Archive for May, 2014

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“In earlier times, they had no statistics, and so they had to fall back on lies.”
-Original author unknown

Hey everyone,

Last time we spoke, I promised my next article would discuss the type of diet that’s been shown in clinical trials to reduce cardiovascular mortality. However, something else has crossed my desk that I need to comment on pronto.

As a result, this article is going to be about a type of eating pattern that, despite all the lavish claims made for it, has never been shown to reduce CVD mortality in clinical trials. In fact this style of eating, despite the reigning propaganda, has never been shown to reduce death from any cause.

I’m talking, dear readers, about vegetarianism.

An EPIC Wank

Late last year a big ballyhoo was made about an analysis of the large EPIC-Oxford epidemiological study in England that compared cardiovascular outcomes in those who called themselves vegetarians with those who did not. As I explained in this article, an earlier analysis of the EPIC-Oxford cohort found no reduction in cardiovascular mortality among vegetarians. It did, however, find that overall mortality was slightly albeit non-statistically significantly higher among this group. For some strange reason, this study attracted very little attention from the media.

Not content with these uninspiring results, the EPIC researchers – two of whom belong to organizations whose express purpose is to promote vegetarianism – decided to conduct another analysis, this time combining both fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular outcomes. Analysing each of these outcomes alone had failed to produce any kind of statistically significant risk reduction, but using the old trick of combining endpoints finally produced a result that could be used to further the vegetarian cause. The researchers promptly drafted another paper completely ignoring the previous unfavourable all-cause mortality results, instead gushing on about the “reduced risk” of combined fatal and non-fatal heart disease. Media outlets all around the world quickly proceeded to insult our intelligence with headlines such as “Vegetarian diets reduce heart disease risk by a third.”

Hmmm, I guess they never received any glowing press releases for the previous EPIC paper showing no reduction in CVD mortality, a higher rate of colorectal cancer, and a slightly higher rate of overall mortality among vegetarians. And I guess no-one ever explained to them that the only reason vegetarians enjoyed any reduction in CVD was their significantly younger mean age, their lower rate of smoking, and higher rates of exercise.

Funny that.

I debunked that study here, and explained why vegetarian diets are more likely to promote rather than prevent cardiovascular disease. Today, I’m going to dismantle another audaciously misleading pro-vegetarian paper.

When Religion Combines with Diet Dogma – Literally

So let’s leave the UK, and travel over to the US where there resides another group of researchers conducting a large-scale epidemiological comparison of vegetarians and omnivores.

The population being studied is comprised of Seventh Day Adventists, a religious denomination that advises its members to follow a vegetarian diet. From all accounts, this admonition is not administered with quite the same vigour as, say, the Jewish and Muslin proscriptions against pork. And so not all Adventists follow a truly vegetarian diet, allowing researchers to follow what would appear to be a relatively homogenous population consuming various levels of animal products.

This page contains “The Seventh-day Adventist Position Statement on Vegetarian Diets”, and states:

“The vegetarian diet recommended by Seventh-day Adventists includes the generous use of whole grain breads, cereals and pastas, a liberal use of fresh vegetables and fruits, a moderate use of legumes, nuts, seeds. It can also include low fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheeses and eggs.   It is best to avoid high saturated fat and cholesterol foods such as: beef, lamb, pork, chicken, fish and seafood.  Coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages provide few nutrients and may interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients.”

It goes on to claim:

“Vegetarians have reduced risks of certain diseases because of their increased consumption of whole grains, dried beans, nuts, fresh and dried fruits, and vegetables.  Vegetarians are exposed to fewer carcinogens and mutagens because they do not eat meat.”

Here’s the truth: There exists no reliable evidence whatsoever that avoidance of meat reduces the incidence of cancer nor any other disease. As for the 7DA proscription against tea and coffee, both are antioxidant-rich beverages that show little evidence of harm when consumed in sensible amounts. Heck, even epidemiologists struggle to find harmful associations between tea, coffee and health and mortality outcomes; quite the opposite, in fact[1].

It’s also most ironic that whoever drafted this position statement criticizes tea and coffee for their alleged nutrient-inhibiting effects when whole-grains contain a plethora of what researchers refer to as anti-nutrients, which have been well documented to inhibit the absorption or production of such critical nutrients as zinc, magnesium, calcium, selenium, and vitamins B6 and D. Unlike tea, which clinical trials indicate is a most health-enhancing beverage, controlled trials have repeatedly shown increased whole-grain consumption to produce negative health outcomes.

Hmmm. A religious organization making claims with no foundation in sound science. Gee, who would’ve thought?

As to why the 7DA religion settled on this eating style in the first instance:

“For more than 130 years Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs) have practiced a vegetarian dietary lifestyle because of their belief in the holistic nature of humankind. Whatever is done in eating or drinking should honor and glorify God and preserve the health of the body, mind and spirit.”

I’ll leave aside the fact that after thousands of years, none of the worshippers of the various “Gods” has been able to provide anything resembling proof for the existence of said Gods. And therefore that eating or drinking with the goal of “honouring” and “glorifying” any of these Gods might not be the most intelligent way to determine one’s eating patterns.

Elvis_sacred_heart_of_elvis
Some people worship Elvis. You might think that’s strange, but at least they can prove he existed LOL

Nope, I won’t bang on about that because, ultimately, people are free to believe whatever they want. If you want to believe in virgin births, resurrections from the dead, or that a bunch of invisible goblins lives under your kitchen table, then good for you. Ditto if you choose to believe avoiding meat somehow affirms the “holistic nature of humankind”, despite the fact that Paleolithic humans – who didn’t just talk the talk but really did live in harmony with nature (like they had a choice) – ate meat on a very regular basis with remarkable evolutionary success for some 2.4 million years.

As anyone who has studied both Paleontology and the history of vegetarianism will know, the latter was quite literally born out of religion. Archaeological evidence, along with observation of surviving hunter-gatherer societies, invariably indicates animal flesh (especially fat-rich animal flesh) was an important and highly valued component of the human diet. It wasn’t until Homo sapiens moved from a nomadic hunter-gatherer existence to a sedentary agrarian lifestyle that they had the time to sit around, gaze at their navel, and dream up concepts such as “non-violent” food acquisition. The first ‘enlightened’ thinkers that came up with this concept were probably written off as a bunch of soft-cocks by their hardy peers, but vegetarian ideologies eventually gained traction, especially when the ruling classes realized the potential advantages to be conferred by forbidding meat consumption in areas where grain cultivation was a much less ecologically expensive method for sustaining rapidly expanding populations.

Those who want to explore this phenomenon further are highly advised to consult the outstanding Cannibals and Kings by Dr Marvin Harris. My goal here is to simply point out that vegetarianism came into being as an ideology among sedentary, agrarian ‘thinkers’. Thousands of years later and little has changed. Vegetarianism is still an ideology with no foundation in anything resembling sound science.

Which would be all fine and dandy if the promoters of vegetarianism stuck to their theoretical ethical musings and made no pretence about the healthfulness of their diet being supported by sound science.

Which in turn brings up a second important point about vegetarianism. It was born from theories about “peaceful” food acquisition and non-violence towards animals which, no matter how admirable their intent, can hardly be considered end-products of the scientific method. Claims for the alleged health benefits of vegetarianism came later. And the science for that came much, much later again.

I’ll repeat: The ideology came first, the science came after.

My long-time readers will be familiar with how this works (think cholesterol hypothesis of heart disease): A theory is constructed based on someone’s interesting but unfounded ideas. The theory holds appeal but the supportive scientific evidence is lacking so researchers go about amassing it after the fact. Instead of testing the hypothesis with ruthless impartiality, the subsequent research is constructed and interpreted in a manner that will support the pre-existing beliefs.

By now you should be starting to see where I’m heading with all this. It’s hardly a secret the Seventh Day Adventist religion has a bias towards vegetarian eating. It makes claims about this style of eating which are of questionable veracity, but when challenged can cite scientific research that supposedly proves its vegetarian exhortations are backed by more than religious commandment.

But guess what?

The same studies examining Adventists and claiming beneficial findings for vegetarian diets are also conducted by Adventists. Specifically, the team of researchers housed in the “Adventist Health Studies” department in the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University.

Loma Linda is home to one of the largest 7DA congregations in the world, and the university is owned by the 7DA church. This university has treated us to a string of papers over the years, many hailing the risk reductions in death and disease that allegedly accompany a vegetarian diet.

Given the longstanding and well documented concerns arising from research conducted by individuals with a vested interest in the results, I’d say a very strong dose of scepticism is warranted when analysing their papers.

Before we take a look at the most recent paper from this team, let’s take a quick look at some of their Greatest Hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

C’mon Baby Lay Your Stats on Me

In 1975, the Loma Linda researchers presented mortality data from over 35,000 Seventh-Day Adventists whom they monitored during the period 1958-1965. Sure enough, this group showed reduced rates of mortality from a number of cancers, but many of these were readily explained by a lower prevalence of smoking and alcohol consumption. Furthermore, the incidence of prostate cancer, which is typically attributed to the consumption of high fat animal foods, was similar between Adventists and non-Adventists.

In addition, recent converts showed a lower risk of breast and colon cancer than life-time Adventists. If animal foods truly contributed to such malignancies then the opposite should have been evident; risk should have declined with increasing length of time as a practicing Adventist.

It has long been recognized that, within populations, individuals from higher socioeconomic backgrounds with higher educational qualifications tend to experience lower rates of various degenerative illnesses than less-educated folks of lower socioeconomic standing. Because Seventh-Day Adventists were generally higher educated than average, the researchers also compared the cancer and all-cause death rates of Adventist and non-Adventist physicians, two groups with very similar educational and career status. They examined the incidence of mortality among over 6,000 medical practitioners who graduated between 1901 and 1971 from Loma Linda University (where over 75% of the graduates were Adventists) and the University of Southern California (where less than 5% of graduates were Adventists).

As expected, the death rate among physicians was lower than the general population, but the “startling” finding was that there was little difference in the rate of cancer or all-cause mortality among the two groups. In fact, the Loma Linda graduates showed a trend towards higher rates of gastro-intestinal and colon cancers, again contradicting prevailing beliefs about the role of animal foods in cancer promotion.

Finally, the researchers examined the relationship between diet and the incidence of colon and breast cancer within the Adventist population itself. Adventists with colon cancer were found to consume more meat, fish and cheese, seemingly supportive of the vegetarian hypothesis. However, colon cancer patients also ate significantly more highly-processed and nutrient-depleted fodder such as ice cream, fried potatoes, fried foods, cakes, and pies. The patients also ingested less green leafy vegetables than cancer-free Adventists. In other words, it was the overall dietary pattern of these patients – one featuring a higher proportion of refined junk – that was associated with colon cancer, not simply the presence of animal foods. Indeed, when the researchers examined the role of each food in isolation, the association between meat, fish and colon cancer disappeared[2].

Consider also a more recent study of over 34,000 Californian Seventh-Day Adventists, published in 1999, which found that vegetarians had lower risks of hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, colon cancer, prostate cancer, fatal CHD in males, and death from all causes. Again, vegetarians displayed a number of healthful dietary habits unrelated to meat intake that were not shared by their omnivorous brethren. Vegetarians consumed more tomatoes, nuts, and fruit, but less donuts than non-vegetarians. Non-vegetarian Seventh-Day Adventists also consumed alcoholic beverages twenty times more frequently than their vegetarian counterparts[3].

As with the earlier study of Adventists published in 1975, these observations clearly showed that those who shunned meat also adopted other dietary measures that protected their health.

Before we discuss more Loma Linda findings, let’s catch another flight, this time over to Norway to check out some research on 7DAs conducted by non-7DA researchers at the University of Tromso.

They studied the mortality pattern of SDAs in the Netherlands during the period 1968-1977. Standardized Mortality Ratios for total mortality, cancer and cardiovascular diseases were significantly lower than for the total Dutch population. Mean age at death as well as life-expectation at baptism were significantly higher in SDAs, both in males and females, compared with Dutch males and females.

To try and find out why, the researchers administered a health survey among a sample of the SDAs population and a group of “friend controls”.

These researchers, who presumably had little incentive to prop up the vegetarian sham, concluded that abstinence from cigarette smoking was likely the main factor explaining the low mortality from ischaemic heart diseases among SDAs, while “presumably an appropriate (prudent) diet confers additional benefit for example on colon cancer mortality”[4].

Notice the emphasis on smoking, and also note how they refer to a “prudent” diet, rather than a vegetarian diet.

