BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7040.1238 (Published 11 May 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1238

Old men given growth hormone are said to increase their muscle bulk and feel good, but the evidence for these claims is inconclusive. A randomised controlled trial of growth hormone versus placebo in 52 men with an average age of 75 (Annals of Internal Medicine 1996;124:708-9) found that the treatment did cause a small rise in the lean body mass and a small fall in the proportion of fat, but no differences were found between the two groups in strength or endurance. Nor was there any change in cognitive function.

Five year survival after resection of liver metastases from colorectal cancer is around 25%. A paper in “Cancer” (1996;77:1254-62) has used data on 1568 patients to try to identify which factors predicted a good prognosis. Some features of the primary growth were important, especially the resection margin; other, predictable, influences included the time between the resection of the tumour and the appearance of the metastases, their number, and their size. For many patients this apparently gung ho surgery seems a sound decision.

What is meant by constipation? A paper from Israel (Family Practice 1996;13:156-9) based on 537 patients found that the patients thought that there were grounds …

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