Re: Why Do We Die?

Michael Lorrey (
Mon, 01 Feb 1999 20:46:07 -0500

aways back on July 7th, 1998,

Robin Hanson wrote:

> Chris Hibbert writes:
> >Look at the numbers for Drinking and for weight! Heavy drinkers and
> >overweight people have the lowest mortality! Underweight people and
> >teatotallers have higher mortality. That's directly contradictory to
> >all the reports we've been seeing which would lead us to believe that
> >underweight might be better than "normal" (i.e. average?), which
> >should be much better than overweight. Moderate drinking is supposed
> >to be better than teatotalling, which is much better than heavy
> >drinking. Can these numbers be right? Or am I misreading the whole
> >table?
> You're not misreading it. But I didn't include the confidence intervals
> from the paper. The 95% confidence interval for the heavy drinking coeff
> of .85 is .46 to 1.59, and for the overweight coef of .94 is .72 to 1.23.
> You shouldn't take small differences very seriously here.

Here's one explaination as to why the overweight have a lower coeficient: Many anti-oxidants are fat soluble so they build up high levels in their fatty tissues, while underweight people are low in fatty tissues so they must either constantly consume anti-oxidants or increase their risks. Check out this link on the Molecule of the Month website regarding the antioxidant lycopene, which is found in tomatos:

It helps prevent degenerative diseases by donating its electrons to oxygen free radicals thus quenching and neutralising them before they can damage cells. Free radicals are

molecules that have at least one unpaired electron. By donating an electron lycopene can stabilise the free molecule. There have been many recent studies into lycopene so that it

can be used to its fullest potential in fighting these diseases. A heart study measuring lycopene in fatty tissue of 1,374 men showed that it could reduce the risk of a heart attack

by 50%. Lycopene has though other ailing effects. It has been seen that lycopene can be used as an anti-carcinogen, greatly reducing the risk of some cancers. In a six-year study

of 47,000 male health professionals Harvard Medical School found that eating tomato products more than twice a week was associated with 21-34% reduced risk of prostate

cancer. In 1995 Harvard School of Public Health studied further into this and found that those men who ate more than 10 servings of tomato foods a week were 45% less at risk to

prostate cancer; those with only 4-7 servings were 20% less at risk. The University of Illinois found that comparing woman with the highest levels of lycopene and those with the

lowest showed that the highest levels were five times less likely to have cervical cancer.

Wow. Good thing my Italian grandmother taught my mom how to cook good italian food.... not that any of you guys noticed....;)

As for drinkers, I am under the impression that its all a matter of what you consider moderate drinking as to how the mortality coefficients are rated. 1-3 drinks is moderate consumption, depending on your body mass, but some would say that anything more than a small glass of wine was drunken slovenliness, and others would say anything less than a six pack is nearly teetotaling...;)

Moderate drinkers have the lowest mortality, when measured as an absolute amount of consumption, while heavy drinkers are not as low as total teetotalers only because there are many large people who are considered heavy drinkers when measured on an absolute rate, but not when measured by body mass, and teetotalers obviously do not get the health benefits of the high density lipoproteins, or anthenolic and pycnogynolic compounds found in many alcolholic beverages.

Now, I would also say that light weight people also tend to suffer from alcohol poisoning much more frequently than heavier people, because they don't have the body mass to store the alcohol in for later processing by the liver. They get drunk quicker and get much drunker than their heavier peers.

   Michael Lorrey
------------------------------------------------------------ Inventor of the Lorrey Drive
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