Fighting Hepatitis To Tackle Liver Cancer – Survey Reveals National Deficiencies Which Make EU Action Critical

A survey conducted among Members of the European Liver Patients Association (ELPA) reveals that hepatitis awareness amongst national policymakers and the general public is very low. In view of this ignorance and neglect of a major disease at national level ELPA calls upon the EU to promote targeted screening strategies to ensure early diagnosis for those at risk.

Current estimates indicate that in the WHO European Region, 14 million people live with chronic hepatitis B, while approximately 9 million people are infected with the hepatitis C virus. Up to 90% of hepatitis patients are unaware of their infections.

ELPA conducted a survey to gauge the political commitment to combat hepatitis in Europe. The survey will be launched today at a conference on “Fighting Hepatitis to Tackle Liver Cancer” in the European Parliament hosted by Alojz Peterle MEP (EPP-ED, Slovenia).

Key findings include:

– In Austria, only 9% of newly diagnosed Hepatitis C patients were aware of the disease and only 3% realised that they were at risk once they had been diagnosed

– Only France, Spain and United Kingdom have conducted hepatitis awareness campaigns.

– France, the Netherlands, the UK and Sweden are the only countries to have developed a comprehensive national plan to fight hepatitis.

In light of this national inertia, ELPA calls for action at EU level. ELPA President Nadine Piorkowsky explains: “If Member States don’t act, the EU has to guide them in the development of targeted screening campaigns for Hepatitis risk groups. Countries like France have proven that investment in the fight against Hepatitis pays off. There is no reason why this should not be replicated by other Member States.”

Alojz Peterle MEP adds: “Hepatitis represents one of the major challenges for public health in Europe. If policy makers want to lower tomorrow’s mortality and morbidity rates, they have to act today.”

The consequences of inaction will be terrible. People infected with the virus and treated too late frequently experience severe liver damage such as liver scarring, liver cancer, or liver failure. Since the vast majority of those who carry the hepatitis virus are unaware of their infection, the number of patients with such follow-on diseases will rise dramatically.

Dr. Heiner Wedemeyer, Vice-Secretary of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), concludes: “Liver cancer is very frequently fatal and the incidence has already doubled in the past 20 years. Since there is a strong relationship between Hepatitis and liver cancer, concrete efforts have to be made to find those hepatitis carriers, so they can become patients and receive treatment before cancer can set in.

The event will take place today at the European Parliament in Brussels, Members’ Salon from 18.30h to 20.00h.

About ELPA

ELPA emerged from a desire amongst European liver patient groups to share their experiences of the often very different approaches adopted in different countries. ELPA was formally launched in Paris on April 14th 2005 during the annual conference of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) and now has 21 members from 17 countries.

ELPA’s aim is to promote the interests of people with liver disease by furthering awareness and prevention among healthcare professionals, policymakers and the public at large; by addressing the low profile of liver disease compared to other disease areas; by sharing experience of successful case examples as regards the management of the disease; by working with professional bodies such as EASL to ensure that treatment and care are aligned across Europe to the highest standards. Find out more about ELPA at:




March 3, 2009 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

Texas Obesity Resarch Center At Uh Assembles Researchers To Discuss Obesity

Researchers from across the country will convene on the University of Houston for a two-day conference to discuss obesity, underlying biological processes, public health issues and intervention strategies.

The UH Texas Obesity Research Center (TORC) Conference is planned for April 9 – 10 at the UH M.D. Anderson Library, Rockwell Pavilion.

“We are excited about our inaugural conference and have high hopes that others will see the wealth of obesity research that is happening in Texas and in Houston,” said TORC director and associate professor Rebecca Lee.

The Texas Obesity Research Center was founded in 2007 and is housed in the UH department of health and human performance. Funded by entities such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), TORC promotes research, education and community collaborations.

James F. Sallis, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the program director of Active Living Research, will deliver the keynote address. Active Living Research examines how environments and policies impact physical activity. Prevention of childhood obesity, particularly in ethnic populations, is a focus of the group’s research.

Faculty from the department of health and human performance, together with state and national researchers, will lead sessions on integrated biology, public health and clinical application. Additionally, the conference will feature a poster session to heighten awareness of ongoing obesity research in Texas. An awards ceremony will recognize student scholars and translational research, studies that demonstrate their application from the lab to real life.

