The Lancet
The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed
Peer review
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...

 general medical journal. It is one of the world's best known, oldest, and most respected general medical journals. The Lancet was founded in 1823 by Thomas Wakley
Thomas Wakley
Thomas Wakley , was an English surgeon. He became a demagogue and social reformer who campaigned against incompetence, privilege and nepotism. He was the founding editor of The Lancet, and a radical Member of Parliament .- Life :Thomas Wakley was born in Membury, Devon to a prosperous farmer and...

, an English surgeon
In medicine, a surgeon is a specialist in surgery. Surgery is a broad category of invasive medical treatment that involves the cutting of a body, whether human or animal, for a specific reason such as the removal of diseased tissue or to repair a tear or breakage...

 who named it after the surgical instrument called a lancet, as well as after the term "lancet arch", a window with a sharp pointed arch, to indicate the "light of wisdom" or "to let in light". It publishes original research articles, review articles ("seminars" and "reviews"), editorials, book reviews, correspondence, as well as news features and case reports. The Lancet has been owned by Elsevier
Elsevier is a publishing company which publishes medical and scientific literature. It is a part of the Reed Elsevier group. Based in Amsterdam, the company has operations in the United Kingdom, USA and elsewhere....

 since 1991. , the editor-in-chief is Richard Horton. The journal has editorial offices in London, New York, and Beijing.


In the 2010 Journal Citation Reports
Journal Citation Reports
Journal Citation Reports is an annual publication by the Healthcare & Science division of Thomson Reuters. It has been integrated with the Web of Knowledge, by Thomson Reuters, and is accessed from the Web of Science to JCR Web. It provides information about academic journals in the sciences and...

, The Lancets impact factor
Impact factor
The impact factor, often abbreviated IF, is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to articles published in science and social science journals. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field, with journals with higher impact factors deemed...

 was ranked second among general medical journals, at 33.63, after The New England Journal of Medicine (53.48).

Specialty journals

The Lancet also has several speciality journals all bearing the parent title: The Lancet Neurology (neurology
Neurology is a medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Specifically, it deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of disease involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue,...

), The Lancet Oncology (oncology
Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with cancer...

), and The Lancet Infectious Diseases (infectious disease
Infectious disease
Infectious diseases, also known as communicable diseases, contagious diseases or transmissible diseases comprise clinically evident illness resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism...

s), all of which publish original research and reviews. These three journals have established significant reputations as important journals in their medical speciality. According to the 2010 Journal Citation Reports by Thomson Reuters, The Lancet Neurologys impact factor is 21.66, The Lancet Oncology 17.76, and The Lancet Infectious Diseases 16.14. There is also an online journal for students entitled The Lancet Student.

Volume renumbering

Prior to 1990, The Lancet had volume numbering that reset every year. Issues in January to June were in volume i, with the rest in volume ii. In 1990, the journal moved to a sequential volume numbering scheme, with two volumes per year. Volumes were retro-actively assigned to the years prior to 1990, with the first issue of 1990 being assigned volume 335, and the last issue of 1989 assigned volume 334. The table of contents listing on ScienceDirect
ScienceDirect is one of the largest online collections of published scientific research in the world. It is operated by the publisher Elsevier and contains nearly 10 million articles from over 2,500 journals and over 6,000 e-books, reference works, book series and handbooks issued by Elsevier...

 uses this new numbering scheme.

Expression of political views

The Lancet has taken a political stand on several important medical and non-medical issues. Recent examples include criticism of the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

, rejecting claims of the efficacy of homoeopathy
Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine in which practitioners claim to treat patients using highly diluted preparations that are believed to cause healthy people to exhibit symptoms that are similar to those exhibited by the patient...

 as a therapeutic option, disapproval during the time Reed Exhibitions
Reed Exhibitions
is an events organiser, with a portfolio of approximately 460 events in 36 countries including UK, USA, France, Germany, Brazil, Russia, India, China, Australia and the Middle East...

 (a division of Reed Elsevier
Reed Elsevier
Reed Elsevier is a publisher and information provider operating in the science, medical, legal, risk and business sectors. It is listed on several of the world's major stock exchanges. It is a FTSE 100 and FT500 Global company...

) hosted arms industry
Arms industry
The arms industry is a global industry and business which manufactures and sells weapons and military technology and equipment. It comprises government and commercial industry involved in research, development, production, and service of military material, equipment and facilities...

 fairs, and a call in 2003 for tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

 to be made illegal.

Controversial articles

The Lancet was severely criticized after it published a paper in 1998, in which the authors suggested a link
MMR vaccine controversy
The MMR vaccine controversy was a case of scientific misconduct which triggered a health scare. It followed the publication in 1998 of a paper in the medical journal The Lancet which presented apparent evidence that autism spectrum disorders could be caused by the MMR vaccine, an immunization...

 between the MMR vaccine
MMR vaccine
The MMR vaccine is an immunization shot against measles, mumps, and rubella . It was first developed by Maurice Hilleman while at Merck in the late 1960s....

 and autism
Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their...

. In February 2004 The Lancet published a partial retraction of the paper. The editor-in-chief, Richard Horton, went on the record to say the paper had "fatal conflicts of interest" because the study's lead author, Andrew Wakefield
Andrew Wakefield
Andrew Wakefield is a British former surgeon and medical researcher, known as an advocate for the discredited claim that there is a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, autism and bowel disease, and for his fraudulent 1998 research paper in support of that claim.Four years after...

