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BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 17 February 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:0

Marginal treatments and complex aetiologies

In the films doctors give powerful treatments to patients at death's door and bring them quickly back to life. In reality doctors are more often giving treatments with small benefits and worrying that they may actually be harmful. That is why, as articles in this week's journal illustrate, researchers studying either the effects of treatments or the causes of illness must look for small effects.

One large trial has shown that in women with breast cancer tamoxifen increased 10 year …

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