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Am Fam Physician. 2001;64(8):1315

Here is a definite “Ewww…” item. The Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, England, was awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise this year, according to an item in the British Medical Journal. The biosurgical research unit at the hospital was given the award for producing sterile maggots used in treating wounds. The maggots are sold under the brand name LarvE and are distributed throughout Europe.

From the “you can tell by the size of what?” file: identification of people at risk for early myocardial infarction (MI) may be at hand. Literally. According to a study reported in Family Practice News and conducted by researchers at the University of Liverpool in England, finger-length ratios may predict early MI risk. It seems the greater the finger-length ratio between the index finger and the ring finger, the greater the risk associated with early acute MI, at least in men.

It might be a good idea to “schedule” emergencies for a weekday. According to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, patients with serious medical conditions (such as abdominal aortic aneurysm, acute epiglottitis and pulmonary embolism) are more likely to die in the hospital if they are admitted on a weekend than if they are admitted on a weekday. Why? Because of contributing factors such as these: hospitals typically operate with reduced staff on weekends; employees who work on weekends are often less experienced than regular weekday staff, or they “fill in” for other employees and are less familiar with the patients in their charge.

Here's another positive thing about breastfeeding: according to a study recently published in JAMA, infants who were fed breast milk more than infant formula or who were breastfed longer were at lower risk of being overweight during older childhood and adolescence. Overweight during adolescence, which has become epidemic in the United States, predicts obesity in adulthood as well as short- and long-term morbidity.

“Osteoporosis: not just for women anymore?” According to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a common prostate cancer treatment may cause men to lose bone mass. Study results published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggest that gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRH-a) may deprive men of the testosterone necessary to maintain bone mass. This may happen because GnRH-a treatment is being used in men with earlier-stage cancer and for longer periods than in the past.

Are your patients asking you fewer questions? Nearly 100 million U.S. adults now rely on the Internet for health care information. According to results from a recent Harris Poll reported in America's Pharmacist, 75 percent of adults who are online (which is 47 percent of all U.S. adults) refer to the Internet for information about health care. Only 16 percent say they look up health information often, however, and about 30 percent say they refer to it infrequently.

The rate of cancer deaths in the United States declined from 1992 to 1998, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and reported in Business and Health. The rate of new cancer diagnoses also declined, but only in men—authors of the study believe this is due to a rise in female breast cancer cases related to increased screening and early detection. There was also an increase in the mortality rate of lung cancer in women.

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Copyright © 2001 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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