Open Reading Frame brings together a selection of recent publication highlights from elsewhere in the open access ecosystem. This week we take a look at the past few weeks in medicine.
The cost of eating a healthy diet
One of the most commonly described barriers to eating a healthy diet is cost; many people believe that healthy options are more expensive than less healthy options such as fast food and processed meat. Now, research into the cost of eating healthily has been systematically analyzed by US researchers in a systematic review and meta-analysis. The authors found that there are differences in cost between healthy and less healthy foods, with meats and proteins having the largest price differences between lean and high fat options. These results provide important systematic evidence for the higher cost of a healthy diet, indicating that we need to decrease financial barriers to healthy eating and disease prevention.
Rao et al. BMJ Open
Underreporting of clinical trial data: a comparison of journals and registries
When recommending the best type of treatments for their patients, clinicians rely on data from clinical trials. Unfortunately, underreporting of clinical trial data is a problem; for example, there are sometimes delays in reporting negative results, or trial outcomes are not fully reported. Biased trial reporting threatens informed decision making, and in an attempt to address the problem, the US Food and Drud Administration has specified that all trial results must be made available on ClinicalTrials.gov less than one year after completion. In order to assess the completeness of trial reporting in the medical literature, researchers have compared reporting on ClinicalTrials.gov and in journals, and found that only 50 percent of trials with results on ClinicalTrials.gov have a matching published article. Although the researchers caution that only journal publications reporting primary trial outcomes were considered, these findings suggest that trial reporting in journals needs to be improved. The authors suggest that patients and physicians should consider seeking drug safety and efficacy data from ClinicalTrials.gov in order to make informed treatment decisions.
Riveros et al. PLOS Medicine
Maternal anxiety linked to altered heart rate variability in children
It is known that active anxiety disorders have a detrimental effect on pregnant mothers. New research has investigated this association further by assessing whether mothers with a history of anxiety, but who are not affected by anxiety during pregnancy, and their children have altered heart rate variability (HRV). The results revealed that HRV is lower in both mothers and children when the mothers had previously suffered from anxiety, compared with those having no history of anxiety. Low HRV measurements in children were associated with higher levels of fearful behavior, suggesting that the pro-anxiety phenotype can be passed from mother to child, and providing a window for early identification of psychiatric problems in children.
Braeken et al. PLOS One
Nutritional therapy for IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal condition, affecting 10-20 percent of people worldwide. There is increasing evidence to suggest that nutritional interventions could be used to improve the symptoms of IBS, and a clinical trial has been conducted to assess whether nutritional therapy, containing serum-derived bovine immunoglobulin/protein isolate, can relieve IBS when combined with pharmacological therapies. The results of the trial, involving 51 subjects, showed that nutritional therapy is well-tolerated and resulted in improvements in IBS symptoms when added to traditional therapies. These findings need to be replicated in larger patient groups, but suggest that adding nutritional therapy to standard treatments is a promising approach to ameliorate the symptoms of IBS.
Wilson et al. Clinical Medicine Insights: Gastroenterology
Exploring the mechanisms of albuterol treatment in CF patients
Patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) have impaired transport of sodium and chloride ions, which causes mucus in the airway to be too thick, leading to breathing difficulties and increased risk of infection. The bronchodilator albuterol (also known as salbutamol) is frequently used by CF patients to open the airways and make breathing easier. New research has employed exhaled breath condensate collection, a method of assessing the ionic composition of the airway, to determine whether albuterol treatment affects ion regulation in CF patients, in addition to its bronchodilatory effects. The researchers showed that chloride ions in breath condensate increase after albuterol treatment, suggesting that the positive effects of albuterol for CF patients could go beyond simple bronchodilation.
Wheatley et al. Clinical Medicine Insights: Circulatory, Respiratory and Pulmonary Medicine
Skincare guidance for cancer patients
Skin reactions occur as a result of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a number of cancer patients, and can have a big impact on quality of life. While there are recommendations for the pharmacological management of skin reactions, evidence for the use of dermatologic skin care products is limited. A board of European dermatology and oncology experts have now developed guidelines for the use of non-pharmacological skin care products in cancer patients. The authors recommend that patients should receive guidance about the use of dermatologic skin care and cosmetic products when starting cancer therapy, which should be continued throughout and after treatment, in order to improve side effect management and quality of life.
Bensadoun et al. Cancer Management and Research
Linking paternal diet and children’s health
Evidence from epidemiological studies suggests that a father’s diet can impact their children’s health, and new research suggests that epigenetic mechanisms could be an important link in this association. In the study, male mice were fed either a folate-rich or folate-deficient diet; the results suggested that folate deficiency is linked to adverse pregnancy outcome and changes in sperm DNA methylation. Together, these findings suggest that a father’s folate intake is important for successful pregnancy and healthy offspring, and that the sperm epigenome is important for embryonic development.
Lambrot et al. Nature Communications
Written by Claire Barnard, Senior Editor for BMC Medicine.