic disorder symptom severity. 56% of those receiving BDD-NET were responders (defined as at least a 30% reduction in symptoms), compared to 13% of those receiving supportive therapy. At the six months follow-up, 39% of those who received BDD-NET no longer met diagnostic criteria for Body dysmorphic disorder. No serious adverse events were reported, and most participants were satisfied with BDD-NET, despite no face-to-face contact with a therapist, and deemed the treatment as highly acceptable. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Nutrition, Pediatrics / 02.02.2016 Interview with: Dr. Maryam S. Farvid, PhD Takemi Fellow Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Farvid: Previous studies of fiber intake and breast cancer have almost all been non-significant, but none of them examined diet during adolescence or early adulthood, a period when breast cancer risk factors appear to be particularly important. Current study supports protective role of dietary fiber intake on breast cancer. The women who reported the highest amount of fiber consumed during high school, about 28 grams daily, had a 16% lower risk of overall breast cancer compared with those who said they consumed an about 15 grams a day. Also highest verses lowest intake of fiber during early adulthood was associated with a 19% lower risk of overall breast cancer. The associations were more apparent for premenopausal breast cancer than postmenopausal breast cancer. Each 10 grams increase in adolescent fiber intake may lead to a 20% lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer, as was a 15% for overall breast cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Colon Cancer, Gastrointestinal Disease, Global Health / 31.01.2016 Interview with: Dr. Melina Arnold Section of Cancer Surveillance International Agency for Research on Cancer Lyon, France What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Dr. Arnold: In this study, we looked at patterns and time trends in the incidence in and mortality from colorectal cancer on the global scale. In the analyses, we used data from the Globocan database, Cancer Incidence in Five Continents, both hosted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and the World Health Organisation mortality database. We documented a ten-fold variation in colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates worldwide. We also found distinct gradients across human development levels, meaning that changes in patterns and trends of this cancer could be linked to economic development and that the adoption of a Western lifestyle may have a role. While incidence and mortality rates are on the increase in many countries in socioeconomic transition, stabilizing or decreasing trends are seen in highly-developed countries where rates remain among the highest in the world. These observations point to widening disparities and an increasing burden in transitioning countries. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Heart Disease, Tobacco, Toxin Research / 29.01.2016 Interview with: Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD Assistant Professor of Oncology, Department of Health Behavior Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Goniewicz: In addition to nicotine and its solvents (like propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin), a majority of e-cigarettes contain flavorings. Users of e-cigarettes can choose their favorite flavor among hundreds of various options, including fruit, coffee, menthol, vanilla, chocolate, candy flavors, and tobacco.  Although many flavorings used in e-cigarettes are recognized as safe when used in food products, little is known about their potential toxicity when inhaled. In this study we measured one such flavoring, benzaldehyde. This flavoring is commonly used in food and cosmetics. We know that there is little to no toxicity if we eat this compound or if we apply it on our skin. However, workers who regularly inhale a high concentration of benzaldehyde often report irritation of their eyes and throat. In this study, we tested 145 e-cigarette products, and we found benzaldehyde in 108 products. Interestingly, the highest levels of benzaldehyde were detected in cherry-flavored products.  (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Nutrition / 29.01.2016 Interview with: Helmut Schröder,  Ph.D. Head Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Nutrition Research Group, CIBER Epidemiology and Public Health Senior Research Scientist Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group (CARIN-ULEC) IMIM-Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute Parc de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona Barcelona,Spain Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Schröder: A healthy diet is paramount for physical and mental health. Healthy dietary patterns are more expensive than unhealthy choices. But it is unknown how increases in individual diet cost, driven by rising food prices, affects consumers’ food choices and, consequently, overall diet quality. It is of particular concern that low diet quality is more often found in segments of the population with the lowest socioeconomic status. The he aim of our research was to determine the prospective association between changes in individual diet cost and changes in diet quality in the REGICOR (Registre Gironí del Cor) cohort, a representative Spanish population. Additionally, we determined the impact of changes in diet cost on body weight. We have found that an increase in the energy-adjusted diet cost predicted a shift to a healthier diet and to better weight management. Diet quality strongly increased if money previously spent on unhealthy food choices such as fast food and pastry is instead spent on vegetables and fruits. Furthermore, we have seen that a 1.4€ increase in average spending on food is associated with the consumption of 74 grams more vegetables and 52 grams more fruit, per person per day, for a 1000 kcal diet. Conversely, a reduction of 0.06€ in average spending is linked to a decrease of 121 grams of vegetables and 94 grams of fruit, as well as increased consumption of foodstuffs like fast food and baked goods. