Category Archives: Health

What Makes Us Fat

Here’s a radical idea: Let’s do some actual scientific research:

…much of what we think we know about nutrition is based on observational studies, a mainstay of major research initiatives like the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed more than 120,000 women across the US for three decades. Such studies look for associations between the foods that subjects claim to eat and the diseases they later develop. The problem, as Taubes sees it, is that observational studies may show a link between a food or nutrient and a disease but tell us nothing about whether the food or nutrient is actually causing the disease. It’s a classic blunder of confusing correlation with causation—and failing to test conclusions with controlled experiments. “Good scientists will approach new results like they’re buying a used car,” he says. “When the salesman tells you it’s a great car, you don’t take his word for it. You get it checked out.”

NuSI’s starting assumption, in other words, is that bad science got us into the state of confusion and ignorance we’re in. Now Taubes and Attia want to see if good science can get us out.

What a concept.

“Indiscipline”

The strange behavior of an ebola victim:

Looking to get to the bottom of Sawyer’s strange ailment on the Asky Airline flight, which Sawyer transferred on in Togo, hospital officials say, he was tested for both malaria and HIV AIDS. However, when both tests came back negative, he was then asked whether he had made contact with any person with the Ebola Virus, to which Sawyer denied. Sawyer’s sister, Princess had died of the deadly virus on Monday, July 7, 2014 at theCatholic Hospital in Monrovia. On Friday, July 25, 2014, 18 days later, Sawyer died in Lagos.

“Upon being told he had Ebola, Mr. Sawyer went into a rage, denying and objecting to the opinion of the medical experts “He was so adamant and difficult that he took the tubes from his body and took off his pants and urinated on the health workers, forcing them to flee.”

The hospital would later report that it resisted immense pressure to let out Sawyer from its hospital against the insistence from some higher-ups and conference organizers that he had a key role to play at the ECOWAS convention in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

So here’s my question. Was this merely an individual irresponsible in the first place, whose “undisciplined” behavior resulted in his contracting the disease, after which he simply lashed out in anger, wanting to take others with him? Or does the disease have a rabies-like component that in addition to its other horrific physical symptoms, drives the victim literally insane?

Coffee

A list of its health benefits.

This sort of thing is why I finally started drinking it a few months ago, even though I don’t perceive any actual benefit in doing so. I’ve been making it for her for years, so it was just a matter of making extra. One discovery I made that reduces the awfulness of the taste is to throw some sea salt in the filter before brewing it. It really does take the bitter edge off it. But it’s still something I basically drink as medicinal. I derive no pleasure from it, and sometimes forget to pour it or drink it if I get distracted, so I’d say I’m not addicted in any way. The only obvious benefit I’ve gotten is much cleaner dental exams, to the point that I’ve backed off from quarterly to semi-annual cleanings.

Leftist Wonks

How Halbig demonstrates that they’re not very good at their jobs:

For a movement that so prides itself on being the vanguard of wonky wonkery on wonkiness, Cohn’s admissions are rather stunning. It’s one thing to believe event X is more likely than event Y, but to write off event Y as unimaginable? To ignore entirely a specific provision of law that says event Y is eminently possible? That’s a special kind of wonkery right there.

“But his 2010 comments didn’t really address the subsidy issue that was central to Halbig,” you might say, “so what’s your point?” That’s a fair question, and I don’t mean to pick on Cohn, who has regularly contributed very helpful information for many years now.

His remarks are important, though, because they reveal the massive gap between what self-styled progressives wonks think they know and what they actually know. That gap becomes increasingly relevant when these same wonks claim that their unparalleled coverage of the bill in 2009 and 2010 magically grants them intimate knowledge of not just the bill’s text, but also the innermost thoughts of the bill’s authors and supporters.

It’s not the only example, but it’s more glaring than most.

The List Of ObamaCare Disasters

Add fraud:

It sounds like the systems that are supposed to check identity, immigration status and income simply aren’t working at all; the system just assumes that you are who you say you are.

Gosh, it’s almost like they don’t care.

