September 17, 2008

Studies We Plan to Ignore

[By Crabby]

At Cranky Fitness, we generally prefer scientific studies over most other sources of health information. (Not that we don't appreciate late-night infomercials about the need to detoxify our feet, or suggestions from Annoying Bad Breath Neighbor Guy. (Leeches for migraines? Really?)

We especially love it when science tells us that our good healthy habits are paying off. Want to feel cheerful? There's a great round-up over at Mark's Daily Apple about the ways in which exercise and nutritious food choices are good for your brain.

However, while we believe in science, we have our issues with lots of research that goes on. So, we often bitch about these studies. Sometimes we even make up our own!

But mostly, if a study looks lame or it says something we don't want to hear, we just don't cover it. We're one small health blog in a huge blogosphere; we figure you can get your flawed conclusions or your bad news somewhere else.

Today though, for a change of pace, let's take a look at some recent studies and articles I was going to blow off because I didn't like what they said. But hey, changed my mind: they give me something to whine about!

More Things That Are Dirtier Than Your Toilet

The list of things that are dirtier than your toilet keeps growing. We've been told steering wheels, cell phones, and drinking fountains are all more germy and contaminated than toilets. And now, courtesy of Healthbolt comes a study scaring us with alarming news about how contaminated and dangerous and gross our kitchen sinks and sponges are. An environmental microbiology professor even said that according to his findings, "your post-flush toilet bowl is indeed cleaner than your kitchen sink."

But come on: you don't poop in your kitchen sink!

I don't care what the studies say, I refuse to believe that a cell phone or a kitchen sink is nastier than the toilet. If these benign-looking things I touch every day were really such a threat, why am I not good and dead now?

(And perhaps it was just a coincidence that the kitchen sink study was sponsored by Lysol?)

Thing You're Healthy? Weird Signs That You're at Risk

Prevention magazine recently published a compilation of several studies I'd been ignoring individually. The findings are intriguing, but depressing. A quick summary:

  • A weak sense of smell (if you are older) suggests you're at 5 times the risk of getting Parkinsons.
  • Women who have index fingers shorter than their ring fingers are more likely to get knee osteoarthritis. (They're also more likely to be gay).
  • Women taller than 5' 2" are less likely to have a longevity gene that aids in reaching one's 100th birthday.
  • Short women were more prone to having elevated enzymes indicative of liver disease.
  • Women with short arms were more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.
Weird, huh? But don't you kinda wish you hadn't read it?

When Doctors are Not Nice

We already know that doctors sometimes lie about giving you a placebo, or they make up insulting nicknames; but a new study also says doctors (or, in this case, medical residents) have also been known to laugh at you behind your back. A full seventeen percent confessed to having laughed at a patient. (More on this at Vitamin G).

Heh heh heh heh.

Is this supposed to be shocking? Actually, I'm shocked (and skeptical) that it's only 17%. Of course doctors laugh at their patients!

Gosh, next we'll find out that bank tellers sometimes laugh at their customers and cops sometimes laugh at crooks and ministers laugh at members of their congregations. You're not allowed to laugh, ever, at the nutty people you deal with in your job even when they're not there?

As long as the people I deal with are not laughing at me to my face, I'm cool.

It Doesn't Pay To Think Too Hard

Mary Anne in Kentucky sent me a link to this depressing study about eating and thinking a while ago, but then I procrastinated and Healthbolt beat me to it. Basically, it says that doing challenging mental tasks leads to greater calorie consumption than if you were just sitting around vegging out. And no, thinking hard doesn't burn any extra calories, even though it sure feels like it should.

Doesn't that suck? Let's all get off the internet and find something less fattening to do, shall we?

And finally:

Worship Celebrities, It's Good For Your Health!

I confess: I couldn't even make myself read this Time Magazine article on the mental health benefits of celebrity worship.

Enough. Someone else will just have to report back on how this could possibly be true. I have my limits!


  1. With the Doctors making fun of people behind their backs, I had an experience like that. I was at summer college when I was 16 (yes, I was that kid), and got really really sick: fever, chills, muscle ache, headache, runny nose.

    The nurse took my temperature while asking me questions. It was 98.2F, yet I was shivering. Instead of assuming that reading might be incorrect, the nurse left the room, and then went to the nurses' station, where she speculated on why I was faking such symptoms.

