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E-cigarettes - debating the evidence

Smokers want to vape, it can help them quit, and it’s less harmful than smoking, say Paul Aveyard professor of behavioural medicine at the University of Oxford. But Kenneth C Johnson, adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa, argues that smokers who vape are generally less likely to quit and is concerned about youth vaping as a gateway to...


Harry Burns - the social determinants of Scotland

Harry Burns was a surgeon, who gave up his career in that discipline to become a public health doctor. Eventually that lead to him being the last Chief Medical Officer of Scotland, and now he’s professor of global public health at the University of Strathclyde. Scotland has always had a separate NHS, but since devolution, the parliament there has...


Can we regulate intellectual interests like financial ones?

We talk about financial conflicts of interest a lot atThe BMJ - and have take taken the decision that our educational content should be without them. We also talk a lot about non-financial conflicts of interest, but the choppy waters of those are much more difficult to navigate. In this podcast, we discuss whether we should, or if we could even...


Civilians under siege in Eastern Ghouta

In 2016, from an estimated pre-war population of 22 million, the United Nations (UN) identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which more than 6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and around 5 million are refugees outside of Syria. In this podcast, Aula Abarra, consultant in infectious disease from London,...


Online Consultations - general practice is primed for a fight

The first digital banking in the UK was launched in 1983, Skype turns 15 this year, but 2017 finally saw panic over the impact that online consultations may have on general practices. In this podcast Martin Marshall, professor of healthcare improvement at University College London joins us to discuss whether video conference actually is a...


Evidence for off label prescribing - explore less, confirm more

When a new drug reaches market, the race is on to find more indications for its use - exploratory trials are set up, and positive results can lead to the off label prescriptions (eg Pregabalin for lower back pain. However, these initial indications are rarely confirmed with further, better quality, evidence. Jonathan Kimmelman is an associate...


How to stop generic drug price hikes (or at least reduce them)

Ravi Gupta, is a resident in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore - and as he said has seen the influence of sudden price hikes on his patients - between 2010 and 2015 more than 300 drugs in the U.S. have seen sudden increases of over %100. Ravi and his co-authors have suggested, and tested the feasibility of, a possible answer to...


Dorling on decreasing life expectancy - "the DOH have lost their credibility"

”An additional person died every seven minutes during the first 49 days of 2018 compared with what had been usual in the previous five years. Why? In this podcast, Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder professor of geography at the university of Oxford, talks about the spike in mortality, what that means for overall life expectancy in the UK (spoiler,...


Should doctors prescribe acupuncture for pain?

Our latest debate asks, should doctors recommend acupuncture for pain? Asbjørn Hróbjartsson from the Center for Evidence-based Medicine at University of Southern Denmark argues no - evidence show's it's no worse than placebo. Mike Cummings, medical director of the British Medical Acupuncture Society argues yes - that there is evidence of efficacy,...


Nuffield Summit 2018 - HR in all policies, how the NHS can become a good employer

In this year's Nuffield Summit round table we're asking, how can the NHS become a good employer? At the moment, there is a recruitment and retention crisis across the workforce, doctors and nurses are leaving the NHS in droves, rota gaps are prevalent. A recent BMA survey showed that the majority of junior doctors are now planning to take a...


Katherine Cowan - Reaching A Priority

Its now widely agreed that one of the key ways of reducing the current high level of "waste " in biomedical research is to focus it more squarely on addressing the questions that matter to patients - and the people and medical staff that care for them. In this interview, Tessa Richards - the BMJ's patient partnership editor, talks to...


Fever in the returning traveller

International travel is increasingly common. Between 10% and 42% of travellers to any destination, and 15%-70% of travellers to tropical settings experience ill health, either while abroad or on returning home, Malaria is the commonest specific diagnosis, accounting for 5%-29% of all individuals presenting to specialist clinic, followed by...


SDGs - How many lives are at stake?

In a new analysis Gavin Yamey from Duke University, and his colleagues John McArthur and Krista Rasmussen, from the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution, have set out to analyse the potential for lives saved by the goals set in the Sustainable Development Goals In this conversation I talked to Gavin and John about...


Ultraprocessed food and increased cancer risk

A study published by The BMJ today reports a possible association between intake of highly processed (“ultra-processed”) food in the diet and cancer. Ultra-processed foods include packaged baked goods and snacks, fizzy drinks, sugary cereals, ready meals and reconstituted meat products - often containing high levels of sugar, fat, and salt, but...


How does it feel to help your patient die?

Sabine Netters is an oncologist in The Netherlands - where assisted dying is legal. There doctors actually administer the drugs to help their patients die (unlike proposed legislation in the UK). In this moving interview, Sabine explains what was going through her head, the first time she helped her patient die - and how in the subsequent years,...


The tone of the debate around assisted dying

Bobbie Farsides is professor of clinical and biomedical ethics at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. She’s been described as one of the few people that is acceptable to “both sides” of the assisted dying debate. This week she joins us to talk about the way in which the debate on euthanasia has played out in the UK - and hear why she thinks it’s...


Torture - What declassified guidelines tell us about medical complicity

The UN Convention against Torture defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person” by someone acting in an official capacity for purposes such as obtaining a confession or punishing or intimidating that person. It is unethical for healthcare professionals to...


We must not get to the stage of thinking that [homelessness] is normal

The number of people officially recorded as sleeping on the streets of England rose from 1768 in 2010 to 4751 in autumn 2017.1 Charities estimate the true figure to be more than double this. Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder professor of geography at the University of Oxford joins us to explain what's fuelling that rise, why the true extent of the...


Public health - time for pragmatism or knowledge production?

We have evidence on which to act, and inaction costs lives, argues Simon Capewell, Professor of Public Health and Policy, at the University of Liverpool. But Aileen Clarke, professor of public health and health services research at Warwick Medical School, says our understanding of the human behaviour that leads to unhealthy choices is still...


Smoking one a day can't hurt, can it?

We know that smoking 20 cigarettes a day increases your risk of CHD and stroke - but what happens if you cut down to 1, do you have 1/20th of that risk? Allan Hackshaw, professor of epidemiology at UCL joins us to discuss a new systematic review and meta analysis published on, examining the risk of smoking just one or two cigarettes a...


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