In brief

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 05 April 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:728

Skin cancer kills more Britons than Australians each year: More Britons than Australians die of skin cancer each year, even though fewer people are diagnosed with the condition in the United Kingdom. The most recent figures available are for 1999; these show that the United Kingdom had 5990 cases of malignant melanoma and 1600 deaths and Australia had 7850 cases and 1000 deaths.

Gates Foundation gives $60m to microbicide research: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving $60m (£38m; a55m) to a non-profit organisation working to develop vaginal microbicides to protect women from HIV. The International Partnership for Microbicides, the recipient of the grant, estimates that a partially effective microbicide could prevent up to three million new HIV infections over three years.

Screening for prostate cancer more popular than for colon cancer: A study of 49000 men aged 50 or more from across the United States showed that 75% had been screened for prostate cancer compared with 63% for colon cancer (JAMA 2003;289: 1414). The authors say that doctors should inform patients of the known mortality benefit of colorectal cancer screening and the uncertainty about screening for prostate cancer.

UK Biobank appoints chief executive: The funders of the UK Biobank—the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and the Department of Health—have announced the appointment of Dr John Newton of Oxford University's department of public health and primary care as the organisation's chief executive officer. UK Biobank is a venture involving up to 500000 volunteers who will complete lifestyle questionnaires and provide a blood sample for DNA and other analysis.

Belgium decriminalises cannabis: Anyone smoking cannabis in private or with less than 5 g in their possession will no longer be prosecuted in Belgium under new legislation adopted on 27 March.

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