In a later study by the same department, little difference in cancer incidence was found between 7DAs and the general population. Total mortality was significantly lower only in 7DA men, especially cardiovascular mortality. They found entering the church at an early age had a large effect on later mortality. They concluded “An early establishment of a healthy lifestyle seems to be of decisive importance in the risk of later disease.”[5]

Notice the emphasis on a “healthy lifestyle”, as opposed to diet.

Ok, now back to California. In their earlier reports, the Loma Linda researchers occasionally dropped their guard and also presented findings supporting the thesis that an overall healthier lifestyle rather than a vegetarian diet was what really explained any lower incidence of disease and mortality.

A 1984 paper, for example, reported lower breast cancer mortality among 7DA women. But, in the researchers own words: “The differences, however, were no longer significant when stage at diagnosis was taken into account. It seems likely that the lower breast cancer death rates reported among Seventh-day Adventist women as compared with the general population result in part from better survival patterns due to earlier diagnosis and treatment.”[6]

Gary E. Fraser, a prominent member of the Loma Linda pro-vegetarian research team, wrote in 1988:

“The lower risk for IHD [ischaemic/coronary heart disease] in Adventist men, at least, is probably related to their dietary habits, nonsmoking status, possibly their better exercise habits, and greater social support.”[7]

That’s a lot closer to the truth than some of his more recent conclusions, but let me re-word the above sentence so that it’s even more in accord with valid science:

“The lower risk for IHD in Adventist men has nothing to do with avoidance of meat, but everything to do with their far lower rates of smoking, greater participation in exercise, maintenance of a lower BMI, and quite possibly the stress-buffering effects of greater social support.”

The following year, Fraser and his colleagues published a paper examining prostate cancer risk among some 14,000 Seventh-day Adventist men who completed a detailed lifestyle questionnaire in 1976 and who were monitored for cancer incidence until the end of 1982. Now, before I relay their findings, remember that meat and animal fats are incessantly blamed for causing prostate cancer.

So what did they find?

–“Increasing educational attainment was associated with significantly decreased risk of prostate cancer in this study.”  Nothing to do with diet, obviously.

–“age at first marriage was also inversely associated with risk, although this was not significant” (and also totally unrelated to diet).

–“A history of prostate “trouble” was associated with a 60% increase in risk which was highly significant.”

–“Although there were suggestive relationships between increasing animal product consumption and increased risk, these results did not persist after accounting for the influence of fruit and vegetable consumption. Nor was exposure to the vegetarian lifestyle during the childhood years associated with alterations in subsequent risk. However, increasing consumption of beans, lentils and peas, tomatoes, raisin, dates, and other dried fruit were all associated with significantly decreased prostate cancer risk.”

That same year they also examined the link between diet and breast cancer. They found:

“Age at first live birth, maternal history of breast cancer, age at menopause, educational attainment, and obesity were all significantly related to risk. However, increasing consumption of high fat animal products was not associated with increased risk of breast cancer in a consistent fashion. Nor were childhood and early teenage dietary habits (vegetarian versus nonvegetarian) related to subsequent, adult risk of developing breast cancer. Also, a derived index of percent of calories from animal fat in the adult years was not significantly related to risk. These results persisted after simultaneously controlling for other, potentially confounding variables, utilizing Cox proportional hazard regression models.”[8]

In other words, in these studies consumption of animal foods and SFA (Saturated Fatty Acids) had SFA to do with the likelihood of getting prostate or breast cancer. It was other health and lifestyle characteristics that explained the difference.

Another paper from 1988 is worth mentioning here. It also found a similar lack of risk from animal foods and breast cancer mortality, but a look at the relative risks is good for a chuckle:

“Odds ratios of 1.00, 1.22, and 1.03 were observed for meat consumption categories of none or occasional, 1-3 days/week, and 4+ days/week, respectively.”[9]

If we’re to take this epidemiological pap seriously, then avoidance of meat, milk, cheese, and eggs confers zero increase in fatal breast cancer risk, rises by 22% in relative terms with consumption 1-3 days/week, but then pretty much returns to zero with consumption 4 or more days/week.

Yeah, that makes sense…

A little later, in 1994, the researchers found no difference in cancer incidence between 7DA and non-7DA, except for endometrial cancer which was significantly higher among 7DA women. Overall cancer mortality was lower in 7DA men, with the exception of prostate cancer, which was significantly higher[10]. If we’re to attribute the lower cancer incidence of 7DA men to diet, then it’s only fair we also ascribe the higher incidence of prostate cancer to their eating habits.

Personally I think all this epidemiology is a load of confounder-prone bollocks, and I’m not prepared to ascribe jack to jack until a little later when we look at the RCT data.

For now, let’s jump forward to the present, and check out the paper the Loma Linda researchers published earlier this year. While it didn’t get quite the same level of coverage as the EPIC paper from last year, this paper was still awarded misleading headlines from unthinking journalists, including these gems:

“Vegetarian diet may reduce risk of early death” – CBS News

“Lower risk of death is associated with vegetarian diets” – Examiner.com

“Are vegetarian diets secret to long life? People who avoid meat have better health due to lower blood pressure” – Daily Mail UK

Holy beefsteak, Batman.

My dear readers, I have a dream…that our children will one day live in a world where the media forbids health and nutrition stories to be written by anyone other than those who have a clue about health and nutrition and also know how to impartially read and pick apart a scientific paper.

Because as it stands, most journalists who write diet and health articles don’t have the first clue about diet and health, nor do they even bother to read the studies they report on. Instead they rely on the hyperbolic press release issued by the research team or the medical journal in question. If they need further information to pad out their article, instead of doing their own research they’ll simply contact the head researcher for a bunch of quotable quotes.

mr_nonsense
While this journalistic cluelessness makes life a lot easier for purveyors of dietary disinformation, it sucks massively for all those who would like their dietary information to be of the factual, scientifically valid, non-BS variety.

And make no mistake: The claims made for the latest study out of Loma Linda are complete BS.

The Bizzarro World of Statistics: When a Lower Risk of Mortality is a Higher Risk of Mortality.

This most recent 7DA paper, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine on June 3, reported on 73,308 participants from the Adventist Health Study 2 (AHS-2) who, based on their questionnaire responses, were categorized into 5 dietary patterns: nonvegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pescovegetarian, lacto-ovo–vegetarian, and vegan[11].

The researchers claim:

“The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for all-cause mortality in all vegetarians combined vs nonvegetarians was 0.88…The adjusted HR for all-cause mortality in vegans was 0.85…in lacto-ovo–vegetarians, 0.91…in pesco-vegetarians, 0.81…and in semi-vegetarians, 0.92 compared with nonvegetarians. Significant associations with vegetarian diets were detected for cardiovascular mortality, noncardiovascular noncancer mortality, renal mortality, and endocrine mortality.” (All these findings statistically significant at 95% confidence interval).

You’ll note their repeated use of the word “adjusted”; we’ll explore the significance of this in a moment.

In the meantime, this study has so many flaws it’s hard to know where to start.

I could elaborate on what a joke it is to claim ‘significance’ for a 12% risk reduction from a confounder-prone epidemiological study (in randomized controlled clinical trials, such miniscule RRs are routinely dismissed as too weak to get excited over, and we’re talking studies with far less confounding than the epidemiological slop being served up to us by the Loma Linda team).

I could also elaborate on the sheer stupidity inherent in the term “pescovegetarian”. Let’s get something straight – if you eat fish, you ain’t no vegetarian. If you’re going to stick with this high and mighty moral routine that forbids the killing of living creatures, then plain basic logic dictates you must acknowledge fish are also living creatures that must be killed in order for you to consume them. After all, how can it be in harmony with “the holistic nature of humankind” to avoid killing land-based animals for food, but to go ahead and kill aquatic creatures for the exact same purpose?

I could elaborate on these things and more, but I won’t. Instead I’m going to plunge a cyber-knife right into the guts of this study and expose it outright for the utter fraud it is.

And make no mistake: Any claim this study demonstrates lower mortality among vegans, vegetarians, fish eaters (the so-called “pescovegetarians”) and semi-vegetarians is a patently fraudulent one.

Why?

Because that’s what the researchers’ own data shows. The raw data, that is. The actual, unmolested figures the researchers present before proceeding to “adjust” them in a manner that delivers a result far more palatable to the vegetarian cause.

OK folks, put your thinking caps on, and take a good look at the following:

untitled

This is Table 3 from the AHS-2 paper. Without yet reading any of the fine print underneath the table, I want you to take a look at the figures in the column second from the right, the one titled “Death Rate, Deaths/1000 Person-years (95% CI)a“.

You’ll see that the researchers have cited mortality rates ranging from 5.33 to 6.16 deaths/1000 person years for the various vegetarian categories, while the lowly meat eaters return a rate of 6.61 deaths/1000 person years.

Here’s what you need to know about these death rate figures:

They’re complete bullshit.

And you’re now going to prove this to yourself, instead of taking my word for it. Grab your calculators, kids, it’s time for Debunking Epidemiological Hogwash 101.

Everybody got their calcs handy? Good. Let’s get to work.

The first thing we’re going to do is re-calculate the rate of deaths/1000 person years. This is pretty simple: Simply take the number in the “Deaths” column for each dietary category, divide it by the number in the “Time, Person-years” category, then multiply the resultant figure by 1000.

Doing so will give you the following deaths/1000 person years figures:

Non-vegetarian: 5.67
Vegan: 6.00
Pescovegetarian: 6.08
Lacto-ovo vegetarian: 6.53
Semi-vegetarian: 6.74

Now, take a good look at those figures and note who has the lowest death rate.

Yep, the non-vegetarians!

A similar result is returned when you calculate the number of deaths as a percentage of total number of participants in each dietary category (you can eliminate the difference in mean follow-up by multiplying each figure by the percentage 5.72 constitutes of the other longer mean follow-up periods).

No matter which way you work it, the raw data speak for themselves: The lowest death rate in the study is enjoyed by those who eat the most meat.

This, mind you, is despite the fact that the meat eaters clearly lived the unhealthiest lifestyles. They were far more likely to smoke cigarettes than the other categories, exercised less, got less sleep at night, and had higher BMIs. And yet they still exhibited the lowest mortality rate during the mean 5.7 year follow-up period.

That to me sounds like a pretty glowing endorsement of meat consumption, rather than a damning indictment!

The obvious question then, is how on Earth did the researchers arrive at their conclusion that vegetarians had lower mortality, and where on Earth did they derive the death/1000 year figures in Table 3?

Statistics, my friends, statistics.

Be Good to the Numbers and They’ll Be Good to You

Statistics are a lot like people: Rub them the right way, and they’ll often return the favour. Scratch their back, and they’ll scratch yours.

In fact, if you’re a real smooth operator, statistics are kind of like those girls who seem kinda shy at first, but with the right encouragement will proceed to do some shockingly raunchy stuff. Work them the right way, then once they’re sufficiently loosened up you can manipulate them into positions they would never normally go in their non-manipulated state. Darken the room, light some scented candles, play some Crazy P, start rubbing in the exotic oils, and those hot little numbers will promptly shed all their inhibitions, allowing them to freely perform the most unspeakable acts, in the process making all your wildest dreams an ecstatic reality.

Okay, okay, so epidemiologists don’t really use scented candles or essential oils or play Crazy P when they’re trying to bend the data in their preferred direction.

Instead, they use mathematical formulas.

Yep, who needs to waste time arranging velvety smooth sheets or selecting mood-enhancing tunes when you’ve got so many other statistical tools at your fingertips:  Multivariate Analysis, Variance Components Analysis, Linear Mixed Models, Generalized Linear Models, Generalized linear mixed models, Loglinear Analysis, Kaplan-Meier Survival Analysis, Cox Regression Analysis, Time-Dependent Covariates, Regression Analysis, Multiple Regression Analysis, Curve Fitting…the list goes on and on.

And on.

Statisticians: They’d Like to Do it With the Entire Population, But Only Get a Small Sample

Let’s go back to Table 3 of the AHS-2 paper. We saw, before our very eyes, how running the numbers unmistakably returns figures showing lower mortality rates among non-vegetarians. Yet in the same table, the researchers present death rates showing the exact opposite.

So how did the researchers arrive at these numbers? Well, notice that little “a” next to “Death Rate, Deaths/1000 Person-years (95% CI)“? Look at the corresponding footnote underneath the table. It reads: “Adjusted for age, race, and sex by direct standardization.”

Welcome to the wonderful world of statistical manipulation, my friends. The only thing real and indisputable about this study is that the raw data show the lowest rates of mortality among non-vegetarians. Once the researchers take the data and start “adjusting” it, we move from the realm of concrete reality into the land of speculation, assumption, estimation and, all too often, outright bollocks.

So in Table 3, the researchers begin moving us into the latter realm by using a process known as direct standardization.

What, I hear you asking, is direct standardization?

