In brief

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 23 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7143

Illness among soldiers increases risk of mental illness: A study of 3896 UK army personnel deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan has found that soldiers who needed hospital treatment for illness were 1.5 times as likely to develop mental health problems after deployment as those who didn’t get ill.1 Soldiers who were evacuated because of illness were nearly three times as likely to report problems such as anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. These rates were similar to those among injured soldiers, but soldiers who have been ill don’t get the same support once home, the study says.

Nurses in Zimbabwe are to prescribe antiretrovirals: Nurses in Zimbabwe are being trained to prescribe and administer antiretrovirals to people infected with HIV, the health minister, Henry Madzorera, has confirmed. Previously only doctors could initiate the treatment. Health workers said that the authorities must now reverse a freeze on nurse recruitment and increase drug stocks.

A fifth of women in England don’t get screened for cervical cancer: The proportion of women in England aged 25-64 years who have not had a cervical smear test in the past five years was slightly higher in 2011-12 than it was a decade ago, 21% versus 18% in 2002, show figures from the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care. Coverage among women aged 25 to 49 years, who are screened every three years, rose slightly from 72% in 2002 to 74% in 2012. Among women aged 50 to 64 coverage fell from 81% in 2002 to 78% in 2012.2

Europe’s drug regulator investigates Roche: The European Medicines Agency has started an infringement procedure against the Swiss drug company Roche after a request from the European Commission to investigate allegations that the company had failed to comply with pharmacovigilance obligations in relation to 19 drugs. The procedure comes after an inspection carried out by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency that found that Roche had failed to report 80 000 possible adverse reactions from its drugs, including 15 161 deaths in the United States.3 The European agency is expected to report its findings by March 2013.

Exercising in later life protects against brain shrinkage: A study of 638 people in their 70s showed that those who exercised regularly had less damaged grey and white matter on brain scans than people who exercised less. Going for a walk several times a week was enough to produce the effect, said the researchers. Playing chess, doing crosswords, and socialising with family and friends had no such effect.4


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7143