POW: Mobile Health - The Evidence Behind the Messages

Mobile health is being increasingly promoted as a way of engaging with and educating patients to improve health outcomes. In this Paper of the Week, we report the findings of a literature review on the effectiveness of mobile text messaging on chronic disease outcomes.

Published: 13 Jul, 2015    Time to Read: 5 min(s) Read More»

Quality of Healthcare: Do We Get What We Pay For?

A new report by the Nuffield Trust has compared the health performance of the UK with other OECD countries, and found that, for several metrics, the NHS ranks relatively low. Yet relative expenditure on healthcare varies widely across these jurisdictions. With healthcare, can we really expect the NHS to deliver above average outcomes on a below-average budget?

Published: 05 Jul, 2015    Time to Read: 5 min(s) Read More»

Of Fruit Flies, Mice and Men: Why Miracle Drugs in Animals May Not Extend Lifespan in Humans

Every week, there are stories in the media about new treatments that prolong lifespan in animals, packed with assumptions about what such miracle cures are likely to mean for mortality and lifespan in humans. Here, we discuss how far it is possible to extrapolate such benefits across species, and the timelines for seeing potential benefits in mankind.

Published: 30 Jun, 2015    Time to Read: 5 min(s) Read More»

Welcoming Wimbledon: Why Tennis, Strawberries and Cream May be Good For Your Health

To welcome the start of the Wimbledon fortnight, we reviewed the evidence on the health benefits (or, at least, the lack of harm) associated with playing tennis and the spectator sport of eating strawberries and cream.

Published: 29 Jun, 2015    Time to Read: 5 min(s) Read More»

Nice News for Cancer Patients, or Just Rearranging the Deckchairs on the SS NHS?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published updated guidelines on the recognition and referral of suspected cancer in England and Wales, with the hope that earlier diagnosis will lead to better survival. One of the recommendations is for GPs to be able to refer patients for investigations directly, rather than via a specialist. Will this really speed up diagnosis of cancers and save lives?

Published: 23 Jun, 2015    Time to Read: 5 min(s) Read More»

POW: Lower Risks of Heart Disease and Stroke with Regular Chocolate Consumption

Good news for chocaholics: a large study and systematic review finds a significantly lower risk of heart disease and stroke in people who regularly eat chocolate than in those who eat none. Is this justification for a marathon session, or should the evidence be taken with a pinch of salt?

Published: 16 Jun, 2015    Time to Read: 5 min(s) Read More»

Meeting Report: SIAS Discusses the Nature of Longevity Risk

Sacha Dhamani presented his paper on the nature of longevity risk at the Staple Inn Actuarial Society meeting on 9th June 2015. Here, we comment on his thought-provoking framework.

Published: 12 Jun, 2015    Time to Read: 10 min(s) Read More»

Mortality Improvement with Statins: Evidence Overview

Statins have been widely used to reduce cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular events and have contributed to the substantial improvement in mortality from cardiovascular disease in the last decade or two. But evidence is growing that they may reduce mortality in other diseases, such as cancer. Here, we provide an overview of the evidence of benefits from statin therapy on mortality.

Published: 08 Jun, 2015    Time to Read: 10 min(s) Read More»

POW: Excess Costs per Patient in New Zealand are 12 Times Higehr for Leukaemia Than Melanoma

A new study of direct healthcare costs per patient with cancer in New Zealand has found that excess costs are more than twelve times higher for patients with leukaemia or cancer of bone and connective tissue than they are for patients with malignant melanoma.

Published: 04 Jun, 2015    Time to Read: 10 min(s) Read More»

POW: Dual-Approach Immunotherapy Shows Promise in Malignant Melanoma

Malignant melanoma killed 2,100 people in England and Wales in 2013, 11% of whom were under 50 years old. If diagnosed early, it is curable with surgery, but advanced disease has been very resistant to treatment. Now, researchers have published the results of a clinical trial that shows a double-action immunotherapy treatment can prolong progression-free survival.

Published: 01 Jun, 2015    Time to Read: 5 min(s) Read More»