BMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6931.800 (Published 19 March 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:800

Surgeons who have doubts about carrying out coronary artery bypass surgery on patients who smoke cigarettes should, perhaps, take note of the findings of a study from Boston (Annals of Internal Medicine 1994;120:287-93). No fewer than half the smokers operated on gave up after their operations and were shown still to be non-smokers at follow up five years later. So bypass surgery (like having an infarct) is a highly effective way of getting smokers to quit.

Should we all be taking dietary supplements of antioxidants such as vitamin C? The enthusiasts for such a policy will be given further encouragement by a report in “Science” (1994;263:1128-30) of research on fruit flies showing that genetic manipulation that boosted the natural defences against reactive oxygen species prolonged their lifespans by one one third.

Avalanches kill round 150 skiers each year in the Alps. An analysis of the outcome of accidents in which 422 skiers were buried (Nature 1994;368:21) showed that the chances of survival are high (92%) for the first 15 minutes but then drop precipitately to only 30% after 35 minutes. Rescue depends, then, on the action of fellow skiers, and the message is that all skiers should be taught techniques for finding, extracting, and …

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