Lancet 31 Mar 2007

In a week that has seen several failed trials of cholesterol-tinkering, it’s good to see a successful trial of an agent which reduces major coronary events in hypercholesterolaemic patients without changing their cholesterol levels. The magic stuff is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), found in fish oil and here tried out on Japanese subjects. An ideographic writing system does not lend itself to acronyms, but the investigators felt obliged to produce one for their English-reading public – JELIS, Japan EPA Lipid Intervention Study. Fair enough. The nice thing is that cohort studies suggest that you don’t need to take the pills if you just eat the fish.

Cluster headache is a truly agonising condition which often responds acutely to high-flow oxygen, but in medically intractable cases there is now a potentially valuable new treatment – occipital nerve stimulation by implanted electrodes. Most studies of intracranial electrode stimulation have worryingly high complication rates, but this extracranial technique proved comparatively straightforward and successful in this series of eight.

For naughty well-off people who care nothing about their carbon footprint, jet lag is sent as a punishment. Here is an exhaustive account of what to do about post-jet exhaustion.

Last week, Raymond Tallis on Desert Island Discs recollected his adolescence in the 1960s as a time when he thought constantly about death and going mad, and was rescued by reading philosophy. I remember thinking after I had gone through puberty that I would rather have spent those years under general anaesthesia. But I have recently witnessed adolescence as a period of great happiness and fulfilment, at least in middle class children with loving but non-controlling parents. Here’s a useful account of the physiological changes of puberty and the effect they have on health and illness.