“Direct Standardization (SDR1) calculates a weighted average of the region’s age-specific mortality rates where the weights represent the age-specific sizes of the standard population.”

If that sounds totally foreign to you, that’s the whole point. An essential part of pulling the wool over people’s eyes is using methods they don’t understand. This makes you seem real smart, a process encapsulated by the saying “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit!”

Heck, I think I just summed up the entire field of statistics in one single sentence!

Can I go home now?

No? You want me to finish tearing this AHS-2 bollocks apart?

Bugger.

Alright, let’s continue…

To perform direct age standardization, one first has to select a reference population. The death rate in the population you are studying is then compared to the death rate recorded for the reference population. In the 7DA-2 paper, the researchers used the entire 7DA-2 study population itself as the reference.

Next, one computes the age-specific rates within the study group (in this case, each dietary category). Then, one multiplies these rates by the number of people in that age group in the reference population. These expected counts are summed and divided by the total population size of the reference population to yield the directly standardized rate.

Again, that probably sounds a bit foreign to many of you, but here’s the gist of what happened: The mean age of the 7DA-2 non-vegetarian sample was 55.9, in the other groups the mean age was 57.5-58.8. By using age standardization, the non-vegetarian group was penalized for having a mean age 1.6-2.3 years younger than that of the other groups. But would the results really have been much different if every group had, for example, a mean age of 57.58 (the average of the 5 groups)?

As for gender, the non-vegetarian group was middle of the field in terms on percentage of females, and second highest after the ‘pescovegetarians’ in percentage of blacks.

So again, what would the results have been if all groups had not only the same mean age but also the same number of female and black participants?

The only honest answer to that is that we don’t know. However, the researchers go ahead and claim otherwise, ignoring the raw deaths/1000 person-years data, running direct standardization and presenting the results as fact.

If the researchers had presented the raw data, then run the direct standardization calculations, then said something like the following, they would have been on much more honest ground:

“The raw data show that, despite their unhealthier lifestyles, non-vegetarians had the lowest death rates in the study. Adjustment of the data via direct standardization reversed these results, but we must emphasize that direct standardization is purely a paper exercise in speculation. Running a bunch of equations on our computers does not in any way change what actually happened in reality. And the reality is that non-vegetarians had the lowest mortality.

The only way to know if the results of the direct standardization analysis would hold up in real life is if we were able to re-conduct the study with five groups all sporting the same mean age/gender/race characteristics. Or even better, ditching this whole epidemiology wank and conducting a real study – i.e. a randomized controlled clinical trial that takes a large group of people and randomly assigns them to diets similar in every respect except that one contains meat and the other does not.”

But of course, the Loma Linda researchers didn’t say anything like this. Instead, having the direct standardized data they needed, they then proceeded to the next phase of their caper: Cox Regression Analysis.

Stop Fiddling with Cox, it’s Most Unbecoming

So now I hear you all asking: “Anthony, what the hell is Cox Regression Analysis?”

I must say, you’re a wonderful and very engaging audience, asking so many questions like this.

Cox Regression analysis was invented by a bloke called Sir David Cox, believe it or not. Sir Cox “observed that if the proportional hazards assumption holds (or, is assumed to hold) then it is possible to estimate the effect parameter(s) without any consideration of the hazard function.”

Again, that will sound like a load of gobbledegook to many of you, but all you really need to note here are the words “assumption”, “assumed” and “estimate”. Those words pretty much tell us everything we need to know. Or should already know. After all, it’s hardly a secret that humans are in no way omnipotent and cannot predict the future nor wave a wand and magically remove the influence of any and all confounders after the fact.

The best they can do is attempt to estimate the potential effect of confounding variables by using formulas based on assumptions.

In other words, they can guess. The fact that these guesses are based on sophisticated mathematical models still does not change one iota the fact that, ultimately, they are guesses.

Yep, a highly educated guess is still a guess, my friends.

And highly educated people, I might add, often screw up royally (a big hello at this point to every highly decorated researcher who has ever claimed saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease).

Anyways, so the Loma Linda researchers got their Cox on…oh wait, that didn’t sound right…um, they got to work with the Cox analyses in order to “adjust” for the effect not just of age/race/gender but also smoking, exercise, income, educational level, marital status, sleep and region.

The Cox analysis, remember, is an estimate of the impact of these various confounders, as is the Multivariate analysis that is also widely used in epidemiological studies.

Quick quiz:

Q: What are the formulas inherent in these analyses based on?

A: The results of other epidemiological studies.

Yep, epidemiology isn’t just your regular run-of-the-mill wank, folks – it’s a Ponzi-style wank!

And this elaborate multi-layered wankology, ladies and gentlemen, is how you take a set of raw actual figures and totally transform them into something they’re not. By the time they’re done, the Loma Linda researchers have managed to return 8-19% reductions from overall mortality in the vegetarian groups. Meanwhile, the hapless meat-eaters suddenly find themselves portrayed as having the highest death rate in the study from just about every listed cause!

Again, this wouldn’t be so outrageous if the researchers took pains to emphasize these reductions were purely speculative estimates arising from mathematical exercises. But they do the exact opposite, concluding:

“…vegetarian dietary patterns were associated with lower mortality. The evidence that vegetarian diets, or similar diets with reduced meat consumption, may be associated with a lower risk of death should be considered carefully by individuals as they make dietary choices and by those offering dietary guidance.”

What the Loma Linda researchers want us to believe is that, despite having the lowest mortality rate in the study, non-vegetarians actually had the highest death rate in the study!

Got that?

And they further believe that people issuing dietary advice to the public should seriously consider basing their recommendations on this fantasy-based nonsense!

Holy cow.

Why Vegetarians Don’t Like Clinical Trials

The Loma Linda team have been publishing papers for almost forty years now, many claiming reductions in mortality, heart disease and cancer to be associated with vegetarianism.

Like most of their epidemiological brethren, these researchers seem utterly unwilling to acknowledge the speculative nature of their work, and totally oblivious to the fact that statistical associations are just that: Statistical associations.

I’ve already said this 1,000 times, and I’ll no doubt say it another 1,000 times, but the first rule of good science is…that…

ASSOCIATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION!

Breathe Anthony, breathe LOL

So here’s my advice to the folks from Loma Linda University and EPIC-Oxford, along with all those who incessantly cite epidemiological associations as if they constitute solid evidence of the superiority of vegetarian diets:

Quit the statistical chicanery, and take the large amount of tax money you waste on this epidemic of epidemi-hogwash and instead use it to conduct some real studies. That is, randomized controlled clinical trials in which large groups of participants are randomly assigned to one of two diets similar in every respect except that one contains meat and the other doesn’t. Go ahead and throw in a fish-eating diet as well if it makes you feel better, but for crying out loud just don’t call it “pescovegetarian”.

You vegetarian proponents have actually had decades to do this, but with a few small exceptions have shunned the opportunity. Instead, you’re happy to keep supporting your dogma by citing distorted data from confounder-prone epidemiological studies involving health-conscious vegetarians versus health-indifferent omnivores.

Why is that I wonder?

Let’s take a look at those few small exceptions I just mentioned to find out.

Vegetarian Diets on Trial

The EPIC study shows that, despite their healthier lifestyle habits, vegetarians experience a slightly higher mortality rate than their omnivorous peers. And the raw unadulterated data from AHS-2 suggests the exact same thing. Far from providing support for the highly-hyped superiority of vegetarian diets, these results suggest that vegetarian diets are so nutritionally inferior they completely negate the benefits of exercise, non-smoking, good sleep habits and lower BMI and alcohol consumption.

And, lo and behold, the clinical research performed to date supports this very contention.

Despite all the lavish claims made for vegetarianism, there is amazingly little long-term clinical research directly comparing their effects on cardiovascular disease, cancer and overall mortality with omnivorous diets. The randomized clinical trial evidence in this genre pretty much begins and ends with two small studies, one published by Dr Dean Ornish and the other by a group of Oregon researchers.

Ornish’s trial, the Lifestyle Heart Trial, was published back in 1990. This is the same clinical trial that provided the springboard for the well-known low-fat and vegetarian author to launch a lucrative career claiming he could reverse heart disease. This claim is made despite the fact that Ornish’s intervention has completely failed under randomized controlled conditions to save even a single life.

Ornish’s “Lifestyle” program actually involves several interventions aside from the omission of meat. Participants are counselled to exercise, engage in stress reduction activities, and to cut all the refined and heavily processed junk from their diets. All these factors on their own could have a significant and favourable impact on CHD risk, but despite these confounding factors Ornish routinely cites his intervention as proof of the efficacy of meat-free and low-fat diets.

But just how effective is his program, anyway?

After one year of follow-up in the Lifestyle trial the researchers reported 82% of those in the experimental group experienced regression of arterial plaque, compared to only 42% of those in the control group, as determined  by angiography. The experimental group subjects also experienced significantly less chest pain[12]. But these factors could easily be due to exercise and stress reduction.

In 1998, the Journal of the American Medical Association published the five-year follow-up data for the Lifestyle Heart Trial. While the experimental group experienced a significantly reduced overall incidence of cardiac events (a composite classification that included angioplasty, bypass surgery, heart attack, and hospitalization for any cardiac cause), the treatment group actually experienced one more death than the control group (two people in the intervention group died compared to one person in the control group)[13].

Ornish claims that one of the treatment group deaths was in a participant who had stopped following the intervention. Another intervention subject allegedly got a little too enthusiastic whilst exercising, exceeding his prescribed target heart rate with fatal consequences. So it would seem luck just wasn’t on the intervention group’s side during the Lifestyle Heart Trial.

However, a similar scenario unfolded during the trial by Oregon researchers. This trial involved what the authors referred to as the “PrimeTime” program, which incorporated Ornish’s vegetarian “Reversal” diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and daily stress reduction activities (meditation, relaxation, deep breathing, visualization). Twenty eight women with pre-existing CHD were successfully recruited for the study, 16 of whom were randomized to the treatment group. The remaining twelve women in the control group continued to receive usual care from their own doctors.

A 2000 report hails the intervention as a great success, reporting a reduction in hypertensive medication dosage among the PrimeTime participants. The researchers also noted that chest pain frequency decreased in this group throughout the 2-year study, but a look at the data shows chest pain severity increased in both groups, though this did not reach statistical significance in either group. Other peculiarities include not only an increase in severity but also the duration of chest pain in the PrimeTime group at 4 months, despite frequency of chest pain reportedly having been reduced markedly at this point. These discordant results are probably explained by the fact that chest pain frequency, severity and duration were attained via questionnaires administered to the patients, and therefore highly susceptible to the vagaries of subjective recall.

The incidence of actual heart attack and stroke were not reported in the study, but the researchers did report on the most important and objective outcome of all:

Death.

One patient in the intervention group died of a heart attack. Another two PrimeTime subjects had to withdraw from the study due to “discomfort with the program”, but the researchers do not elaborate; whether this referred to adverse health effects or inconvenience arising from the intervention is unknown.

Meanwhile, all the control subjects survived and completed the two-year follow-up[14].

And that, ladies and gentlemen, pretty much constitutes the entire body of randomized controlled clinical evidence comparing cardiovascular and overall mortality outcomes among participants following vegetarian and omnivorous diets. In both trials, the treatment groups had the advantage of being compared to people who were doing little to no exercise and not receiving any specialized dietary advice, not engaging in any structured stress relief strategy, nor participating in regular and dedicated counselling. Despite the highly touted improvements in so-called “risk factors”, both intervention groups experienced higher mortality rates.

Actually, the story doesn’t quite end with these two small trials. There is one more study comparing participants on Ornish’s program, but it wasn’t a randomized trial. The Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Project sought to apply the intervention in Ornish’s original trial to a larger group of patients recruited from clinics across the U.S. Practitioners from eight medical centres around the country were trained in all aspects of the Lifestyle program, which they proceeded to administer to patients with coronary artery disease. As noted, the study was not conducted in the manner of a randomized, controlled trial; instead, outcomes in the 194 patients who completed the intervention were compared with 139 patients who did not take part in the Lifestyle program but had recently undergone revascularization procedures.

So did the Lifestyle program finally deliver its claimed lifesaving, heart disease-reversing benefits?

Nope.

After three years, there were no significant differences in cardiac event rates or mortality between patients in the intervention and control groups. The number of cardiac events per patient year of follow-up when comparing the experimental group with the control group was as follows: 0.012 versus 0.012 for myocardial infarction, 0.014 versus 0.006 for stroke, 0.006 versus 0.012 for non-cardiac deaths, and 0.014 versus 0.012 for cardiac deaths (none of the differences were statistically significant)[15].

