Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Reducing risk of suicide in cancer patients

Cancer patients experience substantial psychological effects from facing death, financial issues, emotional problems with friends and family, and adverse medical outcomes from treatment. The psychological effects are so severe that some patients consider suicide. Depression is more common in people with cancer than in the general population, said Kelly Trevino, PhD, from the Center for Research on End-of-Life Care at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.

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Eating fruits and vegetables can make you more attractive

Carotenoids are yellow, orange, and red pigments synthesized by plants and algae. They are responsible for the colours in fruits and vegetables, like the redness in tomatoes. When consumed, these pigments are used by many animals to produce brightly coloured displays. Examples range from the orange patches on guppies, the pink feathers of flamingos, the yellow-orange underside of common lizards, to the orange exterior of ladybird beetles.

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Reality check: the dangers of confirmation bias

“Confirmation bias” is the most common—and easily the most irritating—obstacle to productive conversation, and not just between experts and laypeople. The term refers to the tendency to look for information that only confirms what we believe, to accept facts that only strengthen our preferred explanations, and to dismiss data that challenge what we already accept as truth.

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British Medical Bulletin

The critical role of China in global tobacco control

Many might think that the best way to reduce the global tobacco epidemic is by health education and banning sales to minors – policies well-liked by teachers, parents, and governments. But these are ineffective means of reducing smoking prevalence. Surprisingly, it is a fiscal measure that is the critical and easily the most important means of improving public health, as by raising the price, cigarettes become less affordable, especially to the young.

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Concepts of Epidemiology

Why many wrongs make a right in the health sciences

Stories that link diseases to their possible causes are popular, and often generate humour, bemusement, and skepticism. Readers assume that today’s health hazards will be tomorrow’s health saviours. Rod Liddle’s headline in the Sunday Times is an example: “Toasties get you laid, fat prevents dementia and I’m a sex god.” Liddle starts with some fun statistics showing that those who ate cheese toasties had more enjoyable sex than those who did not.

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Dermatology on the wards

What should you know about skin diseases when you start your medical career as a Foundation Doctor or are trying to keep abreast of the work as a Core Medical Trainee? Does skin matter? Are you likely to need any dermatological knowledge? Skin does indeed matter and you are sure to come across dermatological challenges perhaps as a result of treatment such as adverse drug reactions or opportunistic skin infections

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Accelerated ageing and mental health

The accelerated ageing of the populations of developed countries is being matched in the developing world. In fact, in 2017, for the first time in history, the number of persons aged 65 and over will outstrip those aged 5 and under. This population trend is not just a temporary blip, not just due to a short-term outcome of the baby boomer generation.

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The history of global health organizations [timeline]

Established in April 1948, the World Health Organization remains the leading agency concerned with international public health. As a division of the United Nations, the WHO works closely with governments to work towards combating infectious diseases and ensuring preventative care for all nations. The events included in the timeline below, sourced from Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why?, show the development of global health organizations throughout history.

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Financing universal healthcare coverage [excerpt]

Across countries with UHC, no two versions are alike in their financing, in what they cover, or in how they are structured. Some countries with UHC rely on a public system of coverage while others mandate insurance coverage, requiring individuals to buy health coverage in a regulated private insurance market or from the government, while still others have a mix of the two approaches.

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Dr. Chip Schooley on infectious diseases & journal publishing

As infectious diseases around the world continue to evolve, so does the research surrounding the discipline. To find out more about the progress and future challenges in this field, we’ve caught up with Robert T. “Chip” Schooley, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID), who began his term in January after serving as an associate editor for the past decade.

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The nature of addictive disorders

What are addictive disorders? Are they indeed disorders? The nature of problematic psychoactive substance use continues to be a matter of controversy among the public and politicians; even among health professionals there is little consensus. Some have a view that repeated use of a substance (or gambling or gaming) represents personal choice (a “free-will decision”) even when problems are occurring.

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Challenging assumptions about how music helps

When people asked me what I did for a living, some were curious and wanted to know more, while others looked at me as if I were selling snake oil. Nowadays, these conversations are slightly different. Although it is still not always well understood as a profession, more people are familiar with the term “music therapy” and open to the idea that music and other creative mediums may be used to promote health and well-being.

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Communication in cancer care

Ask anyone about their experience with their own or a loved one’s cancer, and the response will likely include a story or remark about an oncologist, surgeon, nurse, or other health care provider. These are often positive stories: the oncologist who remembered a child’s birthday, the nurse who stayed after his shift to wait with an elderly patient until her daughter arrived to pick her up, or the surgeon who attended a husband’s funeral.

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Understanding AIDS

AIDS is a fast moving epidemic and some of the data and assertions were immediately out of date. For example, the book failed to foresee the massive expansion in treatment. In 2008, there were 28.9 million people living with HIV, and a mere 770 000 were receiving anti-retroviral drugs. By 2015, there were 36.7 million people infected with HIV, but 17 million were on treatment.

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Man’s best friend: the pig

Cute and heartwarming videos of dogs fill the internet. My favourite is the bacon dog tease, but others catch my attention because they reveal extraordinary animal behaviours. For example, there are many of dogs helping other animals, like opening the back door to let in a friend. Dogs are our best animal friends, but there is a new contender. The pig might not be agile enough for Frisbees, or into making ‘guilty faces’, but like dogs, might save your life in the future.

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Reconsidering prostate cancer screening

In 2011, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued its controversial draft recommendation against measuring prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in blood to screen for prostate cancer, claiming the test didn’t save lives. USPSTF is an independent panel of national experts convened by Congress to make evidence-based recommendations on preventive care.

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