* Stepdown asthma approach worksIn a new study involving 259 asthma sufferers, half carried on taking beclomethasone, an inhaled corticosteroid, at the standard dose of around 800 mcg a day, while the rest had their dosages more than halved - without suffering more, or worse, asthma attacks than those on the higher dosage (BMJ, 2003; 326: 1115-8).
* Kids' dosages a stab in the darkRecommended dosages for children is a highly speculative business, with 75 per cent of the market guessing at safe levels - not surprising as the US drugs regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, only requires that drugs be tested for safety in humans, not children specifically (Mothering, 2003; July-August: 27).
* UK lacks disease expertiseThere is an acute shortage of experts in the UK to deal with infectious diseases, raising serious concerns over the country's ability to cope with a major outbreak or epidemic (BMJ, 2003; 327: 120).
* US food giants hoodwink health warningsFood is big business and, according to US consumer advocates, the food industry will go to any lengths to make sure that no regulatory body and nutritionist ever recommends eating less. So, government agencies generally use words like 'limit' and 'moderate' (BMJ, 2003; 327: 121).
* Toxic chemicals cause cancerAlthough exposure to a single environmental chemical is considered harmless to humans, traditional tests of toxic chemicals have ignored the likelihood of combined actions, thus seriously underestimating the health implications associated with multiple chemical exposures in the environment (Townsend Lett Docs, 2003; April).
* Doctors take sweetenersDoctors in Hungary have been accused of accepting bribes as high as lb400 from several hundred people for falsely declaring them eligible for disability benefits (BMJ, 2003; 327: 120).