Blog | Monday, March 8, 2010

Medical News of the Obvious

You might already be aware of this week's finding if you've watched baseball in the past decade or so and noticed that Mark McGwire's arms are about the circumference of the average ballplayer's waist in the 70s. But just to be sure, researchers recently compared the BMIs of professional baseball players from 1876 to 2007 to find that, like serving sizes and master bathrooms, they've gotten bigger.

Clear, right? But in taking the next step, drawing conclusions from this study, this article from HealthDay gets about as confused as a science article can be. The study authors are concerned because they correlated the ballplayers' "increased BMIs with an increased risk of death." (We're assuming that's a risk of premature death, since it seems pretty certain that the 1876 team would be dead regardless of their % body fat.)

But a critic of the study argued first that ballplayers' increasing size is not a health risk, and then that the players might be dying early because they're using steroids. Um, we're not scientists, but mightn't there be a relationship (even a causal one, perhaps?) between steroid use and increased BMI?