* The move away from 9-to-5 jobs is taking a toll on workers’ health. Shift work appears to disturb the body’s natural rhythm enough to lead to chronic sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems and even heart disease. Society also pays a price. Sleep loss may make shift workers less productive, and sleepiness-related accidents cost the US about $16 billion a year (Lancet, 2001; 358: 999-1005).
* French researchers assessed the incidence of pulmonary embolism among airline passengers arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport between November 1993 and December 2000. They found that 56 of the 135 million passengers had a confirmed pulmonary embolism. Further analysis revealed that the incidence increased with the distance travelled. For those travelling less than 5000 km, more than 5000 km and more than 10,000 km, the pulmonary-embolism rates were 0.01, 1.5 and 4.8 cases per one million passengers, respectively. While the risk appears to be low, and some airlines are instigating programmes to teach travellers how to avoid thrombotic episodes, researchers say more can and should be done (N Engl J Med, 2001; 345: 779-83, 828-9).