JAMA 7 Mar 2007 Vol 297

Here’s a fascinating study of computed tomography screening and lung cancer outcomes, drawn from three US centres and one Italian which screened over 3,000 former smokers and followed them up for nearly 4 years. Three times more cancers were detected than expected, but the lung cancer mortality was exactly as expected. Although the methodology of the study is open to criticism (see editorial), this reinforces strong doubts about the utility of CT lung screening in any group.

The message of this trial is very clear from its Figure 2: if you are a premenopausal woman who wants to lose weight, you will do twice as well following the Atkins diet as you will by following the Zone, Ornish or LEARN diets. The same probably goes for the rest of us: for a slightly different one, based on delicious French dishes, see also Eat Yourself Slim, by Michel Montignac, given to me by a kind patient for whom it works a treat.

Both Atkins and Montignac question the usual logic of calorie restriction, and this is discussed in a review of the subject here which is particularly concerned with its effect on ageing and longevity. It reaches no particular conclusions.