* Older style antidepressants such as SSRIs and trycyclic drugs can have pronounced toxic effects even in moderate doses (Lancet, 2000; 355: 1554). These can include weight gain, sexual dysfunction and sleep disturbance.
Of the two types, trycyclic drugs appear to be the cause of a higher number of problems.
Researchers looked at data on intoxication with antidepressants between 1994 and 1998, and found that those who were self poisoned with trycyclic drugs also needed more specialist treatment, such as orotracheal intubation (passing a tube down the throat to empty the stomach), and had more adverse physical problems, such as rapid heartbeat as a result.
* A new study has concluded that routine radiotherapy is unlikely to be the best treatment for those with moderate Graves' disease an autoimmune disease of the eyes which causes tearing, double vision and swollen eyelids (Lancet, 2000; 355: 1505-9). The study found that, in this group of patients, radiotherapy was only useful in improving movement of the eye.
* Circumcision rates in the US are falling. According to figures from the HCIA (Health Care Investment Analysts), between 1993 and 1998, the number of babies circumcised in US hospitals fell by 11 per cent. The national rate is now about 60 per cent (NOCIRC Annual Report, 2000; 14: 1).