Of course, I’m not sure that “add” is the right word. The whole thing has always been pretty much fraud all the way down.

ObamaCare Is Slowly Dying

from its birth defects.

A great analogy.

Congress has no authority to grant bureaucrats such discretion either way. It cannot simply hand over its powers to another branch of the government. That is the subject of a recent book by Columbia Law School professor Philip Hamburger, Is Administrative Law Unlawful? Hamburger’s thesis is that federal agencies are under the control of the executive branch and, by definition, have no power to create regulations that legally bind anyone. That is, of course, precisely what HHS attempted when it drew up its list of “must cover” contraceptives.

During oral arguments in Burwell v Hobby Lobby, Justice Kennedy was obviously interested in this issue and its implications for the separation of powers. Among his questions to the government lawyers was the following: “Now, what kind of constitutional structure do we have if the Congress can give an agency the power to grant or not grant a religious exemption based on what the agency determined?” According to Hamburger, it gives us a structure more like that which England’s James I presided over than anything envisioned by the framers.

The latter favored a very weak executive branch. In fact, according to Hamburger, they didn’t want it “bringing matters to the courts or … physically carrying out their binding acts.” This is why the Constitution is so specific about the separation of powers. The framers must have been spinning in their graves when the government lawyers were arguing Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Halbig v. Burwell. But shady deals like the cornhusker kickback and violations of the separation of powers doctrine are but two of the birth defects with which Obamacare was born.

And, as he notes, the Origination problem will be potentially fatal as well.

Halbig

The appeals court has ruled against the administration. This really guts ObamaCare.

[Update a few minuts later]

Jonathan Adler has some initial thoughts:

If this decision is upheld, it will present some three-dozen states with a choice: Establish exchanges so as to authorize tax credits for state citizens while also triggering penalties on employers and individuals who do not wish to purchase qualifying health insurance. As my co-author Michael Cannon notes, the implications of this decision go beyond its effect on tax credits. How will states respond? Time will tell. As with the Medicaid expansion, it is not entirely clear how states will react now that so much of PPACA implementation is clearly in their hands.

A lot of dominoes could fall from this.

[Update early afternoon]

Thoughts from John Hinderaker:

If the D.C. Circuit does re-hear the case en banc, it may reverse today’s panel decision. If that happens, there will no longer be a split between the circuits, but one would think the Supreme Court will take the case regardless. In that event, we may be back in familiar territory, with Justice Anthony Kennedy deciding what Congress had in mind. If you think that discerning Congress’s intent is, in this case, a fool’s errand, since no one in Congress had read the law before voting on it, you are probably right. Which is one reason why courts look to the words of a statute rather than to the subjective intentions of 535 legislators. Given that Justice Kennedy was willing to deal Obamacare what he thought was a death blow under the Commerce Clause, Democrats cannot view their ultimate prospects with much confidence.

Especially after the election.

Complexity

Frustration with the leftist fools who don’t understand the knowledge problem:

Mr. Bouie insists that he is not simply trying to make an excuse for the president’s revealed incompetence in sundry matters, but of course that is precisely what he and other apologists for the administration are doing. If they were really interested in complexity as such, then they would bring it up on the front end of the policy debate, rather than on the back end.

I’ve seen this happen so many times that every other policy debate looks to me like an ancient rerun of Three’s Company: Do you think there’ll be a comic misunderstanding in this episode, too? It unfolds like this: Politicians on the Barack Obama model promise that they will muster their native intelligence and empirical evidence to bring order to, e.g., the health-care industry, through the judicious application of regulation. People like me tell them that the effects of such regulation are almost certainly going to be other than what was intended, because such markets are too complex to be understandable, predictable, or steerable, even in principle. Even if every bureaucrat who touches health care or the labor market has the brain of an Einstein and the soul of a St. Thomas Becket, it will not turn out the way it is intended. And then, when it doesn’t turn out as intended, Jamelle Bouie et al. protest that the toldya-so chorus “betrays an ignorance of the size and complexity of the federal bureaucracy.”

