* Half of all patients who regularly take an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) could develop gastric problems. Those most at risk are aged over 60 with a history of ulcer or stomach reflux. This discovery was made at a chronic pain clinic in Belfast, where 54 per cent of patients on NSAIDs developed stomach problems. Long-term NSAIDs users may have entered the at-risk group by simply ageing, a factor that repeat prescriptions may miss (Int J Clin Pract, 2002; 56: 2-5).
* They're dangerous, and they don't do much good - that's pretty much the final word on abdominal X-rays. One of these tests emits radiation equal to 50 chest films, and they tell the doctor virtually nothing. Of 131 abdominal films analysed in one hospital, 12 per cent conformed to guidelines, and only 7 per cent influenced the course of treatment (Postgrad Med J, 2002; 78: 94-6).
* Air pollution could cause more diseases than at first feared. While scientists understand that small particles in the air can cause respiratory problems, a new study suggests they can also trigger cardiovascular problems. Pollutants were discovered in the bloodstream of volunteers within a minute of their having breathed in pollutants, the study found (Circulation, 2002; 105: 411-4).