The latest important research summarised

Short summaries of the latest health research presented in plain English to promote use of research by all members of society.


Large ten-year trial on treatment of localised prostate cancer will aid management decisions

New, long-term research indicates that active monitoring, with prompt treatment if needed, may be a better option than radical surgery or radiotherapy for many men who have prostate cancer if it’s confined to the prostate gland. In the ProtecT trial, after an average of ten years, few men died of prostate cancer and there was ...


New technique for repairing the bowel inside the body is safe

After removal of a section of cancerous bowel the ends need to be stitched back together. In endoscopic (keyhole) surgery this is usually done by pulling both ends out through a small hole in the skin and stitching them outside the body, before pushing the joined bowel back inside. This is called extracorporeal anastamosis. Alternatively ...


Paracetamol is a weak painkiller for regular tension headaches

Paracetamol is only slightly more effective than dummy tablets (placebo) at relieving pain in people who experience regular tension-type headaches. A Cochrane review found that 24 out of 100 people who took paracetamol for regular tension-type headaches were pain free at two hours, compared with 19 out of 100 who took an inactive placebo. There ...


Betahistine may be worth trying for people with undiagnosed vertigo

Taking the drug betahistine could reduce the feeling of vertigo, even when the cause hasn't been found. Vertigo is a feeling that the environment is moving around when it is not. It can be caused by problems in the ear or the brain. Regardless of the cause, this study found that if 100 people with ...


“Triptans” can relieve migraines in children and adolescents

Triptans, a migraine medication, relieve migraine headache completely within two hours compared to placebo. Ibuprofen was also effective but less well studied. This review was also reassuring in that any side effects of treatment were mild. Most evidence identified in this Cochrane review was for sumatriptan, a commonly prescribed treatment for adults, compared to placebo ...


Two injections are equally effective for treating flare ups of severe ulcerative colitis

There is little difference between the newer drug infliximab and the older ciclosporin for treating adults with severe ulcerative colitis that has become resistant to the usual treatment with steroids. Infliximab was more expensive. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease where the colon and rectum become inflamed. For severe flare-ups, the standard treatment is steroids. ...


Acupuncture may improve neck pain in the short-term

Acupuncture provided slightly greater improvement in neck pain in the short-term than sham treatments or being on a waiting list. There were too few studies available to determine its long-term effectiveness and the evidence around disability or quality of life was inconsistent. Most of the 27 trials included in this review were too varied for ...


Metformin shows early promise for controlling clozapine-related weight gain

People with schizophrenia who were taking clozapine had greater weight loss, reductions in waist circumference, and lower glucose and triglycerides, when given metformin compared to placebo. There was no significant difference in “good” cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) or blood pressure measures. Clozapine is used to treat schizophrenia that has not responded to treatment with at least ...


Routine treatment approaches soon after some types of heart attack, are finely balanced

The modest benefits of a routine “angiography first” or “invasive” strategy for patients with some types of chest pain may come at the risk of increased bleeding. The timing of “invasive” diagnosis and treatments, which include coronary artery catheter investigation and treatment with a stent, is an important part of care for people with heart ...


Uncertainty persists over choice of phosphate binders for chronic kidney disease

NICE recommend calcium-based phosphate binding medicines for people with chronic kidney disease, however, new research suggests non-calcium based alternatives might lead to a lower risk of death. The review is best viewed alongside other reviews which look at different aspects of chronic kidney disease. The totality of research and cost effectiveness will need to be ...

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