Monday, January 24, 2011

Weirdest indicators of medical risk

Gizmodo reposted this from Wired magazine which is a short list of associations between physical characteristics and risks of things like cancer and death. Based on the teaser/intro:
Apparently things like finger length, grip strength, and height may be reliable predictors of cancer, longevity and heart disease. Don't believe it? Check this weird list of potential risk indicators out anyway. It'll terrify, amaze, and amuse you.
it seems pretty clear where the author is trying to go with this material. But what I was glad to see included was a scientist helping to put this type of science into perspective:
"It's easy to get results that look impressive by trying a whole bunch of things on large databases of information. Things pop out, but they can be completely spurious because of chance,"
Furthermore, these are all studies of association, not causation, so it is hard to draw any truly meaningful conclusions from them. Lastly, few are things you can do anything about. You cannot change your birth order or finger length. You can train to have a stronger grip, but there's no reason to think that doing so would reduce your risk of disability. We should all floss regularly, and if you travel, wear sunscreen.

No comments:

Post a Comment