One session brings participants and officials from the NIH, Center for Disease Control and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation together to discuss the kinds of research and science that are being funded. A later session, a mock study section review, allows researchers to become familiar with a new review process that will be implemented by the NIH.

“We’re hopeful that this conference will be a service to participants as well as an exchange of scientific ideas,” Lee said. “There is a lot happening in this city. Houston truly is becoming the epicenter of health and obesity research.”

Lee has done extensive research on the subject of obesity, in particular the neighborhood factors that may lead to obesity such as availability and quality of fresh produce, and the quality and quantity of physical activity resources available in neighborhoods. She also has promoted research and physical activity through the use of the virtual world of Second Life. In addition, she is a member of the NIH Center for Scientific Review’s Community-Level Health Promotion Study Section.

Continuing education units are available, as are travel scholarships for students. For more information contact Pamela Silva at 713-743-9310 or To register, visit

For more information about the UH Texas Obesity Research Center, visit

For more information about the UH department of health and human performance, visit

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

University of Houston


March 3, 2009 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

Stem Cell Breakthrough By Mount Sinai Hospital Researcher

In a study to be released on March 1, 2009, Mount Sinai Hospital’s Dr. Andras Nagy discovered a new method of creating stem cells that could lead to possible cures for devastating diseases including spinal cord injury, macular degeneration, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. The study, to be published by Nature online, accelerates stem cell technology and provides a road map for new clinical approaches to regenerative medicine.

“We hope that these stem cells will form the basis for treatment for many diseases and conditions that are currently considered incurable,” said Dr. Nagy, Senior Investigator at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, Investigator at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, and Canada Research Chair in Stem Cells and Regeneration. “This new method of generating stem cells does not require embryos as starting points and could be used to generate cells from many adult tissues such as a patient’s own skin cells.”

Dr. Nagy discovered a new method to create pluripotent stem cells (cells that can develop into most other cell types) without disrupting healthy genes. Dr. Nagy’s method uses a novel wrapping procedure to deliver specific genes to reprogram cells into stem cells. Previous approaches required the use of viruses to deliver the required genes, a method that carries the risk of damaging the DNA. Dr. Nagy’s method does not require viruses, and so overcomes a major hurdle for the future of safe, personalized stem cell therapies in humans.

“This research is a huge step forward on the path to new stem cell-based therapies and indicates that researchers at the Lunenfeld are at the leading edge of regenerative medicine,” said Dr. Jim Woodgett, Director of Research for the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital. Regenerative medicine refers to enabling the human body to repair, replace, restore and regenerate its own damaged or diseased cells, tissues and organs.

The research was funded by the Canadian Stem Cell Network and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (United States).

Dr. Nagy joined Mount Sinai Hospital as a Principal investigator in 1994. In 2005, he created Canada’s first embryonic stem cell lines from donated embryos no longer required for reproduction by couples undergoing fertility treatment. That research played a pivotal role in Dr. Nagy’s current discovery.

One of the critical components reported in Nagy’s paper was developed in the laboratory of Dr. Keisuke Kaji from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Kaji’s findings are also published in the March 1, 2009 issue of Nature. The two papers are highly complementary and further extend Nagy’s findings.

“I was very excited when I found stem cell-like cells in my culture dishes. Nobody, including me, thought it was really possible,” said Dr. Kaji. “It is a step towards the practical use of reprogrammed cells in medicine.”


About the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital

The Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, a University of Toronto affiliated research centre established in 1985, is one of the world’s premier centres in biomedical research. Thirty-four principal investigators lead research in diabetes, cancer biology, epidemiology, stem cell research, women’s and infants’ health, neurobiology and systems biology. For more information on the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, please visit

About the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh

The MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine is based at the University of Edinburgh and brings together world leading basic stem cell research with established clinical excellence to deliver a “bench-to-bedside” approach aimed at developing new treatments for major diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and liver failure.

Dr. Nagy’s Nature paper is titled, PiggyBac transposition reprograms fibroblasts to induced pluripotent stem cells.

