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Tories to give GPs power

Short-acting ?2-agonists are associated with a modestly increased risk of death in asthma patients, a UK study reveals.

Researchers compared 532 patients under 65 who died from asthma and 532 controls with a hospital admission.

After examining prescriptions in the preceding one to five years, they found that mortality was positively associated with inhaled short-acting ?2-agonists (mainly salbutamol), but not with long-acting ?2-agonists.

Evidence of a direct adverse effect for short-acting drugs was 'inconclusive but remains a matter of concern', researchers said.

BMJ 2005;330:117

Child depression hereditary

Having both a parent and a grandparent who suffer from depression greatly increases a child's risk of developing a psychiatric illness, US research suggests.

The 20-year study considered the effect of parents' and grandparents' depression on prevalence of psychiatric disorders in 161 participating grandchildren.

Of those with a depressed parent and grandparent, 60 per cent developed a psychiatric disorder by the age of 12.

The risk was five times greater if both a parent and grandparent were depressed than when only a grandparent was affected.

Archives of General Psychiatry


Homocysteine link with stroke

High blood levels of homocysteine appear to increase the risk of stroke.

UK researchers conducted a meta-analysis of studies examining levels of homocysteine in patients with the T allele of the MTHFR gene. They also examined the effect of the allele on stroke risk.

Among 15,635 people without cardiovascular disease, those homozygous for TT had 1.93µmol/L more homocysteine in their blood than those who had the alternative CC


The genotype was also associated with a 26 per cent increased risk of stroke.

The Lancet 2004;365:224-231

Strict lipid targets beneficial

Stringent targets for LDL cholesterol confer additional vascular benefits, a study finds.

US researchers measured peripheral vascular endothelial function in 110 patients with coronary heart disease and LDL concentrations of 100mg/dl or less.

Participants whose LDL cholesterol was

less than 80mg/dl had significantly better endothelial function than those in the

80mg/dl to 100mg/dl range, with flow-mediated dilations of 8.4 per cent and 6.8 per cent respectively

Am J Cardiol 2005;95:93-9

Red meat increases colorectal Ca

High consumption of red or processed meat over a long period of time can increase the risk of colorectal cancer, a US study suggests.

Researchers interviewed nearly 150,000 adults aged 50 to 74 about their dietary habits, first in 1982 and then again in 1992/3.

People who consumed the greatest amounts of red or processed meat over a prolonged period were 50 per cent more likely to develop distal colon cancer than those who ate the lowest amounts, even after all confounding variables were taken into account.

JAMA 2005;293:172-182

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