Let’s talk snus use

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Environmental factors that influence the risk of developing Parkinson’s have long fascinated researchers as the offer the opportunity to generate testable hypotheses about what could be causing/influencing the condition.

These environmental factors are typically explored via epidemiological studies that look at the behaviour and environmental interactions of large groups of people, including some who have developed Parkinson’s. 

Recently, one such study has been reported and the results point towards a curious influencer: Snus

In today’s post, we will discuss what snus is, we will review the results of the new study, and consider the implications for Parkinson’s.

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Lund. Source: Northabroad

One of the most fortunate experiences of my life was being invited to do my PhD research in a small academic city called Lund in Sweden. I will be forever grateful to the people of Sweden for offering this opportunity and to Matt Maingay whose kind words paved the way for me.

I loved my years in Lund. I worked like a dog (7 days per week, volunteering for everything, last one to leave the lab – that sort of stuff), and my time there had an incredible impact on my life (for one thing, I met my wife in Lund).

Lund. Source: Themayor

During my time in Sweden, it was also a real pleasure to learn about the country, the people, and the culture. I sampled as much of it as I could – from trying to learn the language to visiting ‘mythical’ Landonia (a stunning coastal micronation made entirely of driftwood):

Landonia – wondrous! Source: Wikipedia

There were a couple of features of Swedish life, however that I struggled to adopt. First, eating Surströmming was not for me (not once, but twice I tried). Surströmming is lightly-salted, fermented Baltic Sea herring, and the key word there is “fermented“. It is an acquired taste, that’s all I will say.

Surströmming. Source: Rove

Second, I never developed a habit for snus.

What is snus?

Continue reading “Let’s talk snus use”

Clinical trials: The Power of One

As the age of personalised medicine approaches, innovative researchers are rethinking the way we conduct clinical studies. “Rethinking” in radical ways – think: individualised clinical trials! 

One obvious question is: Can you really conduct a clinical trial involving just one participant?

In this post, we will look at some of the ideas and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses these approaches.


A Nobel prize medal. Source: Motley

In the annals of Nobel prize history, there are a couple winners that stands out for their shear….um, well,…audacity.

One example in particular, was the award given to physician Dr Werner Forssmann. In 1956, Andre Cournand, Dickinson Richards and Forssmann were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning heart catheterisation and pathological changes in the circulatory system”. Forssmann was responsible for the first part (heart catheterisation).

Source: Nobelprize

In 1929, at the age of 25, Forssmann performed the first human cardiac catheterisation – that is a procedure that involves inserting a thin, flexible tube directly into the heart via an artery (usually in the arm, leg or neck). It is a very common procedure performed on a daily basis in any hospital today. But in 1929, it was revolutionary. And the audacious aspect of this feat was that Forssmann performed the procedure on himself!

And if you think that is too crazy to be true, please read on.

But be warned: this particular story gets really bonkers.

Continue reading “Clinical trials: The Power of One”