Friday Foolery #11. Is Friday the 13th bad for your Health?

13 11 2009

3360459431_c3ec229cd1 Friday the 13th

Is Friday the 13th bad for your health?

Apparently it is, at least according to a study published in the BMJ in 1993 [1].
This retrospective study comparing driving and shopping patterns and accidents shows that Friday 13th is unlucky for some. Despite that there were consistently and significantly fewer vehicles on the southern section of the M25 on Friday the 13th compared with Friday the 6th, the admissions due to transport accidents were significantly increased on Friday 13th (total 65 v 45; p < 0.05). Since the risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52%, staying at home is recommended by the authors.

In a related article (PubMed) in the Am J Psychiatry (2002), deaths from Finnish traffic accidents on Friday the 13th were compared with those on other Fridays. Here a difference was found between men and women. In men, the adjusted risk ratio for dying on Friday the 13th, compared with other Fridays, was 1.02, (no difference) but for women, it was 1.63. An estimated 38% of traffic deaths involving women on this day were attributable to Friday the 13th itself.
Therefore again this author concludes that Friday the 13th may be a dangerous day, but only for women. The author thinks this is  largely because of anxiety from superstition. Although the risk of traffic deaths on this date could be reduced by one-third, the absolute gain would remain very small: only one death per 5 million person-days.

Other Finnish researchers reinvestigated this finding, but they also looked at the injury accident database, because this database contains much more data than the fatality database. They reasoned that if there was a Friday-the-13th effect by impaired psychic and psychomotor functioning due to more frequent anxiety among women, it should also appear in the number of injury crashes. They found no consistent evidence for females having more road traffic crashes on Fridays the 13th, based on deaths or road accident statistics. Still, since an effect of superstition related anxiety on accident risk can not be excluded, the authors conclude that people who are anxious of “Black Friday” may stay home, or at least avoid driving a car.

Well at least you now know what scientific research says about Friday the 13th, or uuh don’t you?
At least, females suffering from Paraskevidekatriaphobia or even Triskaidekaphobia should better stay at home. You know, just in case…

Credits:

References

  1. Scanlon TJ, Luben RN, Scanlon FL, Singleton N. Is Friday the 13th bad for your health? BMJ. 1993 Dec 18-25;307(6919):1584-6.
  2. Näyhä S. Traffic deaths and superstition on Friday the 13th. Am J Psychiatry. 2002 Dec;159(12):2110-1.
  3. Radun I, Summala H. Females do not have more injury road accidents on Friday the 13th. BMC Public Health. 2004 Nov 16;4:54.
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Health Care Haikus

5 11 2009

Dr Rob Lamberts of Musings of a Distractible Mind is holding a “Health Care Haiku Contest“. The actual contest is at his Facebook page.

Inspired by the beautiful haiku of Dr. Ramona Bates of Suture for a Living, who also inspired T of Notes of an Anesthesioboist to write a Haiku, I started to write my own. Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop.

This is the result: 9 Health Care Haikus.


Haiku #11018284405_db0b517f24 emergency hospital night

Dark when he leaves home,

Dark when he returns from work.

Resident Life.


Haiku #2

Web 2 point ooh tools,

Might help to reform health care.

Change needs people 2.78244074WM004_Supreme_Court


Haiku #3

Health Care Reform.

An unaffordable plan?

A matter of choice.


Haiku #4

One trillion for war.

The poor denied insurance.

U.S. Death Panel.


2910025091_907be70e41 Exam

Haiku #5

P S A screening,

rectal exams, biopsies.

Worries, no less deaths.


Haiku #6

Doctor, Desk, Patient

2868594277_873f67216d doctor patient mural

Questions, silence, not understood,

Frown, shake hands, such pain.


Haiku #7

Fragile hands, white sheets,

Witty old man, nurses laugh.

Shout down silent tears.


Haiku #82898004506_de9f57e836 patient in the next bed

Wishing he was dead,

Paralyzed from neck down,

Nothing he can do.


Haiku #9

The man next to me

discusses end-of-life-wish.

Curtains are closed.


Notes and Acknowledgements

  • Haiku #1 : Inspired by a tweet by Scott Greenberg, MD (and resident)
  • Haiku #2: Own experience, Web 2.0 is more than web 2.0 tools, Web 2.0 is people (see presentation)
  • Haiku #3 and #4: Based on article: “We Can’t Afford Health Care? You Lie!” at Truthorg. (see linked photo below)
  • Haiku #5 A lot of money goes into screening. But is it worth while? Recent studies show that prostate cancer screening may not lower mortality. See older post: Still Confusion about the Usefulness of PSA-screening.
  • Haiku #6, #7, #8, #9 All about loneliness of patients, miscommunication, the lack of being in control and the lack of privacy. Haiku #8 and #9 are based on my own experience: the man lying next to me wanted to end his life, but was not allowed to. He had to take fluid food. I overheard the conversations between him and his doctors, nurses, a psychiatrist, a dietitian and a priest. Quite embarrassing.