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Nutrition, Weight Research / 29.01.2016 Interview with: Monica L. Bertoia, MPH, PhD Instructor in Medicine, Channing Division of Network Medicine Brigham and Women’s Hospital & Harvard Medical School Research Associate, Department of Nutrition Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MA 02115 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Most weight loss studies have focused on one type of flavonoid, the flavan-3-ols found in green tea, and are limited to small numbers of overweight and obese study participants. We examined 7 subclasses of flavonoids and weight change in 124,086 healthy adults who reported their diet and weight repeatedly over up to 24 years. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics, Pharmacology / 29.01.2016 Interview with: Tarang Sharma, PhD candidate  Nordic Cochrane Centre, Rigshospitalet University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Denmark Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: These newer antidepressants are some of the most prescribed medications in the world and previous research in the area has suggested an increased suicide risk on these drugs in young people, but only when unpublished clinical study report data is used. Such risk is missing when the published articles are considered due to severe selective reporting and publication bias. In our study we found that the research design of most of the trials was very poor and there were major discrepancies in the reporting, leading to the under-estimation of harms. Despite these problems we still found that both suicidality and aggression were more than doubled in children and adolescents on antidepressants compared to those on placebo. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Cancer Research, Heart Disease, Pharmacology / 24.01.2016

More on Heart Disease on Interview with: Professor Ian C K Wong Fellow of Royal Pharmaceutical Society Fellow of Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (Honorary) Fellow of the Higher Education Academy Chair in Pharmacy Practice Head of Research Department of Practice and Policy UCL School of Pharmacy London  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wong: Previous studies had showed an increased cardiovascular risk associated with clarithromycin (a widely used antibiotic) but the duration of effect remained unclear. Therefore, we conducted this study to investigate the duration of cardiovascular adverse effect provided that the risk exists after patients receiving clarithromycin in Hong Kong. We used three study designs to examine the  association (temporal relationship) between clarithromycin and cardiovascular adverse outcomes such as myocardial infarction, arrhythmia, stroke, cardiac mortality at different time points.

We found that there was an increased short-term risk of myocardial infarction, arrhythmia and cardiac mortality associated with clarithromycin in all study designs. However, no long-term risk was observed. In every 1000 patients, there was 1.90 extra myocardial infarction events in current use of CLARITHROMYCIN when compared with the use of amoxicillin.

Alcohol, Author Interviews, BMJ, Pediatrics, Tobacco Research / 16.01.2016

More on Alcohol on Interview with: Dr Joanne Cranwell PhD, CPsychol The UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies  School of Medicine Division of Epidemiology & Public Health Clinical Sciences Building University of Nottingham MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Cranwell: We conducted this particular study because it is well established that adolescent exposure to alcohol and tobacco in the media, such as film, television, and paid for advertising are determinants of subsequent alcohol and tobacco use in young people. The extent of potential exposure has been transformed over the past decade by the emergence of social media, in which exposure to pro-tobacco content has also been linked to favourable attitudes towards tobacco, including intention to smoke, in young non-smokers. Our previous published research highlighted that popular YouTube music videos contain tobacco and substantial alcohol content, including branding. Alcohol advertising is largely self-regulated by the alcohol industry and the Portman Group who speaks on behalf of the UK drinks industry.   The Advertising Standards Authority also provides guidance on marketing of alcohol products in the UK. Broadly speaking the guidelines from these three regulators state that “Marketing communications for alcoholic drinks should not be targeted at people under 18 and should not imply, condone or encourage immoderate, irresponsible or anti-social drinking”. However the extent to which adults and adolescents are exposed to tobacco or alcohol content from YouTube at a population level has not been quantified. In this new study we have therefore estimated population exposure to tobacco and alcohol impressions, defined as appearances in 10-second intervals in a sample of popular videos, in the British adolescent and adult population. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, NYU, Pain Research / 15.01.2016

