Just to give a show of my impartiality, today I shall tackle some spurious health stories not from the Daily Mail or the Daily Express, but from my own particular favourite newspaper, the i.
First up, a story about how a healthier lifestyle could help reduce global warming. Quite a lot of common sense, but some bollocks too. Banning carbonated (fizzy) drinks could help reduce the carbon footprint of individuals. Except it won’t, since the CO2 is already here and just goes round the houses a bit. Then there’s this bit of tomfoolery. Metered dose asthma inhalers are major contributors to climate change. I flat out refuse to believe that. Firstly, the propellants they may be fretting about are CFCs, and while those gases cane the shit out of the ozone layer, they don’t have an effect on climate. Secondly, the charge in an asthma inhaler is miniscule. Thirdly, quite a few metered dose inhalers don’t use CFC propellants. At all.
Then we get a ‘Scare with no evidence’ story you might expect in the Mail or the Express. The BMA in the UK will be asked to investigate what ‘… one GP called a growing problem with serious risks to road users.’ We have one bloke expressing some concern here. One. Anyway, Dr Peter Holden is worried that tests often fail to detect if people with dementia are capable of driving and dealing with unexpected hazards. There’s a lot of blather about driving being ‘a complex psychomotor activity,’ and his concern that elderly drivers can’t cope with the unexpected.
Here’s the killer. No statistics. Nary a one. No numbers of drivers registered with the DVLA as having dementia. Critically, not a single estimate, let alone actual count, of the numbers of accidents causing death or injury where dementia has been a factor. It can’t be hard to find those figures, or they may not exist because it’s not a problem.
‘Skinny jeans can cause muscle and nerve damage, warn doctors.’ Definitely worthy of the swivel-eyed tabloids, this one. It merits a whole quarter page in the i. According to the neurology unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the University of Adelaide, a woman was hospitalised with ‘…what represents a new neurological complication of wearing tight jeans.’ One woman, two sets of researchers. What?
As it happens this woman wore skinny jeans while helping a friend move house. She spent a long time squatting to put things in cupboards, and ‘(the jeans) … felt increasingly tight and uncomfortable as the day wore on.’ Well no shit, as they say. Anyway, she fell over, was unable to get up, and was hospitalised. Her legs were so swollen the jeans had to be cut off.
Two things. One, she was dumb, and it took two teams of researchers to establish that. Not exactly cost effective is it? Two, this is a manifestation of compartment syndrome, which you find more usually in patients with a cast put on while tissue swelling hasn’t ended. It’s not new.
Moral. Don’t be a dumbass all your life. Take a day off and if your clothes are uncomfortable, change the damned things.
I expect better of my newspaper.