Source: Nikki Luscombe

Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute


March 3, 2009 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

Carcinoid Cancer Foundation Sets Sights On Raising Awareness

Several high-profile cancers are infamous for being silent killers – but they are
not the only cancers that catch victims by surprise.
Carcinoid cancer can go undetected for many years. Over 90%
of all carcinoid/neuroendocrine tumor (NET) patients are
initially incorrectly diagnosed and treated for the wrong
disease. Carcinoid cancers are frequently diagnosed

Carcinoid and related neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) grow
slowly and are found mostly in the gastrointestinal system,
but can be in other body parts like the pancreas and lung.
It usually takes many years before they cause symptoms. If
the disease manifests in advanced stages, it can be deadly.
Caught early, however, carcinoid cancer can often be managed
or treated, an option not fully realized within the medical
community or patient circles, according to Sharon Devereaux,
the newly appointed president/CEO of the Carcinoid Cancer
Foundation(TM) (CCF, Increasing
awareness of this disease and opportunities for early
detection are an integral part of the Carcinoid Cancer
Foundation’s mission, and Devereaux’s initiatives include
intensification of efforts to accomplish these goals.

“Carcinoid cancer occasionally creeps into the headlines,
usually when some public figure is living with it or passes
away,” Devereaux says. “But that’s where the news value ends
because it’s perceived as rare – 110,000 U.S. patients are
experiencing carcinoid cancer today. However, new research
and anecdotal evidence suggests that it’s more widespread
than is documented, yet it’s tough to provide treatment
because established opportunities for early-diagnostic
testing don’t exist.”

Richard R.P. Warner, MD, Medical Director of CCF and one of
the world’s leading experts on these rare cancers, explains
“that although a number of new drugs are being developed and
tested, at present the only cure for carcinoid/NETs is
dependent on early detection and surgery before these
cancers have spread from their original site of origin.”

The CCF is a non-profit organization that strives to
encourage and support research, in addition to educating the
general public and healthcare professionals, about carcinoid
cancer and NETs. Recently, the CCF has drawn attention to
its cause through its “Zebra Ball – Stars for Stripes”
(, an annual benefit event held
at The Peninsula Chicago to support The Carcinoid Cancer
Foundation(tm). This year’s ball, so named because zebra
stripes symbolize “camouflaged” conditions, featured the
stories of carcinoid cancer patient Don Meyer, Northern
State University’s (Aberdeen, S.D.) basketball coach, and
cancer survivor Kari Jones of Indianapolis. The gala
coincided with Valentine’s Day, which has been designated by
Mayor Richard Daley as Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Day in

For more information or to donate, visit or

About the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation(TM)

The Carcinoid Cancer Foundation(TM) is a non-profit
organization chartered by the State of New York in 1968 for
the purpose of encouraging and supporting research and
education on carcinoid and related neuroendocrine cancers.

Carcinoid Cancer Foundation


March 3, 2009 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

Diets That Reduce Calories Lead To Weight Loss, Regardless Of Carbohydrate, Protein Or Fat Content

Many popular diets emphasize either carbohydrate, protein or fat as the best way to lose weight. However, there have been few studies lasting more than a year that evaluate the effect on weight loss of diets with different compositions of those nutrients. In a randomized clinical trial led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Pennington Biomedical Research Center of the Louisiana State University System, a comparison of overweight participants assigned to four different diets over a two-year period showed that reducing calories achieved weight loss regardless of which of the three nutrients was emphasized. The study, which was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, appears in the February 26, 2009 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

“This is important information for physicians, dieticians and adults, who should focus weight loss approaches on reducing calorie intake,” said Frank Sacks, professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at HSPH and lead author of the study.

The NEJM issue includes an accompanying editorial on the study’s findings.
The trial included 811 men and women who were randomly divided into four diet groups with different target nutrient compositions:

– Low-fat, average protein: 20% of calories from fat, 15% of calories from protein, 65% of calories from carbohydrate

– Low-fat, high-protein: 20% fat, 25% protein, 55% carbohydrate

– High-fat, average protein: 40% fat, 15% protein, 45% carbohydrate

– High-fat, high-protein: 40% fat, 25% protein, 35% carbohydrate

The participants were diverse in age, sex (62% women, 38% men), geography and income. The diets followed heart-healthy principles, replacing saturated with unsaturated fat and were high in whole cereal grains, fruits and vegetables. Each participant received a diet prescription that encouraged a 750-calorie reduction per day, however none were less than 1,200 total calories per day. Participants were asked to do 90 minutes of moderate exercise each week. They recorded their daily food and drink intake in a food diary and in a web-based program that provided information on how closely they were meeting their dieting goals. Individual counseling was provided every eight weeks over two years and group sessions were held three out of four weeks during the first six months and two out of four weeks from six months to two years.

