Tuesday, September 04, 2007


The article "Perfluorinated Chemicals and Fetal Growth: A Study within the Danish National Birth Cohort" (PDF here) by Chunyuan Fei et al. is another despicable attempt to worry pregnant women. Because they are popular, non-stick pots and pans MUST be bad for you, right? Nasty arrogant horrible elitist thinking but all too common.

The article is a classical example of the tendency in medical researchers to make mountains out of pimples. If you look at the plot of the "non-stick" chemicals against birthweight it is a blob (See their Figure 1). To find any trend there requires great ingenuity. Expressed as a Pearsonian correlation, it would be less than .10, from a quick look.

The only thing they actually found was that women with a very low exposure (bottom quartile) to the bad chemicals had slightly bigger babies. The other three quartiles did not differ in birthweight.

So what do you conclude from that? In the absence of any linear effect, I conclude that your non-stick cookware has been given a clean bill of health. But that is not what the authors claim.

So what do we make of the one small difference that they did find? My suggestion is that the women with very low exposure to the chemicals were from rural areas and that there is a slight tendency (for whatever reason -- maybe lower stress) for rural women to have bigger babies.

The chemical concerned -- PFOA -- is very useful but is not very biodegradable (suggesting that it is probably inert in humans) so has long been a target of the Greenies and other health hysterics. It is found in food wrappers and many other things than Teflon cookware. This is just the latest attempt to find something wrong with it. If a few pregnant women are distressed by the "findings", too bad. Propping up the Greenie religion trumps any care about people.

Cheap drug could save diabetics' lives

The effect sounds very weak. May not be real at all

Thousands of lives could be saved in Britain if a blood pressure treatment that costs 50p a day was used to treat obese patients with type 2 diabetes, an international research team said yesterday.The drug also has virtually no unwanted side-effects. [Unlikely to have any main effects, then]

A study of more than 11,000 patients with type 2 diabetes found that patients who were put on Coversyl Plus were 18 per cent less likely to die from heart-related illnesses than if they were not taking the drug.

There are two million people with type 2 diabetes in Britain. The condition is caused mainly by obesity [What crap. It's mostly genetic] and the number of sufferers is expected to increase. The study, presented at the annual conference of the European Society of Cardiology in Vienna, suggested that if all British patients with type 2 diabetes were placed on the drug, 22,500 deaths could be prevented within the next five years.

Researchers said that if the drug were given to half of the sufferers of type 2 diabetes worldwide, more than a million deaths could be avoided in the same period.



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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