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BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 06 October 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:816

The effects of oral steroids on bone density are well documented, but it now seems that inhaled steroids may also put bones at risk. A three year prospective study of 109 premenopausal women with no known conditions that cause bone loss, and who used inhaled steroids for their asthma, has found a small but significant dose related reduction in bone density at the hip and trochanter. Serum and urine markers did not predict the degree of bone loss (New England Journal of Medicine 2001;345:941-7).

Lots of people take statins to lower their cholesterol levels, despite being at relatively low risk of a fatal coronary event. A group of pharmacologists has calculated that the risk of mortality from the drugs alone may be 1% in 10 years of use. This, they suggest, would be sufficiently large to negate the beneficial effect on coronary related mortality in people with a risk of less than 13% over 10 years (British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 2001;52:439-46).

Millions of years ago, an Australian desert tree called Acacia victoriae developed “avicins” to protect itself from predators. These killed by inducing apoptosis or by reducing oxidative stress in the plant. Both actions are suppressed in cancer …

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