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Martin Bril: the Author, his Death and his Cancer

23 05 2009

Martin BrilMartin Bril is dead.

No “news“, it happened a month ago: April 22.

Martin Bril was a well known Dutch writer, poet and columnist – and the man who invented “skirt day”.

He loved live -and love- in all it’s simplicity. He needed few words to describe the essence of things or as he would say: “The surface is deep enough”. But you know, it is looking at one drop of water and understanding the ocean.

Other expressions: “Good is better than bad” and “You’ve people that bang the guitar really hard for hours, but I rather hear J.J. Cale. Always finished within 4 minutes, but the music stays with you.”

I liked his stories/columns most of the time, they often made me smile.

It is always sad when somebody dies young (Martin was 49), whether a “celebrity” or not. Especially when he leaves two young children and a wife.

I didn’t expect it and it really hit me. Why? I knew he had had cancer, but I thought it had gone. So did he a few years ago. I found a video-interview with him in 2007, where he said: “soon I will be declared “cured” – but then you will see it will return the other day.” In another interview I read: You never beat cancer”, that’s Lance Armstrong-language. Cancer goes away or it stays. It often stays.

I always thought he had colon cancer, but it was esophageal cancer. That’s the trouble with Dutch:Martin Bril Donkere Dagen

  • esophagus = slokdarm,
  • jejunum, ileum = dunne darm
  • colon = dikke darm.

Notice they all have “darm” in them. Mostly colon cancer is called “darmkanker” (or “dikke darmkanker”), and because esophagus is called slokdarm, slokdarmkanker is mistaken for darmkanker, which is quite another disease with other prospects.

Stupid, journalists keep on using the wrong name. Not that it matters a lot now, but still.

More “incorrect” was the fact that I first saw the announcement of his death in a newsletter from dokterdokter.nl (below). It is an online medical information site for patients. I have been getting their newsletter for years now, because -for one thing or another- I’m unsuccessful in unsubscribing to it. Dokterdokter.nl is typically a website that gives very general information, mostly leading to the advise “to check your doctor first”.

dokterdokter Martin Bril geheel

What struck me (besides the fact that I was taken by his death) was that his death was presented as Medical News, next to an enormous “oral sex” headline and the headline “what happens if you die?”. As if it was a tabloid. The message (he died the day before):

Martin Bril finally succumbed to esophageal cancer at the age of 49. Esophageal cancer has a bad prognosis. Why?
(if you click: )

“Martin Bril, the well known author …, died of esophageal cancer at the age of 49. He was a real hedonist. Cigarettes and alcohol were part of his life. Many years he had fought cancer, but Wednesday April 22 he lost his fight. Few people really completely recover from this illness.”

(….) Generally, the disease has to do with your lifestyle. In Western Countries, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are the most important causes of esophageal cancer.

And then it continues summarizing the brochure of the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF- kankerbestrijding)

Whereas most medical sites (including the Dutch Cancer Society, from which all the information was taken) just neutrally say that the cause is unknown, but that alcohol and smoking are known risk factors for esophageal cancer, -and even more so in combination- dokterdokter puts a direct link between Martin’s lifestyle and his death, as if it was his own fault. Maybe it was, but at that moment I didn’t want to know. It didn’t matter. I found it disrespectful, tasteless. I’m quite interested in health and medicine and mechanisms, but the reason of his death -at this moment- was less important than his death itself.

As a matter of fact, Martin stopped using liquor and cocaine in 1997 after given an ultimatum by his wife (“you have two young kids!”) and after attending a trial of a drug baron (Johan V., de Hakkelaar) (to write about). He also wanted to quit smoking. I don’t know whether he succeeded, but he helped STIVORO (“for a smokeless future”) with their campaign (2002) by writing a beautiful column and making a video about (the difficulty of) quitting smoking. “I stopped smoking, because I didn’t like it anymore. Moreover, my kids didn’t want me to die because of smoking……..”

How much better was the reaction of STIVORO to the death of Martin, saying “we have lost a talented author” and thanking him for his input. Just a short notice and ending with the column Martin had written for them: “Did you ever tried to quit smoking?…I did”.

