Monday, June 8, 2009

Poorly Presented Stats in Men's Health

A client no-showed, so I grabbed the May 2009 issue of Men's Health from the waiting room to occupy myself. I generally enjoy Men's Health. It does have good nutrition and exercise tips sometimes. It also suffers from poorly presented statistics syndrome, especially in its "Facts of Life" segments.

"Facts of Life - 1: Percentage by which your stroke risk rises for each fast-food joint in your neighborhood."

What this could imply as written:
You are more likely to have a stroke the more fast-food joints are in your neighborhood, no matter what.

What this really means:
The average rate of strokes among residents of a neighborhood is 1% higher per additional fast-food joint in that neighborhood compared to other neighborhoods.

What this really implies:
People tend to eat fast-food more if it is more available to them, and fast-food increases risk of strokes, probably via increasing blood pressure and clots.

How to use this information:
Pay attention to your eating behavior. Choose to not eat fast-food, even if it is very convenient. In fact, fast-food is more likely to cause you other health problems than strokes. So, if you're not scared by the relative stroke risk (notice that no base rates are given), think about obesity, heart disease, and diabetes when you drive past a McDonald's.


"Facts of Life - 96: Percentage spike in the number of doctor visits for diabetes since 1996."

What this could imply as written:
Twice as many people have diabetes now? Diabetes exists at the same prevalence, but is being diagnosed better due to improvements in processes or technology? People with diabetes go to the doctor twice as often now? Probably some combination of those, but we can't determine it.

What this really means:
Just that there are about twice as many doctor visits for diabetes (I am assuming they combine both types) now as there were in 1996.

What this really implies:
Nothing useful at all. Someone pulled this stat out of its context, and we are not able to logically derive anything from it with confidence.

How to use this information:
Let it inspire you to find more information. We do already know that type II diabetes rates are skyrocketing due to obesity. We also know that many health care providers, insurance providers, and the city of New York have been trying ways of getting diabetics to be more compliant with managing the disease. There has been a lot of new encouragement over the last few years to get diabetics in for regular checkups, since it reduces the frequency of vastly more expensive emergency care and amputations, etc... If you have or think you have diabetes, see your doctor regularly and comply with your treatment regimen. It is a manageable illness.


"Facts of Life - 80: Percentage increase in a man's heart disease risk if he has erectile dysfunction."

What this could imply as written:
Erectile dysfunction increases a man's risk of heart disease by 80%. That is the worst way to read it, anyway.

What this really means:
Men who have erectile dysfunction are 80% more likely to have heart disease than men who do not have erectile dysfunction.

What this really implies:
Again, it's hard to tell. The stat has been removed from its context. There is possibly some phenomenon that causes erectile dysfunction that also increases heart disease risk. Based on my understanding of the disorders, stress and anxiety are likely culprits.

How to use this information:
If you have ED, talk with your doctor about it and your other heart disease risks at your regular check-up. Use the ED more as a warning sign that something else is wrong. You should also just generally be aware of your stress levels, and take care of yourself emotionally. Practice mindfulness and get some exercise. Connect and ally with your partner; iron out any problems in your relationship.

1 comment:

  1. It is a straightforward fact that a larger section of men across the world fall in the grip of erectile dysfunction due to stress and certain lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking, drug abuse. Therefore, it is extremely essential to get rid of smoking, drinking and other disastrous lifestyle habits at the earliest. Abstinence from your favorite cigarette pack or your reluctance to take alcohol can protect you from erectile dysfunction to a significant extent. So, incorporate these lifestyle changes and keep problems like erectile dysfunction at bay.

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