More Studies I Plan To Ignore

Sometimes I come across health studies that are perfectly legitimate... but they don't persuade me to do anything differently.

For example, there was that study that says raw broccoli is much better for you than cooked broccoli. Or another one that said room-temperature watermelon has more antioxidants in it than if it's refrigerated.

Well, I say the heck with those studies! I hate raw broccoli and like my watermelon cold and so I'm going to barely glance at the details.

However, if you are someone who likes warm watermelon or raw broccoli, these studies are not lame and ignorable, they are great discoveries! So I realize that one persons "health news" can be another person's "health snooze." (Sorry... that was really awful, wasn't it?)

So in the spirit of "I can't think of anything the least bit interesting to blog about today" "we're all different and isn't that wonderful," here are some recent studies that for various reasons, I didn't want to know much about but you very well might!

As it turns out, there are many different reasons to blow off health studies. So I've grouped these in Crabby-centric terms: why I didn't want to look much beyond the headline.

1. Because I know I'm Not Gonna Bother:

Cooking carrots before you cut them preserves about 25% more falcarinol, an anti-cancer compound, than if you cut the carrots first and then cook them.

Well, when I cook carrots it's mostly in soups or stews. And I do not want to start cooking the damn things whole and then fishing them out all hot and drippy and messy and then cutting them up. I'll just assume that that the sneaky little falcarinol stuff is now hiding in the soup. And if you scientists happen to know that it doesn't work that way? Don't tell me, ok?

2. Because I've heard the opposite thing too many times:

The New York Times Health Page has been torturing me lately with their "guess what, everything you ever heard is wrong" reports. Remember when they said exercise isn't all that good for you? Well, this one is equally annoying but more specific, and has to do with strengthening your core.

So you know how all the exercise experts always tells you the same thing: be sure to pull in your stomach as you work your abs. This is so that you can strengthen the "transversus abdominis" muscle which will help prevent back injuries.

In fact, exercise expert Rupal over at 101 Exercises just recently explained the importance of activating the deep abdominal muscles. And she's very convincing!

So now there's a smarty-pants New York Times article calling this into question. According to them: "There’s growing dissent among sports scientists about whether all of this attention to the deep abdominal muscles actually gives you a more powerful core and a stronger back and whether it’s even safe."

Well dagnabbit. I hate when exercise advice changes!

But to be fair, there are some good alternative core exercises they suggest, like side planks, bird dogs, very-very-modified crunches, and something called "stirring the pot." The video is pretty darn helpful as this stuff is hard to describe. (And thanks to reader Lulu for drawing this article to my attention!)

But I think my favorite source for Core Workouts? Still gotta be Bossy:

3. Because some new statistic pisses me off and/or depresses me.

A new study about teens and contraceptive use says that: "After major improvements in teen contraceptive use in the 1990s and early 2000s, which led to significant declines in teen pregnancy," contraceptive use declined between 2003 and 2007. And it's not because there's been any decrease in teen sexual activity.

"Teens are still having sex," one of the study's authors said, "but it appears many are not taking the necessary steps to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections."

The report suspects the reason might be faltering HIV prevention efforts and "more than a decade of abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education that does not mention contraception unless it is to disparage its use and effectiveness."

Which of course is what most of the health educators and experts predicted would happen. But we got federally funded "abstinence only" sex ed anyway.

I do not have a teen, so that's another reason for me not to spend too much time pondering the why's and wherefores. (And if I did, rather than take the high road and try to educate them myself, I suspect I'd send them over to the Midwest Teen Sex Show and let the fabulous Nikol school them on condoms and other sex ed topics. (Caution, graphic language and very NSFW).

4. Because it's a silly study.

Did you know that if you participate in a research study you think is about choosing colors, and the researchers offer you some soup for lunch, but don't tell you that they've rigged up your soup bowl to re-fill automatically...

...that you'll end up eating more soup than someone with a regular bowl?

Er... duh?

It's true that the people who didn't have sneaky self-refilling bowls had servers visibly refilling them, so the study does say something about how lame we are at telling just from our stomachs how "full" we are. But is this really a surprise???

And this study just seemed doofy on all kind of levels. Doesn't the whole "let's stop and have soup for lunch during our research study on colors" cover story sound kinda unconvincing? As a suspicious crab, I'd just assume they might be watching what I was eating and I'd try to control myself--though I suppose it would be the same weird artificial experience no matter which kind of bowl you had.

Anyway, I thought it was dumb use of research money. We haven't yet found cures for cancer and MS and all the other awful diseases out there. But we have money to rig re-fillable soup bowls to confirm the obvious fact that people use visual cues to tell them how much to eat?

Note: to add an additional embarrassing level of irrelevancy, this study was posted on the well-respected blog Cognitive Daily less than a week ago. But it turns out it's a rerun from 2007! Science blogs are allowed to have reruns? Crap! Why do I always notice the dates on studies after I write them up? Anyway, sorry, next time I'll check more carefully, and try to bring you recent silly studies, not old ones.

So, any studies or advice you've seen lately that you've chosen to ignore?

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