, had a serious conflict of interest that he had not declared to The Lancet. The journal completely retracted the paper on 2 February 2010, after Wakefield was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research.

The Lancet also published a controversial estimate of the Iraq War's Iraqi death toll—around one hundred thousand—in 2004. In 2006 a follow-up study by the same team suggested that the violent death rate in Iraq was not only consistent with the earlier estimate, but had increased considerably in the intervening period (see Lancet surveys of casualties of the Iraq War). The second survey estimated that there had been 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war. The 95% confidence interval
Confidence interval
In statistics, a confidence interval is a particular kind of interval estimate of a population parameter and is used to indicate the reliability of an estimate. It is an observed interval , in principle different from sample to sample, that frequently includes the parameter of interest, if the...

 was 392,979 to 942,636. 1,849 households that contained 12,801 people were surveyed.

In January 2006, it was revealed that data had been fabricated in an article by the Norwegian
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 cancer researcher Jon Sudbø
Jon Sudbø
Jon Sudbø is a dentist and a consultant oncologist and former medical researcher at The Radium Hospital in Oslo, Norway. Having earlier been licensed as a dentist and a physician, he earned a doctorate in 2001. Until February 2006 he was an associate Professor at the University of Oslo...

 and 13 co-authors published in The Lancet in October 2005. Several articles in other scientific journals were withdrawn following the withdrawal in The Lancet. Within a week, the high-impact New England Journal of Medicine published an expression of editorial concern regarding its published research papers by the same author and in November 2006, the journal withdrew two oral cancer studies led by the Norwegian researcher.

In a 2009 editorial, the journal accused Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

 of publicly distorting scientific evidence on condoms to promote Catholic doctrine on chastity in AIDS prevention. The Vatican defended itself by pointing to an earlier Lancet article published in 2000 which asserted that condoms could not possibly be sufficient in solving the AIDS crisis.

A December 2003 editorial by the journal, titled "How do you sleep at night, Mr Blair?
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

", called for tobacco use
Smoking is a practice in which a substance, most commonly tobacco or cannabis, is burned and the smoke is tasted or inhaled. This is primarily practised as a route of administration for recreational drug use, as combustion releases the active substances in drugs such as nicotine and makes them...

 to be completely banned
Smoking ban
Smoking bans are public policies, including criminal laws and occupational safety and health regulations, which prohibit tobacco smoking in workplaces and/or other public spaces...

 in the UK. The Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians
The Royal College of Physicians of London was founded in 1518 as the College of Physicians by royal charter of King Henry VIII in 1518 - the first medical institution in England to receive a royal charter...

 rejected their argument. John Britton, chairman of the college's tobacco advisory group, praised the journal for discussing the health problem, but he concluded that a "ban on tobacco would be a nightmare." Amanda Sandford, spokesperson for the anti-tobacco group Action on Smoking and Health
Action on Smoking and Health
Action on Smoking and Health is the name of a number of autonomous pressure groups/charities throughout the world which seek to publicize the risks associated with tobacco smoking and campaigns for greater restrictions on cigarette and tobacco sales....

, stated that criminalizing a behaviour 26% of the population commit "is ludicrous." She also said, "We can't turn the clock back. If tobacco were banned we would have 13 million people desperately craving a drug that they would not be able to get." The deputy editor of The Lancet responded to the criticism by arguing that no other measures besides a total ban would likely be able to reduce tobacco use. The smokers rights group FOREST
FOREST is a United Kingdom political pressure group that campaigns from a pro-smoking perspective, opposing measures to reduce tobacco consumption on the grounds of defending a perceived right to smoke tobacco...

 stated that the editorial gave them "amusement and disbelief". Director Simon Clark called the journal "fascist
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

" and argued that it is hypocritical to ban tobacco while allowing unhealthy junk food
Junk food
Junk food is an informal term applied to some foods that are perceived to have little or no nutritional value ; to products with nutritional value, but which also have ingredients considered unhealthy when regularly eaten; or to those considered unhealthy to consume at all...

s, alcohol consumption, and participation in extreme sports. Health Secretary John Reid reiterated that his government is committed to helping people give up smoking. He added, "Despite the fact that this is a serious problem, it is a little bit extreme for us in Britain to start locking people up because they have an ounce of tobacco somewhere."

In August 2010, The Lancet Infectious Diseases published an article about an enzyme conferring multi-drug-resistance properties in bacteria, which had previously been named New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase or NDM-1 based on the assumed origin of the mechanism. The article reported 44 clinical isolates of bacteria positive for NDM-1 from Chennai, 26 from Haryana, 37 (from 29 patients) from the UK, and 73 from other sites in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Of the 29 UK patients, 17 had a history of travel to India or Pakistan within 1 year, and 14 had been admitted to hospital in these countries. The authors of the article cited medical tourism
Medical tourism
Medical tourism is a term initially coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly-growing practice of travelling across international borders to obtain health care...

to India for the spread of bacteria carrying NDM-1, which the Indian government denied.

A December 2010 article determined that alcohol had the worst medical and social effects compared to other recreational substances such as heroin and crack cocaine. The drugs marijuana, ecstasy, and LSD scored far lower in terms of related harms. The authors did not advocate alcohol prohibition, but they suggested that the government raise the price of alcohol until it was no longer widely available. Gavin Partington, spokesman of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, responded to the report by saying that alcohol abuse affects "a minority" who needs "education, treatment and enforcement". He also remarked that millions of British citizens enjoy alcohol as "a regular and enjoyable social drink".

External links

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