Back up the Duh Truck: Researchers at the University of Alabama have discovered that if you treat the patient you have, instead of the one you think might be prettier, you end up with better outcomes. In other news, fat asses can’t fit in a size 4 pant, that and 25 cents will no longer get you a cup of coffee, square pegs are unsuited to round holes, and ten pounds of shit doesn’t go in a five-pound bag.
Yeah, folks, apparently giving women with ovarian cancer chemotherapy dosages based on their actual weight, rather than their ideal weight, leads to increased survival rates, effectively eliminating any significant difference between the survival rates of fat and non-fat women. Of course, fat women are still going to be more likely to die of cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer, because for some WHOLLY MYSTERIOUS reason they’re less likely to get screened. But if they can manage to get diagnosed with ovarian cancer, thank god for these great strides in medical science that have shown we should give them the amount of treatment they actually need. And when we do that, I’ll be blowed — that survival difference we’d been putting down to “fat killz” somehow just goes away. (But remember, “research also shows obese women are more likely to have other health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease that may affect cancer treatment”! That research is surely completely valid and not affected by any confounding factors whatsoever! Also, this is no license to go around stealing other people’s cancer and surgically inserting it into your body!)
Did you have any idea that chemo dosing is “often” calculated based on ideal body weight? I guess that semi-mandatory weigh-in every visit really is just so they can decide whether to give you adequate medical treatment or not. Here I was thinking that it was because MEDICATION WORKS PROPERLY WHEN IT’S PRESCRIBED FOR THE BODY YOU HAVE, NOT THE ONE YOUR DOCTOR WISHES YOU HAD. For sure, chemo is the kind of shit you don’t want to overdose on. But it is also the kind of thing that you DO NOT WANT TO UNDERDOSE ON OMFG. And prescribing based on ideal weight is the medical equivalent of “there’s a thin person in you trying to get out” — it’s predicated on the idea that you have a real body that’s the same size and composition, give or take 20 pounds, as the body of anyone else your height, and then a bunch of extra non-functional tissue that doesn’t count. Those of us who’ve dieted and puked our way through adolescence and never hit “normal” already know that that’s absurd, as do those of us who are still considered overweight when thin. In the tradition of being grateful for the few crumbs medical science throws our way, I’m glad they’re catching on that there’s a difference between a fat person and Tyra Banks in a latex suit.
Kate covered this at Broadsheet too (I don’t have to tell y’all never to read Broadsheet comments, right? They have ironically some of the most antifeminist readers on the web, but unlike here, they pay), but we thought this one was sputter-worthy enough to merit a two-pronged attack.
Postscript: Since this is my second post about scientific studies in a row, I want to preemptively direct you back in the archives to this post on cherry-picking. You’re damn right we at SP give credit to the studies we find reasonable and question the ones we don’t — it’s called “educated analysis of available data.” You can’t build your scientific paradigm on any single study — you have to look at the full scope of evidence with an understanding that all will be to some degree biased or incomplete, and make your best educated guesses based on what you see. That’s what we do, and we do it a damn sight better than the media most of the time. Are the studies that support our hypothesis perfect? Like hell; the perfect experiment is a mythical beast. But they don’t suck any worse than the ones that support the opposing hypothesis, and often they suck a whole lot less. Studies like this one don’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that fat is health-neutral, but they — or at least the sheer number of them — sure as shit prove that we haven’t proved that it isn’t. No matter what the internet says.