Christmas 2008 Research from the BMJ

headbanger     The British Medical Journal continues in 2008 its annual tradition of publishing important research related to Christmas.   See also:  BMJ Christmas Issues and read articles going back to 1995.

Below are this year’s offerings, available free online (because they are research, after all).     2008 Seasonal Fayre2008 Christmas Podcasts

Head and neck injury risks in heavy metal: head bangers stuck between rock and a hard bass
Head banging to heavy metal is a popular dance form, but it increases the risk of head and neck injury. The effects may be lessened with reduced head and neck motion, head banging to lower tempo songs or to every second beat, and using protective equipment such as neck braces, say Australian researchers Declan Patton and Andrew McIntosh. The study helps to explain why metal concert goers often seem dazed, confused, and incoherent.

Rugby (the religion of Wales) and its influence on the Catholic church: should Pope Benedict XVI be worried?
Researcher Gareth Payne and his two colleagues from Cardiff investigate whether there is any substance to the intriguing urban legend that has arisen in Wales in recent times: “Every time Wales win the rugby grand slam, a Pope dies, except for 1978 when Wales were really good, and two Popes died.” Wales won the Grand Slam in 2008 – so should Pope Benedict XVI be worried?

Appointments timed in proximity to annual milestones and compliance with screening: randomised controlled trial
In this randomised controlled trial, attendance rates for colorectal cancer screening were higher in December and around attendees’ birthdays. Compliance with screening programmes may therefore be improved by timing invitations in proximity to annual milestones, conclude researchers Geir Hoff and Michael Bretthauer.

Frankincense: systematic review
Edzard Ernst, the UK’s only professor of complementary medicine, systematically reviews the evidence on frankincense – a tree resin that was one of the first ever Christmas presents and is now a popular complementary remedy. He concludes that, although frankincense does not bestow supernatural instant youth or eternal life as many claims would have it, it has encouraging anti-inflammatory properties. (Picture credit: Jerry Mason/Science Photo Library)

Mortality on Mount Everest, 1921-2006: descriptive study
Thousands of mountaineers have attempted to scale Mount Everest, the highest point on earth, at 8850 metres above sea level. The death rate above base camp is 1.3%. Paul Firth and colleagues examined the circumstances of such deaths, to establish patterns of mortality among climbers over 86 years. In an accompanying article, Jeremy S Windsor wonders how to explain the benign presence he met while climbing Mount Everest.

Right-left discrimination among medical students: questionnaire and psychometric study
Male students were better than female students at distinguishing right from left, and aspiring surgeons were better than aspiring GPs or medical doctors, according to this questionnaire and psychometric study. Are left handed people the last great neglected minority, asks an accompanying editorial.

Festive Medical Myths

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