Monday, May 26, 2008


It well might. Wartime is a time for some very stressful experiences. It is also, however, a time of great comradeship and that could have a positive effect. So where does the balance lie? The study below is more rigorous than most in that it makes defensible comparisons. And its conclusion is that war deployment has a POSITIVE effect.

But that conclusion is too "incorrect" so the authors descend into illogic. They say that nutcases are weeded out during recruit training and that is why veterans come back OK.

But that seems to ignore their own findings. They compared marines who had been deployed to a war zone with marines who had not. But BOTH groups had passed through recruit training -- so both should have been equally "weeded out". Yet despite the high comparability of the two groups, those who had seen war did better in terms of mental health.

Journal abstract follows:

Psychiatric Diagnoses in Historic and Contemporary Military Cohorts: Combat Deployment and the Healthy Warrior Effect

By Gerald E. Larson et al.

Research studies have identified heightened psychiatric problems among veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). However, these studies have not compared incidence rates of psychiatric disorders across robust cohorts, nor have they documented psychiatric problems prior to combat exposure. The authors' objectives in this study were to determine incidence rates of diagnosed mental disorders in a cohort of Marines deployed to combat during OIF or OEF in 2001-2005 and to compare these with mental disorder rates in two historical and two contemporary military control groups. After exclusion of persons who had been deployed to a combat zone with a preexisting psychiatric diagnosis, the cumulative rate of post-OIF/-OEF mental disorders was 6.4%. All psychiatric conditions except post-traumatic stress disorder occurred at a lower rate in combat-deployed personnel than in personnel who were not deployed to a combat zone. The findings suggest that psychiatric disorders in Marines are diagnosed most frequently during the initial months of recruit training rather than after combat deployment. The disproportionate loss of psychologically unfit personnel early in training creates a "healthy warrior effect," because only those persons who have proven their resilience during training remain eligible for combat.

American Journal of Epidemiology, 1988, Volume 167, Number 11 Pp. 1269-1276

Melanomas gone in just seven days

Melanomas are a very deadly form of skin cancer and the normal treatment is radical surgery

AUSTRALIAN researchers have discovered a range of new treatments for melanoma which could save up to 1500 lives a year. The Sydney Melanoma Unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital is conducting a clinical trial in which individual tumours are injected with a red dye called rose bengal.

Unit director John Thompson said within seven days the tumours become necrotic and die, and within 14 days they simply lift off the skin. Professor Thompson said an earlier trial of 20 patients showed between 60 and 80percent of tumours were successfully treated with one injection. The trial also found that rose bengal didn't affect healthy tissue and seemed to induce a beneficial immune system response that killed off other tumours that hadn't been injected.

"It has been interesting to observe that not only injected tumour deposits undergo involution [reduction] and necrosis but non-injected 'bystander' lesions sometimes undergo involution as well," he told the Australasian College of Dermatologists annual meeting last week. Rose bengal has been used for 50 years to diagnose liver and eye cancer. It has also been used as an insecticide.

Professor Thompson said phase one of the trial had proved the treatment was safe, although one woman ended up in intensive care with a serious reaction after driving for 1 hours in the summer sun after having her injection. For another study, Professor Thompson is hoping to recruit 65 patients who have melanomas that can't be treated with surgery.

Australia has the highest rate of melanoma in the world, with 9500 cases diagnosed annually. One in 19 Australians can expect to be diagnosed with a melanoma in their lifetime. If detected early, there is an excellent chance of survival. However, standard chemotherapy is not highly effective once the melanoma has spread.

The development of a vaccine has been elusive but researchers at the Newcastle Melanoma Unit have made a surprising breakthrough. Professor Thompson said about 120 patients were given an injection made from materials from their own tumour. The procedure was designed to stimulate the body's immune system to reject the tumour. The patients had metastatic (widespread) stage IV disease and an average life expectancy of six to nine months. The trial showed those who got the vaccine had a 40percent chance of surviving for five years, compared to 22 per cent for those who weren't vaccinated. "It surprised us greatly - there was a fairly substantial benefit in the patients who received the vaccine," Professor Thompson said.

At Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Diona Damian has treated three patients with extensive widespread melanoma with diphencyprone (DPCP), a chemical used to treat warts and hair loss. Associate Professor Damian said two patients are disease-free three years and one year later respectively, while in a third patient, the application of DPCP appeared to slow the progression of the disease but he died 18 months later.


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