US highlights – 20 August 2010

Fiona GodleeThe BMJ has a new policy of asking authors of eligible research articles to pay a publication fee.  It only applies when the funder has already pledged to pay for open access publication and when authors can claim from their funder, the BMJ fee, in full, for that specific piece of research.

The move does not affect the journal’s publication policy. All submitted research will continue to be judged entirely on its importance, originality, quality, and relevance, and all research will remain openly accessible, regardless of whether a fee has been paid for its publication.

Trish Groves and I explain more in an editorial, and Trish talks through the policy in this week’s podcast, out on Friday August 20.

Finally, BMJ Group is set to launch a new open access peer reviewed research journal, BMJ Open, in September. You can follow developments by reading managing editor Richard Sands’ blog.

Best wishes,
Fiona Godlee, editor in chief BMJ

Latest research:

Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus
According to this systematic review and meta-analysis, eating more green leafy vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Patrice Carter and colleagues believe that fruit and vegetables can prevent chronic diseases because of their antioxidant content. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach may also act to reduce type 2 diabetes risk due to their high magnesium content. The authors argue that “our results support the evidence that ‘foods’ rather than isolated components such as antioxidants are beneficial for health … results from several supplement trials have produced disappointing results for prevention of disease.” Editorialists Jim Mann and Dagfinn Aune are cautious about the results, given the limited number of studies.

Latest from the BMJ

Contemporary castration: why the modern day eunuch remains invisible
Richard J Wassersug from Nova Scotia, and Tucker Liebermann from Boston, Massachusetts, say that, “Everyone should be aware that a multitude of men are either chemically or surgically castrated for a variety of reasons in contemporary Western society.” They estimate that in North America, as many as 600 000 patients with prostate cancer are coping with the effects of medical emasculation. “Until doctors, scholars, and researchers are forthright with their language, the emasculated will remain invisible. This invisibility, in turn, castrates the study of emasculation,” they conclude. 

Circumcision: divided we fall
“Opinion on routine circumcision for boys is already divided across the world, but recent research is sparking fresh debate. The American Academy of Pediatrics is assessing the mass of evidence that has become available since it took the position, in 1999, that although there may be “potential medical benefits . . . these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.” The academy plans to publish its updated position later this year amid growing pressure from both sides of the debate,” reports Sophie Arie.

Quick links – a selection of recent news stories

Latest blogs

Domhnall MacAuley considers Lance Armstrong’s incredible sporting successes, especially in light of his battle against metastatic testicular cancer. “To win the Tour de France seven times is remarkable but, for some reason, he never really captured the hearts of European cycling aficionados. There seemed a reluctance to unreservedly applaud his victories. Was it, perhaps, an anti American sentiment, a reaction against his professionalism, jealousy, or doubt?  Could it be they thought it was too good to be true?” he writes.

Read this and other blogs at

Latest podcast

In this week’s podcast we discover the link between the weather and the risk of heart attacks – Krishnan Bhaskaran tells us about his research.
Also, criticism and response are crucial parts of the scientific process, but how well do authors of research papers respond to critics of their work? Peter Gøtzsche and Tony Delamothe discuss their work looking at that in the BMJ.

Listen to this and other podcasts at

Latest poll

Last week we asked: “Should the role of GPs in maternity care be strengthened?”
65% said yes (total 226 votes cast)

See this week’s poll and vote on

Fiona Godlee is the editor in chief, BMJ