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Those left-handed women

Quoting from food and health sceptic...

Among 12,178 middle-aged Dutch women the researchers followed for nearly 13 years, 252 died. When left-handed women were compared with the other women, and the data were adjusted for a number of potentially confounding factors, lefties had a 40 per cent higher risk of dying from any cause, a 70 per cent higher risk of dying from cancer, and a 30 per cent higher risk of dying from diseases of the circulatory system. Left-handed women also had a two-fold increased risk of dying from breast cancer, close to a five-fold increased risk of dying from colorectal cancer, and more than a three-fold higher risk of cerebrovascular mortality.

Let's see if I can get this right. There were 252 deaths. If lefties are 10%, that would normally give 25.2 deaths. If deaths are 40% up, that's, say 35 deaths for lefties. If the relatively high probability cancer deaths are 70% up, and others up by lesser or greater proportions, must there not be some causes where the risk is lower than normal? What are they?
How many of the risk factors are based on one death?

Did anyone check not-yet-fatal cancers in the larger non-dead population to see how lefties fared? Or was that not a good story? Is this a load of poop or what?

(I'm left-handed, and still alive).

Re: Those left-handed women

How dare you question the results of a state sponsored study. It is not your place (especially since you are LEFT HANDED and a WOMAN) to ask questions like how 35 deaths gets you anything in the way of significant data.

If you continue to use your brain and the tools that your education gave you, the DEPARTMENT will send out appropriate chastisement.

**/sarcasm **

Re: Those left-handed women

I heard somewhere that the study is bogus. I can't verify that statement, but there does seem to be an anti-southpaw bias at work.

I once read a book that claimed handed-tools didn't appear until the Romans started to wage an anti-left-handed campaign. I not sure the book was correct about the tools, but the Latin word for left is "sinister." Obviously the word entered the English language unchanged. The word dropped its left-handed definition and apparently kept what the Romans thought of left-handedness.

Although I write and draw with my left hand, I’ve had to adjust to many tools that have a right-handed bias, such as: bowling balls, scissors, and rulers. When I finally purchased a bowling ball, I drilled holes for my right hand (too many years bowling with my right hand). I can’t use left-handed scissors (same reason). As for rulers, I—like most lefties—simply raise my hand to see where the numbers are.

Maybe having to adjust to a right-handed world shortens our lives. However, I—too am still alive.


Re: Re: Those left-handed women

After reading SWN, Epi, Junkscience Judo, and mixed in my experience from the Nuclear industry, computing and engineering, I have come to the opinion that ANY epidemiological study outside the bounds of epidemic level problems (you know the kind where suddenly a lot of people get sick with similar symptoms from an unknown source) are pretty much worthless.

I watched a woman last week fret over Fire Retardant in children's sleepware because a study showed a 1.8 RR for autism in children who were exposed to Flame Retardant. She thought that the 80% increase meant that it was almost a 1 to 1 relationship. That if you were exposed to the retardant then you would get autism. I haven't been able to find the study to find out what the actual numbers were, but a 1 to 1 correspondence she describes would result in a relative risk of infinite (I perhaps exaggerate, but it would be greater than the RR of lung cancer and smoking of 24).

I have explained this subject to this individual before. She is an intelligent Master's Degreed (in Speech Therapy) person. The scare factor got her though.

I am not overly worried about fire retardant in clothing. Back in the days of open flame lamps and candles in every room, this was much more important. Now it is not nearly as useful as strapping a seatbelt onto your lap.

There are probably some very ethical Epidemiologists out there. The ones that get into the media. The studies that make news are all examples of epidemiology gone wrong. Epidemiologists have attained Lawyer status. They now seem to do more harm than good.


Re: Re: Re: Those left-handed women

I should acknowledge that they (epidemiologists) are providing me entertainment. I get to be morally outraged at them and write in this corner of a the internet about them.

Entertainment is important.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Those left-handed women

Sandy S. has good insight on this sort of crap(US slang for the defecationary residue from the male of the bovine species) at this site:

Epidemiologists are fun like watching snakes and just as dangerous.
Gary K.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Those left-handed women

"Epidemiologists are fun like watching snakes and just as dangerous. - Gary K."

Not all of them. Some of the ones you see nowdays touting RRs of 1.05 are, but when I was in research, I knew a couple of REAL epidemiologists who understood the fraility of their studies.

One had me find a better random number generator. His analysis showed that the generator built into Fortran on our PDP11 wasn't truly random, (software generators often aren't,) and he wanted no bias in the way patients were assigned to different treatment schemes.

He also once said that anyone with a mission to cure disease X shouldn't rely on statistics. Emotional bias makes it easy to see a cure in the numbers where there really is nothing there.

But nowdays, anyone with Excel can be an expert. (People like John obviously excepted.)

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Those left-handed women

There are probably thousands of Epis out there who are honest. They are doing very mundane things like analyzing cat food (although apparently that has taken a twist for excitement this month). The pet food scare here in the US was a prime example of when those Epi's come in handy. Problem is, those things don't happen all that often.