Health Headlines are presented as gospel, often leaving people scared and confused. "Toughs' University Study finds that: Worry is Contagious, pass it on." How can the results of a 300 page 20 year scientific study be condensed into two sentences followed by: "News at 11" ? This post may help ease your sense of alarm, when you hear that next Health Sound Bite.
Individual scientific findings are a means to an end.
Science is based on conflict. Theories and conclusions shot down by conflicting results, claims & counter claims. It is contentious and has been very personal for hundreds of years. Hooke hated Newton who retaliated in the Royal Society... Pope Urban VII put away Galileo... Don't even mention Darwin. There is a long arduous path from publishing study results to surviving peer review and all kinds of other criticism. The work isn't even accepted until some brave soul proves it by solving a real problem. The Cholera of 1854 is a good example (ref 1).
100 years of deaths had been accepted as Divine intervention. Microbiology and Social Statistics were in early use associated with whatever theories had been published. Dr John Snow recorded data from death certificates and neighborhood mortality. He then used a microscope, to observe a suspect bug in pump water. He combined Statistics with Microbiology to prove that a contaminated cesspool next to the Broad street water pump (Soho) spawned the deadly outbreak (ref 2). Life in London and World health were improved because science works. Its the gap between Studies and their successful application that sends most of the Sexy Headlines to the discount rack.
Last week's Outrageous Headline : "Death Risk Lower for Overweight People" (ref 3, 3.1)(Read special disclaimer below) Katherine Flegal of the CDC spent the week giving interviews related to her study results, that being overweight did not raise your risk of cardiovascular death.
1st: They live as long because Hospitals Fix most heart patients before they die. It will cost your HMO $200,000 and its no walk in the park for you.
2nd: This same study, reports increased deaths from Kidney disease & Diabetes for the same group of people. You only get that part if you read past the dangerously misleading opening. Forget Headline Health and manipulated statistics. Let the Scientists argue with each other about new findings, its in their nature and its, their job. I'm not so sure how long Ms Flegal will keep hers.
I intended to write about some sports diet information. Calories, BMI, etc but the Perfect Storm of Headlines doesn't come along every day, I couldn't help myself. Why complicate Health with statistics and bore all of you anyway ? (that is to say, all 3 of you). Good Health is more about doing the things that we already know are right. There are more ways than ever, to eat well and stay fit. But we still rationalize that Hi Fat, High Sugar and All Meat diets are only dangerous for, 'those other people'. Look in the mirror Tex, now is the time to change your habits, because Tomorrow Never Comes (ref 4).
Follow the dictates of the Real Health Authority (Mom):
"Don't eat that junk, you'll spoil your dinner"
"Go outside to get some exercise"
"Eat your vegetables"
Do what your mother did for you when you were in 6th grade; Throw yourself outside locking the door behind you, so you have to go ride bikes with your friends.
a) I absolutely do not make this stuff up !
b) Technically speaking, everyone on the planet has the exact same risk of death. Only the departure date is in question.
ref 1: http://www.ph.ucla.edu/EPI/snow/snowbook.html
ref 2: http://www.comfsm.fm/socscie/histchol.htm
ref 3: http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20071106/death-risk-lower-overweight-people
ref 3.1: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/298/17/2028
ref 4: Marie Matta; verbally, moderate tone of voice
- Who Toughs' it out at Tufts ?