Monday 13 September 2010

Palm reading

From the once-great British Medical Journal comes another scientific breakthrough...

Firm handshake link to long life

The strength of your handshake could be a clue to how long you'll live, say scientists from University College London.

They matched older people's balance, grip strength and ability to get up from a chair with their risk of an earlier death.


The researchers found that death rates over the period of the studies were 67% higher in people with the weakest grip strength compared with the strongest.

A similar pattern was found in the other measures, with the slowest walkers almost three times more likely to die compared with the fastest.

Frail and weak people are more likely to die than strong and healthy people. Hold the front page.

Those slowest to rise from a chair had double the mortality rate compared with those quickest to their feet.

Even being able to balance on one leg appeared to be linked with a reduced risk of death.

People who can barely stand up are less healthy than those who can hop. Here's Tom with the weather.

And what are the practical applications of this doubtless well-funded piece of research?

Professor Avan Aihie Sayer, a geriatrician and co-author on the study based at Southampton University, said that she was now pushing for wider use of measures such as grip strength in hospitals as a way of spotting patients with greater problems.

That would be greeting patients by shaking their hand, wouldn't it? In these difficult economic times, it would certainly be cost-effective. And about a thousand years ago it might even have been a step forward as a method of diagnosis.

I haven't been in a hospital in a while, admittedly, but I was under the impression that we had slightly more sophisticated methods and technology these days—stethoscopes, X-rays, body-scans, blood tests etc. Or is all handshakes and leeches again these days?

Next week in the BMJ: New study shows that fiddles and butcher's dogs are fitter than the bed-ridden and terminally ill.


Anonymous said...

As you point out Chris, such is the quality of the BMJ these days. For a real laugh, try the editorial, especially if the topic involves of alcohol, tobacco or obesity. You can guarantee what the drones that form the editorial team will say in advance and run a book on the chances of any of them managing to reference any original work. This is why the likes of Anna Gilmore find it so easy to publish junk in the BMJ. My personal favourite is the attempt by not one but two editors to claim a doubling in cirrhosis cases in Finland over 10 years following relaxation of tax laws on alcohol. Both hacks were clearly blissfully unaware of either the data or more beautifully the medical improbability of their claims. The whole medical profession should hang their heads in shame over the fact that one of their major publications has been hijacked by such ignorance and prejudice. The B MJ is becoming an embarrassment to the nation.

Junican said...

I am sure that you, Mr Snowden, will retain gems like this on file to amuse us from time to time.

Just for fun, I've copied this and emailed it to James LeFanu at the DT. I doubt that he will be amused. (I hope that you do not mind)

I suppose that LeFanu has no direct influence with the MBA, but he may have 'contacts' within the DT who have contacts with.....

Carl V Phillips said...

Hilarious, Chris, thanks.

I await the controversy from the American Lung Association, when they point out that shaking hands is a good way to spread pathogens that cause respiratory infections that kill a lot of elderly people. Oh, wait, they only object when someone reports on ways to reduce smoking other than abstinence.

Anonymous said...

Wow neat! This is a really great site! I am wondering if anyone else has come across something
like this in the past? Keep up the great work!

Michael J. McFadden said...

Absolutely beautiful Chris! :)

As was pointed out in a recent discussion on F2C Scotland, it continues to get harder to distinguish parodies from real life in the kooky antismoking world of studies and I guess it's spilling over into the rest of the medical world as well.


Raj said...

Great thoughts! The hands tell so much about a person. You can actually get a free palm reading at this website if you are interested. Mine was very accurate!