BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7170.1464 (Published 21 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1464

Readers who, like Minerva, feel gloomier the darker it gets may be interested in three studies of light therapy (Archives of General Psychiatry1998;55:875-82, 883-9, 890-6), which provide the best evidenceso far of effectiveness against seasonal affective disorder. They find thatlight therapy is better than placebo, particularly if taken in the morning.A commentator urges psychiatrists to trust light therapy as an alternative to antidepressant drugs; it's cheap, effective, easy to give, and harmless and the patients love it, she says.

An Australian recently had a drink-driving conviction overturned when heclaimed that blood in his mouth from the trauma of a road traffic accident had distorted the results of a Breathalyser test. An experiment in Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine(1998;5:114-8) suggests he was lucky. Dilute alcohol solutions in the mouth, mimicking blood containing alcohol, did slightly increase breath analysis readings but not enough to change a verdict.

Major surgery should be avoided at all costs in someone who is terminally ill, and laparoscopy may help patients to avoid it (Oncology1998;12:1353-60). When non-invasive imaging is inconclusive, laparoscopy can help surgeons decide on the appropriate treatment for gastrointestinal cancer, sparing patients with inoperable tumours a full laparotomy while allowing the best treatment …

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