OPINION: Warning: This May Be Bad for You.; Yet More Research and Yet More Claims about Health and Longevity

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 2, 2003 | Go to article overview

OPINION: Warning: This May Be Bad for You.; Yet More Research and Yet More Claims about Health and Longevity


RESEARCH, it's guaranteed to spoil your day, isn't it? There you are eating your toast on a Saturday morning and suddenly a radio newsreader will inform you that, according to a team of research scientists somewhere, bread and butter can be terribly bad for you.

Never mind that just six months ago another team of research scientists somewhere else said it was the best way to start the day.

Eating what you like for breakfast, drinking red wine, cleaning your teeth too assiduously, you name something people do every day and the chances are it's been both endorsed and condemned at some stage by someone in a white lab coat.

As each day passes I sometimes think it's a miracle I'm still alive.

And then along comes another headline-spinning study, this time from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Queen's University, Belfast, and I realise that pretty soon my distaste for this sort of academic paper will be quite academic anyway.

Researchers from Belfast have conducted a survey of mortality rates among former students and cross-referenced this to their choice of university degree.

To be precise, they looked at male students aged between 16 and 29 attending Glasgow University between 1948 and 1968 who had died by June 30, 2000.

They found that the highest rate of premature mortality was among arts students (14.8%).

Now guess which sort of a degree I managed to scrape together? That's right, an arts degree.

Well, it's been nice knowing you. In case you are a graduate and you were wondering about your chances of making it to three-score years and ten (78.5 actually, if you're a male member of the professional and managerial class), the researchers found that law students were next most likely to have died prematurely (with a death rate of 12.88%), followed by medics (9.89%), scientists (9.25%) and engineers (8.92%).

They also found that divinity students had the lowest blood pressure, medical students were the heaviest smokers, followed by law students. Science students were the least likely to smoke. …

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