    (The doctor re-checked my temperature,and it was 102.5F, due to a sinus infection)

  2. Well, apparently I'm a closet lesbian and by the time I figure it out I'll either be dead (due to being over 5'7), or a cripple (due to osteoarthritis).


  3. Well, gosh. I'm in the same boat as Christine, but apparently, I'll know all about every ache and pain due to my "ape factor" arms. (Never heard of that? That's when your arms, stretched out to your sides and measured from tip to tip is longer than you are tall.)
    Great post, Crabby!

  4. How do I know if I have short arms? Short compared to the rest of my body? Short compared to the rest of the population? I might have short arms and not even know it!! ACK!

  5. Well that explains it! Getting my duel-masters is making me fat. Dropping out of Grad School in 3.... 2... 1....


  6. Most things are dirtier than a toilet now because we routinely clean toilets. Other things, not so much.
    Oh, yeah, every profession (I suspect) makes fun of its clients behind their respective backs. It's part and parcel of keeping sane.

  7. 'We worship celebrities because the brain can't tell the difference between social and parasocial relationships.'
    Hmmmn... is spending time writing and reading blogs considered a parasocial relationship?
    Fun post!

  8. Don't even get me started on studies. lol. One week it's this, the next it's that. And hey, I may not have a higher risk for knee osteoarthritis, but I am less likely to reach my 100th birthday. AND, I might get Alzheimer's disease.


  9. Mental health benefits of celeb worship?? I knew I cancelled my subscription to Time for a good reason.

    But now, thank you very much, I'm going to be examining everyone's fingers, arms and height today. My friends already think I'm weiiiirrrrd!

  10. Well, I guess all that bacteria is making my immune system stronger. They think that a lack of playing in dirt (perhaps not toilets) is actually contributing to kids allergy and other auto-immune problems. Bring on the dirt!

  11. Ok... Study says: I'm a closet lesbian (woohoo?), will probably get knee osteoarthritis and liver disease but the good news is I probably won't live to 100 while my body falls apart.

  12. Jill, I figure I have really short arms and legs because I always have to shorten pants and the arms of shirts are usually to long for me, but I have a long torso.

    Oooh now I have another excuse I didn't really need to play word games on the computer during my lunch break. Woohoo!

  13. No Merry! This is a social relationship. You're my real friend. HUG!

    (sigh. I need to get out more)

  14. "Women with short arms were more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease."
    Oh crap...I'm doomed. I'm always shortening sleeves on things...

    As for the sink thing? S'truth.
    Most people spend more time cleaning and disinfecting their toilets with strong funky cleaners than their sinks and dishrags. And food and stuff often sit in there and grow all manner of stuff. Wierd, but true...I always cometize my sink and change my dishrag once a week for that very reason. But I'm a geeky scientist...who in her 4th year micro class had to take random test swabs around her apartment and grown them up. You would not *believe* what came out of my sink...bleragh.

  15. Well, now I know that I am more likely to have knee arthritis and not live to be 100. At least I am less prone to Alzheimer's.

    Thanks, now I must sanitize my cell phone, CRAP!

    Research, oh how it enriches our lives!

  16. This is upsetting. I am exactly 5'2", so I think I'll have liver problems AND die young (probably from my liver problems).

    Also, on my left hand, my ring & index fingers are the same length, but on my right hand, my index finger is much shorter.

    So, I'm an arthritic lesbian who is going to die young of liver disease. And I'm concerned about my arm length.

    You are a terrible person, sharing this information so early in the morning.

  17. What I can't figure out is why all of us gym-rats aren't dying of some communicable disease.

    Think of all the grubby hands spreading germs on all of those dumbbells, barbells, and other assort gym equipment.

    I'll see an occasional half-hearted wipe-down with an anti-bacterial towelette, but I doubt if that's the reason.

  18. Once after working for over 36 hours straight, I was finishing up a case (the patient was awake for a minor procedure), and I just burst out laughing!! No real reason. That took some explaining, as I insisted everything was fine, but still couldn't stop laughing :-)

  19. (first. Jill, your comment cracked me up. I thought the same thing!)

    I used to not really trust hyped-up studies. Then I read this crazy book "Good Calories, Bad Calories." Now I don't trust ANY studies. I'm tempted to send the Crab a copy JUST to read her opinion of it. It's fascinating in a comprehensive (and slightly disturbing) sort of way.

    Also, that picture of the doctor laughing under his little mask made me laugh out loud this morning.

