Merry Christmas 2010

And Happy Holidays to all of my friends of all faiths and religions.


Richard Lehman’s Journal Review – Late Links

BMJ Group blogs: BMJ » Blog Archive » Richard Lehman’s journal review – 6 December 2010

BMJ Group blogs: BMJ » Blog Archive » Richard Lehman’s journal review – 29 November 2010

BMJ Group blogs: BMJ » Blog Archive » Richard Lehman’s journal review – 22 November 2010

Sorry for the late links.  But better late than never.

As an enthusiastic regular drinker of wine, I am delighted to note the PRIME study which confirms that by doing so I halve my chance of myocardial infarction. I suppose I also increase my chance of pancreatitis, cancers of the GI tract and stroke. Perhaps liver disease too, though the literature is surprisingly obscure at levels of intake below about 100u/week. The thing not to do is binge drink, which is a common pattern in Northern Ireland, and probably increases your baseline risk of MI. I think the further north you travel, the more dysfunctional alcohol use becomes, as warm oblivion becomes ever more desirable. As if to illustrate this point, a review of frostbite finds that nearly half of it is associated with alcohol use. I bet that means vodka or whisky in most cases, and wine alone hardly ever.

Obesity and Vitamin D

Obesity May Interfere With Vitamin D Absorption

The study found an inverse relationship between excess pounds and an insufficient amount of vitamin D, which is critical to cell health, calcium absorption and proper immune function. Vitamin D deficiency can raise the risk for bone deterioration and certain types of cancer.

The researchers also suggest that overweight and obese people may have problems processing the vitamin properly.

Suicides Are Up

Amid persisting economic duress, worries rise about suicides –

Psychologists have long linked suicides to economic stresses such as unemployment or credit problems. The recent economic turmoil, in which many people have seen sliding home values, job loss, and evaporating savings, exacerbates the risk, says Nancy Zarse, an associate professor of clinical forensic psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. 

Suicide is historically linked to economic downturns. The rate peaked in 1933, the height of the Great Depression, at 17.4 per 100,000 people, according to the American Association of Suicidology, which studies suicidal behavior and advocates prevention. That peak came one year after the US unemployment rate reached 25 percent, a stark contrast to the jobless rate of 0.04 percent just a few years earlier.

The suicide rate has never revisited that 1933 level, but it has increased this decade – from 10.7 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 11.5 in 2007, the last year tabulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Those latest figures predate the worst of the Great Recession.)

The War to Our South – Update 12/18/10

Mexico touts progress in drug war, but death toll rises to 30,197 –

Mexico released figures this week showing that 30,196 people have been killed in drug-related violence over the past four years, with a record 12,456 killed from January through November, compared to 9,600 deaths in 2009 and 5,400 in 2008.

Note the fact these figures are coming from the Mexican government and are likely understated.

Individual Audits Reach Highest Rate In a Decade (no, not underwriting audits)

Surprise! IRS Audits Up 11% This Year

Read this wonderful post on how the Federal Budget deficit is getting reduced, one audit at a time.

According to the IRS, the agency audited 1,581,394 individual returns last year, up from 1,425,888 in 2009. Did the increased audits produce increased revenues? You bet. The IRS collected $57.6 billion in enforcement revenues in 2010, up from $48.90 billion in 2009. Enforcement revenues have grown dramatically from the $33.8 billion that was collected in 2001.