Skeptics with a K: Episode #217

Hershey’s Kisses, prostate cancer, facilitated communication, and e-cigarettes. Plus nicotine nitrosamines, High Tea, Reece’s Pieces, and Cat Deeley. What’s safer than burning leaves? It’s Skeptics with a K.

If you’re interested in the charts Alice discussed on the show, we have links to the breast cancer mortality trends in women, breast cancer mortality by age in women, prostate cancer mortality trends, and prostate cancer mortality by age. You can also find the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer on the NHS website.


  1. #1 by Sarah on February 9, 2018 - 00:18

    I think the brand you couldn’t remember that also changed its name in the late 90s was Oil of Ulay which changed to Oil of Olay.

  2. #2 by Black Knight No. 3 on February 9, 2018 - 12:32

    I’m not sure what the section on breast and prostate cancer actually concluded other than the Daily Mail has poor reporting and prostate cancer researchers ask for more money for prostate cancer research neither of which come as any surprise.

    I thought the treatment of the data was a little cursory so thanks to the links I’ve had a little, still cursory but more in-depth than the podcast went into, look at the numbers.

    A look at the mortality rates (deaths per 100,000 people) shows that in 2014 (the latest year in the data) the rate was 34.6 for BC and 48.1 for PC. This means that, according to the latest data, the rate of deaths from prostate cancer is 39% more than the rate of deaths for breast cancer (using the BC rate as a base). Turning these figures upside down; the rate due to BC is 72% of the rate due to PC (using the PC rate as a base), in other words three men die from PC for every two women who die from BC and this ignores the possibility that some of the deaths due to BC will be men although the chart does say “female” and “male” so I’m not entirely sure how this affects this data.

    The above presents a static picture so it’s worth looking at how the rates are (thankfully) improving. I’ve chosen the year of 1993 as roughly when the decline in rates started on both charts and also when the decline roughly fits a straight line.

    The average rate of decrease of BC per year is 0.95. The same measure for PC is 0.58. In other words the improvement in in the mortality rate for women is happeng 64% faster than it is for men. I don’t why it is, it could be that BC is easier to treat than PC but it does lend weight to the prostate cancer researcher’s request for more funding.

    No one is calling for funding into BC to be reduced but I think there are the beginnings of a good case to argue for more funding into prostate cancer.

    I don’t know how research funding is allocated. To me it would make sense if there were an organisation equivalent to NICE who optimise the spending on medicines but would optimise research funding instead. In a case like this where there is a age relation to the mortality data they would, most probably, give a weighting to the age at which people die of diseases. This way we could put money to where it is most needed and has the biggest effect.

  3. #3 by Jason Jones on February 12, 2018 - 14:02

    Very interesting comments on smoking, unlike Alice! I am one of the populations that becomes addicted to nicotine practically instantly. Every time I have quit in the past I would have a cheeky one thinking it won’t hurt, and every single time I was hooked again. Even now after 3 years I get very strong cravings, but at the same time I am in the period where the smell of cigarettes is revolting to me.

    I did try e-cigs, but I found the smell to be awful and even now I think the smell is as bad (to me) as tobacco. I also figured that there maybe some long term effects of glycerol and glycol vapour on ones already badly damaged lungs.

    That said, I am so amazed by how many extremely smart people I know that smoke, which makes me feel a little better for doing so for more than 30 years.

  4. #4 by Mark on February 13, 2018 - 10:00

    The midday meal is lunch. If you get up late then you may have brunch but never brinner.

  5. #5 by Black Knight No. 3 on February 13, 2018 - 12:57

    I was brought up in the north-west of England and for a few years went to university and then work in the south. I was always getting tripped up by word usage.

    Dinner/lunch and tea/dinner was one.
    I once directed a taxi driver the wrong way because of using “island” instead of “roundabout”.
    I once asked for gravy on my chips much to the mirth of the chippy owner.

  6. #6 by Declan McCafferty on February 14, 2018 - 00:17

    Re Oreos.

    When Lidl first appeared here in the 90s they sold Oreos in the context of being some cheap imported foreign tat that you didn’t really want as much as a packet of Gypsy Creams.

    Try telling that to the millenial SJW that are annoyingly half my age and they’ll think you’re a ludicrous bigotted old boob.

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