The results showed that, regardless of diet, weight loss and reduction in waist circumference were similar. Participants lost an average of 13 pounds at six months and maintained a 9-pound loss at two years. Weight loss primarily took place in the first 6 months; after 12 months, all groups began to slowly regain weight, a finding consistent with other diet studies. However, the extent of weight regain was much less, about 20%, of the average regain in previous studies. Waistlines were reduced by an average of two inches at the end of the two-year period.

Most risk factors for cardiovascular disease improved for dieters at six months and two years. HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and insulin decreased. The metabolic syndrome, a group of coronary heart disease risk factors including high blood pressure, insulin resistance and abdominal obesity, also decreased.

The main finding from the trial was that diets with varying emphases on carbohydrate, fat and protein levels all achieved clinically meaningful weight loss and maintenance of weight loss over a two-year period. “These results show that, as long as people follow a heart-healthy, reduced-calorie diet, there is more than one nutritional approach to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight,” said Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., Director, NHLBI.

Another important finding was that participants who regularly attended counseling sessions lost more weight than those who didn’t. Dieters who attended two thirds of sessions over two years lost about 22 pounds of weight as compared to the average weight loss of 9 pounds. “These findings suggest that continued contact with participants to help them achieve their goals may be more important than the macronutrient composition of their diets,” said Sacks.

Support for this study was provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health and NIH General Clinical Research Center.

“Randomized Trial Comparing Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrate Composition of Diets for Weight Loss for Two Years,” Frank M. Sacks, George A. Bray, Vincent J. Carey, Steven R. Smith, Donna H. Ryan, Stephen D. Anton, Katherine McManus, Catherine M. Champagne, Louise M. Bishop, Nancy Laranjo, Meryl S. Leboff, Jennifer C. Rood, Lilian de Jonge, Catherine M. Loria, Evan Obarzanek, Donald A. Williamson, NEJM, February 26, 2009, vol. 360, no. 9.

Harvard School of Public Health ( ) is dedicated to advancing the public’s health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children’s health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit:

Harvard School of Public Health


March 3, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Commission Praises “Exemplary” Trauma And Rehabilitation Services For Miltary Personnel Hurt In Battle

But away from the front line, review highlights concern about variation in standards and poor maintenance of buildings.

The Healthcare Commission today (Monday) praised the British military’s “exemplary” trauma and rehabilitation services for personnel injured in battle.

It published the first ever independent review of the Defence Medical Services (DMS), which is responsible for providing healthcare to defence personnel and their families in the UK and overseas.

The independent watchdog conducted the review at the request of the Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Louis Lillywhite.

It praised the care provided to casualties of war, highlighting systems to reach and treat casualties quickly, innovations in the treatment of major injuries, the training of staff, design of field hospitals, clinical audits to feedback important lessons and rehabilitation for injured personnel.

The Commission also identified a range of areas for improvement, urging the DMS to: ensure that universal standards are in place across all services; address problems relating to maintenance and cleanliness at some medical units away from the frontline; urgently replace ambulances in Cyprus; and improve awareness of procedures for safeguarding children.

The DMS provides healthcare to 258,000 people, including service personnel, their families and other civilians entitled to care. It encompasses care provided in the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force and supporting units.

The DMS mostly provides primary care, such as general practice, dentistry, occupational medicine and community mental health services within the UK and defence outposts overseas.

It also provides medical care in zones of conflict and is responsible for rehabilitation services in Headley Court Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey and at a number of other centres in the UK and Germany.

The DMS commissions inpatient hospital care from six NHS trusts for personnel and their families needing hospitalisation in England. The review does not cover these services as the Commission assesses their performance already as part of the annual ratings for each trust* (see note to editors below for rating).

Sir Ian Kennedy, Chair of the Healthcare Commission, said: “By asking for this review, the Surgeon General has thrown the spotlight on these services in a way that has never been done before. He has invited us to report publicly on the good and the bad. That is something for which he deserves a huge amount of credit: indentifying where problems exist is the first step to getting them fixed.

“There is absolutely no question that personnel injured in battle have a better chance of survival than ever before. That is entirely due to efficient and innovative care, delivered under exceptionally difficult circumstances. The NHS’ urgent and emergency services could learn a lot from how the defence service plans care, trains staff and constantly seeks to learn and improve trauma services.

Sir Ian added: “By the services’ own assessments, they still have some way to go before they can tell all their patients – in all parts of the armed services – that standards are in place to provide high quality care wherever they get treatment. By commissioning this review, the DMS has taken the first step towards achieving this important goal. The results provide a clear agenda for action.

