July 13, 2007

Research Roundup

So here is the weekly Random Research post. This was a tradition started on weekends, but Friday is a good day for randomness too, isn't it? After all, by Friday, who can think clearly and pay attention to a single subject for more than a paragraph or two? Certainly not Crabby. So fasten your seat-belts and watch in amazement as we descend from health-related studies into truly random and chaotic linkage!

First up is an article about the general health of truck drivers in the U.S., and guess what? It's not encouraging.

Some specifics, from an upcoming study by the Transportation Research Board:

Nearly half of truckers are regular smokers, compared to about one-fifth of all Americans. Only about one in ten get regular aerobic exercise. There are also high rates of obesity and sleep apnea.

Add to this the fact that the trucking industry has the most fatalities any industry and that truckers also report more injuries than any other occupation, and you have a good reason to worry for these (mostly) guys. The article goes on to highlight some efforts being made to improve trucker health, but given the scope of the problem, Crabby's not laying down money on dramatic improvements any time soon.

So truckers tend to be smokers? Perhaps we'll use that as a crude transition to a trio of studies that involved smoking. Somehow it seems doubtful that many readers of Cranky Fitness are big smokers, but what the heck.

So one good news items for smokers: there's at least one disease you're less likely to get than nonsmokers are. A recent study suggests cigarette smokers are at reduced risk for developing Parkinson's disease. Crabby hopes she doesn't need to point out that you'll be at higher risk for a bunch of other more common deadly health problems, like cancer, stroke, and heart attacks. Because you knew that already, right?

For those who are trying to quit smoking, and also struggling with a drinking problem, it looks like there may be one medication that helps for both addictions. It's called varenicline, and it's already available to help people stop smoking. But it may also help heavy drinkers and people struggling with other addictions by targeting a "pleasure center" in the brain.

Also, on the smoking front, there's this research concluding that smokers lose more muscle mass in old age, which then "predisposes smokers to an accelerated decline in physical function and loss of independence." Which means some earnest underpaid nurse's aide in your nursing home is going to be snatching those cigarettes out of your weakened grasp anyhow. So you you might as well quit now while the quittin's good.

And for those who might be partial to a bit of Friday Beefcake, Diet Blog has a great run-down on a recent study claiming that women really do go for brawny guys with lots o' muscles. Crabby's stereotype was that the shallow preoccupation with superficial aspects of physical appearance was a male vice, not a female one. But she discovered she was Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

Diet Blog, unlike many other health reporting sites, actually showed the blob-headed but strangely studly pictures used in the studies, and went beyond the headlines to actually analyze the data. So gals (or guys) who have an opinion on Male Physique may want to check this out and report back to Crabby what they think about the whole thing.

And our good friend Martha over at That'sFit has a review of Fat Girl by Judith Moore that made Crabby eager to read it. Have any of you gotten to it yet, and if so, what did you think?

And finally, were we speaking of largeness? (Crabby is not even making a pretense of logical connections anymore). Here is a gratuitous picture of a Very Huge Cat. Seriously, do click on the link; you have to see this; scroll down a bit to get the full impact. This then allows Crabby to mention a favorite blogger, Penelope, Who Does Not Pretend to Be An Ordinary Cat. She has opinions about politics and all sorts of things, and has been rated NC-17 because of her use of objectionable language. Her sidebar is frequently updated and not to be missed.

Have enough random subjects been mentioned for now so that everyone might have an opinion about something? Crabby hopes so, because she loves to hear what you all are thinking!


  1. I love truckloads of research :D

    I have never seen healthy food at any truck stop. Always the same old nasty hot dogs rolling and rolling and rolling under those heat lamps. Pre-made sausage biscuits in the cold section. Full blown fried chicken restaurants. Do trucks have fridges for truckers to put their food in?

    When I first heard about the smoking-Parkinson's link I just about fell out of my chair!!! I STILL don't believe it. Just who funded that study?

    Mmmmmmmm. Muscle men! *drool*

  2. Good Morning, Crabby.
    Tobacco does have some benefits, can't remember 'em and can't find where I read it, but I think it has pain-killing properties. I mean real tobacco and not the adulterated abomination that goes in commerical smoking and chewing products, just to clarify.
    My husband has recently taken up truck driving. He takes his own lunch and keeps up with supplements and exercise. His sleep has become somewhat more disturbed, though. He always
    talked in his sleep, but now he looks for gears under the bed and wonders when his turn to empty the truck is coming.
    As for the cat pic, well, that sure is a lot of pussycat to love.

