BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7027.388 (Published 10 February 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:388

Two papers finding mutations in the BRCA1 gene in women with early onset breast cancer and no clear history of familial breast or ovarian cancer raise the question of whether genetic screening should be offered to all women newly diagnosed as having these cancers (New England Journal of Medicine 1996;334:137-42, 143-9). But caution is urged. There is little point in identifying those with mutations and tracking down relatives at risk when preventive strategies, including prophylactic surgery, are of such uncertain benefit.

The integration of mentally ill patients in the community is crucially dependent on public attitudes. A study in the “British Journal of Psychiatry” (1996;168:191-8) found that negative attitudes were strongly associated with lack of knowledge about mental illness. Educational campaigns could improve this, but the link shown with parental concern about the vulnerability of their children may prove harder to change.

Elderly patients with vasovagal syncope may be helped by salt supplements (Heart 1996;75:134-40). In a randomised controlled study of 31 patients with no apparent cardiac or neurological cause for their syncope three quarters of those given sodium chloride 120 mmol/day for eight weeks were symptom free and had objective evidence of improved orthostatic tolerance, …

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