“Away from the frontline and the spotlight of war, the DMS must give urgent attention to the maintenance and cleanliness of buildings. It must also improve awareness that 16 and 17 year-olds are still legally children – military personnel or not – and healthcare workers have a responsibility to act on any suspicion of bullying or abuse.”

The review involved self-assessments by reference to the 24 core standards set out by the Department of Health for the NHS. The Commission received declarations from 153 DMS units or regions encompassing a number of units. This included military hospitals, rehabilitation centres, dental services, community mental health services and general medical services.

This was followed-up by inspections at 53 units in the UK and overseas. The review also incorporated 500 comments from current and ex-service personnel, family members and organisations that work with the DMS.

The Commission praised the following areas of exemplary practice:

– Trauma care is exceptional and has greatly increased the chance of survival and recovery for injured personnel. Trauma care is delivered to personnel injured in war zones, with an aim to save life, stabilise the patient’s condition and transport them for further treatment. A helicopter can be airborne within minutes of receiving a call, transporting highly trained clinical staff to the casualty on the frontline. Casualties are assessed and treated very quickly, greatly improving their chance of recovery. They are then transported for further medical treatment, in a field hospital or in the UK. Aeromedical evacuation teams provide treatment in-flight and can transport injured personnel from the frontline to the UK within 24 hours. The field hospital inspected in Iraq was well-planned and extremely clean.

– Rehabilitation services are excellent. Services are provided at Headley Court rehabilitation centre and regional units in the UK and Germany. Some personnel described services as “outstanding” and “first-class”.

– Innovative “patients’ diaries” aid recovery for those with memory loss. Patients’ diaries are kept for personnel recovering from injury in military hospitals who may suffer from memory loss. Staff record important milestones in recovery and visitors also add messages. This helps patients to fill in time lost from their memories and aids recovery.

– Clinical audits of services for trauma and rehabilitation mean care is continuously improving and innovating. Clinical experts closely examine all aspects of a patient’s treatment, from when a person suffers a major trauma, through to rehabilitation. They then feedback lessons weekly to the field hospitals.

However, the Commission urges the DMS to:

– Ensure that standards are in place across all services. Medical centres and field hospitals inspected in Iraq declared compliance with all core standards and no declarations were overturned upon inspection. But, there was significant variation in compliance with core standards at those services away from conflict zones and seven standards where more than 20% of DMS declared non-compliance, including those relating to important issues such as infection control, appropriate environments and safeguarding of children. Looking across the DMS, standards relating to obtaining consent (C13b) and ensuring that staff update skills and techniques (C5c) were the standards where most units declared compliance (97%). Ninety-six per cent of units declared compliance with the standard relating to treating patients with dignity and respect (C13a). However, declared compliance with the standard relating to participation in mandatory training was low at 64%. Only 69% of units declared compliance with standards relating to infection control (C04a) and appropriate care environments (C21).

– Address problems relating to maintenance and cleanliness of buildings and replace ambulances in Cyprus. The Commission visited three medical centres in the UK and one in Cyprus where primary care was delivered in unacceptable conditions. This included very poor maintenance, inadequate facilities for clinical staff to work in and poor levels of cleanliness. The Commission immediately raised concerns with the DMS, which then implemented a programme of deep cleaning, renovation and maintenance. Standards relating to infection control and the environment were among the standards where declared compliance was lowest. The Commission changed declarations to “non-compliant” at five out of 13 units inspected on infection control and nine out of 19 inspected on the environment. The Commission also raised concern about the continued use of nine ambulances in Cyprus, which had previously been identified in internal inspections as unsafe and needing urgent replacement. The DMS is currently modifying the vehicles. The Commission considers, however, that the ambulances continue to present a risk to the safety of patients. New vehicles are planned to be delivered in June or July this year.

– Improve awareness of procedures to safeguard children. The DMS does not always recognise that personnel under the age of 18 are still legally children. While no concerns were found relating to the practice of treating and safeguarding children, some DMS staff did not know processes for reporting matters relating to child protection or safeguarding, including staff at units providing services to the families of personnel. The standard relating to safeguarding of children (C02) had the fifth lowest level of declared compliance at 73%.The Commission assessed this standard at eight units and overturned declarations of compliance at five.