Again, this is despite the fact that the Lifestyle participants received dedicated counselling, lost weight and improved their exercise tolerance. No corresponding data were given for the control group, but given the absence of the intense counselling afforded to the intervention group, it is unlikely that the former would have experienced such changes – a contention supported by the original Lifestyle trial.

In his 1998 paper reporting on the MCLP results, Ornish writes as if these uninspiring results were a great success. His reasoning is that his program is cheaper than revascularization, yet produced similar coronary event and mortality rates. Because 150 of his 194 patients avoided revascularization (44 still had to be wheeled into the operating theatre during the 3-year study), Ornish’s selling point in the paper is that his program is a cheaper alternative to revascularization.

That all sounds great, but if you’ve read The Great Cholesterol Con you’ll know when revascularization is put to the test in RCTs, it has repeatedly failed to show any mortality advantage and some studies have actually shown a slight disadvantage, when compared to patients receiving standard non-invasive medical care. So, in effect, Ornish’s 1998 paper is boasting that his program is no more effective but at least cheaper than another largely ineffective option.

Remember, Ornish’s program included exercise, and we know that an intelligently prescribed exercise program can do wonders for cardiovascular health, even in those that have already suffered a heart attack. In the March 2004 issue of Circulation, German researchers reported on a study in which 101 male patients with stable coronary artery disease were randomized to either undergo stent angioplasty or to participate in an exercise-training program. For the first two weeks, those in the exercise group trained in the hospital 6 times a day, 10 minutes at a time, on a stationary bicycle at 70% of their symptom-limited heart rate (the symptom-limited heart is the heart rate at which evidence of ischemia becomes apparent during an exercise test; needless to say, this should be ascertained during a professionally supervised session).

After this initial two-week period, the exercising patients took their stationary bikes home with them. They were asked to cycle at the prescribed heart rate for twenty minutes per day, and to participate in one 60-minute group aerobic exercise session each week.

The aim of the study was to see which strategy produced the most favourable effect on clinical outcomes – including heart attack, stroke, hospitalization for worsening angina, surgery or further angioplasty – during a twelve-month follow-up period. Thankfully, none of the patients died, but when the final data was tallied, it was observed that 21 of the 50 patients who underwent PCI had a subsequent coronary event, as compared to only 6 of the 51 exercising patients – a highly significant difference.

The exercisers also experienced far greater improvements in maximal exercise tolerance, and were 32% less likely to experience progression of atherosclerosis. Furthermore, the superior results seen in the exercise group were achieved at half the cost necessitated by the PCI procedure[16].

Vegetarianism: The ‘Healthy’ Way to Die Sooner?

What is apparent from the aforementioned Lifestyle and PrimeTime studies is that, despite their inclusion of proven treatments such as exercise and weight loss and the strong link between stress and coronary disease, Ornish’s vegetarian diet still failed to reduce the incidence of heart attack, stroke or coronary mortality. This would indicate that a meatless diet actually negates the effect of the other positive aspects of his intervention.

To put it another way, vegetarian diets have a number of known nutritional pitfalls and, similar to the epidemiological research, the Ornish and PrimeTime studies indicate these pitfalls are so detrimental they cancel out the benefits that would normally be expected from exercise, weight loss, elimination of junk food, and stress reduction.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll discuss these pitfalls in all their gory detail.

Disclosure Statement: The author of this article has absolutely no relationship, financial or otherwise, with the meat, dairy, or egg industries. The author, according to the bizarre Loma Linda University system of dietary classification, is a “carno-pesco-lacto-ovo-vegetarian”, which means he enjoys a bloody good steak on a very regular basis.

References

  1. Gardener H, et al. Coffee and Tea Consumption Are Inversely Associated with Mortality in a Multiethnic Urban Population. Journal of Nutrition, 2013 jn.112.173807; first published online Jun 19, 2013.
  2. Phillips RL. Role of lifestyle and dietary habits in risk of cancer among Seventh-Day Adventists. Cancer Research, Nov, 1975; 35: 3513-3522.
  3. Fraser GE. Associations between diet and cancer, ischemic heart disease, and all-cause mortality in non-Hispanic white California Seventh-day Adventists. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Sep, 1999; 70 (3): 532S-538S.
  4. Berkel J, de Waard F. Mortality pattern and life expectancy of Seventh-Day Adventists in the Netherlands. International Journal of Epidemiology, Dec, 1983; 12 (4): 455-459.
  5. Fønnebø V. The healthy Seventh-Day Adventist lifestyle: what is the Norwegian experience? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May, 1994; 59 (5 Suppl): 1124S-1129S.
  6. Zollinger TW, et al. Breast cancer survival rates among Seventh-day Adventists and non-Seventh-day Adventists. American Journal of Epidemiology, Apr, 1984; 119 (4): 503-509.
  7. Fraser GE. Determinants of ischemic heart disease in Seventh-day Adventists: a review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Sep, 1988; 48 (3 Suppl): 833-836.
  8. Mills PK, et al. Dietary habits and breast cancer incidence among Seventh-day Adventists. Cancer, Aug 1, 1989; 64 (3): 582-590.
  9. Mills PK, et al. Animal product consumption and subsequent fatal breast cancer risk among Seventh-day Adventists. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1988 Mar; 127 (3): 440-453.
  10. Mills PK, et al. Cancer incidence among California Seventh-day Adventists, 1976-1982. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1994: 59 (suppl): 1136S-1142S.
  11. Orlich MJ, et al. Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Mortality in Adventist Health Study 2. JAMA Internal Medicine. Published online Jun 3, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6473
  12. Ornish D, et al. Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lifestyle Heart Trial. Lancet, Jul 21, 1990; 336 (8708): 129-133.
  13. Ornish D, et al. Intensive Lifestyle Changes For Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease. Journal of the American Medical Association, Dec 16, 1998; 280 (23): 2001-2007.
  14. Toobert DJ, et al. Physiologic and related behavioral outcomes from the women’s lifestyle heart trial. Annals of of Behavioral Medicine, 2000; 22 (1):  1-9.
  15. Ornish D, et al. Avoiding Revascularization with Lifestyle Changes: The Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Project. American Journal of Cardiology, Nov 26, 1998; 82 (10B): 72T-76T.
  16. Hambrecht R, et al. Percutaneous Coronary Angioplasty Compared With Exercise Training in Patients With Stable Coronary Artery Disease: A Randomized Trial. Circulation, Mar, 2004; 109: 1371-1378.

Anthony Colpo is an independent researcher, physical conditioning specialist, and author of The Fat Loss Bible and The Great Cholesterol Con. For more information, visit TheFatLossBible.net or TheGreatCholesterolCon.com

Copyright © Anthony Colpo.

Disclaimer: All content on this web site is provided for information and education purposes only. Individuals wishing to make changes to their dietary, lifestyle, exercise or medication regimens should do so in conjunction with a competent, knowledgeable and empathetic medical professional. Anyone who chooses to apply the information on this web site does so of their own volition and their own risk. The owner and contributors to this site accept no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any harm, real or imagined, from the use or dissemination of information contained on this site. If these conditions are not agreeable to the reader, he/she is advised to leave this site immediately.

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Vegetarianism: Part 1. « AnthonyColpo.

Meat Eaters, Vegetarians & Vegans Have Same Mortality Rates Unless… !OrangesIn a previous post, I suggested that a Vegan diet is all that’s necessary to live a longer and healthier life. I stand corrected. Research shows that Meat Eater, Vegan and Vegetarian mortality rates are the same. The good news is that simple adjustments to your Vegan/Vegetarian diet will improve your longevity.In a lecture on Youtube dating back to 2003, Dr. Michael Greger described how he was surprized by the heart attack and subsequent death of 66 year old Vegan, Jay Dinshah, leader of the American Vegan Society and advocate for life without violence toward animals or humans. Given that the average life expectancy of men in the US is age 77, Gregor became curious and dug into numerous research studies. A Vegan himself, he was disappointed to learn that Vegans, Vegetarians and Meat Eaters all have the same life expectancy. Not satisfied with this outcome, Gregor did more research and found that Vegetarians and Vegans could drastically improve their longevity if certain steps were taken in their diet.Stats Canada states that Cancer accounted for 30% of all deaths in 2008, followed by heart disease 21% and stroke 6%. Heart disease has been the #1 cause of death for both men and women in the US for the last 8 decades. The following shows number of deaths for leading causes of death. Clearly, the decade old information is being ignored.· Heart disease: 597,689· Cancer: 574,743· Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htmFor optimum health and longevity, Dr. Greger recommends Vegans and Vegetarians follow these guidelines, summarized for you in the chart below:Blocks Inflammation – enjoy these:Dark Leafy GreensWalnutsHemp SeedsFlax Seeds ground brown/golden have the most concentrated form of Omega 3.Fish Oil Produces Inflammation – avoid these:Cotton seed oilCorn oilSafflower oilSunflower oilHydrogenated Oils/Trans Fats are Killer Fats and the only safe intake is zero.CRITICAL for longevity:Flax Seed 1-6T / day – Flax Seed has the most concentrated source of Omega 3CRITICAL for longevity:Vitamin B12 2000 micro grams twice a week, water soluble100 micrograms once a day.Note: All B12 is Bacteria-Derived and therefore Vegan.DHA 300mg DHA every day for pregnancyVitamin D 400 International Units/Day take it Jan/Feb also found in Shitake mushrooms, fortified Rice and Soy MilkCalcium 7000 – 1000 mg, also found in 3 Cups of Kale, Collards or Bok Choy, or 3 Cups fortified Soy or Orange JuiceSelenium Be sure to eat a few Brazil nuts each dayNuts 5Xs per day cuts in half cardiac mortalityWater Drinking at least 5 glasses a day cuts in half the fata stroke and cardiac mortality ratePhysical Activity Regular physical activity cuts in half mortality ratesFruits and Vegetables 9 Servings per dayGreens Healthiest single thing we can possibly eatBeneficial for Baking Olive OilOrganic Canola OilGround Flax SeedTIP: 1T Ground Flax Seed plus 3T Water replaces One Egg in baking. Baking ground flax seed at 350 degrees F for an hour does not break-down the Omega 3

via Meat Eaters, Vegetarians & Vegans Have Same Mortality Rates Unless… !.

Is College Worth It? Clearly, New Data Say – NYTimes.com.

Is Long-Term Love More Than A Rare Phenomenon? If So, What Are Its Correlates?.

The trifecta of a romantic relationship — intense love, sexual desire and long-term attachment — can seem elusive, but it may not be as uncommon or unattainable in marriages as we’ve been conditioned to think.

“We are born to love,” writes anthropologist and author of Why We Love, Helen Fisher. “That feeling of elation that we call romantic love is deeply embedded in our brains. But can it last?”

The science tells us that romantic love can last — and more than we often give it credit for. As a culture, we tend to be pretty cynical about the prospect of romantic love (as opposed to the ‘other’ loves — lust and long-term attachment) enduring over time and through obstacles, and for good reason. Roughly 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, with 2.4 million U.S. couples splitting in 2012. And among those that stay together, marital dissatisfaction is common.

In long-term partnerships that do succeed, romantic love tends to fade into companionship and a love more akin to friendship than to that of a couple in love.

But no matter how cynical we are about the prospect of life-long love, it still seems to be what most Americans are after. Romantic love is increasingly viewed as an essential component of a marriage, with 91 percent of women and 86 percent of American men reporting that they would not marry someone who had every quality they wanted in a partner but with whom they were not in love.

This type of love is good for both our marriages and our health. Romantic love — free from the craving and obsession of the early stages of falling in love —can and does frequently exist in long-term marriages, research has found, and it’s correlated with marital satisfaction, and individual well-being and self-esteem.

Although science has given us some insight on the nature of love and romantic relationships, this fundamental domain of human existence remains something of a mystery. Love, particularly the long-lasting kind, has been called one of the “most studied and least understood areas in psychology.”

There may be more questions than answers at this point, but we do know that both being in love and being married are good for your physical and mental health. And psychologists who study love, marriage and relationships have pinpointed a number of factors that contribute to long-lasting romantic love.

Here are six science-backed secrets of couples that keep intense romantic love alive for decades and entire lifetimes.

Life-long romance IS possible.

Despite high rates of divorce, infidelity and marital dissatisfaction, it’s not all hopeless — far from it, in fact. A 2012 study of couples who had been married for a decade, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, found that 40 percent of them said they were “very intensely in love.” The same study found that among couples who were married 30 years or more, 40 percent of women and 35 percent of men said they were very intensely in love.

But don’t be convinced solely by what these couples reported — research in neuroscience has also proven that intense romantic love can last a lifetime.

