Intended for healthcare professionals



BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 02 April 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:928

The p53 tumour suppressor gene is thought to be implicated in around half of all human cancers. Not only does the gene seem to have several “hot spots” at which it is susceptible to damage by ultraviolet radiation and other carcinogens but it now appears that at some of these spots the normal process of DNA repair works unusually slowly (Science 1994;263:1374). If it is the combination of easy damage and slow repair that leads to oncogenic mutations then improving DNA repair might prove a new weapon against cancer.

The Mayo Clinic was the first hospital in the United States to ban smoking anywhere on its site, even out of doors. A smoke free campus has since been adopted by other institutions. An editorial in the “American Family Physician” (1994;49:28-33) argues that smoking by hospital staff anywhere, indoors or outdoors, is “embarrassingly inconsistent with medical responsibility” and that patients who smoke should not have their habit legitimised by being allowed to continue to smoke while in hospital.

Yet another trial of treatment with zidovudine has been cut short because the organisers were not prepared to continue to give half the patients the placebo (JAMA 1994;271:807). The comparison of active and placebo treatment in pregnant women infected with HIV was ended when early …

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