“Safe” blood lead levels linked to gout
BLOOD lead levels (BLLs) in the current acceptable range are associated with increased prevalence of gout and hyperuricaemia, according to a US observational study published in Annals of Internal Medicine. The study authors said the findings had implications for clinicians and public health professionals as they added to the growing body of evidence that currently accepted BLLs were not safe. Because lead was ubiquitous in the environment, including drinking water, it was important to assess BLLs in patients with gout, they said.

Oral cancer predictors validated
RESEARCHERS have validated and refined a set of risk markers to help better predict the progression of oral premalignant lesions to oral cancer. The risk markers, which incorporate loss of heterozygosity risk models, could reliably predict and differentiate progression risk for oral premalignant lesions, according to the retrospective study published in Cancer Prevention Research. Potential uses of these markers included increasing surveillance for patients with elevated risk and improving target intervention for high-risk patients. It could also reduce needless screening and treatment in a large number of low-risk patients, the researchers wrote.

Diabetes linked to childhood radiotherapy
CHILDHOOD cancer survivors receiving total body or abdominal radiotherapy may be at higher risk of developing diabetes in later life, according to a retrospective study published in The Lancet Oncology. The study found evidence of a dose–response relationship between radiation exposure of the pancreas and subsequent risk of diabetes. The authors said the finding raised important public health issues. “The pancreas needs to be regarded as a critical organ when planning radiation therapy, particularly in children. Follow-up of patients who received abdominal irradiation should include diabetes screening”, the authors said.

Chronic disease deaths underestimated
THE contribution of chronic conditions like chronic kidney failure, diabetes, asthma and dementia to deaths in Australia could be being underestimated because of the way cause of death data are currently analysed, according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, Multiple causes of death in Australia: an analysis of all natural and selected chronic disease causes of death 1997‒2007. According to the report, on average, three diseases contributed to each death due to natural causes in Australia in 2007, and only 20% of these deaths were due to a single disease.

Delirium speeds cognitive decline
DELIRIUM is highly prevalent among older adults with Alzheimer disease who are hospitalised and this is associated with an increased rate of cognitive deterioration over 5 years of follow-up, according to research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers said strategies to prevent delirium might be worth exploring to ameliorate cognitive deterioration in Alzheimer disease. An accompanying commentary said the study added to growing evidence that delirium is a hospital-acquired condition with substantial long-term consequences.

Sports prowess predicts specialty success
PRIOR excellence in team sport may predict which otolaryngology graduates will succeed as clinicians, according to a study published in the Archives of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery. US researchers studied 46 graduates and found that prior excellence in a team sport might be associated with future career success whereas letters of recommendation, clinical performance as a final year medical student and musical excellence were not. The rank of the medical school and faculty interview were only weakly correlated. The researchers concluded that many of the application factors typically used during otolaryngology residency candidate selection may not be predictive of future capabilities as a clinician.

Statins lower pancreatitis risk
A META-analysis published in JAMA of 21 large, randomised studies has found the use of statins was associated with a lower risk of pancreatitis in patients with normal or mildly elevated triglyceride levels. The study authors noted that although lipid guidelines recommend fibrate therapy to reduce pancreatitis risk in people with hypertriglyceridaemia, fibrates may lead to the development of gallstones, a risk factor for pancreatitis. The study did not demonstrate an association between use of fibrate therapy and risk of pancreatitis.

Posted 27 August 2012

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