Thursday, October 1, 2009

These People Make My Brain Hurt

So part of my masters program included statistical analysis. I also happen to be the daughter of a woman who is a scientist and uses statistics in her job (read: life's work). This means I get irrationally upset over people who don't understand cause and effect. I also go crazy over gross generalizations when they affect a person's actual life.

For instance, claiming things like 'In holistic circles it is widely believed that the vast majority of the population suffers from hidden food allergies.'. Really people? REALLY?! I'm all about holistic medicine. I have a friend who has some potentially life threatening medical issues. She goes to an immunologist and a chiropractor. Nine times out of ten the immunologist throws up his hands and suggests she buy stock in Advil and rest more. Then she'll go to the chiropractor and he fixes her right up. This is to say, I am all about alternative medicines. HOWEVER! Could we please throw around these gross generalizations about allergies less often? I mean, don't get me wrong, I actually have two fatal allergies myself and a terrible intolerance for preservatives but for God sake could we not just throw all this around as if people aren't going to read this man's book and proclaim themselves allergic to everything except the grass in their yard. I'm sure he has some science to back it up and I bet Dr. Hyman has a stellar resume but lets not go around telling people they're SECRETLY ALLERGIC TO WHEAT.

I'm not saying he is wrong or even that I disagree. I'm just saying, whoa there with the assumptions.

Now for a topic that makes people more crazy. My personal views aside (in full disclosure any child of mine will be fully and completely immunized including for HPV) I would like to be clear about some things Mr. US News. Pap smears do not, under any circumstances protect a woman from cervical cancer. Being the grandchild of a man who personally knew Dr. Papanicolau, educating myself both in school and personally on the issue (you know because I'm a chick) and since I've had a dozen or so pap smears in my life (some of which were 'abnormal') I can tell you that there is a major difference between prevent and protect. Getting a pap smear will help you discover these abnormal cells and if you're like me they could be a blip and no big thing. If you have an abnormal pap they'll monitor it and if it doesn't clear up there is a whole protocol for action. HOWEVER! Simply going to the Gyno and getting a pap does not inherently protect you from cancer.

But, blog lady, you say, is there that much of a difference?


By not getting a pap smear you are not increasing the chance you will get cervical cancer you are only increasing the chance you wont find the earliest signs of cancer.

Think of it this way: say you're a twelve year old girl and you're told by your teacher (who read the US News article) that getting a pap smear protects you from getting cancer. Now, I could have very low expectations for twelve year old girls (I know some, so, doubtful) but you'd probably think: "Yippee, I can go smoke with my older cousins! I can have all that fun sex the kids on the TV box talk about so long as I go get one of those fancy smear things! Woohoo!" By this I mean: stop confusing our poor, unassuming young ladies.

Also for God sake, teach them the difference between prevent and protect.