Thursday, July 10, 2008

Narcolepsy Fog

Is it just my narcolepsy speaking, or does this article about the causes of narcolepsy not quite make sense? It starts out well enough:

Will Longstreth Jr., MD, MPH, and colleagues at the University of Washington identified and assessed studies previously conducted by other researchers on the epidemiology of narcolepsy.
So far, so good. Even though I don't know what "MPH" means in this context. But continuing:
According to Longstreth, the body mass index, immune responses and stressful life events of a person are most thoroughly examined in the search for etiologic risk factors, but noted that such associations may reflect a consequence rather than a cause of disease.
Fair enough -- being overweight, stressed out, and sickly might be the result of narcolepsy rather than its cause. Fine. But it's this next part that seems to go off the rails:
Although he [Dr. Longstreth] and his colleagues have produced the scenario that environmental exposures may be a contributing factor into a person's development of narcolepsy, investigators must intensify the search for these exposures and focus on the first two decades of life, said Longstreth, adding that the identification of modifiable risk factors will help to prevent this disease.
Regarding "... produced the scenario that ..." and "... a contributing factor into ...": from what language are these phrases a crude transliteration? And just what the hell did this say in its original language? Did it make sense there?

It seems to be saying that Dr. MPH has pored through the literature on the topic and "discovered" that someone still needs to figure out the environmental factors that cause narcolepsy. I'm pretty sure that discovery was already in hand.


Ian McCullough said...

As someone who has worked in a scientific research environment, what Dr. Longstreth is trying to say is "Give me more money because we have no idea what is going on, but I've noticed there may be environmental factors involved."
Most research findings can be boiled down to "Give me more money."

Dale said...

Good call, Ian. I'm sure you're right -- "We don't have the answers. Another year of funding and we just might."