A 2011 study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience looked the brain regions activated in individuals in long-term romantic partnerships (who had been married an average of 21 years), and compared them with individuals who had recently fallen in love. The results revealed similar brain activity in both groups, with high activity in the reward and motivation centers of the brain, predominantly in the high-dopamine ventral tegmental area (VTA). The findings suggest that couples can not only love each for long periods of time — they can stay in love with each other.

Sustaining romantic love over the course of many years, then, has a positive function in the brain, which understands and continues to pursue romantic love as a behavior that reaps cognitive rewards, according to positive psychology researcher Adoree Durayappah.

“The key to understanding how to sustain long-term romantic love is to understand it a bit scientifically,” Durayappah wrote in Psychology Today. “Our brains view long-term passionate love as a goal-directed behavior to attain rewards. Rewards can include the reduction of anxiety and stress, feelings of security, a state of calmness, and a union with another.”

They maintain a sense of “love blindness.”

When we first fall in love with someone, we tend to worship the ground they walk on and see them as the most attractive, smartest and accomplished person in the room. And while we might eventually take our partner off of this pedestal after months and years of being together, maintaining a sense of “love blindness” is actually critical to long-lasting passionate love.

A University of Geneva review of nearly 500 studies on compatibility couldn’t pinpoint any combination of two personality traits in a relationship that predicted long-term romantic love — except for one. One’s ability to idealize and maintain positive illusions about their partner — seeing them as good-looking, intelligent, funny and caring, or generally as a “catch” — remained happy with each other on nearly all measures over time.

They’re always trying new things together.

Boredom can be a major obstacle to lasting romantic or companionate love, and successful couples find ways to keep things interesting.

Psychological research has suggested that couples who experience the most intense love are the ones who not only experience a strong physical and emotional attraction to one another, but also who enjoy participating in new or challenging “self-expanding” activities together, Psychology Today reported.

“Novel and arousing activities are, well, arousing, which people can misattribute as attraction to their partner, reigniting that initial spark,” writes Amie Gordan in the Berkeley Science Review.

They avoid neediness by preserving their independence.

Neediness is the enemy of long-lasting desire (an important component of romantic love), according to psychologist and Mating in Captivity author Esther Perel. In a popular TED Talk, Perel asks, “Why does sexual desire tend to fade over time, even in loving relationships?”

Neediness and caretaking in long-term partnerships — which can easily result from looking to the partnership for safety, security and stability — damper the erotic spark, Perel explains. But if couples can maintain independence and witness each other participating in individual activities at which they’re skilled, they can continue to see their partner in an ever-new light.

“When I see my partner on their own doing thing in which they are enveloped, I look at this person and I momentarily get a shift of perception,” Perel says. “[We] stay open to the mysteries that are standing right next to each other… What is most interesting is that there is no neediness in desire. There is no caretaking in desire.”

So if you’re looking to keep that spark going, give your partner the space to do what they’re good at — and make sure to take the opportunity to observe them in their element, when they are “radiant and confident,” says Perel.

Their passion for life carries over into their relationship.

Psychologists have found that a strong passion for life can help to sustain passion in a life-long romantic relationship. The 2012 Stony Brook University study examining personality qualities that predicted long-term passionate love found that individuals who exhibit excitement for all that life has to offer are more likely to find success in their romantic partnerships.

“People who approach their daily lives with zest and strong emotion seem to carry these intense feelings over to their love life as well,” Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., wrote in Psychology Today. “If you want your relationship to have passion, put that emotional energy to work in your hobbies, interests, and even your political activities.”

They see their relationship as a journey together towards self-fulfillment.

Whereas individuals used to be more likely to look to marriage for safety and security, the societal standard has shifted such that more men and women enter into marriage looking for self-actualization and personal fulfillment. Such a marriage can be more satisfying for both partners, but requires each partner to invest more time and energy into the partnership for it to be successful.

“The average marriage today is weaker than the average marriage of yore, in terms of both satisfaction and divorce rate, but the best marriages today are much stronger, in terms of both satisfaction and personal well-being, than the best marriages of yore,” Eli J. Finkel, a professor of social psychology at Northwestern University wrote in a New York Times op-ed, describing this shift from companionate to self-expressive marriages.

Rather than looking to marriage to serve our basic needs for survival and companionship, we’re now seeing marriage as a vehicle for self-fulfillment. This new directive can help to facilitate long-term romantic love, so long as each partner is willing and able to put more of their resources into the relationship.

“As the expectations of marriage have ascended Maslow’s hierarchy, the potential psychological payoffs have increased,” Finkel noted, “but achieving those results has become more demanding.”

The Psychology Of Loves That Last A Lifetime.

12 Mind-Blowing Documentaries On Netflix Right Now

 

 

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As you search for a movie to watch this weekend, consider abandoning the fictional for some real-life drama. Here are 12 completely fantastic documentaries on Netflix right now, destined to blow your mind (or at least make you think a little).

“The Woman Who Wasn’t There”
“The Woman Who Wasn’t There” tracks the retrospectively terrifying Tania Head, as she poses as a 9/11 survivor, incorporating herself into a support group and weaving an intense web of lies for over six years. Her deception and its effect on those surrounding her present a compelling look at pathology and the lengths we are willing to go to garner acceptance.

woman who

“The Imposter”
Essentially this one is a real-life version of “The Orphan,” except with a French man impersonating a Texas boy who has gone missing. It is perhaps the closest the documentary format can get to being truly scary.

imposter

“Dear Zachary”
A good way to test if someone has a soul is to make sure they weep violently when watching “Dear Zachary.” Seriously, you will be racked with sobs by the end. But, beyond the emotional personal story upon which it is based, the film places a critical spotlight on an intensely-flawed child care system.

dear zachary

“Talhotblond”
“Talhotblond” explores the complex consequences of virtual relationships through one specific Internet love triangle, which ends in murder and incarceration. There are moments of somewhat corny chat recreation, but the complete picture of the person behind the titular screen name is chilling enough to forgive those phoned-in reenactments.

talhot

“Jesus Camp”
Somehow, despite the pervasive religious zealotry and penchant for brain-washing, the most shocking part of this film is when the head of the Jesus camp in question tells her campers that Harry Potter is evil (because he is “a warlock”). Either that or a mother actively convincing her child that global warming does not exist. But beneath this film’s absurd specifics, lies an unsettling look at a deeply misled faction of the conservative right.

jesus

“Tabloid”
With “Tabloid,” Errol Morris revisits the story of British tabloid sensation Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen accused of kidnapping a Mormon and making him her slave. “Thirty years before the antics of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan,” she makes the modern day scandal look like child’s play.

tablid

“Schooled: The Price Of College Sports”
Being interested in sports (or having any conception of what “touchdown” means) is not necessary for watching this documentary. Through the lens of a few slighted young men, “Schooled” tells the story of the big business of college sports and the little it has to offer its players.

schooled

“The Central Park Five”
“The Central Park Five” takes on the troublingly powerful impact that media can have on public perception. The narrative tracks the five boys who were wrongfully convicted in the notorious 1989 rape of a jogger in Central Park, exposing flaws in the criminal justice system and effect of trial by mob.

centralparkfive

“Man On Wire”
In a sublime narrative that may as well be a fairy tale, “Man On Wire” tracks the preparations of Philippe Petit, the miraculous French man who walked a high wire strung between the Twin Towers in 1974. The tale of “the artistic crime of the century,” as it came to be called, is suspenseful yet intriguing and easily the most beautifully unique real life story on this list.

man on wire

“Hot Coffee”
If you were alive in the ’90s, you’ve heard the story of the woman who drove with coffee in her lap and sued McDonald’s. It’s practically an urban myth. But did you know that she sustained burns so intense she had to undergo hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of surgery and receive skin grafts? Did you know she wasn’t even driving? This story is a portrait of the agenda behind tort reform and the perception of “frivolous” lawsuits.

hot coffee

“Invisible War”
Tracking the rape epidemic in the military, “The Invisible War” exposes not only the pervasiveness of sexual assault, but the flaws of the system that perpetuate it and blame victims instead of granting them justice.

invisible

“Blackfish”
You’ve probably already heard everything there is to be heard about this “hauntingly beautiful nonfiction film.” Anyway, it’s on Netflix. Watch it.

blackfish

12 Mind-Blowing Documentaries On Netflix Right Now.

Another 12 Mind-Blowing Documentaries To Watch On Netflix.

There’s so much money in American politics these days that fat-cat donors don’t just spend it on candidates and issues anymore — they also spend it attacking each other.

Hedge-fund investor Tom Steyer, a heavyweight Democratic contributor, plans to start running ads taking on billionaire Republican donors Charles and David Koch for their positions on environmental issues. Steyer is an environmentalist who has fought against the Keystone Pipeline and wants to make climate change a top issue in this year’s midterm elections. Koch Industries, the two brothers’ privately owned conglomerate, includes companies involved in the oil, paper, chemical and fertilizer industries. Like many firms in those sectors, Koch Industries lobbies for looser regulations that would lower costs and make it easier to operate.

Steyer wants to vilify the Koch Brothers, who spend at least $10 million per year on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and many millions more on political donations to Republican candidates and political organizations. Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers’ political organization, plans to spend more than $125 million this year helping Republicans get elected to Congress, according to Politico. That would be a record amount for a private group in a midterm election year. The Koch Brothers’ donations already seem to be paying off. They support Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), for instance, who just beat a Tea Party challenger in the Kentucky primary elections.

Steyer’s own campaign may not have much of an impact on voters, at least if he sticks to environmental issues. Polls consistently show jobs and the economy are the top issues voters care about, as Aaron Task and I discuss in the video above. If there’s a swing issue this year, it will be Obamacare, the highly polarizing health-reform effort. Environmental issues barely register as a concern among voters, even though President Obama favors policies that would address global warming, and occasionally stumps on the issue.

The more troubling trend may be the vast amount of money flooding into politics, leading to the reductio ad absurdum in which big donors campaign against each other as if they, rather than the candidates, represent the real levers of power. Two Supreme Court decisions since 2010 have struck down a variety of limits on political donations and allowed wealthy donors to fund an array of groups that funnel donations to candidates or run ads related to particular issues.

Each presidential and midterm election sets a new record for spending these days, with donations to third-party political groups such as “super PACs” likely to play a bigger role than ever in this year’s midterms. CRP estimates total spending by such outside groups could total more than $1 billion this year, which would be three times the tally during the 2010 midterms. Such donations are known as “dark money” because super PACs aren’t required to reveal whom the money comes from. That may draw even more money into politics, since corporate donors and others can donate without having to defend their views or actions in public.

The influence of wealthy donors on the political system is becoming so profound that two noted professors recently argued that “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.” Economic elites, they showed in a research paper, have a “quite substantial, highly significant, independent impact on policy.” Not surprisingly, those policies favor the people who lobby for them. A typical voter, by contrast, “has little or no independent influence,” the distressing study concluded.

If there’s any good news, it’s that the flood of money has created a funding arms race that’s wearing down some of the politicians who must raise the funds, and causing “donor fatigue” among some contributors. But don’t look for Congress to reform itself. The billionaires will ensure nothing happens to undermine their influence.

Rick Newman’s latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.

via A new way for billionaires to influence politics | Daily Ticker – Yahoo Finance.

SAN DIEGO — Troels Prahl, a brewer and microbiologist at the Southern California yeast distributor White Labs, sits at his company’s tasting room bar with four half-pints of beer. He describes each between thoughtful sips.

The first has a malty backbone and a crisp body of raspberry, rosemary and banana, he says; the second, a waft of white raisin and final bite of olive brine; the third flows thick and smooth like a classic English ale; and the fourth is perfumed with a dry and subtle blend of nutmeg and fresh straw.

The beers’ colors are as varied as their flavors, ranging from cloudy gold to clear amber. Yet with the single exception of the yeasts used to ferment them, Mr. Prahl explains, they are all the exact same brew.

After thousands of years of unwitting domestication, brewing yeasts — the microorganisms that ferment a brewer’s tepid slop of grain, water and hops into beer — are as diverse as the beer they make. And now two research teams, from White Labs and a Belgian genetics laboratory, are mapping outtheir sprawling genealogy, creating the first genetic family tree for brewing yeasts and the beers they make.

Audio

To understand why beer varies in taste, you need to know its yeasts. William Herkewitz

The laboratories have sequenced the DNA of more than 240 strains of brewing yeasts from around the world. Alongside samples from breweries like Sierra Nevada, Duvel Moortgat and Stone, “we’ve thrown in a few wine, bakers, bio-ethanol and sake yeasts to compare,” said Kevin Verstrepen, director of the lab in Belgium.