  20. Crabby, I'm with you on the kitchen sink thing. I swish the toilet with the brush daily and use cleanser once a week. Meanwhile, the sink gets boiling water poured down it daily and is cleaned several times a day with the bleach/water mix in the spray bottle on the counter.

    I guess there are good and bad sides to the fact that I stopped growing taller when I was only 12. Longer life, but with liver disease!?!


  21. hm. well i'm not a lesbian, but i may get knee osteoarthritis as on one hand, the ring finger is longer than the index finger ... but the opposite on the other.

    i'm 5'9" so old age is out of the question ... but at least i got long arms from my dad. score.

    and i don't know if i buy the celebrity worship thing.

  22. "Women taller than 5' 2" are less likely to have a longevity gene that aids in reaching one's 100th birthday."

    "Short women were more prone to having elevated enzymes indicative of liver disease."

  23. You guys are making me laugh out loud this morning!

    So this is weird: I have a hetero left hand when I look at the palm side, but when I turn it around and look at it from the back, it goes all homo on me. (Right hand is hetero both ways, which just shows you how accurate this test is).

  24. I heart studies. They're sometimes entertaining. And usually mostly very contradictory.

    I also heart irony.

  25. Im firmly in the fearing no dirt camp.

    I mean I make the wash hands before eating etc effort but can not get all in a lather (oooh. accidental pun) about the sponges.

    though Im certain I should.


  26. Oooh Crabby my fingers do the same thing!!! From the back they are the same but from the palm, ring finger is shorter.

    Damn. Now I'm freakin out about my arms AND my funky fingers!!

  27. Doing challenging mental tasks makes you fat!!! THAT's what's been my problem!!!

    BTW I JUST pre-ordered a Fitbit Tracker. They won't ship until late Dec-early Jan. Can't wait to blog about that!

  28. With my sense of smell, I don't have to worry about Parkinsons!
    I have long index fingers and osteoarthritis in my knees, so much for that one!
    Thank heaven I'm tall! I won't have to feel like this 'til I'm 100.
    Like the Bag Lady, I have the ape factor arms, so I will remember everything!

    I am a firm believer that what doesn't kill you makes your immune system stronger.

  29. Worship celebrities? Oh good heck! That is bound to have the exact opposite effect! That would make me feel depressed, ugly, unsuccessful, etc. etc. etc. I don't have a nanny, a personal chef, a personal trainer - oh wait... I am one... but sometimes I even need somebody pushing my bootie to get going! :) This was an awesome post! You crack me up! And hey - a good laugh is basically like doing 20 sit ups in my book!

  30. Based on these studies and statistics I'm going to get Alzheimers which is great news because this means the cancer diagnosis won't kill me. And I won't be aware of either of them.
    Life is great! I feel doubly-blessed as usual.

  31. Re: Crabby's hetero/homo hands

    Right hand is Rosie Palmer
    Left hand is Pamela HANDerson.

  32. you never run out of things to amaze me! I love visiting :)

  33. What is it with pickin on us short gals? short arms? short fingers? short = longetivity? but not quite short enough.


  34. Damn, now I am kind of depressed. In fact according to that post, I am lucky to still be alive. :(

  35. 17% of doctors laughed at their patients? Surely they got that wrong; it must have meant that doctors laughed at 17% of their patients. There. That sounds more realistic.

    "Women who have index fingers shorter than their ring fingers are more likely to get knee osteoarthritis. (They're also more likely to be gay)."--so, I'm bisexual; am I going to have arthritis in one knee?

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  36. Celebrity worship--I managed to sort of skim the article. Can't we just go back to worshiping trees?

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  37. Mary Anne:

    Re: the study must have really meant that doctors laughed at 17% of their patients...

    That makes SO MUCH MORE SENSE! I'd totally believe that. Who are the supposed 73% of doctors who claim they never laugh at any patients??

    They're either clinically depressed or big ol' liars.

  38. Hey Crabby, I firmly believe that my study of Viggo Mortensen will extend my life by twenty years.

    If not extend, it will certainly improve it.

  39. Hmm.. I better start living fast because at 6'2" I am wayyy over the 5'2"=100 years limit. Darn.

    Good news though, not a closet lesbian and I probably won't get knee osteoarthritis.. but then again, its hard to fall apart when you don't live very long. :]

    Awesome post!!! :]


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