– Collect information centrally to allow comparison across all services and to provide a clear overview of quality of services across the whole organisation. Currently, regular audits and reviews are conducted differently by each of the navy, army, air force and dental services. This means that it is not possible to make comparisons between areas. The Defence Medical Information Programme being rolled out will provide electronic records for patients and a central database. This is expected to improve the way the DMS collects and uses information.


The DMS commissions inpatient hospital care from six NHS trusts. Defence personnel are integrated with civilian patients, and treated by both civilian and military clinicians. The six trusts and their annual health check rating are:

– University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust – quality of services “good”, use of resources “excellent”

– Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust – quality of services “excellent”, use of resources “good”

– South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust – quality of services “good”, use of resources “fair”

– Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – quality of services “excellent”, use of resources “excellent”

– Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust – quality of services “fair”, use of resources “good”

– Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – quality of services “weak”, use of resources “excellent”

Information on the Healthcare Commission

The Healthcare Commission is the health watchdog in England. It keeps check on health services to ensure that they are meeting standards in a range of areas. The Commission also promotes improvements in the quality of healthcare and public health in England through independent, authoritative, patient-centred assessments of those who provide services.

Responsibility for inspection and investigation of NHS bodies and the independent sector in Wales rests with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW). The Healthcare Commission has certain statutory functions in Wales which include producing an annual report on the state of healthcare in England and Wales, national improvement reviews in England and Wales, and working with HIW to ensure that relevant cross-border issues are managed effectively.

The Healthcare Commission does not cover Scotland as it has its own body, NHS Quality Improvement Scotland. The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) undertakes regular reviews of the quality of services in Northern Ireland.

Healthcare Commission


March 3, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Increased Suicide Risk On Young Men Leaving The UK Armed Forces

A new study in this week´s PLoS Medicine, reports that the risk of suicide increases two to three time on young men 24 years old or less who leave the UK Armed Forces than those remaining in active service or those in the general population.

In the first two years after discharge, the risk seems to increase in the men with short length of service, and those of inferior rank. Just 14 percent of 20 years old or less and 20 percent of 24 years old or under, had communication with mental health specialists in the year prior to their death, according to the study.

Nav Kapur, Centre for Suicide Prevention, University of Manchester, UK, and his team, conducted a cohort study, using data from the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide in connection to all the people who left the UK Armed Forces between 1996 and 2005. The Inquiry, since 1996, has been gathering data on all the suicides in the UK, as well as whether the deceased had contact with mental health services in the year prior to death. Of the 233,803 individuals who left the Armed Forces, 224 committed suicide, during the study period.

The overall suicide rate of the ex-military personnel was comparable to that of the general population, according to the study. Although the absolute risk of suicide is small (in 16 to 19 years old, the rate of suicide was of 29.9 per 100,000 persons and in 20 to 24 years old, 34.0 per 100,000 persons), the rate was higher for younger men.

The cause for the higher risk in young men was not established in the study but researchers point out three key potential elements:
-Anxiety due to transition to civilian life
-Experience of difficult circumstances while in the military
-Vulnerability to suicide prior to enrolling in the military
According to the study, there is some proof to confirm the third possibility, since inexpert recruits leaving the military after short lengths of service were at highest risk of suicide. The increased risk may reveal a pre-military weakness.

Kapur and his team suggest suicide prevention strategies should be targeted to young people leaving the military. They say these might incorporate
“practical and psychological preparation for discharge and encouraging appropriate help-seeking behavior once individuals have left the

Jitender Sareen and Shay-Lee Belik, University of Manitoba, Winipeg Canada, who are both unrelated to the study, underline in an expert commentary, the example of the US Air Force which has a suicide program for the exposed military population. They also reflect on suicide prevention in general public health.


Kapur N, While D, Blatchley N, Bray I, Harrison K (2009)

“Suicide after leaving the UK Armed Forces – A cohort study.”

PLoS Med 6(2): e1000026. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000026

Click here to view article online

Related PLoS Medicine Perspective:


Sareen J, Belik S-L (2009)

“The need for outreach in preventing suicide among young veterans.”

PLoS Med 6(3): e1000035. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000035

Click here to view article online

About PLoS Medicine

PLoS Medicine is an open access, freely available international medical journal. It publishes original research that enhances our understanding of human health and disease, together with commentary and analysis of important global health issues. For more information, visit

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world’s scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit

Written by Stephanie Brunner (B.A.)

Copyright: Medical News Today

Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today


March 3, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

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