——————73554771_f75ce49f1a rokjesdag

Bij Nederlanders hoef ik Martin Bril nauwelijks te introduceren. Dat ik hier over hem schrijf heeft vooral te maken met het stukje dat ik in de nieuwsbrief van Dokterdokter.nl las. In feite was het dit bericht, waardoor ik wist dat hij gestorven was. Voor mij een schok. Ik lees de Volkskrant niet meer, dus het was mij ontgaan dat het slecht met hem ging. Het is ook een jonge vent, jonger dan ik, met twee dochters, net als ik. Zo kom het altijd nog een beetje dichterbij. En hij kon mooi schrijven. “De oppervlakte was diep genoeg,” zo zei hij, maar het was bij hem net of je in een druppel de hele oceaan kon zien.

Voor het eerst zag ik trouwens dat hij slokdarmkanker had. De meeste journalisten spraken van darmdanker, waar men in de regel toch dikkedarmkanker mee bedoelt. Slokdarmkanker is een heel andere ziekte, met een heel andere prognose. Vreemd dat het meerendeel van de journalisten het toch steeds over darmkanker heeft

Maar dit terzijde. Ik vond het vreemd, dat het bericht als een “nieuwsaankondiging” stond naast de kop “orale sex” en “hoe voelt het als je dood gaat”. Misschien had Martin er wel om kunnen lachen, maar ik vond het bizar. Het verhaal zelf vond ik ook nogal ongepast.

Wat stond er?

De ziekte slokdarmkanker werd schrijver Martin Bril op zijn 49e fataal. Het is een ziekte met slechte vooruitzichten, mede omdat het vaak laat wordt ontdekt.

“Schrijver Martin Bril, bekend van boeken als De kleine keizer en Arbeidsvitaminen en van zijn columns in de Volkskrant, is op 49-jarige leeftijd aan slokdarmkanker overleden. Hij was een echte levensgenieter, sigaretten en alcohol waren een vast onderdeel van zijn leven. Al vele jaren streed hij tegen kanker, maar woensdag 22 april was zijn strijd gestreden. Maar weinig mensen weten volledig te herstellen van deze ziekte.”De ziekte heeft meestal te maken met de leefstijl van mensen. Roken en overmatig alcoholgebruik zijn in Westerse landen de belangrijkste oorzaken voor het ontstaan van slokdarmkanker.

Andere bronnen –ook de KWF-brochure, waar dit stuk aan ontleend is, schrijven steevast dat de oorzaak niet bekend is, maar dat roken en alcohol (vooral in combinatie) de belangrijke risicofactoren zijn. Mogelijk is zijn leefwijze inderdaad de belangrijkste reden geweest dat hij slokdarmkanker heeft gekregen. Nou en? Is het nodig om dit zo op te schrijven? Een dag na zijn dood? Ik vond het nogal oneerbiedig. Misschien dacht men bij dokterdokter.nl dat het schrikeffect mensen zou weerhouden om veel te roken en te drinken, want “kijk, daar krijg je slokdarmkanker van!!” Behalve dat dokterdokter niet bepaald het juiste publiek (de “zelfkanters” en “hedonisten”) zal bereiken, zal zo’n actie sowieso weinig zoden aan de dijk zetten. Dan was Martin’s bijdrage aan de Stivoro campagne “stoppen met roken” (2002/2003) waarschijnlijk veel effectiever. Hij schreef een column voor ze en werkte mee aan een video.

Martin zei: “Ik stopte met roken omdat ik er geen zin meer in had. Bovendien; mijn kinderen vonden dat ik er niet dood aan moest gaan”. Eerder, na een ultimatum van zijn vrouw en het bijwonen van een zitting tegen de drugsbaron de Hakkelaar, was hij al gestopt met alcohol en coke.

Zo anders was ook de reactie van Stivoro. Niets vingertje wijzen: “zie je wel!”, maar dit:

“Samen met de rest van Nederland treurt STIVORO om het heengaan van een bijzonder mens en groot schrijver: Martin Bril

STIVORO heeft Martin leren kennen toen hij zich enthousiast inzette voor onze ‘Stoppen met roken’ campagne van 2002/2003. Hij was toen bereid zijn persoonlijkheid en zijn schrijftalent voor deze campagne in te zetten.

Wij zijn dankbaar dat we met hem hebben mogen samenwerken. We wensen zijn familie en andere dierbaren heel veel sterkte toe.

Hij schreef voor ons de volgende column:

“Bent u wel eens gestopt met roken?
Ik wel……..”

Photo Credit (CC):