Saturday, 1 September 2012

Research on the effects of smoking

A headline today states Tobacco smoke tied to flu complications in kids – another story written to suggest that correlation and causation are the same thing. I have the feeling that the proportion of children admitted to hospital with flu symptoms must be quite small and I am quite sure that we are not being given other correlations, such as links with deprivation.

News like this comes out regularly and plentifully. It is hard to escape the conclusion that good money is being spent on studies on every single aspect of smoking, and it is hard to see what purpose it serves other than bolstering a view that tobacco is a dangerous legal substance and attempts to restrict its use are justified. ASH Scotland publishes a daily bulletin, with a rundown of the latest tobacco research added every Friday: this week there were over 50 studies under 29 headings. This means not far off three thousand studies on an annual basis.

This seems a lot of research into smoking and one can only wonder how much has clinical rather than political value – once again I link to this page from Cancer Research UK, where they say clearly enough that research conclusions should encourage further restrictions on smoking in order to qualify for a grant. It also states that most research grants come in at between £20,000 and £40,000. Of course they don't fund all the studies on tobacco, but one gets a sense of the huge amount of money going into this kind of research.

My range of experience does not allow me to make sense of an article entitled 'Interaction between Smoking and HLA-DRB1*04 Gene Is Associated with a High Cardiovascular Risk in Brazilian Amazon Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis'. Is it designed to encourage anti-tobacco policies in the Brazilian Amazon? Or does it have any clinical relevance?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There has long been an association between rheumatic diseases and cardiovascular disease. The title is a piece of ticking all the boxes bull designed to get the paper published. The epidemiology probably contributes about zero to helping either arthritis or cardiac patients. Waste of money, waste of time.