Posts Tagged ‘BMJ’

Wow! “Scientific study” reveals that healthy people live longer

December 17, 2012

This has been published in the BMJ today so it obviously has been “peer-reviewed” before publication. Crunch a little data (why only Olympic medalists and not all Olympic participants?), do some elementary statistics and come up with something profoundly obvious and it passes for “science”. It took no less than six authors!!

Survival of the fittest: retrospective cohort study of the longevity of Olympic medallists in the modern era, by Philip M Clarke, Simon J Walter, Andrew Hayen, William J Mallon, Jeroen Heijmans, and David M Studdert. BMJ 2012; 345

doi: (Published 13 December 2012)

15 174 Olympic athletes from nine country groups (United States, Germany, Nordic countries, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada, and Australia and New Zealand) who won medals in the Olympic Games held in 1896-2010. Medallists were compared with matched cohorts in the general population (by country, age, sex, and year of birth).

Results More medallists than matched controls in the general population were alive 30 years after winning (relative conditional survival 1.08, 95% confidence interval 1.07 to 1.10). Medallists lived an average of 2.8 years longer than controls. Medallists in eight of the nine country groups had a significant survival advantage compared with controls. Gold, silver, and bronze medallists each enjoyed similar sized survival advantages. Medallists in endurance sports and mixed sports had a larger survival advantage over controls at 30 years (1.13, 1.09 to 1.17; 1.11, 1.09 to 1.13) than that of medallists in power sports (1.05, 1.01 to 1.08).

Conclusions Olympic medallists live longer than the general population, irrespective of country, medal, or sport. This study was not designed to explain this effect, but possible explanations include genetic factors, physical activity, healthy lifestyle, and the wealth and status that come with international sporting glory.

The discussion is remarkably mundane and offers little insight into anything:

One explanation is that athletes are much healthier than the average person. Part of this advantage could be genetic, but environmental factors undoubtedly amplify genetic advantages. Young athletes who exhibit exceptional physical talents are often selected into national training squads to undergo intensive physical training over many years. Most Olympic medallists will have come through such programmes.

Strong evidence indicates that physical activity confers many health benefits, including improved functional health status and reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, depression, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancer ………

Ah well! One more publication to add to the list.

Liverpool Care Pathway for babies is surely euthanasia but it is not painless

November 29, 2012

I have no doubt that the Care Pathways have the best of intentions to make an inevitable death as painless and comfortable as possible. But at best this is euthanasia and at worst it is something else. The latest article in the Daily Mail’s “campaign”  is more than a little disturbing. If a Care Pathway – by definition – is intended to lead to a dignified and pain-free death then causing additional suffering by being put on the Pathway cannot be right. I am not sure where the ethical line goes but I cannot help feeling that a final painless lethal injection may be preferable to 10 days of starvation and thirst and suffering as feeding and fluids are denied and a baby shrinks to death.


The data, all the data and nothing but the data

January 5, 2012

(Reuters)Unreported data from early trials of experimental medicines in humans can result in harm to future patients and needless costs for health systems, according to scientists writing in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday.

The role of statistics in research leads to obvious risks for the drawing of conclusions about causal relationships between parameters without actually increasing the understanding about the underlying mechanisms. In pharmaceutical and health research such conclusions provide enormous financial benefits for the researchers and their sponsors – and not always in the interests of the patients involved.


Autism activism vs. Big Pharma: A plague on both your houses

January 6, 2011

I do not know for sure but it seems likely that there is no strong link between autism and the MMR vaccine.

But the British Medical Journal which has now accused Dr. Wakefield of deliberate fraud with regard to his paper in the Lancet making the link does not cover itself with any glory. It only begs the question as to what standards they actually do have.

The “vaccination industry” promoted by Big Pharma also does not inspire much confidence that anything other than the bottom line is their primary concern. As was seen in the H1N1 vaccination circus, the beneficial links between the medical establishment (WHO) and vaccine manufacturers is widely prevalent and highly suspect. Parasitic lawyers who also have a vested interest in “proving” the link between autism and anything which could help their litigation do not impress either.

Dr Andrew Wakefield

Dr Andrew Wakefield, whose research claimed a link between MMR vaccinations and autism, denies inventing data. (Reuters: Luke MacGregor)

Dr Wakefield now accuses Big Pharma (including Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries) and the journalist Brian Deer of running a smear campaign against him. That may well be so but it does not justify his payments of some £400,000 from lawyers pursuing autism litigation. Whether his book is actually to defend his work or has some other motive is highly unclear.

Dr. Wakefield, British Medical Journal, Brian Deer, Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries, The Lancet —-

A Plague on all your houses!


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