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BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 26 August 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:578

Around 10 years ago deaths from heart disease in women in the United States overtook deaths from the same cause in men (Science 1995;269:771-3). Indeed, heart disease is the leading cause of death in women after the age of 50. Yet most women seem to be more concerned about their risk of developing breast cancer, though only 4% will develop that disease.

The cofounders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, continued to smoke, and Wilson eventually died of emphysema and Smith of oropharyngeal cancer. Commenting on this ironic evidence that their deaths were due to an untreated addiction, “Internal Medicine News” (1995;28(13):14) urges doctors treating patients with drinking problems not to ignore the substantial risks they will run if their smoking goes unchecked.

Minerva was surprised to read that experts do not agree on whether donated blood should be refrigerated quickly. Delayed refrigeration is said by some to help the host defence cells kill off one common contaminant, Yersinia enterocolitica, but storage at 20°C encourages the growth of Pseudomonas fluorescens. Research in Scotland (Journal of Clinical Pathology 1995;48:717-8) has come down firmly in favour of early refrigeration, which would bring Britain into line with many other countries.

Residents of nursing homes are …

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