More on Mental Health Research on Interview with: Dr Mia Tova Minen Department of Neurology NYU Langone Medical Center New York, NY 10016 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Minen: Migraine affects 12% of adults in the United States, and is thus a very common condition. There are effective treatments for migraine patients, but we also know that if patients and their doctors do not consider the psychiatric disorders that can co-occur with migraine, migraines can worsen, a term called migraine chronification. Thus, we felt that it was important to discuss the various psychiatric disorders associated with migraine, the screening tools available to assess for them, and various treatment considerations for patients with migraine and psychiatric conditions. We also discussed potential explanations for the relationship between migraine and these psychiatric conditions. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Diabetes, NIH, OBGYNE / 13.01.2016 Interview with: Cuilin Zhang MD, PhD Senior Investigator, Epidemiology Branch Division of Intramural Population Health Research NICHD/National Institutes of Health Rockville, MD 20852  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Zhang: Potatoes are the third most commonly consumed food crop in the world. In the United States, about 35% of women of reproductive age consume potatoes daily, accounting for 8% of daily total energy intake.  Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a common complication of pregnancy characterized by glucose intolerance with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. GDM is at the center of a vicious circle of 'diabetes begets diabetes' across generations. Potato foods are typically higher in glycemic index and glycemic load, but data are lacking regarding whether potato consumption is associated with the risk of Gestational diabetes mellitus. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Zhang: Women who eat more potatoes before pregnancy may have higher risk of gestational diabetes—the form of diabetes that occurs or first diagnosed during pregnancy—compared to women who consume fewer potatoes. Substituting potatoes with other vegetables, legumes or whole grains may help lower gestational diabetes risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, OBGYNE, Pharmacology / 07.01.2016 Interview with: Brittany M. Charlton, ScD Instructor Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School Researcher, Harvard Chan School Department of Epidemiology Boston, MA 02115   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Charlton: Even though oral contraceptives can be over 99% effective with perfect use, almost 10% of women become pregnant within their first year of use. Many more women will stop using oral contraceptives when planning a pregnancy and conceive within just a few months. In both of those examples, a woman may inadvertently expose her offspring during pregnancy to exogenous sex hormones. We conducted a nationwide cohort study in Denmark in order to investigate whether oral contraceptive use shortly before or during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of major birth defects in the offspring. Our main finding was that there was no increased risk of having a birth defect associated with oral contraceptive exposure. These results were also consistent when we broke down the birth defects into different subgroups, like limb defects. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Urinary Tract Infections / 02.01.2016 Interview with: Ildikó Gágyor MD Senior researcher in primary care Department of General Practice University Medical Center Göttingen Göttingen, Germany Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gágyor: Uncomplicated urinary tract infection is a common problem for women. Affected patients are usually treated with antibiotics to combat both unpleasant symptoms and to combat infection. However, prescription of antibiotics for a self-limiting condition, contributes to increased resistance rates posing a serious long-term threat to public health. In a double blind randomised controlled trial we examined whether symptomatic treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infection with ibuprofen reduces the rate of antibiotic prescriptions without a significant increase in symptoms, recurrences, or complications. In all, 494 women were randomly assigned to receive: either ibuprofen for three days and antibiotics only if symptoms are persistent; or antibiotic treatment with fosfomycin. Results showed that antibiotic use could be reduced significantly: of the 248 women in the ibuprofen group two thirds recovered without antibiotics and one third received antibiotics subsequently. Women in the ibuprofen group had a higher symptom burden but in both groups, symptoms decreased within the first week (Figure 1). Six cases of pyelonephritis occurred, one in the fosfomycin group, five in the ibuprofen group. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Mental Health Research / 16.12.2015 Interview with: Dr. Rashmi Patel MA (Cantab) MA BM BCh PGDip (Oxon) MRCPsych Psychiatry King's College London, London  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Patel: Antidepressants are a safe and effective treatment for depression. However, in a minority of cases, people who take antidepressants can also develop symptoms of elevated mood and mania as part of a bipolar disorder. This is important because although bipolar disorder is uncommon, people who are affected often first present with symptoms of depression and, if left untreated, bipolar disorder can be very distressing and significantly affect social and occupational functioning. In our study we investigated the association of antidepressants with mania in people with depression receiving care from the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, a large provider of specialist mental healthcare in South London (UK). We found that antidepressants were widely prescribed and associated with a small increased risk in developing mania. However, we did not demonstrate a causal association between antidepressants and mania. Instead, it is likely that people who developed symptoms of mania with antidepressants already had a propensity towards developing mania prior to antidepressant treatment. (more…)
