The BMJ Today: Going deaf for a living

There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that the hedonistic lifestyle favoured by musicians— particularly those of a rock ‘n’ roll persuasion—is not conducive to good health outcomes.

But leaving aside such vices as alcohol and narcotics, professional musicians are also almost four times more likely to develop noise induced hearing loss than the general public, according to a new German study, which also found that musicians are 57% more likely to develop tinnitus.

The authors of the cohort study of three million German citizens, which was published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, called for professional musicians to be given protective in-ear devices whenever sound amplifiers are used. They also suggested that sound shields be installed between different sections of an orchestra in order to reduce the long term risks of developing hearing disorders.

Elsewhere on, in the latest instalment of her new BMJ column: No Holds Barred, Glasgow GP Margaret McCartney takes aim at Maurice Saatchi’s proposed Medical Innovation Bill, describing the draft legislation as “an open door to quackery.”

The bill has been backed by England’s health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who says it will encourage “a climate where clinical pioneers have the freedom to make breakthroughs in medicine.”

But The BMJ‘s columnist says that the move is “a public relations quick fix that is heavy on emotion but light on potential harms.”

“The intentions may be honourable—more honourable would be the bill’s withdrawal,” she concludes.

And in this week’s BMJ Confidential, find out which “visionary, outspoken, impatient” individual lists Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly and Bob Dylan as their biggest inspirations.

Gareth Iacobucci is news reporter for The BMJ.