July 24th, 2011

About Three (dried) Apples a Day (vs. Prunes, anyway)

I tried blogging about this earlier, and then got bogged down in the eternal, Did I Just Get Taken by An April Fool's Day Prank question.

Anyway.

Here is the press release (don't waste your time with the million people and organizations that edited the press release -- all they did was introduce errors):

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-04/foas-ad040711.php

The people who did the study are real researchers and the paper was presented at a reasonable symposium, as near as I can tell, as a relatively late addition.

Short form: 160 women 45-65 were given 75 grams of dried apples or dried prunes every day for a year as a dietary supplement. The apple group lost weight, dropped their LDL cholesterol, C-reactive protein, etc. Blood draws were done at 3, 6 and 12 months and results showed up at 6 months.

I can't really complain that this thing didn't get coverage: everyone jumped all over it back in April and I stumbled across it in google news in the health section, not very far down [ETA: Incorrect recollection. I actually read something about the Multaq atrial fibrillation trial and saw the apples thing in a most-read sidebar]. But I had to ask: What. The. Fuck.

And the answer is: oh, this showed up in the control group for another study. Arjmandi et al were looking at prunes and bone health in postmenopausal women and just sort of tripped over this. And FTW? Arjmandi's department was the department at FSU formerly known as Home Economics. (cue laugh track).

I _really_ hope this holds up. But I'm not sure I'm going to wait. I may order up some dried apples Right Now.

Not a review, _The Theory That Would Not Die_

I'm not done with it quite yet, but after giving up on _The Innovator's Prescription_ and some interim false starts, I am absolutely adoring Sharon Bertsch McGrayne's _The Theory That Would Not Die_. It is the history of Bayes-Price-LaPlace and the battles surrounding it and while it might not make a whole lot of sense to someone who really has trouble with all mathematical ideas, it is primarily the _story_ (that is, about the humans who worked on it and fought over it, their goals, their values, their ideals, etc.) of an idea, rather than a detailed exposition of the idea. It's a rollicking tale, as well as a powerful tool for figuring out tricky puzzles, and it's even better than those tricky puzzles are such an important part of the last hundredish years.

I'm loving it, and I hope you get a chance to, also. I'll review it soon, more properly.