Monday, June 11, 2007


Can stomach stapling send you around the twist? The article below says it can. It is a clinical report however so the causal link is purely speculative

Neurologic complications of gastric bypass surgery for morbid obesity

By Katalin Juhasz-Pocsine et al.

Background: The number of bariatric procedures is rapidly growing as the prevalence of obesity in the USA is increasing. Such procedures are not without complications, and those affecting the nervous system are often disabling and irreversible. We now describe our experience with these complications and review the pertinent literature.

Methods: We describe 26 patients with major neurologic conditions that seemed causally related to bariatric surgery encountered in the neurology service of a tertiary referral university medical center over a decade.

Results: The neurologic complications affected most regions of the nervous system: encephalopathy, optic neuropathy, myelopathy, polyradiculoneuropathy, and polyneuropathy. Myelopathy was the most frequent and disabling problem; symptoms began about a decade after surgery [So it is most unlikely that surgery was the cause]. Encephalopathy and polyradiculoneuropathy were acute and early complications. Except for vitamin B12 and copper deficiencies in patients with myelopathy, we could not correlate specific nutritional deficiencies to the neurologic complications. All patients had multiple nutritional deficiencies, but their correction did not often yield dramatic results. The best result was achieved in one patient after surgical revision to reduce the bypassed jejunum.

Conclusions: A wide spectrum of serious neurologic conditions may follow bariatric surgery. These complications may occur acutely or decades later.

NEUROLOGY 2007;68:1843-1850


If ever there was a hardy perennial, it is the belief that exposure to a lot of electricity gives you cancer. There have been repeated demonstrations that it does not but the epidemiologists never give up. Below is the latest effort. The amusing thing is that they examined several occupational categories with varying levels of exposure to electricity but found differences betweeen only two -- so it is THOSE differences that we must regard as meaningful, apparently. So once again we have the good old data-dredging technique that will usually come up with SOMETHING on a purely random basis.

Note my post of May 15th showing no adverse effects of heavy exposure among Danish electricity workers. In connection with that I am going to make a small logical point that is probably beyond the comprehension of any epidemiologist but which others should grasp:

If X is caused by Y, then ALL instances of Y should cause at least some X. If there is just ONE occasion where Y has not caused any X at all among anybody, then it shows that X is NOT caused by Y. You need only one disproof. So the Danish study junks the "carcinogenic electricity" hypothesis. Even if there are LOTS of other occasions when X and Y occur together it proves nothing. At most it may prove that if you dredge through the data zealously enough you will always find something to suit your preconceptions purely on a random basis.

Leukaemia, Brain Tumours and Exposure to Extremely Low Frequency Magnetic Fields: Cohort Study of Swiss Railway Employees

By Martin Roosli et al

Aims: We investigated the relationship between extremely low frequency magnetic field (ELF-MF) exposure and mortality from leukaemia and brain tumour in a cohort of Swiss railway workers

Methods: We studied 20,141 Swiss railway employees with 464,129 person-years of follow-up between 1972 and 2002. Mortality rates for leukaemia and brain tumour of highly exposed train drivers (21 ~T average annual exposure) were compared with medium and low exposed occupational groups (i.e. station masters with an average exposure of 1 ~T). In addition, individual cumulative exposure was calculated from on-site measurements and modelling of past exposures.

Results: The hazard ratio (HR) for leukaemia mortality of train drivers was 1.43 (95% CI 0.74 to 2.77) compared to station masters. For myeloid leukaemia the HR of train drivers was 4.74 (95% CI 1.04 to 21.60) and for Hodgkin's disease 3.29 (95% CI 0.69 to 15.63). Lymphoid leukaemia, non-Hodgkin's disease and brain tumour mortality were not associated with magnetic field exposure. Concordant results were obtained from analyses based on individual cumulative exposure.

Conclusions: We found some evidence of an exposure-response association for myeloid leukaemia and Hodgkin's disease, but not for other haematopoietic and lymphatic malignancies and brain tumours.

Occup Environ Med., 24 May 2007


Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.


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