And they never even consider the question: If the federal bureaucracy is so vast and complex that its behavior cannot be adequately managed, how is it that the phenomena that the bureaucracies are tasked with managing—orders of magnitude more complex than the bureaucracies themselves—are supposed to be manageable? To consider the question with any intellectual rigor is to accept real, meaningful, epistemic limits on what government can do.

Can’t have that. It doesn’t allow them to run other peoples’ lives.

Statins

More junk science, pushed by the drug companies:

History will judge the American Heart Association guidelines by their effect. We currently have a statin epidemic with 25 percent of adults over the age of 45 taking the pills, a large majority of whom do not have heart disease and have not seen the numbers. But they are simple, and available. No doctor should be prescribing a statin and no person should be taking one, unless they have seen them. If more people without heart disease take statins it will be a victory of misinformation.

I try to convince my brother to get off them, but he takes the advice of his doctor.

The Big Fat Surprise

Another review of the book:

The book’s subtitle is Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, which gave me the impression I was about to start reading a hefty science book. There’s plenty of science in The Big Fat Surprise, but it’s more of a history book. It’s the story of how lousy science conducted by arrogant scientists and adopted by equally arrogant policymakers led to lousy decisions that produced lousy consequences. I doubt any Fat Heads out there still believe nutrition science is conducted by impartial researchers who aren’t already wedded to an outcome, but if so, reading this book will disabuse you of that notion. It’s all laid out here in a richly detailed story that runs 340 pages … the egos, the arrogance, the obsession with pursuing and (ahem) proving a single hypothesis, the scientific bullying, the corruption, and of course the ham-handed interference by the 900-pound gorilla known as the federal government.

Gee, in what other field have we seen that sort of thing?

The Big Fat Silence

It’s time to end it:

…if one has been teaching that high-fat diets can lead to heart attacks for 30 years but then finds that this may not be true, or that, indeed, more fat and less carbohydrate in the diet may be beneficial to one’s health and longevity, feelings of discomfort can result. Subconscious mechanisms may then keep enduring convictions firmly in place for extended periods of time, despite evidence to the contrary.

And it’s hard to confront the fact that you may have been responsible for the poor health and lives cut short of people you’ve been advising.

More Blows For Liberty From SCOTUS

Shockingly to union supporters, a union can’t force someone taking care of her disabled son to pay union dues for the privilege.

And there’s another blow to ObamaCare’s attempt to run our lives:

The 5-4 decision is a significant victory for those challenging the constitutionality of the President Obama’s health care law. And it strengthens the argument that for-profit entities, like individuals and churches, have religious rights.

So you don’t lose your religious freedom because you make a profit.

Huh.

[Update mid afternoon]

The funniest thing on Twitter today, amidst all the illogic, hatred and hysteria, is the number of people who think that @SCOTUSblog is actually SCOTUS’s blog (and Twitter feed) and attacking them. The @SCOTUSblog folks are having a lot of fun with it.

Triglycerides

So I heard about this story on the news this morning, and it sounded a little junk sciency:

“What’s exciting about this is it takes that to another place,” said Toni Pollin, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who led the 2008 work. “Just as you’d expect from something that prevents coronary artery buildup, there is strong evidence that having [a gene mutation] reduces the risk of having a heart attack.”

Kathiresan and colleagues benefited from the revolution in genome technology, sequencing 18,666 genes in each of 3,734 people in their search for genes that appeared to be linked to triglycerides. Rare mutations in the APOC3 gene stood out.

Once they understood where to look, they searched for four mutations in that gene in more than 110,000 people. They found that people with any one of the mutations — about 1 in 150 people — were 40 percent less likely to have heart disease and had lower levels of triglycerides.

There is no doubt in my mind that that there is a genetic basis for heart-disease risk, but I am not seeing anything in this study that would indicate that trying to reduce triglycerides per se (as statins attempt to lower cholesterol) are doing anything but treating a symptom, and possibly a harmless one. The mutation reduces both triglycerides and heart risk, but doesn’t mean that high triglycerides increase heart risk per se, or that lowering them artificially will reduce it.

But for what it’s worth, since I went partially paleo, my triglycerides have become almost immeasurable.