Richard Smith at BMJ reports on the progress of a very large clinical trial investigating the effects of surgery. As any good journalist would do, he compares this to another major epidemic – HIV – and shows that more people suffer as a result of surgery than contract HIV in a year. The researchers undertaking the clinical trial expect a 6% incidence of major cardiovascular complications.
In fact, it isn’t really that surprising since most people who undergo surgery are already very sick, or are they?
It wouldn’t surprise many people to be told that poorer people are less healthy than their richer counterparts. It might surprise you to know that basic intelligence at adolescence, before adjusting for later education, produces a strong and significant trend. The higher the IQ, the lower the mortality, as if higher intelligence also means a ‘well-functioning body’. The sub-groups with strong trends also include suicide and accidents but not so much for cancer. The ‘actual’ IQ ranges for each of the groups is not given.
You will likely need a subscription to see the original, which is here: Batty et al. Epidemiology Volume 20(1), January 2009, pp 100-109.
This tool allows you to insert either a whole abstract or some keywords, to find related journals, their influence and other benefits (like being available for free after a certain amount of time). It also allows you to find relevant authors and the relevant articles they write.
I tried this tool on two recent drafts I finished and immediately came up with new ideas on where to submit them, confirmed my choice of a high-impact journal for another, and found a whole new stream of publications related specifically to the topic. I would not have found these articles otherwise, so I can certainly vouch for the ability of the tool.
This one is going straight in the bookmarks and will be accessed often.
Here is another reason why journalism should come with a licence. Journalists have been trying to convince people that brain-training exercises are not going to help them when there is a plethora of evidence to suggest that it slows cognitive degeneration in people with real problems. I don’t care whether it shows no significant effect on people with normal brain function in a small trial in one place. I do care if journalists attempt to generalise from one study without checking their facts. I am sure the scientists that did the study did not intend to do so. Perhaps a simpler solution is to either sack journalists that mislead the public or make sure all science journalism is checked by someone who knows something about science before it is published. Idiots.
In a book review by one of BMJ’s assistant web-editors, hyperpalatable foods (yes, quite likely an Americanism and the first hint about the book itself) are to blame for over-eating and food addiction because they taste good and are high in fat, salt and sugar. The book is titled “The End of Overeating: Taking Control of our Insatiable Appetite” by David Kessler.
1. Why do authors/publishers in the US continue to always put their qualifications on the front cover of the book? In the rest of the world, I am quite sure that this practice is reserved for authors of poorly-conceived self-help books that are begging the book-shop patrons to “believe me, please, I am a doctor… trust me”.
2. Where does the desire come from – to blame everyone else (but never yourself) for anything that is wrong with you? Assigning blame seems to have become an artform and even a science in some places in the world. Perhaps people should begin to take responsibility for their actions, not least of which is their state of health.
A speech by the Chief Justice of New South Wales, J J Spigelman about culturally-based domestic violence, honour killings and forced marriage. He is quite broad in regards to the set of cultures included in the list and remarks on the ineffective ‘Western’ approaches to dealing with these types of crimes. It is an interesting read, especially the second half.