Allergies, Author Interviews, BMJ, Gastrointestinal Disease / 16.12.2015 Interview with: Meri K Tulic PhD Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis Immune Tolerance Nice, France The International Inflammation 'in-FLAME' Network Worldwide Universities Network  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Tulic: We know that damaged epithelial gut barrier is a hallmark of gut inflammatory diseases including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It has been long known that respiratory allergens such as house-dust mites (HDM) are the main causes of epithelial destruction in the lungs and initiation of allergic airway disease such as asthma. We set out to test whether  house-dust mites may also be present in the human gut and may contribute to intestinal barrier dysfunction. In this paper, we have shown that  house-dust mites is found in the gastrointestinal system of ~50% of all healthy subjects tested and it has detrimental effect on gut barrier function. The mechanisms include its direct destruction of tight-junction proteins which normally hold adjoining epithelial cells together, resulting in increased gut permeability. This process is driven by cysteine-proteases contained within the mite. In healthy individuals this effect is likely to be regulated by increased production of regulatory IL-10 (an anti-inflammatory mediator); our preliminary data indicate that a defect in regulatory responses may exist in IBS patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Colon Cancer, Gastrointestinal Disease / 13.12.2015 Interview with: Dr Franco Radaelli Division of Digestive Endoscopy and Gastroenterology Valduce Hospital Como, Italy  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Radaelli: Split regimens of bowel preparation are strongly recommended by European and American Guidelines as they have been associated with a higher level of colon cleansing. However, there is still uncertainty on whether the higher level of cleansing associated with a split regimen also results in a higher proportion of subjects with at least one adenoma (adenoma detection rate, ADR), that represents by far a more relevant quality indicator than the level of cleansing itself. On this background, we designed a randomized investigator-blinded controlled trial to evaluate whether a “split regimen” of low-volume 2-L PEG-ascorbate solution was superior to the traditional “full dose, the day before regimen” in terms of ADR. Differently from other studies on bowel preparation, we considered adenoma detection rate  instead of the level of colon cleansing, the primary study end-point, and we designed the sample size accordingly. A precise estimation of the sample size was facilitated by including an homogeneous population of asymptomatic subjects undergoing first colonoscopy after positive-FIT within CRC organized screening program. Besides, ADR represents a very solid end-point due to the very low inter-pathology variability in the differential diagnosis between neoplastic and non-neoplastic lesions, while the assessment of the level of cleansing is hampered by unavoidable degree of subjectivity and higher degree of inter-operator variability. (more…)
Alcohol, Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, BMJ / 11.12.2015 Interview with:

Professor, Frans Boch Waldorff General Practitioner Research Unit of General Practice Denmark

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Waldorff: While there are numerous studies focusing on alcohol as a risk factor for dementia and mortality in healthy subjects, virtually no attention has been paid to the effect of alcohol consumption in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Considering that AD is a neurodegenerative disorder and that alcohol has known neurotoxic effects, one could easily jump to the conclusion that alcohol is damaging for patients with AD. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the positive association between moderate alcohol intake and mortality shown in population-based studies on healthy subjects can be transferred to patients with mild AD. In our study we found that patients with mild  Alzheimer’s disease , moderate alcohol consumption (two to three units per day) was associated with a significantly lower risk of death compared with those who only had alcohol occasionally (one or less than one unit per day), and with those who had high alcohol intake (more than 3 units per day). Abstinence or high alcohol intake did not significantly raise mortality compared with those drinking only occasionally. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Cost of Health Care, Diabetes, Mayo Clinic / 09.12.2015 Interview with: Rozalina G. McCoy, M.D. Senior Associate Consultant Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine Assistant Professor of Medicine Mayo Clinic Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. McCoy: Blood glucose monitoring is an integral component of managing diabetes.  Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) is a measure of average glycemia over approximately 3 months, and is used in routine clinical practice to monitor and adjust treatment with glucose-lowering medications.  However, monitoring and treatment protocols are not well defined by professional societies and regulatory bodies; while lower thresholds of testing frequencies are often discussed, the upper boundaries are rarely mentioned.  Most agree that for adult patients who are not using insulin, have stable glycemic control within the recommended targets, and have no history of severe hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, checking once or twice a year should suffice. Yet in practice, there is a much higher prevalence of excess testing.  We believe that such over-testing results in redundancy and waste, adding unnecessary costs and burdens for patients and the health care system. We therefore conducted a large retrospective study among 31,545 adults across the U.S. with stable and controlled type 2 diabetes who had HbA1c less than 7% without use of insulin and without documented severe hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.  