  3. Miss Crab, I think you must have overwhelmed us with your vast research. So few comments!

    So...I skipped the trucker stuff, doesn't apply to me.
    -my husband quit smoking. He used a new drug called Chantix. He is on week 12. We are still married and speaking to one another. Enough said.
    -The man pictures. Freaky looking. I could never make any type of a decision on such little information. I need hair, eyes mouth and PERSONALITY **HELLO!!*
    -cat pic, I think somebody has been having some fun with PhotoShop!

    May I just say that I am on day one million of hanging out on the couch waiting for my knee to heal. I am going bonkers. Crabby I think you should research the insanity rate of bed ridden people. Something tells me it is VERY HIGH!

  4. 1. Truckers Smoking: If I had to drive on the roads for hours everyday with all of the idiots out there, I would probably smoke too.

    2. Muscular men are sexy. Umm, yes.

    3. Fat Girl. Why read about one when I'm my own fat girl? (haha)

    4. Huge cat. Maybe that is the type of cat I could coax my husband into liking... he prefers dogs, but that one almost looks like one. Hmmm...

  5. Holy Freakin Cat! I just pulled my kids in here to see that one. ("Maybe his name is 'Lion' mom! Bwa-ha-ha!")

    Muscluar men study: kind of funny (but not ha ha funny). I haven't known too many women to rate attractiveness *mostly* on physical appearance. Well, and if they do, it's mostly on the face. Sense of humor and other stuff seems to trump the body shape and muscle mass.

  6. My best friend Sara is a trucker. She's totally adorable - and small you'd never guess. Anyhow it is bad in that industry. She used to call me when she drove cross country and she'd be all, "I can't find a salad on the road...Ahhhh" Truck stop food sucks. And she has insider info that reports that although truck drivers have rules that say they MUST stop driving at a certain point almost no companies enforce them because they'd rather drive further and make more money. Since Sara became a trucker I am way careful around truck drivers. Now (she just had a baby) she drives in town but has to work with deadly gas fumes. I was so worried when she was pregnant.

    I'm gonna go out on a limb and say trucking - not the safest career move. Although, studies show that Dentists commit suicide more often than I believe any other occupation and GASP nurses have one of the highest rates of alcoholism. I wonder what's wrong with us writers?

  7. That's one big cat - but did you note how he was sort-of colour coordinated with the couch and lamp? If he leaves a bit of hair behind you'd never notice. Now our two dogs don't colour coordinate with anything! You can see every single dog hair they leave behind!

  8. Hi Goinggone,
    You have quite the gift for descriptive prose because, yes, I can just see those hot dogs rolling and rolling and the pre-made sausage biscuits. Wonder if truckers eat unhealthy because of the truck stops, or the truckstops stock unhealthy food because the truckers prefer it? Probably both--and the few stray healthy eaters are just stuck.

    Good morning Leah! I didn't know that about tobacco. And it sounds like your husband is approaching it as healthily (actual word?) as possible. But watch out for when he dreams it is his turn to unload or you may find yourself picked up and unloaded out of bed!

    Hi Holly,
    Quantity is less important than quality, and I'm lucky enough to get only the Highest Quality Commenters at Cranky Fitness! Good for hubby for quitting smoking! And you are being very patient with the knee recovery and if you are going totally insane, be reassured it's not yet obvious. Hope it gets walkable soon!
    And I agree on needing more context to evaluate attractiveness--a big black circle doesn't give much to go on. And duh, photoshop did not actually occur to me, as you think it would by now. Just wait for next week, I've got some amazing jackalope pics!

    Jessica--good point on the smoking truckers, it must get awfully boring! And a cat that size would probably still be catlike more than doglike, but at least it might be kind of amusing.

    Hi Katieo,
    You know, I thought most women were way less superficial than that about male physique --until I checked the comments over at Diet Blog on the study. A lot of women were quite narrow in what range of body types they'd consider when choosing a boyfriend or hubby. Surprised me!

