Evidence not so clear on salt intake reduction
Public health organisations routinely recommend population-wide reduction in salt intake, but authors from Columbia University in New York have conducted a “metaknowledge analysis” on the subject and have shown that the evidence on the population benefits remains unclear. Published open access in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the review found and analysed 269 reports on salt intake reduction published between 1978 and 2014. “Of these, 54% were supportive of the hypothesis [that salt intake reduction had population benefits], 33% were contradictory and 13% were inconclusive,” wrote the authors. “Reports were 1.51 times more likely to cite reports that drew a similar conclusion, than to cite reports drawing a different conclusion. We documented a strong polarization of scientific reports on the link between sodium intake and health outcomes, and a pattern of uncertainty in systematic reviews about what should count as evidence.”

Talcum powder and cancer link fears after Johnson & Johnson court case
The family of an American woman has been awarded US$72m by Johnson & Johnson after she claimed using talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer. Jacqueline Fox died last year at the age of 62 after a 3-year battle with cancer. In an audio deposition in the courtroom, she recounted using Johnson & Johnson products containing talcum powder for 35 years, using them for “feminine hygiene” and applying them to her genital area. The link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer has long been disputed by Johnson & Johnson, which said in a statement: “We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathise with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.” According to Paul Pharoah, Professor of Cancer Epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, the decision of the court is flawed. “First, the evidence of a causal association between genital talc use and ovarian cancer risk is weak. Second, even if the association were true, the strength of the association is too small to be able to say on the balance of probabilities that any cancer arising in a woman who used talc had been caused by the talc.” For more visit doctorportal.

Hand Hygiene Initiative cost-effective … mostly
Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland have found that the Australian National Hand Hygiene Initiative implemented between 2009 and 2012 was a cost-effective program for reducing health care-associated Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia. Published in PLOS One, the cost-effectiveness modelling study investigated cost per life-year saved from reduced cases of S. aureus bacteraemia, with cost estimated by the annual ongoing maintenance costs less the costs saved from fewer infections. “Total annual costs increased by $2,851,475 for a return of 96 years of life, giving an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of $29,700 per life year gained. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis revealed a 100% chance the initiative was cost effective in the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland, with ICERs of $1,030 and $8,988 respectively. There was an 81% chance it was cost effective in New South Wales with an ICER of $33,353, a 26% chance for South Australia with an ICER of $64,729 and a 1% chance for Tasmania and WA.” The authors concluded that the “Australian National Hand Hygiene Initiative was cost-effective against an Australian threshold of $42,000 per life year gained”.

Loss of as little as 5% of body weight reaps health benefits
Research published in Cell Metabolism has shown that losing as little as 5% of body weight is enough to reap health benefits for obese patients. The researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine looked at 40 obese people who had lost either 5%, 10% or 15% of their starting weight. They found that losing just 5% was enough to significantly lower multiple risk factors for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. “Five percent weight loss improved adipose tissue, liver and muscle insulin sensitivity, and β cell function, without a concomitant change in systemic or subcutaneous adipose tissue markers of inflammation,” they wrote. “These results demonstrate that moderate 5% weight loss improves metabolic function in multiple organs simultaneously, and progressive weight loss causes dose-dependent alterations in key adipose tissue biological pathways.”

Genetic link between ductal and invasive ductal carcinoma
A group of British researchers has confirmed a genetic predisposition to ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast, in a study published open access in Breast Cancer Research. DCIS is a non-invasive form of breast cancer, often associated with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), and is considered to be a non-obligate precursor of IDC. It has not been clear to what extent the two forms share low-risk susceptibility loci, or whether there are differences in the strength of association for shared loci. The authors pooled data from 38 studies comprising 5067 cases of DCIS, 24 584 cases of IDC and 37 467 controls. “Most (67 %) of the 76 known breast cancer predisposition loci showed an association with DCIS in the same direction as previously reported for invasive breast cancer … Analysis by estrogen receptor (ER) status confirmed that loci associated with ER positive IDC were also associated with ER positive DCIS … this study provides the strongest evidence to date of a shared genetic susceptibility for IDC and DCIS.”

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