Sunday, March 16, 2008


The study below says that French women who drink a lot of tea (French women drink tea??) are less likely to get clogged arteries. But is that BECAUSE of the tea or because of whatever it is that makes French women abandon coffee? No need to wonder, though. The replication study below showed differences that were not statistically significant (.08 >.05). So the initial finding looks to have been just a statistical fluke. Both the heading and the conclusions are then essentially lies. How do they get away with it?

Tea Consumption Is Inversely Associated With Carotid Plaques in Women

Stephanie Debette et al.


Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the relationship of tea consumption with common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CCA-IMT) and carotid plaques.

Methods and Results: The study was performed on 6597 subjects aged ~ 65 years, recruited in the French population for the Three-City Study. Atherosclerotic plaques in the extracranial carotid arteries and CCA-IMT were measured using a standardized protocol. Results were tested for replication in another, younger, French population sample (EVA-Study, 1123 subjects). In the Three-City Study, increasing daily tea consumption was associated with a lower prevalence of carotid plaques in women: 44.0%, 42.5%, and 33.7% in women drinking no tea, 1 to 2 cups/d, and ~3 cups/d (P=0.0001). This association was independent of age, center, major vascular risk factors, educational level, and dietary habits (adjOR=0.68[95%CI:0.54 to 0.86] for women drinking cups/d compared with none). There was no association of tea consumption with carotid plaques in men, or CCA-IMT in both genders. In the EVA-Study, carotid plaque frequency was 18.8%, 18.5%, and 8.9% in women drinking no tea, 1 to 2 cups/d, and ~3 cups/d (P=0.08).

Conclusion— In a large sample of elderly community subjects we showed for the first time that carotid plaques were less frequent with increasing tea consumption in women.

Our aim was to assess the relationship of tea consumption with common carotid artery intima-media thickness and carotid plaques in a large population-based sample of elderly subjects. Increasing daily tea consumption was associated with a lower prevalence of carotid plaques in women, independently of vascular risk factors and dietary habits.

Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2008;28:353.

Pepper drugs fight memory as well as pain

A new class of painkillers derived from chilli peppers may interfere with brain functions such as learning and memory, a study suggests. Drug companies have been testing medicines based on the action of capsaicin, the fiery compound in chillis, which can temporarily desensitise the body's pain sensors. The drugs are designed to be targeted against only the nerves involved in sending pain signals to the brain but experiments on rats have suggested that the painkilling action might have a knock-on effect.

US researchers writing in the journal Neuron say that the drugs' target, a brain receptor known as TRPV1, regulates processes central to mood and memory as well as pain. The findings may also help to explain the potentially suicidal side-effects of the antiobesity drug Acomplia, which has been taken by more than 40,000 Britons. The researchers say that this could be linked to the drug "antagonising" the TRPV1 receptor.



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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