Archive for November, 2009

Read the fine print: who funded that study?

Whenever I hear about new medical research, I always ask one question first: who funded it?

Too often, reporters — even reporters for respected news sources like Reuters — don’t give us this essential information when they cover new studies.

Take, for example, the flurry of recent news items with titles like “Morning sickness linked to smarter babies” and “Study links morning sickness to higher IQ.” I found this kind of an intriguing idea, so I read the Reuters article. The article didn’t mention the study’s funder, but the very small size of the group they studied, and the fact that they also studied the safety of a drug for morning sickness, made me suspicious.

A quick visit to the website of the Journal of Pediatrics, the study’s publisher, showed me I was right: the fine print on the abstract indicated that the study was funded by the maker of the anti-nausea drug, and one of the study’s authors is a paid consultant for the company. Why, exactly, didn’t Reuters think this was worth mentioning?

The only article I found (on an admittedly cursory search) that brought up the obvious problems with the study was this one on the website doublex.com.

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Lymph love: skin brushing.

With all the cold-weather bugs flying around the northern hemisphere these days, it’s nice to take care of our overworked lymphatic systems.

Since the circulating lymph doesn’t have its own pump like the blood does, we need to help it along by moving around and stretching our muscles (walking and dancing are great lymph-movers).

You can also help stagnant lymphatic fluid get moving by vigorously brushing your skin. Now, you may find all kinds of complicated instructions for skin brushing around the interwebs, but it’s really not that hard. Just take something rough but not too irritating — like a dry loofah, a natural-bristle brush, or a coarse washcloth — and rub your skin vigorously, in little circles, from the ends of your body toward your heart.

It only takes a couple of minutes, and it feels really great. (For me, it can make a huge difference in my energy level, especially on cold, sluggish mornings.)

One thing: do it before you shower or bathe, not after. (Skin is usually a little too sensitive for vigorous rubbing after contact with hot water.)

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