By getting a line-by-line reading of the 12 million molecules that make up the DNA of each yeast, Dr. Verstrepen said, the researchers will be able not only to tell how closely related two yeasts are (is Sam Adams’s closer to Stone’s, or Sierra Nevada’s?) but to answer other important questions: which breweries started with the same strains of yeasts, how these organisms evolved over time and, of course, how all of it translates to taste.

“Yeasts can make over 500 flavor and aroma compounds,” said Chris White, the founder of White Labs, affecting a beer’s alcohol level, clarity and texture. But while brewing yeast is one of the best-studied organisms in molecular and cell biology, exactly how its genes translate to brewing properties is still poorly understood.

By comparing the DNA of hundreds of yeasts, along with information on how they act and brew differently, “we’ll have a unique window into the genetic code,” said Mr. Prahl, who is leading the experiment at White Labs. He is comparing each yeast’s sequencing information with brewing data on more than 2,000 batches of beer — including the four he was tasting.

The researchers in the Belgian lab — a joint venture of the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology and the University of Leuven, Belgium — have even bigger plans. “With this information, we’ll be able to select different properties in yeasts and breed them together to generate new ones,” Dr. Verstrepen said. “In a few years we might be drinking beers that are far different and more interesting than those that currently exist.”

Photo

Work on a genetic tree for brewing yeasts could one day yield custom brews. Credit Sandy Huffaker for The New York Times

For brewers today, there are few options for generating new yeasts. Simply breeding strains together rarely results in a usable brew — because most brewing yeasts are highly specialized, the results are often the genetic equivalent of combining a bicycle with in-line skates. Each serves the same purpose, but applying parts from one to the other yields little more than a mess.

And while the genetic tools already exist to create new yeasts artificially — by splicing genes from one to another — because of the longstanding stigma associated with genetically modified foods, there is no market for them.

“Right now we have a few hundred genetically modified yeast strains patiently waiting in our laboratory’s freezer,” said Jan Steensels, a microbiologist with the Belgian lab, “but most brewers and consumers don’t want anything to do with them.” The data from the genomic project could allow researchers to design and breed new brewing yeasts without resorting to genetic modification.

By knowing which genes to track, and using computers and robotics to speed the process, a researcher could mate two different yeast strains thousands of times until, by chance, they produced an offspring with the perfect combination of genetic characteristics. “So let’s say there’s a yeast that produces an amazing fruity aroma in beer, but can’t ferment past 3 percent alcohol,” said Chris E. Baugh, a microbiologist at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, Calif., who is not involved in the project. A scientist who understood the genetics, he continued, “could then breed it with a more alcohol-tolerant strain.”

Novel yeasts are unlikely to end up in the beer of brewing giants like Budweiser, which for decades had protected its flagship lager yeast under armed guard. “Where this is really going to take off is in the craft brewing scene,” Dr. Baugh said. The number of craft breweries and microbreweries has exploded in recent decades, to roughly 2,500 today from fewer than a dozen in 1980; they now account for 14 percent of beer sales nationwide.

Photo

Pete Slosberg, who makes ales, the founder of Pete’s Wicked Ale, sampled beer at the lab. Credit Sandy Huffaker for The New York Times

“And there is a big push for something new and interesting all the time,” Dr. Baugh said.

Only within the last few years has a DNA-sequencing project of this scale been possible. The project to sequence the first human genome, completed in 2000, took nearly a decade and cost almost $3 billion; new technologies and laboratory equipment have rapidly lowered the cost and accelerated the process. Today, the researchers can sequence a single yeast, which is much less complex, in a matter of days, for only a few thousand dollars.

The technology is so inexpensive that the first 96 strains at White Labs were sequenced free of charge by the biotechnology company Illumina, to assess one of its new sequencing machines. Rather than cost, the experiment’s true hurdle lies in sorting through the huge trove of newly acquired genetic data, said Mr. Prahl, who has partnered with the bioinformatics company Synthetic Genomics to parse his project’s data set.

Many researchers believe that brewers will soon routinely sequence yeast strains. “This project strikes me as sort of an inevitable thing that one can do,” said Randy W. Schekman, a yeast geneticist at the University of California, Berkeley, who shared the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. With the falling costs and rising speed, he added, “the sequencing is almost trivial at this point.”

But Dr. Schekman sees this type of research as an important prod to an industry that has long been wary of genetic techniques.

“Until recently, the brewing industry has been remarkably resistant to using the techniques of genetics and molecular biology to improve their brewing strains,” Dr. Schekman said. “It’s long overdue that someone has actually delved into the molecular basis between the differences in brewing strains.”

 

Strange Brews: The Genes of Craft Beer – NYTimes.com.

 

But it can determine that you are too smart to be the one to arrest someone to face the death penalty.  That’s right little boys and girls.  Hi IQ’s can be disqualified from joining the police force…..

Supreme Court: IQ score alone can’t decide who faces execution in Florida – CSMonitor.com.

Stupid American lesbians…..

 

‘Give them your breast’: Mexico City uses images of topless models to promote breastfeeding | News.com.au.

 

‘Give them your breast’: Mexico City uses images of topless models to promote breastfeeding | News.com.au.

 

Antarctic ice shelf melt ‘lowest EVER recorded, global warming is NOT eroding it’ • The Register.

Woman who wrote fake Holocaust memoir must pay back $22.5M to publisher | Fox News.

A Belgium-born Massachusetts woman who admitted to fabricating a best-selling memoir about her experiences during World War II and the Holocaust has been ordered to pay back $22.5 million to her publisher.

Judge Marc Kantrowitz issued what he called “the third, and hopefully last” opinion in the case April 29. It confirmed a 2012 court ruling setting aside a pervious verdict awarding Misha Defonseca millions of dollars due to her publisher’s “highly improper representations and activities.”

The ruling appears to be the final chapter of a 17-year story that began when Defonseca’s book “Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years” was published in 1997.

In her book, Defonseca, now 76, recounted trekking through the forests of Europe after her parents were arrested by the Nazis, at one point living with wolves and fatally stabbing a Nazi soldier — all while she was between the ages of 7 and 11.

In fact, Defonseca — born Monica Ernestine Josephine De Wael — was enrolled in a Brussels school during World War II, and wasn’t even Jewish. Her parents were arrested because they were part of the anti-Nazi resistance.

Defonseca rationalized her fraud by saying that her parents’ arrest and her subsequent harsh treatment at the hands of relatives who took her in led her to “feel Jewish.”

“This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving,” Defonseca said in a statement given by her lawyers to The Associated Press after the truth came to light.

She was not exposed until 2008, when researchers in the U.S. and Belgium said they could not find evidence of her family in any Holocaust archives. In the intervening years, the book was translated into 18 languages and made into a French feature film “Surviving with the Wolves.”

In 1998, Defonseca and her ghostwriter, Vera Lee, won a $32.4 million judgement against Mt. Ivy Press and its founder Jane Daniel over allegedly hiding profits. Daniel, who had asked Defonseca to write the book after overhearing her telling her stories at a Massachusetts synagogue, told the Associated Press in 2008 that Defonseca claimed she did not know the names of her parents, her birthday, or where she was born, making the facts difficult to check.

Gene Sperling is a stone-cold Pop-Tart thief. “At one point, Meg [McConnell, an adviser] noticed that a strawberry Pop-Tart she had bought from one of Treasury’s vending machines had vanished. She looked over at Gene [Sperling, then a counselor to Mr. Geithner], who shrugged and admitted he had eaten it. He said he would buy Meg another in a tone suggesting he comprehended neither the enormity of his crime nor the inadvisability of messing with Meg when she was tired and hungry.”

“’When, Gene?’ she demanded. ‘When are you going to get me another?’”

We also learned that the puppets of the ultra rich hired to put a face on these crimes are just a bunch of clowns……

via What We Learned From Tim Geithner’s Book – NYTimes.com.

 

Timothy Geithner’s new book, “Stress Test,” runs 580 pages and covers countless moments of crisis and fear during his time as New York Fed president and Treasury secretary. Read our colleague Andrew Ross Sorkin’s magazine article on Mr. Geithner and the book for more on the broad themes it recounts. But in the meantime, here are a few smaller chunks that we found particularly revelatory.

Geithner was aware of — and worried about — the gravitas gap. Seemingly every profile written about him has noted that he has a boyish look about him (as Vogue memorably put it, “the kind of looks that can go either way: Half an inch one way he’s John F. Kennedy; half an inch the other he’s Lyle Lovett”). As it turns out, Mr. Geithner himself considered his youthful appearance to be a weakness in his potential candidacy for Treasury secretary, along with his lack of experience in more public-facing roles. “In a period of turmoil and uncertainty, the public would want to see a familiar and reassuring face in charge of the country’s finances,” he recalled telling Senator Barack Obama in 2008 in their first meeting when the role was discussed. “I had spent my career in obscurity, and I didn’t think of myself as a reassuring presence. I looked young. I had never appeared on TV.”

That first foray into the public spotlight was every bit as disastrous as it seemed. Mr. Geithner’s first major speech, in February 2009, was billed as the rollout of the Obama administration’s plan to end the financial crisis. It was a debacle on every level, and from Mr. Geithner’s account it seems he and his staff could see it coming like a slow-motion car crash. After settling on Feb. 10 to roll out the administration’s plan, the Geithner aide Meg McConnell noted, “But we don’t have a plan.” Indeed. “The run-up to my speech was horribly tense,” Mr. Geithner writes. “White House staff wanted the speech to reassure the public by emphasizing our determination to get tough on Wall Street and save taxpayer dollars. My Treasury team wanted to reassure the markets by emphasizing our determination to do whatever it took to prevent more bank failures. The results were predictably schizophrenic.”

Oh, and speaking of a lack of public speaking background? “I was supposed to do a few rehearsals to learn how to use the teleprompter, but I kept putting them off; I finally did a couple of halfhearted run-throughs that evening, repeatedly stopping to edit my text as I went along. I also had no time for prep sessions for my national TV appearances after the speech. … I did zero minutes of prep for the first TV interviews of my career.”

Photo

Timothy Geithner’s book recounts the financial crisis and his role in trying to end it. Credit Patricia Wall/The New York Times

No wonder the stock market fell 500 points that day and speculation ran rampant that Mr. Geithner would be the first Obama cabinet member to be fired.

But it may have been partly Sheila Bair’s fault. During that time, Mr. Geithner was deeply irritated by what he saw as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairwoman Sheila Bair’s flawed proposal to deal with the crisis — and even more so by leaks he attributed to Bair’s staff. Ms. Bair, who wrote a book of her own that is sharply critical of Mr. Geithner, proposed a plan for a “bad bank” that would buy up many of the crummy assets clogging the books of major banks. When articles about the idea were published in the run-up to the February speech, “the markets loved those articles,” Mr. Geithner writes, “because the government-run bad bank sounded like a way for Wall Street to dump its garbage on Uncle Sam at generous prices.”

Mr. Geithner’s staff had a subtle way to ascertain that it was Ms. Bair’s staff that was leaking these details: “My staff got so annoyed by the drumbeat of FDIC-planted stories that at one point they gave Sheila’s aides a harmless snippet of wrong information, just to see if it would end up in the media. It quickly did.”

He blames the negative reaction to the speech in part to FDIC leaks: “As bad as my speech and my delivery were, the reaction of the markets had a lot to do with their expectations, fueled by pre-speech leaks, that we would announce a bad bank to buy troubled assets at inflated prices.”

Geithner’s relationship with Larry Summers is really complicated. Back in the 1990s, Larry Summers promoted Mr. Geithner, a young Treasury career staffer, into a series of roles that launched his career at the highest levels of economic policy. It is clear from the book that the two men have a close, intertwined, yet fraught relationship. Mr. Summers was essentially passed over for Treasury secretary at the start of the Obama administration in favor of his protégé, placed instead as the less prestigious head of the White House national economic council.

When President-elect Obama called Mr. Geithner to ask if he would serve as Treasury secretary while Mr. Summers ran the council, “I immediately said I would, even though I knew it would mean more awkwardness.” Geithner added: “Some of our former colleagues thought the idea of Larry at the NEC bordered on lunacy. It was hard to imagine a former Treasury secretary in an advisory role. And the NEC director is supposed to be an honest broker … while Larry wasn’t known for sublimating his own views.”

The subtle tension continued during the transition period before the start of the Obama presidency. “Larry’s mantra in those days was ‘discontinuity,’ the importance of distinguishing the Obama response from the pre-Obama response. … But I didn’t like Larry’s frequent derision of Hank [Paulson] and Ben [Bernanke]; I was protective of them, and of course implicated in virtually everything they had done.” His critiques, Mr. Geithner continued, “weren’t entirely wrong, but Larry hadn’t been there, and I didn’t think he had earned the right to second-guess with that degree of confidence.”

