Friday, March 21, 2008

Smoking in pregnancy may affect child's personality (or not)

Boy, some medical researchers are in love with their assumptions. I would say that the data below shows that it is smoking MOTHERS who are more irritable. It is they who judge their children in the research below

Smoking in pregnancy not only passes harmful chemicals to the developing baby, but may also affect the child's personality.

In the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers report that quitting smoking during pregnancy increases the chances of having an easy-going child. The findings are based on 18,819 UK babies.

Their mothers were classified according to smoking during pregnancy -- non-smokers, light smokers, heavy smokers (more than 10 cigarettes per day) or quitters. When their babies were nine months old, mothers were questioned in line with the widely-used Carey Infant Temperament Scale. The test scored on positive mood, receptivity to new things, and regular sleeping and eating patterns. Quitters had the most even-tempered babies, heavy smokers the most difficult.

J Epidemiol Community Health 2008;62:318-324 (Pickett KE, et al)


Aspirin good for you (when it's not bad for you)

This study DOES seem to show that aspirin in beneficial for SOME asthma sufferers. As Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory, that is no great surprise. But should you take it? Aspirin DOES always cause some stomach bleeding! How does that sound?

Women on small doses of aspirin every second day are less likely to develop asthma, says a new study in Thorax. It suggests that low-dose aspirin could help to prevent asthma in some women who are at risk of developing the disease as adults. Researchers recruited 37,270 women aged 45 or over with no history of asthma. Half took 100 milligrams of aspirin every second day and the other half took a placebo. Every year for the next 10 years, participants were surveyed. There were 10 per cent fewer new cases of asthma in the aspirin group compared to the placebo group. While 963 placebo women developed asthma, only 872 women in the aspirin group developed the disease. Aspirin's protective effects were seen in women regardless of age, exercise or smoking, but not in obese women.

The authors caution that aspirin is known to worsen symptoms in around one in 10 people who have already been diagnosed with the disease.

Thorax, 2008. (Kurth T, et al)



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!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"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."


Unless it's junk science too, both personal experience, and the clinical testimony of "Atkin's Diet" type of general health doctors who write diet books (the latest rather academic and yet popular book being 'Good Calories/Bad Calories' by Taubes which publicly names Ancel Keys of the UofMN for being *the* politically-savy hack behind the cholesterol/fat theory of heart disease in the 70s, which, due to the OVERSPECIALIZATION of the sciences, was never questioned in related fields, so his "saturated fat/cholesterol" ideas were simply ACCEPTED as "good basic science" by both nutritionists and diabetic etc. researchers to this day) indicate that people who eat a lot of starchy and sugary foods actually eat MORE calories than those who eat purposefully low-carbohydrate diets. This leaves out the story (again possibly junk science but maybe not) that the unnaturally high levels of FRUCTOSE in "low fat" foods (especially breads and sodas) screws around with the liver to help foster 'Metabolic Syndrome X'. The Atkin's diet (low carbs) allows people to eat utter "comfort foods" and yet overall they eat FEWER calories, so indeed, calories in/out still explains the majority, but not all, of the effect of such diets.

However, there is also a psychological effect. If you merely HIDE extra fat into foods, so the tongue and nose and even belly do not NOTICE that you are eating a lot of high protein and high fat meals, you still tend to eat more calories. Is this proof of anything? Sort of. A little bit. But a better explanation is that the body's satiety sensors are merely being fooled.

There is also the constant reminder, that not "middling weight" but true obesity is massively on the upswing. I don't know about Australia. I do know that most Mormons in Utah are immune to it, having family there. But on my plane flights there to visit my 85 year old father, just gone blind after my last visit, and just as jolly about life as ever, Middle American airports are chock full of WADDLING FAT PEOPLE. I mean really fat ankles and huff and puff dragging of wheeled luggage, as they pig out at the food courts on what you call "perfectly healthy" (yet very high starch and fructose filled) lunches.

Trans fats, though, are the only point I must learn more about. Once a cynic, always a cynic, so I don't yet trust you on this one, but I thank you for making me do some more homework instead of relying on popular audience books for my theories, the major hand-waving theory of fats is that trans fats are too rigid and omega-3 fats are nicely loose, towards the ability of membrane proteins to move around like the nanomachines that they indeed are. I'm afraid your mere linking to a Fox News article is not exactly convincing.

I'll also point out that one hypothesis about why men much more than women benefit from using aspirin is merely that, unlike women, men do not eject iron during monthly menstrual cycles, so iron builds up, and too much iron basically "rusts" (i.e. becomes an oxidant), and aspirin makes the stomach bleed. So the old practice of bloodletting is back in vogue, ha ha, literally!

But mostly I want to point out that from what I've read so far, you have ignored, in your 10 points, how many studies have shown that health optimism vs. pessimism merely take the lion's share of effect on overall mortality rates (Harvard nurses study and one on nuns). That the mind effects the body, a lot. This is obviously related to the placebo effect, but the cause-and-effect here is very clear: that stress hormones, possibly genetic (or embryonic as well), are VERY bad for you. They suppress the immune system, as well as digestion, as well as clear thinking. I know.

Here psychology crosses hearts with physiology.

The maverick book (out of print but Amazon has it used) is 'The Attitude Factor' by Blakeslee as well as a more modern academic one called 'Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers' by Sapolsky, along with the rather expensive Rank Theory of depression academic book called 'Subordination and Defeat' by Gilbert. All deal with overall-mortality increase (including accidents which usually means suicide by lone car crash) due to CHRONIC instead of PERIODIC *stress*.

Worry not, most of my skepticism of your skepticism is about spent, for I, Dr. Chemistry, agree with the main thrust of your message.