42 e-Letters

published between 2008 and 2011

  • It might be Survival that determines Shopping !
    Giridhara R Babu
    Sir, I read with interest the article by Yu-Hung Chang et al.(1) Authors have articulated some limitations in their paper. However, the findings are derived from purpose of the Elderly Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan (1999-2000), done to assess the diet, nutrition and health of persons aged 65 and above in Taiwan. One of the common and often forgotten limitation of such surveys is Survivor Bias.(2) People who go to shoppin...
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  • Coffee, hepatitis B and hepatocellular carcinoma: study exclusions and omissions are significant
    Gee Yen Shin


    As a coffee-drinking virologist, I read Leung et al's report on coffee consumption and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with interest[1].

    The authors excluded those "under medication for liver diseases". It is a reasonable assumption that this means that patients who were receiving antiviral therapy for hepatitis B virus (HBV), e.g. lamivudine, entecavir etc. were excluded. Because patients...

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  • Income Inequality and the Prevalence of Mental illness: A Note of Caution
    Andrew Brand

    Dear Editor,

    The correlation (r = 0.73) between income inequality and prevalence of mental illness reported by Pickett, James and Wilkinson (2006) was an intriguing finding, but we should be extremely cautious interpreting it.

    First, it was admittedly only a preliminary analysis and hence the number of data points (countries) was small (n = 8). Consequently, the correlation estimate will lack precision...

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  • Good fit, but still the wrong model? Understanding data generation matters more than likelihood-based model-fit statistics.
    Mark S. Gilthorpe
    We read with interest the article describing methods for modelling count data with excess zeros compared to standard count distributions, such as Poisson1. This topic has been extensively discussed in the statistical and epidemiological literature2-3. Didactic messages given by statisticians can often lack an appreciation of the epidemiological context and sadly this article has the same shortcomings. The primary novelty is t...
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  • Not all fats the same
    Thomas D. Anderson

    There is much evidence linking learning and behaviour problems in childhood to refined oils in the maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation, particularly linoleic acid in both cis and trans forms which may impair fetal brain development. A lower IQ in these children would not be surprising.

    I have seen no evidence, however, linking fresh natural fats to any of these problems. Diets high in refined sugars...

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  • Re: UK newspapers' representations of the 2009-10 outbreak of swine flu: one health scare not over-hyped by the media?
    Sarah J Jones


    The authors conclusions that the media did not 'over-hype' the swine flu nondemic are reached as a result of a methodology that directed them towards that conclusion; an analysis solely of the UK print media.

    I travelled to New Zealand on 11 May - two weeks after the first cases emerged - and arrived in Melbourne on the 5th June, a time when this was arguably the swine flu capital of the world. Yes...

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  • And what of political science?
    Patrick C. Fafard
    There is much to like in the argument presented by Clare Bambra. Epidemiology (and public health generally) has much to learn from the social sciences and the reverse is also true. And Bambra is surely correct to raise concerns about the associated risks including the "engrained caution and purism of epidemiology" and the excessive deference to experimental research designs before acting. However, in order to effectively mana...
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  • Increase in Overweight Adolescents may be due to Increased Testosterone
    James M. Howard

    I suggest the findings of Xu, et al., are caused by increased testosterone within urban populations. A report comparing rural areas and a large city found that testosterone is higher in the large city (Folia Histochem Cytobiol. 2001;39 Suppl 2:38-9).

    It is my hypothesis that the "secular trend," the increase in size and earlier puberty occurring in children, is caused by an increase in the percentage of individu...

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  • High Testosterone and Associated Consequences May be Higher in Lower Socioeconmic Levels
    James M. Howard

    I suggest increased testosterone may be higher in the lower socioeconomic levels. Increased testosterone has been connected with reduced learning ability, reduced impulse control, and sexuality. All of these reduce the ability to obtain gainful employment and participation in a society increasingly dependent upon advanced educational achievement and personal control. This would concentrate this type of individual within...

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  • Press reports of Fetal Alcohol Powers are highly premature ...
    Julian K. Davies

    I agree with the previous responder that the age of 5 and the battery of tests used here seem inadequate to detect many of the impacts of prenatal alcohol exposure.

    Even so, I still find it remarkable that this study fails to find statistically significant (after adjustment for confounders) impacts of heavy maternal drinking in this sample to date.

    This may have resulted from the relatively young age...

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