And perhaps never was their relationship more tricky than the summer of 2009, when President Obama was deciding whether to appoint Mr. Summers to be Federal Reserve chair or to reappoint Mr. Bernanke. While Mr. Geithner doesn’t convey this decision with the drama he offers in other moments in the book, it is clear it was a difficult moment for all involved.

“I told the President I thought the current arrangement was working well, and I said this didn’t seem like a great time for a change at the Fed … When it became clear the president wanted continuity, Larry was disappointed, but I think he also recognized it wasn’t an ideal time for a change. He was tired, too, and he considered leaving the administration. But the President, Rahm [Emanuel], and I all leaned on him to stay, and he relented.”

He adds later in the book: “We had our differences during the crisis, and nothing was ever easy when he was around, but he was the most talented policy thinker I knew. I felt bad that the Fed chairmanship hadn’t worked out for him.”

It seems that Mr. Summers could see the writing on the wall for his possible Fed chairmanship. “The job would open up again in 2014, but when the President, on my recommendation, nominated my excellent former Fed colleague Janet Yellen to be vice chair in April 2010, Larry mused that she was certain to be the next Fed chair, because she would be too compelling a choice to pass over — another correct prediction.”

In the White House (as in life), there is a difference between real meetings and fake meetings. This chunk should be inserted in every book about public administration, or maybe management in general: “Meetings are life in Washington. Often they’re just for show, a way to suggest motion or commitment to an issue. Sometimes their main purpose is to make people feel included. But occasionally they’re the real thing, a forum for actual policy making. I got into the habit of walking into crowded meetings in Larry’s office and joking: ‘Is this a real meeting or a fake meeting?’ In other words, are we talking about a policy that requires a decision, or just talking? When it was a real meeting, I’d usually suggest that we skip the throat-clearing and fast-forward to the end of the PowerPoint deck so we could get to the debate about options. I wore my impatience too openly.”

He tried to make his pre-crisis speeches boring. In the years before the crisis, Mr. Geithner was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, making him a key overseer of Wall Street. He saw many risks and frailties in the financial system in that role, some of which would prove prescient. But by his own telling, his efforts to draw attention to them were hardly the stuff of a public campaign.

“I did talk a lot about risks to the stability of the financial system, usually to financial audiences. … I didn’t seek media coverage, and I didn’t get any. But I did try to convey what I was learning about the strengths and weaknesses of the system, and to outline my hierarchy of concerns. In my careful, qualified, occasionally tortured way, I tried to lean against the wind.”

And, even more pointedly: “My speeches were never a model of clarity or hair-on-fire force. I was careful to express my concerns in understated, nuanced, deliberately dull language that wouldn’t move markets or depress confidence.”

The latest study revealed that Bee Hives which were exposed to low doses of two neonicotinoid pesticides—imidacloprid and clothianidin were not able to recover from winter losses while the control hives quickly recovered. The study also discounted the other causes of CCD which has been advanced like diet, parasites, and pathogens. The latest study adds one more impeccable proof that clearly links sub lethal exposure neonicotinoid pesticides to rapid bee declines nationwide.

The above mentioned study was conducted in central Massachusetts during the 2012-2013 winters at three different locations with six bee colonies in each location. A third of the colonies were exposed to small doses of the pesticide imidacloprid, another third were exposed to the pesticide clothianidin, both neonicotinoids while the rest of the bees were not exposed to any pesticide. The colonies at each apiary were divided into two groups and were fed with either sucrose water or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) over the study period.

During the winter, as expected the honey bees declined in all the 18 colonies according to the seasonal pattern. However by January the untreated hives started to recover while the population of the honey bees in the treated hives continues to decline. By April all the treated hives were empty because the bees had abandoned them, a symptom typical of CCD. The untreated hives were once again repopulated with new emerging bees.

The results of the latest studies once again reaffirmed the earlier conclusions of other studies related to imidacloprid that sub lethal exposure to neonicotinoids is a primary cause of CCD, and the role of mites and pathogens were minimal.

via It is Not Mites or Pathogens but Pesticides the Main Cause of CCD or Colony Collapse Disorder | The Westside Story.

The researchers showed the results of this unique drug on cells growing in culture dishes and in tumors growing in mice. Leelamine inhibited tumor development in mice with no detectable side effects.The results have been published in two back-to-back articles in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

HERE

and HERE


Gavin Robertson, professor of pharmacology, pathology, dermatology, and surgery and director of the Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center, said to a cancer cell, resistance is like a traffic problem in its circuitry.

He said that cancer cells see treatment with a single drug as a road closure and use a detour or other roads to bypass the closure.

Penn State researchers may have solved this problem by identifying a drug that simultaneously creates many road closures.

The researchers screened 480 natural compounds and identified leelamine, derived from the bark of pine trees, as a drug that can cause this major traffic jam in the cancer cell’s circuitry.

Leelamine could be the first of a new unique class of drugs that will simultaneously target several protein pathways. Researchers found that this drug shuts down multiple protein pathways, such as PI3K, MAPK and STAT3, at the same time in melanoma cells. Those pathways are involved in the development of up to 70 percent of melanomas. Protein pathways like these help cancer cells multiply and spread, so shutting them down helps kill the cells.

Leelamine works by shutting down cholesterol transport and its movement around the cancer cell. By shutting down cholesterol transport and movement, the exceptionally active survival communication that cancer cells require is shut down. The end result is death of the cancer cell. Since normal cells are not addicted to the same high levels of activity in these pathways, the drug has a negligible effect on them.

 

via Pine bark substance to treat skin cancer – The Times of India.

Pine bark substance to treat skin cancer – The Times of India.

Antarctic ice shelf melt ‘lowest EVER recorded, global warming is NOT eroding it’ • The Register.

 

Scientists at the British Antarctic Survey say that the melting of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf in Antarctica has suddenly slowed right down in the last few years, confirming earlier research which suggested that the shelf’s melt does not result from human-driven global warming.

The Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica and its associated sea ice shelf is closely watched: this is because unlike most of the sea ice around the austral continent, its melt rate has seemed to be accelerating quickly since scientists first began seriously studying it in the 1990s.

Many researchers had suggested that this was due to human-driven global warming, which appeared to be taking place rapidly at that time (though it has since gone on hold for 15 years or so, a circumstance which science is still assimilating).

However back in 2009 the British Antarctic Survey sent its Autosub robot probe under the shelf (famously powered by some 5,000 ordinary alkaline D-cell batteries on each trip beneath the ice, getting through no less than four tonnes of them during the research). The Autosub survey revealed that a previously unknown marine ridge lay below the shelf, over which the icepack had for millennia been forced to grind its way en route to the ocean. However in relatively recent times the ice had finally so ground down the ridge that the sea could flow in between shelf and ridge, freeing the ice to move much faster and warming it too.

As we reported at the time, this caused BAS boffins to suggest that the observed accelerating ice flow and melt seen since the ’90s was actually a result of the ridge’s erosion and sea ingress, rather than global warming.

Now, the latest BAS research has revealed that rather than accelerating, “oceanic melting of the ice shelf into which the glacier flows decreased by 50 per cent between 2010 and 2012”.

The BAS goes on to explain:

Observations made in January 2012, and reported now in [hefty boffinry mag] Science, show that ocean melting of the glacier was the lowest ever recorded. The top of the thermocline (the layer separating cold surface water and warm deep waters) was found to be about 250 metres deeper compared with any other year for which measurements exist.

This lowered thermocline reduces the amount of heat flowing over the ridge. High resolution simulations of the ocean circulation in the ice shelf cavity demonstrate that the ridge blocks the deepest ocean waters from reaching the thickest ice …

In January 2012 the dramatic cooling of the ocean around the glacier is believed to be due to an increase in easterly winds caused by a strong La Ninã event in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Dr Pierre Dutrieux of the BAS adds, bluntly:

“We found ocean melting of the glacier was the lowest ever recorded, and less than half of that observed in 2010. This enormous, and unexpected, variability contradicts the widespread view that a simple and steady ocean warming in the region is eroding the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.”

The Science paper can be read by subscribers to the journal here. The BAS announcement of the results can be read here. Readers unfamiliar with the rules of the climate game should note that the term “climate variability” as used in those documents means for this purpose “climate effects not caused by humans”. ®

 

Think this article is evil? Click here first

The usual suspects will no doubt choose to play the man rather than the ball here and complain that this article is an example of cherry-picking by an evil climate “denier”, probably funded by the Koch brothers and unqualified to write on climate matters – and also that we never point out other research suggesting that in fact the Antarctic sheet will shortly slide off into sea inundating us all in movie-plot menace style.

Some notes on that:

1) We here on The Register climate desk actually do offer plenty of standard doom coverage – knock yourselves out, green readers. At the moment it is mostly not nearly as much read as the sceptical stuff. That latter may serve to illustrate the fact that reputable research from top boffins like this, suggesting that the human race is perhaps not imminently menaced by carbon emissions, is news – whereas the idea that it is imminently menaced is rather old hat.

2) Your correspondent “denies” nothing. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, plain and simple, and massive releases of it will obviously warm the atmosphere up to some degree. How much remains pretty uncertain: and the consequences of this uncertain warming in terms of sea levels, crop yields etc are very uncertain indeed. But it could be true that carbopocalypse is upon us – just as it could be true that we face species extinction or global disaster in the coming century from an asteroid or comet strike, or global pandemic, or some other threat.

3) What is really a lot more certain – and this is admitted by hardline greens – is that a shift to all or mostly renewable power means incredibly expensive energy and abandonment of economic growth. That means that the great majority of the human race, including many rich westerners who today live in reasonable comfort, must henceforth descend into/remain in miserable poverty under such a plan. Expensive luxuries such as welfare states and pensioners, proper healthcare (watch out for that pandemic), reasonable public services, affordable manufactured goods and transport, decent personal hygiene, space programmes (watch out for the meteor!) etc etc will all have to go if there is to be no economic growth. It won’t be a painless matter of buying a G-Wiz, insulating the loft and getting rid of some small, cheap government departments like the nuclear weapons programme.

4) It is very likely, then, that the suggested climate cure will cause more misery than the disease. Sea defences capable of dealing with a 1m rise would be very, very cheap by comparison and a lot of farmers would actually be better off under global warming.

5) As to the ad hominem criticism. Your humble correspondent today, it is true, holds no PhD in climatology, pays only occasional visits to the climate beat over relatively recent times, and – horror – for a long time was not even a journalist (!). However the idea that this means I must not report on climate-related matters while normal environment or “science” correspondents can would seem pretty silly. Many such normal correspondents visibly don’t even understand what a Watt is, how windfarms are paid for, etc etc. Frankly, if my climate/energy reporting is ignorant or activist, it is much less so than most.

6) The more general idea that The Register must not report on climate matters (unless, presumably, we do so in a politically correct way) falls under the eternal “where’s the IT angle?” complaint and will not be given a lot of sympathy. We’ve always been “Sci/Tech news for the World”, remember.

7) Koch brothers/oil industry funding. The only money we at The Reg have ever had that you could put even close to this are a couple of minor ad deals with the Norwegian government petro firm, Statoil. Those ads sought to suggest that Blighty might like to buy more relatively clean and reliable natural gas to help fund Norway’s social miracles – as opposed to turning to coal or buying unreliable supplies from the Kremlin to fund weapons programmes and oppression. That ad money was not enough to be important to The Register commercially and involved no influence whatsoever on editorial stance – none was so much as hinted at. Your correspondent personally has never received a penny from writing about climate/energy issues other than as part of a Register salary.

8) Given all the above, comments on this site which just say “Lewis is evil” or “you know this is all utter guff” or in particular which show signs of being astroturf are, yes, liable to be suppressed. Play nice, commentards – especially new commentards.

Note from your friendly Mods

We’ve shut down the comments thread due to moderation burden… But before you cry foul, please be advised that moderators will never nix a comment merely because they find your argument “unacceptable” or “can’t handle the truth” or don’t agree with you. Hogwash. We love to hear your opinions, are keen to see you “show your work” in terms of what you’ve read to reach them, are happy to see you engage in reasoned arguments, rebuttals, extensions et cetera. However, there will be no name-calling, and no calling each other liars or idiots or brain-damaged and the like. For pity’s sake, address the argument, not the man (or woman). Our comments section is lively and it is visited by many bright individuals, so while I understand the topic is emotive, I put it to you that even the cleverest of put-downs is not as good as a killer argument.

NSA data-gathering may run into California roadblock – Yahoo News.

SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) – The federal government would need a warrant from a judge if it wants the cooperation of California officials in searching residents’ cellphone and computer records, under a bill making its way through the state legislature.

