Over at SciAm Blogs today, I'm covering a recent study that made it kind of big in the news: the finding that fast food consumption correlates with depressive diagnoses. And while the correlation is real...I wonder if there are other correlations rolled into there. Do you agree? Head over and check it out!
Archive for the 'Health Care/Medicine' category
As preparation for this post and in the interests of full disclosure, I felt the need to pop in a piece of gum while writing. Never mind that the only gum I could find was caffeinated. That gives this post a little extra...zest.
Anyway, in talking with several friends over the years about methods of weight loss, especially controlling cravings and preventing snacking, many of them have mentioned that they chew a lot of sugar free gum. Some said it helped prevent cravings, others said it fooled them into not thinking they were hungry. Me, I feel like it stops me from eating because it feels like I've just brushed my teeth. But I've always wondered, does it really work? Does chewing gum help with your weight loss?
Luckily, the boys over at Obesity Panacea found out for me. And sadly, the answer is apparently no.
Shikany, et al. "Randomized Controlled Trial of Chewing Gum for Weight Loss" Intervention and Prevention, 2011.
You know, sometimes I think I've reached the pinnacle of my ability to be outraged by things on the internet. And then something like this comes along. So I'm sorry, my friends, this is going to be a rant. A mean, probably nasty kind of rant. Sci is not naturally a mean person, but some things really do make me roar with rage.
This is the thing.
It is an article at XO Jane, where the Health Editor talks about how New York City is out of Plan B, and how much that sucks. I agree that it completely sucks. Plan B is an important contraceptive. She then goes to on state why it personally sucks to her. She depends on it for birth control, because she doesn't like condoms, and birth control pills will get her fat and she can't be bothered to take them on time. She sticks to Plan B as her contraceptive of choice. That's her choice to make, and if she wants to spend $50 on Plan B every time she has unprotected intercourse, that's all her.
Here's my problem. My problem is that this "health editor" spends her entire editorial spreading COMPLETELY IDIOTIC AND WRONG notions about HEALTH. Seriously, XO Jane. Have you been hacked? you can admit it, it's ok, we all get hacked once in a while. Are you playing some joke that is only funny on a meta level? Because I find it very difficult to believe that you have a HEALTH EDITOR that is so ill-informed and willfully ignorant about, you know, HEALTH.
So I want to dispel these myths, and I want to talk about fact checking.
2) Birth control pills. NO. They will make me fat; they will make me "spot" (another thing I squeamishly just DON'T LIKE TALKING ABOUT; don't worry, though, everyone else who works here does); they will give me acne; and quite frankly, they will NOT prevent me from getting pregnant! I know this because IT HAPPENED TO ME™.
No, I didn't take my pills right; I forget things like this unless they are FUN pills, or what I BELIEVE, delusionally, to be a "fun" pill at the time; anyway, the point is, unless a pill gets me speedy or doped up as all hell I will NOT remember to take it, and then I will get pregnant! I JUST WILL. (IHTM™.)
Yes, they can affect your skin. They can cause spotting. You can try different kinds until you get one that works for you. But there is NOT a significant side effect of weight gain. If you gained weight, I'm sorry, but it was probably something else.
Also, I understand that some people really DO have problems taking a pill every day. But that DOES NOT mean the pill doesn't WORK. If you had a headache, and I asked if you'd taken aspirin for it, and you said no, do you blame the aspirin for your headache? OF COURSE NOT. Because that's STUPID. The pill DOES WORK. When taken correctly, it works 99.9% of the time. If you cannot be bothered to take the pill, try the patch or the ring, or another method entirely, but do not blame the pill for being ineffective.
So the author says all this stuff about how birth control doesn't work for her. Ok, I get that, estrogen or estrogen/progesterone pills don't work for you...
...so why, exactly, are you taking Plan B?
Let's see here
Plan B One-Step® is safe, effective, and FDA-approved. It contains levonorgestrel, the same ingredient found in many birth control pills. The difference is that Plan B One-Step® requires just one pill, which uses a larger dose of levonorgestrel than a single birth control pill. And, unlike many birth control pills, Plan B One-Step® doesn’t contain any estrogen, only progestin.
So those meanie estrogens make you FAT and cause you ACNE and they SUCK, and so you're going to take a BIG WHOPPING DOSE OF PROGESTIN INSTEAD?!?!
Of course, she talks about the science behind plan B to back her up.
THIS IS TOO, TOO TERRIFYING AND I REFUSE TO UNDERSTAND IT.
Honey, this ISN'T HARD. Haha, yes, I get it. Teehee, science is HARD, you guys!
No. This isn't hard. This is your BODY. And it's REALLY IMPORTANT that you know what it's doing, why it's doing that, and what you're putting into it. It's your body, and it's your life, and if you have a right to one thing, it's to know what's going on with your own body. If you are confused about ovulation, menstruation, pregnancy, abortion, or birth control, there are lots of sites where you can go which will explain the relatively simple science behind this. Heck some of them even use nice small words.
Far be it from me to tell XO Jane how to handle their hiring, but I do think it's generally wise to have a heath editor who's taken a health course. And who can read. But perhaps I'm too picky.
@noahwg linked an article (or a blog post? It seems more like a blog post) in the NY Times today, on oral contraceptives and weight gain. The post covers a review of various clinical trials (there are only three listed, but that's because they are using the most stringent measures of three treatment trials per study) and concludes that there is no causal association between oral contraceptive use and weight gain.
Yup. Again. Because this isn't news. In fact, it's a reprint of a review released in 2008. Combined oral contraceptives don't cause weight gain in any of the studies in which they've been tested.
I've seen studies like this before, and I commented on it to a female friend of mine. And I got the response I have now come to expect: "Well, I gained weight!"
