BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7063.1024 (Published 19 October 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1024

Technical advances have made magnetic resonance imaging a sensitive and reliable diagnostic and screening test for breast cancer (British Journal of Surgery 1996;83:1316-8). Current methods are said to provide more diagnostic information than conventional mammography, to require no compression of the breast (and so cause no pain), and to be suitable for younger women with dense breasts. All that and no hazard from radiation: despite the greater costs, this seems a likely popular alternative to x ray mammography.

A report in the “New England Journal of Medicine” (1996;335:1001-9) describes a huge double blind trial of the treatment with pravastatin of 4159 survivors of acute myocardial infarction whose serum concentrations of cholesterol were in the average range (below 6.2 mmol/l). After five years 10% of the patients receiving active treatment and 13% of those receiving placebo had had another coronary event. No difference was found in overall mortality or in mortality from non-cardiovascular causes.

Meanwhile, evidence is growing that atheromatous disease should be seen as a chronic inflammatory condition (Heart 1996;76:293-4). The cause of the damage is thought to be oxidised low density lipoprotein, and the treatment being proposed is with the antioxidant vitamin E. The clinical research is still at an early stage, but it seems sensible for all …

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