The humility of being second to Australia in cancer mortality

Friday, August 15th, 2014 | TONY BLAKELY | No Comments

Professor Tony Blakely, Assoc Professor Diana Sarfati

There is nothing like being second to Australia to galvanize angst and consternation among Kiwis. Today Alafeishat and colleagues have published a paper in the NZ Medical Journal showing that New Zealand has higher death rates from cancer than Australia that cannot be explained by higher incidence for most sites. This suggests that there are differences in cancer survival, which appear to be particularly marked for bowel cancer, and for breast cancer for women. This is important, highlighting room to improve in our health sector. This blog we canvass how bad (or good) the situation really is, the problems and possible sources of error comparing survival across the ditch (it is not easy to do), and we conclude with policy implications. Continue reading

That old chestnut again – does any alcohol consumption reduce cardiovascular disease risk? More evidence for “no”.

Monday, August 11th, 2014 | Kate Sloane | 3 Comments

Professor Tony Blakely, Associate Professor Nick Wilson, Professor John Attia (University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute, Australia)

Red wine question markMany observational studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption reduces cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. The so-called J-shaped curve. We summarised the ‘state of play’ on this topic at PHE Blog in early 2014. In the last few weeks a large ‘Mendelian randomisation’ study (like a genetically determined RCT of alcohol consumption – a study design with much potential for identifying causal (as opposed to confounded) associations) has been published suggesting that any alcohol consumption increases CVD. If true, this means the overall health harm from alcohol consumption in our society is even higher than currently thought. If so it would make cost-effective interventions such as alcohol taxation even more justified.

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