Archive for the health Category

IT Workers Are Getting Fatter

Posted in health, Technology and Software on May 24, 2008 by Mike Procario

This story did not surprise me. For the reasons mentioned in the article.

Then again, don’t take advice from me on any of this. It turns out that 11 percent of IT workers buy their lunch from what CareerBuilder called “a notoriously unhealthy vending machine at least once a week.”

Then at the end I got the real bad news.

But, hey, no matter the culprits, IT workers can take heart in another CareerBuilder finding: They are less chubby than financial services and government workers. Fifty-three percent of financial workers said they have gained weight at their current jobs, while the number for government workers is 52 percent.

I work for the government and we sure have our share of overweight employees.


A Functional Relationship in a Health Article

Posted in health, Science on October 10, 2006 by Mike Procario

 I have long complained about the simplistic analyses given in health articles. Saturated fats are bad. Trans fats are bad. Hormone replacement therapy prevents heart attacks. Hormone replacement therapy causes heart attacks. In reality things are much more complex because of the difficulties in experimenting with living being and particularly people, it can take a very long time to sort out all of the complexities. An article today on trans fats actually pointed out the beginnings of this sorting out.

The most vocal critics of trans fats believe that the relationship between their intake and heart disease is linear. Even tiny amounts pose some threat, they say. But an interesting study by Dr. Lichtenstein suggests that it’s more complicated than that.

She and her colleagues put 36 volunteers on diets with various amounts of trans fats, then measured blood levels of L.D.L. and H.D.L. cholesterol.

Increased trans fats were associated with increased blood levels of bad cholesterol in a linear fashion, she found. But good cholesterol was significantly diminished only in subjects who consumed trans fats in the greatest amounts — nearly 7 percent of their daily calories — and even then just barely. H.D.L. was not affected in subjects consuming less.

This finding and others like it suggest that for consumers eating modest amounts of trans fat, the gain from reduced intake may not be as great as some might hope. In any event, the benefit is likely to accrue mostly for people who have elevated cholesterol to begin with. That’s one in four New Yorkers, according to the city’s health department.

“Cumulatively, this small step could have a beneficial effect,” Dr. Lichtenstein said. “But it’s not going to be a panacea.”

The boldface was added by me. I can never remember seeing a popular press article mention a linear relationship between two variables. In addition, the article goes on to point out that the linear relationship holds for LDL but not HDL.  This turns out to be very important to me since my LDL is quite good, but HDL is just outside the acceptable range. If this result is true cutting trans fats are unlikely to help me.

Now Glamour Magazine Is Criticizing Bush Adminstration’s Science Policy

Posted in health, Science on April 27, 2006 by Mike Procario

I must start with a caveat. I found this link to a story on at I mentioned once before. It is a social newsite where members submit stories that they have found on the internet and other members can vote to have them featured on the home page. I find that it has some very eclectic choices. I have never read Glamour before. I am a nerd dammit.

Now a second caveat, I generally avoid politics on this blog since there are so many others who blog about it and many do it quite well. Many do it very badly and I do not want to join them. Politics and science sometimes cross and I cannot avoid a comment, so when I saw this story I had to mention it.

There have been many criticisms of the Bush adminstration's science policies. The claims are that decisions are not made on sound science but interest groups politics, ranging from the religious right to the oil industry. Global warming, intelligent design, emergency contraception are all areas of contention.

Into this fray jumps Glamour Magazine with an article on how doctors have started to distrust information that they get from the government.

Glamour has also discovered that blatantly false anticondom information has been incorporated into several federal and state health websites. One, an official Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) site designed for families seeking health information for teens,, suggests that there is no evidence that condom use reduces the risk of HPV infection and downplays its effectiveness against chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

When Glamour criticizes your science you have a serious problem.

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