Bugs AND bollocks

Stemming from one research paper is a google* of total wank.

*now a collective noun

 

Headlines.png

Minus points to The Sun for worst pun-biggest misleading stat combination


 

 

So who has covered themselves in glory? From the top hits, pretty much everyone. NPR, WebMD, The Sacramento Bee (?), CBS, Time, the BBC, the Huffington Post, The Sun

Many of these pieces contained small sections discussing the limitations of the research paper, and clarifying the difference between correlation and causation. BUT. They spent WAY MORE space speculating about possible mechanisms that would explain a causal link. The overwhelming feeling reading each of these articles is that there is little doubt that pubic hair removal causes an increased risk of STIs.

 

I found one well-written article at Lifehacker which made it clear through that this was an association and…

lifehacker

…(excited squeak) ACTUALLY LINKED TO THE RESEARCH PAPER! Full points.

 


 

I’m not a fan of the research paper itself.

paper

Observational studies are important. Observational studies that are well designed to investigate their question of interest are much more important. Obviously. This is not one of those.

In a study of a possible association with, or cause of, STIs, would you:

  1. Want to know about safer sex and condom use? These researchers didn’t.
  2. Assume that people are open and honest about sex and STIs? These researchers did.
  3. Assume that people can accurately remember their lifetime history of STIs and pubic hair removal? These researchers did.

 

 

Confounders

Younger people might remove more hair, more often than older people. They might be having sex more often with more people, more recently. They are doing this in an era with higher prevalence and transmission of STIs.

People who are lucky enough to be having lots of sex or sex with lots of people might be more inclined to remove more pubic hair more often. Ask any woman about hair removal. EVERYONE KNOWS you don’t make a real effort unless someone is going to notice. Shave your legs in the winter in the absence of a new(ish) naked friend? NO WAY. Bikini line unless you’re going to the beach? NEVER.

 

Science = having sex means a higher risk of STDs.

Common sense = having sex means higher chance of removing body hair.

 

For the benefit of the Huffington Post:

huff

People removing pubic hair are having more sex with more people, and the more sex with more people is giving them more STIs. That’s why.

 

Probably. I’m going to need a really interesting RCT to be sure.


Some unconnected and enjoyable advice…

 

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