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Does Too Much Sugar Increase the Risk of Dementia?

Sure, but you'll be shocked by how little and the amount of money and effort that was wasted to discover it.

by
Theodore Dalrymple

Bio

August 20, 2013 - 10:30 am
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The major medical journals of the world receive far more papers than they can ever publish, and so it is rather surprising when dull, trivial or bad work appears in them. This must mean either that the editors of the journals, like Homer, sometimes nod, or that the general standard of the work submitted for publication is lower than one might hope or suppose.

A recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, entitled “Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia,” by no fewer than fourteen authors, is a case in point. They repeatedly measured the blood glucose levels of 2067 people aged on average 76 at the start of the study, followed them up for a median length of 6.8 years, and correlated the levels with the patient’s chances of developing dementia.

It was already known that diabetics are at increased risk of developing dementia, not surprisingly in view of the damage that diabetes does to small blood vessels in the brain. But the authors of the paper put forward the hypothesis that higher levels of glucose even in non-diabetics would increase the risk of developing dementia.

They indeed found that non-diabetic patients with a blood sugar level of 115 milligrams per decilitre were more likely to develop dementia than those with a level of 100 milligrams. However, the extra chance, 1.18 times, though statistically significant, was so small that its significance in any other sense must be doubted. Generally speaking, epidemiological surveys which find such small differences are not of much value from the point of view of elucidation of the causation of diseases. If you trawled through a hundred factors – coffee consumption, number of begonias in the garden, subscription to a newspaper, etc. – you would probably find five such factors with odds rations as large (or small).

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Top Rated Comments   
Academic research is a multi-billion dollar industry the primary goal of which is capturing grant money. The importance of the research is secondary. It is designed to pay the salaries of the investigators and their ancillary staff while enriching the coffers of the host institution. Identifying, and then inflating the significance of the purported health threat is part of the grant game. The structure resembles a perpetual motion machine as evidenced by the ever present conclusion tacked on to the end of the research paper; 'more investigation is clearly necessary'.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (6)
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It is always revealing that when a new health scare is published by the media which makes claims that terrible results will follow a certain diet or behavior there is always a last line that states that further research is needed. This is the key to all this useless information; it is all about sucking more and more money out of the government or endowments. The best health advice was given by the ancient Roman Seneca who said that we should ignore ill health either it will go away or we will go away. SPQR
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Did they investigate the possibility that incipient, but not detectable, dementia lessens one's self control and therefore the ability to resist the temptation of sweets or, in the case of diabetics, monitor their insulin needs?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm confused, if you have a 1.18 times chance of developing Dementia with increased sugar levels, isn't that a hugely significant (18%) increase? Or am I misunderstanding the way the figures are interpreted?

Of course your curve information makes it look like the data is meaningless, but 1.18 x still seems like a significant increase ...
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Academic research is a multi-billion dollar industry the primary goal of which is capturing grant money. The importance of the research is secondary. It is designed to pay the salaries of the investigators and their ancillary staff while enriching the coffers of the host institution. Identifying, and then inflating the significance of the purported health threat is part of the grant game. The structure resembles a perpetual motion machine as evidenced by the ever present conclusion tacked on to the end of the research paper; 'more investigation is clearly necessary'.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's why, even at the community college level, they teach courses in grant writing.
That's where the careers are, that's where the real money is.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
And that's the truth.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
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