Thursday, February 14, 2008

Blue-collar workers have more illness

That there is an association between lower social class and more illness is very well-established and this article confirms that. The direction of causation given below is pure speculation, however. Even if all these guys had remained unemployed, they would probably still have more illness. People in poorer health and less fit people generally may often have to take more menial work. And picking out particularoccupations for more or less of some ailment is pure data-dredging. The occupations would be likely to differ purely on a random basis. Epidemiological studies are useful for hypothesis-testing or hypothesis-generating but they do not enable causative inferences by themselves

BLUE-collar workers such as cleaners, truck drivers, fruit and vegetable growers and meat processors are at higher risk of developing cancer than their office-based counterparts are, a new study warns. Hairdressers and sewing machinists were also found to be far more susceptible to bladder cancer than other workers.

Scientists believe exposure to potentially toxic chemicals, dyes, pesticides and viruses are causing spikes in job-related diseases.

The research from Massey University's Centre for Public Health Research in New Zealand - published in two international journals - revealed the full extent of modern occupational cancer risks.

Apple and pear growers have been singled out as five times more likely to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, while plant nursery staff recorded a four-fold increased risk. "An elevated non-Hodgkin's lymphoma risk was observed for field-crop and vegetable growers and horticulture and fruit growing, particularly for women," the study author, Andrea 't Mannetje said. "Meat processors had an elevated risk, as did heavy truck drivers, workers employed in metal product manufacturing and cleaners."

Reasons for the higher risk include exposure to animal viruses, cleaning chemicals, petrochemicals, trace metals and lubricants. Farmers who spray pesticides manually are likely to be at greater risk than those who use machines, according to Dr 't Mannetje. The use of carcinogenic chemicals called aromatic amines is blamed for increased rates of bladder cancer in hairdressing and sewing machine work. While several forms of the chemicals are banned, similar substances are still used in common fabric and hair dyes.


Australia: Bureaucrats ban the evil peanut

Peanut butter sandwiches have been banned from a Government building because of concerns the smell could trigger a deadly allergic reaction. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission building in Sydney's CBD has outlawed all peanut products from the building for fear an employee could go into shock and die from the fumes. Taking the nanny state mentality to the extreme, the commission has begun erecting signs in hallways, kitchens and conference rooms declaring them a "Peanut Free Zone".

The ban, which came into effect this week, is believed to have followed a situation where a staff member became concerned after free peanut butter samples were handed out on Town Hall train station. An email to staff said: "You may have noticed the new peanut free zone posters we've just placed around the floor just to help us remember not to bring any peanut products to work. "For those who collected the freebie peanut butter samples from town hall (sic) this morning, please take these home as the smell will trigger a reaction."

As well as the peanut butter sandwiches, the ban prevents staff from eating chicken satay, Pad Thai, Snickers bars, Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and anything else containing peanuts at work. The email said the nut moratorium covers the entire floor of the building, which houses a total of seven government departments. They include the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commission, Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, the Disability Discrimination Commission, Privacy Commission, Race Discrimination Commission and the Sex Discrimination Commission.

Staff said they were "bemused" by the new rule but were prepared to obey it to save a colleague's life. A Human Rights Commission spokesman said the ban was informal and was necessary because one staff member had such an acute allergy to peanuts they needed to constantly carry an adrenaline syringe in their pocket in case of a reaction. There was no enforcement process in place, and the signs were meant to inject humour into the situation.

Concerns about peanut allergies have grown after highly publicised deaths including Sydney schoolboy Hamidur Rahman, who died after being dared to eat peanut butter at a school camp. Royal Prince Alfred Hospital's Rob Loblay said it was impossible to trigger an allergic reaction from smell but a sufferer could become "extremely distressed and anxious".



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].

9). And how odd it is that we never hear of the huge American study which showed that women who eat lots of veggies have an INCREASED risk of stomach cancer? So the official recommendation to eat five lots of veggies every day might just be creating lots of cancer for the future! It's as plausible (i.e. not very) as all the other dietary "wisdom" we read about fat etc.

10). And will "this generation of Western children be the first in history to lead shorter lives than their parents did"? This is another anti-fat scare that emanates from a much-cited editorial in a prominent medical journal that said so. Yet this editorial offered no statistical basis for its opinion -- an opinion that flies directly in the face of the available evidence.

Even statistical correlations far stronger than anything found in medical research may disappear if more data is used. A remarkable example from Sociology:
"The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre's yield of cotton. He calculated the correlation coefficient between the two series at -0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic conditions and lynchings in Raper's data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his analysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic conditions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added."
So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. But in medical research, data selectivity and the "overlooking" of discordant research findings is epidemic.

"What we should be doing is monitoring children from birth so we can detect any deviations from the norm at an early stage and action can be taken". Who said that? Joe Stalin? Adolf Hitler? Orwell's "Big Brother"? The Spanish Inquisition? Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde? None of those. It was Dr Colin Waine, chairman of Britain's National Obesity Forum. What a fine fellow!


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