Monday, March 16, 2009

Erin Go Bleaaaaaagggggghhhhhh

Today, a great blessing has been visited upon the land. We have been granted a day of rest in between the Southie parade and the actual St. Patrick's Day, during which, if we are lucky, we can hole up in a dark corner and slowly begin forgetting all our fine promises never to touch green 40s of malt liquor ever ever again. I'm guessing a great many of you--most of my fellow Bostonians, at least--are somewhat the worse for wear today. I recommend you drink a huge glass of tomato juice, have a few saltines, and contemplate the immortal words of Kingsley Amis:

He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum.

Also, women, you should know that this kind of behavior gives you cancer. At least, that's what a TV station in Rochester says. And that's where most of us like to get our science. Look:

A new study says as little as one drink a day can significantly raise the risk of one type of cancer for women.

Dr. Robert Anthenelli, an addiction researcher, said the study found just two drinks a day ups woman's risk of pancreatic cancer.

What? Cancer? From one drink a day? Or is it two? WHAM, your blithe fecklessness with facts is a little disturbing.

I was about to go flying out the door and see a guy about having my potentially cancerous pancreas out, the better to enjoy a nice IPA of an evening, but fortunately I read all the way to the bottom first.

Those addiction trials are on-going and results are expected in a couple of years.

Sheeeeeeeeeit. That's science-speak for "a whole lot of nothin'." And as the story notes, the point of Anthenelli's boozy women-research is to find new drugs. In thirty seconds of bullshit-detecting research on the Google, I discovered that Anthenelli's on the take from various pharmaceutical companies. The following is courtesy of Google cache:

"Robert M. Anthenelli, MD, discloses that he receives grant/research support from sanofi-aventis, Addex, and Ortho-McNeil Neurologics. He is a consultant for sanofi-aventis, Pfizer, and Alkermes-Cephalon and a clinical investigator for sanofi-aventis and Addex. He also is on the speaker's bureau for sanofi-aventis and Pfizer."

So he's working on some kind of alcoholism drug that they can target especially to women! Oh, my God, it's brilliant. Can you see the commercial now? We open on a shadowy living room, where a vaguely out-of-focus woman gazes alone with sepia-toned melancholy out a window, clutching a wineglass. Cut to a dazzling meadow, where our heroine, now clad in perky florals and surrounded by frolicking children, contemplates a brave new world of nuclear-family happiness, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine. Ask your doctor if Sozzilax is right for you.

Hey WHAM. There's this new thing. It's called fact-checking.

**UPDATE!** I made a mistake in an earlier version of this post, and conflated two separate studies mentioned in the WHAM story. It looks like the study on women and addiction is ongoing, but the one about cancer is already done. (Sorry! Physician, heal thyself!) I can't find the cancer study in PubMed though. Am assuming it exists in peer-reviewed medical literature somewhere, but this may be overly optimistic.

**UPDATE UPDATE!** Well, this will teach me to blog on an empty stomach. It's not Anthenelli's research at all. (Thanks a lot, WHAM!) It's out of Georgetown University, was funded by the National Cancer Institute and is in the current issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. So, women, you're screwed. Better get that pancreas out after all.


  1. You ARE attending the WAM! conference, aren't you? If not, could you please post an excuse as to why?

  2. Oh, Jezzica, you have hit a tender nerve. Of course I ought to go. But I am waffling, for various practical reasons. I will post on that soon!