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Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

So little information to evaluate effects of dietary choices

Paul Alper points to this excellent news article by Aaron Carroll, who tells us how little information is available in studies of diet and public health. Here’s Carroll: Just a few weeks ago, a study was published in the Journal of Nutrition that many reports in the news media said proved that honey was no […]

Interesting epi paper using Stan

Jon Zelner writes: Just thought I’d send along this paper by Justin Lessler et al. Thought it was both clever & useful and a nice ad for using Stan for epidemiological work. Basically, what this paper is about is estimating the true prevalence and case fatality ratio of MERS-CoV [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Infection] […]

“Breakfast skipping, extreme commutes, and the sex composition at birth”

Bhash Mazumder sends along a paper (coauthored with Zachary Seeskin) which begins: A growing body of literature has shown that environmental exposures in the period around conception can affect the sex ratio at birth through selective attrition that favors the survival of female conceptuses. Glucose availability is considered a key indicator of the fetal environment, […]

Can a census-tract-level regression analysis untangle correlation between lead and crime?

Daniel Hawkins pointed me to a post by Kevin Drum entitled, “Crime in St. Louis: It’s Lead, Baby, Lead,” and the associated research article by Brian Boutwell, Erik Nelson, Brett Emo, Michael Vaughn, Mario Schootman, Richard Rosenfeld, Roger Lewis, “The intersection of aggregate-level lead exposure and crime.” The short story is that the areas of […]

Updating the Forecast on Election Night with R

Pierre-Antoine Kremp made this cool widget that takes his open-source election forecaster (it aggregates state and national polls using a Stan program that runs from R) and computes conditional probabilities. Here’s the starting point, based on the pre-election polls and forecast information: These results come from the fitted Stan model which gives simulations representing a […]

Conflicts of interest

Paul Alper writes: The following involves Novartis so it may be of interest to you. This Washington Post article headline says: Extending anti-estrogen therapy to 10 years reduces breast-cancer recurrence, new cancers Nevertheless, However, women who were treated with the drug for a total 10 years didn’t live longer than those who were given a […]

Should you abandon that low-salt diet? (uh oh, it’s the Lancet!)

Russ Lyons sends along this news article by Ian Johnston, who writes: The prestigious medical journal The Lancet has been attacked for publishing an academic paper that claimed eating too little salt could increase the chance of dying from a heart attack or stroke. Johnston summarizes the study: Researchers from the Population Health Research Institute […]

No, I don’t think the Super Bowl is lowering birth weights

In a news article entitled, “Inequality might start before we’re even born,” Carolyn Johnson reports: Another study, forthcoming in the Journal of Human Resources, analyzed birth outcomes in counties where the home team goes to the Super Bowl. . . . The researchers found that women in their first trimester whose home team played in […]

Heimlich

Paul Alper writes: Heimlich who is 96, was in the news lately, saving a woman, 87 years old, using the technique he invented. So, off to Wikipedia: Henry Judah Heimlich (born February 3, 1920) is an American thoracic surgeon widely credited as the inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, a technique of abdominal … where I […]

Astroturf “patient advocacy” group pushes to keep drug prices high

Susan Perry tells the story: Patients Rising, [reporter Trudy Lieberman] reports, was founded by Jonathan Wilcox, a corporate communications and public relations consultant and adjunct professor at USC’s Annenberg School of Communications and his wife, Terry, a producer of oncology videos. . . . Both Wilcox and his wife had worked with Vital Options International, […]

No statistically significant differences for get up and go

Anoop Balachandran writes:

Andrew Gelman is not the plagiarism police because there is no such thing as the plagiarism police.

The title of this post is a line that Thomas Basbøll wrote a couple years ago. Before I go on, let me say that the fact that I have not investigated this case in detail is not meant to imply that it’s not important or that it’s not worth investigating. It’s just not something that […]

Acupuncture paradox update

The acupuncture paradox, as we discussed earlier, is: The scientific consensus appears to be that, to the extent that acupuncture makes people feel better, it is through relaxing the patient, also the acupuncturist might help in other ways, encouraging the patient to focus on his or her lifestyle. But whenever I discuss the topic with […]

Pro Publica Surgeon Scorecard Update

Adan Becerra writes: In light of your previous discussions on the ProPublica surgeon scorecard, I was hoping to hear your thoughts about this article recently published in Annals of Surgery titled, “Evaluation of the ProPublica Surgeon Scorecard ‘Adjusted Complication Rate’ Measure Specifications.”​ The article is by K. Ban, M. Cohen, C. Ko, M. Friedberg, J. […]

No guarantee

From a public relations article by Karen Weintraub: An anti-aging startup hopes to elude the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and death at the same time. The company, Elysium Health, says it will be turning chemicals that lengthen the lives of mice and worms in the laboratory into over-the-counter vitamin pills that people can take […]

Take that, Bruno Frey! Pharma company busts through Arrow’s theorem, sets new record!

I will tell a story and then ask a question. The story: “Thousands of Americans are alive today because they were luckily selected to be in the placebo arm of the study” Paul Alper writes: As far as I can tell, you have never written about Tambocor (Flecainide) and the so-called CAST study. A locally […]

Birthdays and heat waves

I mentioned the birthdays example in a talk the other day, and Hal Varian pointed me to some research by David Lam and Jeffrey Miron, papers from the 1990s with titles like Seasonality of Births in Human Populations, The Effect of Temperature on Human Fertility, and Modeling Seasonality in Fecundability, Conceptions, and Births. Aki and […]

Evil collaboration between Medtronic and FDA

Paul Alper points us to this news article by Jim Spencer and Joe Carlson that has this amazing bit: Medtronic ran a retrospective study of 3,647 Infuse patients from 2006-2008 but shut it down without reporting more than 1,000 “adverse events” to the government within 30 days, as the law required. Medtronic, which acknowledges it […]

Calorie labeling reduces obesity Obesity increased more slowly in California, Seattle, Portland (Oregon), and NYC, compared to some other places in the west coast and northeast that didn’t have calorie labeling

Ted Kyle writes: I wonder if you might have some perspective to offer on this analysis by Partha Deb and Carmen Vargas regarding restaurant calorie counts. [Thin columnist] Cass Sunstein says it proves “that calorie labels have had a large and beneficial effect on those who most need them.” I wonder about the impact of […]

Will youths who swill Red Bull become adult cocaine addicts?

The above is the question asked to me by Michael Stutzer, who writes: I have attached an increasingly influential paper [“Effects of Adolescent Caffeine Consumption on Cocaine Sensitivity,” by Casey O’Neill, Sophia Levis, Drew Schreiner, Jose Amat, Steven Maier, and Ryan Bachtell] purporting to show the effects of caffeine use in adolescents (well, lab rats […]