Sci's gonna have to put on her ranty pants for a minute.
(Someone needs to make these. I would pay good money for these. Source)
Today is Sci's entry for this month's CARNAL CARNIVAL. The month's topic, as you may have guessed...is body odor.
Ah, the big B.O. One of the things that people are by the most sensitive about in countries like the US. In fact, people have been busily covering any sign of their natural scent (and blocking out the scents of others) with hefty doses of whatever sweet smelling item they could come across for several thousand years. We judge others based on their body odor and we also judge ourselves. But the question is, if we think that WE smell bad...do other people notice?
It might sound like a one hand clapping sort of question, but not at all. If whether you think you smell is linked to the way you portray yourself, it's possible that other people may notice, even if they can't smell you. This study was going to find out whether this is true.
And make sure you check out Obesity Panacea, where we've got the figures and pictures to go along with the podcast. Like following the bouncing Sci!
The title for this one comes from those stupid "1 tip for a flat belly!" and "The thing moms know about whitening teeth!" ads that keep popping up for me. You know the ones. Well, now, screw that. WHAT'S more important than getting a flat belly or whitening your teeth?! CURING YOUR AGING NEUROMUSCULAR JUNCTIONS!!!
Scientists have been searching for the fountain of youth for ages. Not an actual fountain, or a cure for aging, but the REASON behind the declines and changing that come along with age. A few years ago, scientists found that exercise and a low calorie diet (VERY low calorie, not something that is maintained easily), can reduce the effects of aging and dramatically extend lifespan in rodents. The question is, though, HOW this happens.
The charming (and handsome!) GG of Skulls in the Stars sent me this fantastic gem of an old paper, and I can't resist. Sadly, I just missed this month's edition of the Giant's Shoulders, but perhaps this will make next month!!
Beholde! An affair with a Rattle-fnake! And an excuse for Sci to talk lieke thif!! Because everything is better when you talk lieke thif (don't we all read those old fashioned s's like f's and end up with an old-fashioned lisp?).
"A Letter from Mr J. Breintal to Peter Collinfoxl, F. RXS. contairnng an Account of what he felt after being bit by a Rattle-fnake" Philosophical Transactions, 1747.
Say THAT five times fast.
So the other day, Sci was on the elliptical, doing some cross training. Nothing major. I usually get bored on ellipticals, and thus I go to magazines. I wish I could read heavy novels and improve my mind with something like the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire while working out, but all the bouncing and the fine print and the sweating...my brain just isn't up to more than a magazine.
So on this particular day, feeling more virtuous than Cosmo, Sci picked up Women's Health (which is still getting sent with obstinate regularity to my house, never mind that I have never HAD a subscription, have always REFUSED a subscription, and have in fact attempted to CANCEL the subscription twice. I've given up).
Why virtuous, you say? Well, I don't know about you, but I can't help but feel that some women's magazines are better for you than others. Like, Cosmo or Seventeen, bottom of the pile. Self or Shape, a bit higher up, at least they have recipes and seem to be somewhat dedicated to a healthy lifestyle (even if "healthy" in their definition never fails to be a size 2 that only eats celery sticks and is so proud of losing half her weight in twelve months or less, and SO CAN YOU!). Women's Health always seemed to me like the most virtuous choice. I mean, it's WOMEN'S HEALTH. The covers usually feature things like "summer power foods!" and "get fit fast!", and when they have huge multi-page things on how to have better times in bed, at least it's not mentioned on the cover, so you can pick it up without feeling too shamefaced that you're reading something with "THE TOP TEN SEXIEST MOVES" on the cover.
So anyway, I've got my relatively virtuous magazine and I'm on the machine...and I start laughing. Then I start snorting. And then I nod a little. I do this successively for about half an hour, until I realize something. This magazine is not exactly full of the total unvarnished truth. I mean, I know that we all KNOW this, but how do we tell what is truth and what is fiction? I've got a lot of science background, so I'm pretty well capable of saying "haha, turmeric isn't really the answer to life, the universe, and everything, and garlic's not going to cure my cancer". But what about other people? While some of the writing is good advice, some of it may not be, and a lot of the science is simplified...to the point of really not being right.
So what to do about this? I know some of this stuff, but a lot of people don't. How do spread the word? And I thought, YES! THIS is a job for SCIENTOPIA!
So I sent out the call, and today we bring to you Women's Health, The Writeup Roundup. We will show you the good, the bad, and the plainly ridiculous. Of course, Women's Health was just the pick this time, there are of course dozens of other magazines out there selling more silly than just egregious airbrushing. This was just the one that happened to catch my eye. And Scientopians were there to help!
Today we bring you some of the best AND some of the worst that Women's Health has to offer, dissecting the main stories to get at what is good, what is crap, and what is kind of silly. We are basing most of our work on the July/August edition (the one with Ashley Greene from Twilight on the cover), with others as well. So make sure to check these blogs:
For Women's Health posts all day! Our Illustrious Admin, Mark, will be putting up a special Stream for this, so make sure you have a look round! I'll be posting a full link round up at the end of the day. Should be exciting!
*I would like to start with a disclaimer. My laptop is broken (AGAIN), and until I invest in a new harddrive, I am going to have to write all the posts on this little netbook, Ruby, who, while intrepid, can't do JACK when it comes to images. Which means I'll have to add the images in the AM. My apologies.
Sci found this paper today and immediately had to run around showing it to people and saying "OMG isn't this COOL!!" At first, it was so cool that I thought I should save it for a special occasion, but dangit, I'm feeling celebratory. Anyway, I wanted to blog it NOW.
And since this is Sci's blog, what Sci wants, Sci gets.
And I love this paper.
So first, let's talk a little about diabetes.