The bill, which passed the state Senate with just one opposing vote on Monday, was introduced in the wake of information leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden showing massive internal surveillance of U.S. citizens by the NSA.

“The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is very clear. It says the government shall not engage in unreasonable search and seizure,” said the bill’s author, Democratic State Senator Ted Lieu, of Torrance. “The National Security Agency’s massive and indiscriminate collecting of phone data on all Americans, including more than 38 million Californians, is a threat to our liberty and freedom.”

The California bill is the farthest along of several such measures that have been introduced in eight states, according to Lieu’s spokesman Jeff Gozzo, including Alaska, Arizona and Oklahoma.

It comes as Congress wrestles with a similar bill at the national level.

A federal judge ruled last year that the National Security Agency’s practice of gathering so-called meta-data on U.S. residents was likely unconstitutional, but the ruling is being appealed by the Obama administration.

The California bill would not allow law enforcement and other officials in the most populous U.S. state to assist federal agencies looking for records of phone calls, Internet use or other electronic activity by residents unless a warrant has been issued by a judge.

It was opposed by the California District Attorneys Association, which said the bill was too vague.

(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

‘Impeach Obama’ movement gains speed with new book on ‘lawlessness’ | WashingtonExaminer.com.

 

The underground effort by some conservatives to impeach President Obama for picking and choosing which laws to enforce is about to shift into a higher gear with a new book from a noted terrorism prosecutor detailing seven impeachable offenses on topics ranging from immigration to Obamacare.

In Faithless Execution, Andrew C. McCarthy makes the legal case to dump the president, but also hopes to build the political will in Congress and the nation to take the unusual move last used against former President Bill Clinton following the Monica Lewinsky affair.

“You have to make the public case that the president has to be removed,” said McCarthy. “I’m trying to make it,” he said.

McCarthy, a terrorism expert who prosecuted the so-called “blind sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, charged that Obama and his administration are destroying the Constitution by ignoring some laws, using the Internal Revenue Service to harass conservative groups and making changes to Obamacare that don’t appear legal.

“The victims are people who care if America is the America of the Constitution,” he said at a small briefing about his book due for release June 3. Amazon is already selling it.

McCarthy, also a top former Pentagon official who is now a conservative writer and author, said he expects the left to hit him for suggesting that Obama be impeached, and he conceded that there appears little will to challenge the president.

He joked that even the GOP doesn’t want to elevate Vice President Joe Biden by removing Obama. “He’s the impeachment insurance,” said McCarthy.

But he warned that if Congress and the nation simply turn the other way, the president will be gifted a “license” to make more potentially “lawless” moves. “I think you are going to see him put the pedal to the metal in a lot of ways,” said McCarthy.

His hope: “The exercise of building the case and unfolding the administration’s pervasive lawlessness could pressure the president to reverse course and adhere to the law. That is even if the political case for ousting the president is futile, spotlighting presidential lawlessness could create the political and electoral conditions in which Congress could more effectively counter President Obama’s lawlessness.”

Faithless Execution, from Encounter Books, includes seven articles of impeachment detailing “President Obama’s willful subversion of the Constitution.” Publisher Roger Kimball said the book is one of his firm’s most important because it details the president’s “rampant lawlessness.”

Below are a few of the seven articles of impeachment:

— Refusal to execute laws faithfully. Willful disregard for congressionally enacted, constitutionally valid law, while dictating policy by executive fiat. Including multiple unilaterally decreed amendments to the Affordable Care Act in direct contravention of the law passed by Congress.

— Fraud on the American people. Deliberately misled the American people in the enactment and implementation of Obamacare, and on scandals from Fast & Furious to the IRS harassment of conservative groups to the Benghazi massacre.

— Failure to execute laws faithfully: Immigration. Granting amnesty through executive edict and refusing to enforce existing immigration laws.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washin

“Labor believes in Medicare. We believe that in this country, no matter what your circumstances, if you are sick you should able to go to the doctor and not pay tax. We believe for this and we will fight and fight and fight to defend Medicare.”

via Bulk-billing poorer patients will cost us $11 a time, doctors warn | World news | theguardian.com.

▶ Evidence Of Ancient Stone Constructions 12,000 Years Old In Peru? – YouTube.

Sony has partnered with IBM to create a tape storage device capable of holding 185 terabytes (about 185,000 gigabytes) on a single cartridge. The new tape can store 148 GB, or about the capacity of three Blu-Ray discs, on one square inch of tape. Of course, due to its high cost this new tape isn’t anywhere near ready for mass-market production or use

Fuck Sony!  Refuse to buy anything from Sony. Sony is anti-American and will kick a man when he is down.  Fuck Sony.

Sony shows off incredible new storage medium | Mind Of The Geek.

A hormone associated with longevity also appears to make people’s brains work better.

The in Cell Reports could someday lead to drugs that improve memory and learning, researchers say.

“We’ve discovered a way to potentially boost cognition,” says , one of the study’s authors who does research on aging and the brain at the University of California, San Francisco. And that could mean “a very new way to treat diseases,” ranging from Alzheimer’s to schizophrenia, she says.

The hormone is named Klotho, after the Fate from Greek mythology who spins the thread of life. Scientists have known for more than a decade that people and animals tend to live longer if they have high levels of Klotho in their bodies.

And that led Dubal and researchers at the to wonder whether a hormone that protects the body against aging might also protect the brain. So the team set out to see whether Klotho offered a way to “prevent the cognitive decline that comes with aging,” Dubal says.

To find out, they studied more than 700 people between the ages of 52 and 85. About 1 in 5 of these people had a form of the Klotho gene that causes their bodies to produce high levels of the Klotho hormone.

The team expected to find that people with high levels of the hormone experienced less cognitive decline than people with lower levels. “In fact what we found was not consistent with our hypothesis,” Dubal says. “We were completely surprised.”

What they found was that the people with lots of Klotho experienced just as much cognitive decline as other people. Their brains weren’t protected against aging at all. But their brains were different nonetheless, Dubal says.

“Those that carried the genetic variant that increased their Klotho levels showed better cognitive performance across the lifespan,” Dubal says. At any given age, people with lots of Klotho scored higher on tests of learning and memory, language and attention, she says.

So instead of discovering a way to protect the brain from aging, the team had found a hormone that appears to make people smarter.

To learn more, the team began studying mice that had been genetically engineered to produce high levels of the mouse version of Klotho. And this time, the researchers got exactly the result they hoped for. “Elevating klotho made the mice smarter across all the cognitive tests that we put them through,” Dubal says

A look at the brains of these mice suggested a reason. There was evidence that in areas involved in learning and memory, Klotho was causing a change that strengthened the connections between brain cells.

All this suggests that a drug able to raise levels of Klotho might be able to help people with Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases, Dubal says, even if the drug didn’t stop the disease itself. “Our goal and vision is that there will be a therapy that improves the lives of people that are suffering from diseases of the brain,” Dubal says.

But any treatment based on manipulating Klotho levels in people remains years away, says , who oversees research on cognitive change at the National Institute on Aging. The NIA and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke both helped fund the research.

“The beauty of this study is that the finding gives us another place to look, another path to take as we try to determine targets for the development of drugs,” Wagster says. It also raises questions about whether Klotho levels may be influenced by diet, exercise or brain activity – all of which have been shown to affect cognitive function in older people, she says.

There’s a lot researchers still don’t know about the Klotho, which was discovered in 1997. For example, it’s not clear why carrying one copy of the gene associated with higher levels of the hormone improves cognitive function while carrying two copies seems to impair function.

But knowing that a naturally occurring hormone affects cognition in both mice and people should speed efforts to find treatments for diseases that cause impaired brain function, Wagster says.

Brain-Boosting Hormone Improves Cognitive Function : Shots – Health News : NPR.

Getting more fruits and vegetables into your diet could help curb your risk of stroke, a new study has found.

Researchers at the Medical College of Qingdao University in Qingdao, China, saw a 32% decrease of stroke risk with every 200 grams of fruit consumed each day, and an 11% decrease for every 200 g of vegetables eaten daily.

High fruit and vegetable intake can lower blood pressure and improve microvascular function, the researchers said in the study, which was published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

“Improving diet and lifestyle is critical for heart and stroke risk reduction in the general population,” the study’s senior author Yan Qu said in a release. “A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is highly recommended because it meets micronutrient and macronutrient and fibre requirements without adding substantially to overall energy requirements.”

via Sun News : Eating more fruit, veggies may cut stroke risk: Study.

In a strategy that combines two of the hottest ideas in cancer research, scientists at the National Institutes of Health said they successfully attacked a woman’s disease by using her immune system to home in on genetic mutations unique to her tumors.

The findings, published Thursday by the journal Science, come from just one patient—a 45-year-old woman in Montana. But researchers said her case, in which she received billions of immune cells specially grown to target her tumors, amounts to evidence the technique may be a way to treat many common cancers now considered difficult to target with the immune system.

So-called immunotherapy has so far shown the most promise in relatively rare cancers such as melanoma and kidney cancers.

This new approach “represents the blueprint for making immunotherapy available to treat common cancers,” said Steven A. Rosenberg, chief of the Surgery Branch at the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research and senior author of the study. “We’ve figured out a way to target what is absolutely unique on each cancer. That is the mutations that make the cancer a cancer.”

via New immunotherapy treatment uses patient’s own cells to attack cancer | Fox News.

Nagged to death?

A study on Danish men and women discovered stress caused by arguments or general worrying are prone to lowering people’s immune systems, as well as potentially leading to heart disease.

Dr Lund published her study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. She believes stress is the cause of early death and gave her opinion on why men are worse off.

“Previous research seem to say it is stress on your cardiovascular system which is associated with increase in blood pressure which is associated with heart disease,” she explained.

“Men to report smaller networks than women. They say their spouse or partner is their main confident. They may have a good friend or close colleague but their network is smaller.

“Women tend to have larger networks and they share the stress they have with good friends and family member.

“Men will limit their conversations with friends and family. The one person they have as a confident is actually the one putting the worries and demands on them then that could be making them more vulnerable.”

 

Can you be nagged to death? – TV3 Xposé Entertainment.

For middle-age adults, frequent arguments with partners, relatives or neighbors may increase the risk of death, according to a new study.

Past research has long focused on the positive outcomes of social relationships, with the understanding that a lack of a support network is a health risk factor, said study author Dr. Rikke Lund. However, she said that those studies didn’t factor in all the outcomes of a social relationship.

“Inevitably, most of our contact with others includes a negative impact, which hasn’t been studied as thoroughly as the supportive aspect,” said Lund, an associate professor in the department of public health, section of social medicine at the University of Copenhagen.

From 2000 through 2011, Lund and her team surveyed 10,000 adults between the ages of 36 and 52 about their daily social relationships, focusing on who caused stress and conflicts for the participants. Approximately 1 in 10 participants reported partners and children as the largest source of excess worries and demands. One in 20 ranked relatives as the highest source of stress, while 1 percent claimed friends to be the most stressful.

During the study period, 196 women (4 percent) and 226 men (6 percent) died.

Nearly 50 percent of the deaths were from cancer; the rest included heart disease, stroke, liver disease, accidents and suicide.

After analyzing this data, the researchers concluded that frequent worries or demands created by partners and/or children were linked to a 50 to 100 percent increased risk of death from all causes.

Men were more vulnerable than women to worries and demands from their partners. Lund said men tend to have smaller networks, which may mean that stress in their relationships has a larger impact – but it remains unclear why men are at a higher risk.

“Since many men tend to mention their partner as their closest, or only, confidante, having these demands and worries from partners may actually harm them more than women, who tend to have larger networks to depend on,” she said.

The unemployed also had an increased vulnerability to relationship stressors, compared to those who had similar stressors but had a job.

“[One] could be double exposed. [It’s] a stressful time in life due to being unemployed, but also due to conflict and worries experienced with partners,” Lund said. “It seems like these two factors actually amplify each other.”

Researchers were surprised to see that conflict with neighbors had a significant impact on longevity. While only 1 percent of participants reported frequent negative encounters with neighbors, there was a three times increased mortality risk with this kind of interaction.

“[One] can’t really escape it; you didn’t chose the people who live around you…,” Lund said. “[It’s] important to know these strong conflicts between neighbors perhaps could be very, very damaging.”

Given these findings, researchers concluded that conflict management skills may help curb premature death related to social relationship stressors.

“It seems important that we are aware that these stressful aspects of our social relationships tend to also have an impact on our health, and we should take it seriously,” Lund said, “…perhaps as seriously as health behaviors we’re focused on, [such as eating, smoking and alcohol consumption].”

The research was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

 

Frequent arguments with family and friends linked with greater risk of death | Fox News.