Skepchick Quickies 3.25

  • Princeton researchers find that high fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain – “In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.” From Steve. (Sander found an interesting post on this study here.)
  • Homeopathy for yeast infections – We should use this to our advantage.  Even a woo-supporting woman, if told that in order to cure her itchy junk she should take pills that have the “memory” of vag fungus in them, would run screaming away from the woo.  From Phil.
  • Love, sex, and the male brain – From jtradke, “A few hundred generalizations about male and female brains.” Including an explanation of “Man Trance” which is what happens when men see boobies. So is it “Woman Trance” when my eyes glaze over at the sight of a nice man ass?
  • New book stress natural approach to mental health – Great. Because someone with mental health issues will have never heard, “Just relax!” or “Exercise will make you feel better,” before. From James.


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. That brain article exemplifies a huge problem in science journalism: pretending that the traits of the average define the whole. She’s only talking about the very tip (hehe) of the respective bell curves, but writes as if they’re categorical differences. Plus it was completely heteronormative.

    Plus, how can you write an entire article about sex and not have any dick jokes? It’s reprehensible.

  2. What’s wrong with generalizing? As long as it’s understood that all generalizations (including the one I’m making in this sentence) have exceptions, I see nothing wrong with the points Dr. Brizendine is making.

    I, for one, am glad to see someone assert that, contrary to popular dogma, we men are not trying to be jerks when we act the way we do. We’re just different.

  3. About that HFCS article: see http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/03/does-high-fructose-corn-syrup-make-you-fatter.ars

    Also from the original source: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2010.02.012

    Only direct comparisons were:
    short experiment
    2. 12-h HFCS + ad libitum chow 502 ± 11
    3. 12-h sucrose + ad libitum chow 477 ± 9

    long experiment / female
    2. 12-h HFCS + 12-h chow 323 ± 9
    3. 12-h sucrose + 12-h chow 333 ± 10

    No other direct comparisons were published, so a very weird set of results overall, and it’s not exactly clear what conclusions you can draw from them.

  4. Is it still “Woman Trance” when my eyes glaze over when a woman with a nice ass walks by and I get completely distracted? Or is that still “Man Trance”? Also boobies yay.

  5. @Sander: I didn’t see if they specified that the sucrose/HFCS solution they gave was the rats’ only source of water. Rats on free feed that can only drink that water? Of course they’d gain weight over controls. Their only source of life-sustaining liquid had extra calories in it.

  6. is it still “man trance” if I’m fixated on a semi-androgynous woman in non-revealing clothing who looks like she might be kind of smart and into art/music? That seems to be the only time I have the “wait, what were you saying?” problem.

  7. @Sander: Thanks for those links, I updated my post to include a link to the article.

    @Kimbo Jones: True, but they were comparing weight gain from sucrose and HFCS, not seeing if weight gain occured.

    @marilove: Is it woman or man trance if I get totally distracted by a nice rack, even though I’m straight? Because boobies ARE awesome.

  8. @Kimbo Jones: “All animals had water available ad libitum”
    @Steve: yes, that’s what prompted me to look into this in the first place. In the original article they keep saying things like
    “As seen in Fig. 3, female rats with 24-h access to HFCS for 7 months gained more body weight than chow- and sucrose-fed controls”
    And completely glosses over the fact that the sucrose-fed controls has 12h access only. Compare: giving children access to green lollipops for 24h a day makes them gain more weight than 12h red lollipop controls.

  9. Am I the only one who noticed how horribly staged the photo in the HFCS article was? Everyone wearing white lab coats, smiling at the exact same time, working with something that resembles Tang?

  10. @marilove: That’s one thing I really dislike about topics dealing with love, relationships, and the human brian-they only talk in terms of straight people. Do gays and lesbians have brains set up as an amalgamtion of both male and female brains? What usually causes them to go into trances?

  11. The HFCS study is scary if it pans out, because HFCS is in EVERYTHING! Just label checking yesterday I only found 1 mainstream BBQ sauce made with sugar instead of HFCS (Bullseye, which is also the America’s Test Kitchen recommended brand). Wanna avoid it by making your own sauce? Good luck! The base ingredient for basic BBQ sauce is Ketchup, and there are NO non premium ketchup on the shelf withou HFCS.

    Oh, and I like boobs too…

  12. The “Man Trance” article also includes some really awesome math…

    “…beginning in their teens, they produce 200 to 250 percent more testosterone than they did during pre-adolescence.”
    “If testosterone were beer, a 9-year-old boy would be getting the equivalent of a cup a day. But a 15-year-old would be getting the equivalent of nearly two gallons a day.”

    250% of one cup = 2.5 cups
    1 cup + 2.5 cups = 3. 5 cups
    3.5 cups does not equal nearly two gallons.

  13. I’m glad to see some people analyze the study of HFCS. Apparently the effect is less drastic than I had previously heard on other blogs, which makes sense because fructose is so chemically similar to glucose. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some difference, but some people are acting like HFCS is poison and that sucrose is somehow a health food now. I mean, complaining that there’s an unhealthy ingredient in soda seems a bit silly. Drinking soda with regular sugar may be a preference for some people, but don’t pretend you’re gonna healthy because of it. It is a problem that HFCS is in so many products, but the real problem is that sweeteners are added at all to things like bread and crackers. Replacing it with sucrose wouldn’t be a solution.

