Arch Intern Med 11/25 Dec 2006

This study of alcohol intake and total mortality in men and women is written by a team of Italians, and rightly so, because the Italians know how to drink. Tempting sorts of alcohol are cheaply available everywhere and all day long in Italy, but you rarely see a drunk Italian. Regular diners in Tuscan trattorie are brought a 3-litre fiasco of wine to drink with their meal, of which they sip a glassful or two – just so much as to give savour to the dish. It is taken away, still nearly full, at the end of the meal. This paper looks at a million people in 34 studies, and the recommendations are very similar to the BMA’s: 1-2 drinks a day for women and 2-4 for men have a net benefit on survival. A (moderately) merry Christmas to you all.

The first paper on the prognostic importance of B-type natriuretic peptide in patients with coronary heart disease appeared in 1994 and seemed to me of such startling importance that I set up a study based on it. Here is a paper from Germany about the same thing (it’s compared with C-reactive protein and creatinine clearance in the title, and with LV ejection fraction in the text), with the same conclusion, accompanied by an editorial with the title “The Latest and Greatest New Biomarkers