    Interesting insider perspective from your friend, and not very reassuring. And that's interesting about Dentists and Nurses! I think we writers are generally considered neurotic on so many fronts we're probably spread out into a whole passle of different pathologies. So perhaps no single one stands out. (Just a guess!)

    Well, as the owner of a black cat and lots of black T-shirts I've discovered that even the color-coordination is not as helpful as you'd think. The formerly black fur seems to magically change color against a black background and become light grey. So in case you were thinking of dyeing your dogs to match the furniture, I can save you some time: won't help!

  9. Holy crow crabby. I should make sure I'm not tired when I read your blog because it just about exhausts me. :-)

  10. I'm gonna go out on a limb here...I like man eye candy! I AM more "attracted" to "attractive" men. Shocker? No! Doesn't mean that I'm gonna get rid of my "average" husband. But I will drool behind my sunglasses on the beach over amazingly bodied men! And I think you'd all like to see Brad Pitt (from Troy!) naked more than you'd like to see Jack Black! Doesn't mean you're superficial! You aren't marrying him!


    Karen thought about becoming a truck driver. She even suggested I come with her and drive across the country. I declined for obvious reasons. Thus, Karen is still a teacher and is happy about that now since it is summer and she is not working.

    I'm not surprised about the trucker thing, though. That type of job is so sedentary and solitary, no wonder people eat too much and smoke.


  12. Hi Marijke!

    Well, I say anything exhausting counts as exercise, so you're done for the day. (And the extra research is to make up for a quiet slacker weekend at Cranky Fitness.)

    Hi Randi!
    I actually like to see men get a little objectified too every now and then, for balance at least! But you sound like a lot of women: Candy is sweet, but for a mate, deeper things are more important. I still think men are a tad more likely to commit for life based on what a woman looks like; women are a little less short-sighted about that. But that may just be my stereotype. Thanks for stopping by!

    I'm glad for both your sakes that Karen decided against the trucking! Only felines seem to be able to handle Solitary and Sedentary without any ill-effects to health. Felines rarely overeat and never smoke. Humans aren't nearly as sensible!

  13. The Very Huge Cat -- sure hope they declawed that one. There's a similar Photoshopped pic making the rounds of a big dog the size of a pony walking beside its human friend. Makes you laugh.

    Two trucker stories. No laughs here. When I was an undergraduate, the resident advisor on my floor went with several students on a long road trip. On the drive back, they pulled over to the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere for some shuteye. A sleep-deprived truck driver rammed their vehicle. The RA and two students died. ... Years later, I was a passenger in a car that was clipped from behind by a truck trying to pass us. Our car shot across the dividing line of the highway and spun 180. Fortunately no oncoming traffic and our driver kept his wits, steered into the skid as he braked. The lesson: truckers, ditch the bennies and get some sleep!

    Muscles, yes, very nice -- but only for looking unless there's a brain to go along with 'em.

    Crabby, are you planning a post on sunscreens in the future? This is a slightly confusing issue now that some studies question their effectiveness.

  14. Well if it helps apparently the Pope cares about truckdriver's spiritual health. It's old news but awhile back I read they were building truckstop churches over in Italy. It's an interesting concept, I suppose.

    As for the cat, well, I have one who's probably close in size. He's not as furry but just very large. People often say he's more of a monster than a cat. And people stop in the middle of sentences just to remark how large he is. ha ha.

    Anyway, nothing really productive to say.

  15. Hi Appleton,
    Don't know why years of experience on the internet went out the window when I saw the Big Cat Picture--totally forgot about the whole photoshop possibility and took it for real! As I promised Holly, next week: jackalopes!

    Very sad truck accident stories. Scares me too!

    And I really should sort out the sunscreen research--there are new ingredients that are supposed to improve effectiveness, but don't know if these are pre or post relative to the research you mention. Plus, I've been told some of the ingredients in ours have been banned in Europe as dangerous. So yes, I really need to look into it. I'm hoping some Big Study comes out soon that does all the boring research for me and puts it all in one place!

    Hi Meg,
    Actually, that was two interesting and productive things, which puts you far ahead of most of my blog posts! Popes & trucks; and your ginormous cat!

    If you ever want to email me a picture of it, Cranky Fitness now has a possible photoshop fraud issue to overcome. So a Large Cat picture that's actually Real might restore some much needed credibilty around here! (On the other hand, you might have an actual life!)


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