At school I was taught to learn a new word and do something that scares me once a day. I have tried to live by this. Today’s new word is kakistocracy.

A new study released by the WHO last week, called ‘Invisible numbers - The true extent of non-communicable diseases and what to do about them’, made the following, startling claim: ‘Every two seconds, someone under 70 dies of a non-communicable disease (NCD).’ It seems that at least 17 million people die prematurely before the age of 70 every year due to NCDs; the main ones are heart disease, cancer, diabetes and respiratory disease. Because of a failure to address contributory factors, such as diet, air quality, poverty and smoking, it seems that just a few countries remain on track to meet global development targets to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by a third by 2030. Judging by the number of younger retinopathy patients coming into clinics post-pandemic, perhaps it is time to refocus on health issues?

Another post-pandemic phenomenon has been the increase in vivid dreams that people have noticed since lockdown; have a look at to watch some. I have experienced this and, already getting paranoid about creeping old age, I did worry when I first heard of a new study linking the frequency of vivid dreams with the likelihood of developing cognitive impairment.1 Worrying as this correlation seems, a careful reading of the paper shows the link with cognitive decline is specific to those having frequent, distressing nightmares.

And if the need to address dietary influences upon sight loss was damaged enough by recent plans for food policy in the UK, another major study in this month’s BMJ has suggested a link between artificial sweeteners and cardiovascular disease.2

  • Do you have an idea for a clinical feature? Email the clinical editor
  • For details of how to submit a case study and earn an interactive CPD point for each of the domains, go to the CPD area of


  2. premature deaths from NCDs by a third by 2030.