  14. Man trance is not limited to boobs or asses…put a nice 84″ flat screen on a wall and most men will just stare and drool…been there alais. Most will talk about that flat screen alot longer than the boobs!

  15. I am anti-HFCS, but not because of health reasons (most of which seem to be bunk), but because I’m against a food economy based on corn subsidies. Paying farmers to grow a nearly worthless crop so that we can process it into sugar makes a lot less sense than growing a valuable crop and paying a country that exports sugar for their product. It would make for a better global economy, and I think it makes better sense for us too.

    @marilove: yes, but think what the standup comedians will do with this data. I can’t wait!

  16. “She’ll emit pheromones that will waft into his nostrils, stimulating his brain to make more of a hormone called prolactin”

    Wait – human pheromones? I thought the jury was still out on those.

  17. Well, there have been studies that show that many people who were given drugs to control mental health issues would have been better served by other therapies. This is why I originally objected to this part of the post.

    Reading the description of the book in questions though, I see that the real problem is they suggest other therapies that are proven to be ineffective or just plain non-sense. I suppose I would take drugs with unfortunate sides effects, like sleep lose, over a therapy that did nothing.

  18. On natural remedies for mental health: stfu
    I ate right, got exercise, talked, cared for myself and was still depressed. Why? I need more serotonin. My brain was broken and needed a patch. Now I have Brain 2.0 (new! with healthy levels!) and I am not chronically depressed. It wasn’t because I wasn’t getting enough acupuncture, it was because I inherited a genetic condition (at a thankfully less severe level than some other relatives). So all I have to say is STFU.

    Also, boobies.

  19. as I read this

    All that testosterone drives the “Man Trance”– that glazed-eye look a man gets when he sees breasts. As a woman who was among the ranks of the early feminists, I wish I could say that men can stop themselves from entering this trance. But the truth is, they can’t.

    a cute co-worker, that sits right in my eye line, 5 feet from me, raised her arms above her head and arched her back to stretch.
    I kept reading while I checked out the perky goodness with my peripheral vision. I can also check out breasts (and any other part) while contemplating BBQ, there’s no reason to wait until after.

    And I’ll me having the ribs and chicken, with some brisket.

  20. @Blotzphoto: I wouldn’t worry too much about 1 rat study that compared apples and oranges. What matters is the body of literature and how HFCS affects our health within human food consumption patterns.

    @Sander: Thanks for the clarification.

    @Amanda: “True, but they were comparing weight gain from sucrose and HFCS, not seeing if weight gain occured.”

    Yes but if there was any factor affecting thirst, that could have affected the results. Nevertheless, as Sander has pointed out, they had access to regular water so my point is irrelevant.

    @chistat: Math = product of the No Child Left Behind program? :)

  21. What? No comments about weaponized peppers? Bhut jolokia is cool stuff. My hometown even has a company called CaJohns that makes all sorts of sauces outta the stuff.

    Okay, I can see how boobies could indeed distract one from that.

    Wait. I had a “peanut butter cup” moment.
    “Weaponized Boobies” That is all.

  22. I hate studies about gender. As a woman, all they do is tell me that there’s something wrong with me for not acting like the stereotype they’re pushing. (I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with me, mind you.)

    Studies like this always make me wonder, how many people did they study, what are their demographics, for how long did they study them?

    Not like it matters, they only find what they want to anyway: women = feelings, men = sex (with the caveat, “boys will be boys”). Also, not like I know how one could account for society, but these studies rarely, if ever, take into account that their subjects have been socialized by society, therefore making their findings largely irrelevant (there’s no control group).

    Also, I agree with marilove. Why are these studies only heteronormative? I’m really curious what they might find in homosexual, transsexual, and bisexual brains (sorry if I forgot anyone). [sarcasm] Of course they wouldn’t study anyone other than heteros, they’re the only “normal” ones, thus, the only ones worth studying. [/sarcasm]

  23. Regarding the story on high fructose corn syrup (and widespread concerns in the foodie/organic/progressive community in general about the evils of HFCS), I find myself wondering whether any similar studies have been done concerning HONEY. Honey, widely heralded as natural/safe/righteous has essentially the same fructose content as HFCS. Does a diet high in honey produce the same negative metabolic impacts?

  24. @chistat: I don’t know if they edited the article later, but that phrase currently reads: “…they produce 20 to 25-fold more testosterone…” So by their analogy, that’s 20-25 cups, or 1.25-1.5 gallons. The estimate of two gallons is still slightly sensationalized, but not as divorced from the numbers.

    And I guess I get to be the different one here, because I found myself going, “Thank you” at several points in that article. Just because a study is “heteronormative” doesn’t mean it’s worthless. It just means it wasn’t particularly thorough. I will agree that much of the article was facile pap, but a lot of the thought analysis matches my experience.

  25. @Sander – Thanks for that link. I read the study the other day and found so many weird things about the methods. I highlighted the issues I saw on my blog, if anyone is interested in my two cents: http://skepticalmom.com/?p=53

    There’s also a pretty good post here: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2010/03/hfcs-makes-rats-fat/comment-page-1/#comment-36308

    I have been really disappointed in the (normally skeptical) people I know taking the press release at face value and freaking out. Thanks for doing some extra digging and bringing this to light!

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