We found that 55% of patients had their HbA1c checked 3-4 times per year, and 6% had it checked 5 times a year or more.  Such excessive testing had additional harms as well – we found that excessive testing was associated with greater risk of treatment intensification despite the fact that all patients in the study already met glycemic targets by having HbA1c under 7%.  Indeed, treatment was intensified by addition of more glucose lowering drugs or insulin in 8.4% of patients (comprising 13%, 9%, and 7% of those tested 5 or more times per year; 3-4 times per year; and 1-2 times per year, respectively). (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Depression / 08.12.2015 Interview with: Halle Amick, research associate Sheps Center for Health Services Research University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Major depressive disorder (MDD) affects more than 32 million Americans and millions more worldwide. Many patients first seek care from a primary care provider, and the most common treatment initiated in that setting is medication. Although there is an evidence base that shows certain psychotherapies to be effective treatments, primary care providers may not be familiar enough with psychotherapy to present it as a treatment option. We conducted a full review of clinical trials that compared antidepressant medication—specifically second-generation antidepressants (SGAs)—with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). We found that symptom improvement and rate of remission were similar between SGAs and CBT, whether they were used alone or in combination with each other. We also found no difference in the rates of withdrawal from the clinical trials either overall or due to adverse events. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, BMJ, Genetic Research / 03.12.2015 Interview with: Hatem A. Azim MD PhD Breast Cancer Translational Research Laboratory Institut Jules Bordet Université Libre de Bruxelles Brussels, Belgium Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Azim: As at breast cancer diagnosis is known to impact prognosis, with young patients having worse outcome. On the other hand, elderly patients are less studies in general and little is known on their tumor characteristics. In this study, we aimed to define the pattern of genomic aberrations in different age groups. This can result in identifying if key potentially targetable genomic alterations are more specific to particular age groups and thus could open the door to design particular studies targeting these aberrations in these age groups. We found that  age is associated with unique biological features at the DNA level, independent of tumor stage, histology and breast cancer molecular subtype. Of particular mention, the higher prevalence of GATA3 mutation in younger patient, a known driver mutation associated with endocrine resistance. In addition, age at diagnosis appears to impact the tumor transcriptome confirming previous observations, but also highlighting novel findings, of particular relevance the higher expression of stem cell related genes in young patients. (more…)
ADHD, Author Interviews, BMJ, Pharmacology / 26.11.2015 Interview with: Dr. Ole Jakob Storebø Region Zealand, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Department, Roskilde Region Zealand Psychiatry Psychiatric Research Unit, Slagelse University of Southern Denmark Department of Psychology Faculty of Health Science, Odense Denmark Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Storebø: Despite widespread use of methylphenidate for the treatment of children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a comprehensive systematic review of its benefits and harms has not yet been conducted. Over the past 15 years, several reviews investigating the efficacy of methylphenidate for ADHD (with or without meta-analyses) have been published. Each of these reviews, however, has several shortcomings and these are described in detail in the review. The most important concerns are that none of these reviews are based on a pre-published protocol, and most assessed neither the risk of bias (systematic errors) of included trials nor adverse events. Moreover, none of these reviews considered the risk of random errors. Therefore, their interpretation of findings is unlikely to have taken into account the poor reporting of adverse events, the impact of combining data from small trial samples, or the impact of risk of bias on their analyses; information about adverse events is also missing from several RCTs. Because of this it is our opinion that these previous reviews might have overestimated the true treatment effect. We found that Methylphenidate may improve ADHD symptoms, general behaviour and quality of life in children and adolescents aged 18 years and younger with ADHD. We rated the evidence to be of very low quality and, as a result, we cannot be certain about the magnitude of the effects from the meta-analyses. The evidence is limited by serious risk of bias in the included trials, under-reporting of relevant outcome data, and a high level of statistical variation between the results. We found no evidence for serious adverse events, but a lot of non-serious adverse events. Most of these are well known but the number of adverse events might even be higher than the number we found due to underreporting of adverse events. We know very little about the long term effects or harms as most of the trials in our review did not measure outcomes beyond 6 months. The risk of rare, serious adverse events seem low over the short duration of follow-up of the trials that reported on harms, but in general there was inadequate reporting of adverse events in many trials. (more…)