nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Dopey Article About How Having A "Beer Belly" Leads To Alzheimer's

OK, there's an association between abdominal fat and brain volume...And?

The Stupid Article Award today goes to the BBC for suggesting "Beer Belly Linked to Alzheimer's."

[The authors of the study the BBC is referencing examined waist circumference, Body Mass Index, and other measures of body fat.  They found that as body fat goes up, brain volume (as measured by CT) goes down.]

Like I said:  more abdominal fat, less brain volume--the media misleadingly hinting that the first leads to the second.

But, conversely, it's just as likely that people who have lower brain volume tend to be heavier.  (You remember: which came first, the chicken or the egg?)

And, while there's an association between lower brain volume and dementia, it's just one of a number of such "associations."

Oh...and finally, the subjects of the study were healthy folks, not demented ones.

As usual the media makes no effort to clarify that just because two things have an "association" says nothing about whether one causes the other.

A facetious example:  My pet cat has an automatic feeder.  At about 6PM every day, he stands in front of the feeder, and shortly thereafter the food drops down.  Can we conclude the cat is causing the feeder to give him food?  OR, could it be due to me programming the damned thing for 6 o'clock?
To give the authors credit, they make no claim other than the two things (fat and brain volume) are associated.  Further, they don't claim that lower brain volume is the key to dementia.

Bad on the media for writing an article that sounds like you need to keep thin to avoid Alzheimer's.

You need to maintain a healthy weight for a lot of reasons.  But anybody who obsesses about this study is Scaring Themselves To Death.

Doc D

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