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Drinkers' lower mortality rates

The benefits of moderate alcohol consumption outweigh the risks, according to a 23-year prospective study of UK doctors.

The 12,000 doctors, aged between 48 and 78, were questioned about their drinking habits once in 1978 and again in 1989/91. Mean alcohol consumption among drinkers was two to three units a day. All-cause mortality was 12 per cent lower in drinkers than in non-drinkers, even when the bias caused by those who gave up drink through illness was taken into account. Risk of ischaemic heart disease and respiratory disease were reduced by 28 per cent and 31 per cent respectively.

International Journal of Epidemiology

2005 advance online publication

Benefit of drugs to raise HDL

A combination of drugs aimed at increasing HDL cholesterol may prevent cardiovascular events, US researchers suggest. The study looked at 143 patients under 73 with low HDL and evidence of coronary artery disease. Patients were randomised to a regime of fibrate, nicotinic acid and cholestyramine, or placebo.

HDL cholesterol rose by 36 per cent and LDL cholesterol fell by 26 per cent in the intervention group, compared with controls. Only 13 per cent of patients in the intervention group experienced a cardiovascular event compared with 26 per cent of controls. There was also a decrease in focal coronary stenosis.

Annals of Internal Medicine 2005;142:95-104

Intelligence tests point to suicides

Men who perform poorly in intelligence tests have a substantially increased risk of subsequent suicide, a study finds.

Researchers studied a cohort of 987,308 Swedish men who had taken tests in logic, language, spatial and technical skills at conscription for the military. They followed up the men for between five and 26 years.

The risk of suicide was two to three times higher in those with the lowest test scores compared with those with the highest, with the association strongest for the logic tests. Poorly performing children of well-educated parents had the greatest increased risk.

BMJ 2005;330: 167-170

CVD risk factors influence dementia

Having risk factors for cardiovascular disease in middle age may significantly increase the risk of subsequent dementia. US researchers followed a multi-ethnic cohort of nearly 9,000 men and women in north California for 27 years.

Patients with diabetes at age 40-44 were

46 per cent more likely than those without the condition to develop dementia, while those with high total cholesterol were 42 per cent more at risk. The risk of dementia was also increased by 24 per cent in those with hypertension and by 26 per cent in those who had smoked.

Neurology 2005;64:277-81

Iron deficiency role in gastric Ca

Asymptomatic iron deficiency anaemia is a strong predictor of gastrointestinal cancer in men over 50 and postmenopausal women, a study suggests. Israeli researchers carried out a prospective study on 48 patients with asymptomatic iron deficiency anaemia who underwent colonoscopy, gastroscopy and abdominal computed tomography with contrast agent. Half of the patients in the study had an anaemia-causing lesion in either the upper or lower gastrointestinal tract and 29 per cent had a malignancy.

Family Practice 2005;0:7051

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