You don’t say

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the Department of the Blindingly Obvious, which collates research that arrives at conclusions so self-evidently true that they needn’t have been studied in the first place.

The department has had its golden moments over the years—one standout was the research paper that discovered the first bus always carries more commuters than the buses that are a few minutes behind it.

But its silence hasn’t meant it hasn’t been busy. Far from it. The primary function of the academic is to get papers published—and the more the merrier, or, more precisely, the greater the promotion and prestige. Of course, research isn’t cheap, but when it comes to the betterment of mankind, what does that matter?

So, with that in mind, let’s cut to the chase and delve into the department’s vaults.  

Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic that is primarily the result of a diet of processed foods laden with addictive high-fructose corn syrup. So the revelation that diabetics who eat less processed food might live longer has to be right out of the top drawer of the blindingly obvious.  

But the researchers see processed food as the culprit only if it’s eaten in the evening. A person who tucks into potatoes in the morning for breakfast and ‘less’ processed meat in the evening is almost a paragon of health compared to the brute who eats a shed-load of processed meat in the evening. “Those who ate a lot of processed meat in the evening were more likely to die from heart disease,” researchers at Harbin Medical University in China added helpfully.1

Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to occur to the researchers that eating any amount of processed food at any time of the day or night is a bit of an own goal if you already have diabetes.

Turning to another gem from the department, we can all agree that sleep is pretty important. But there’s a routine we need to follow to have even a fighting chance of a night’s sleep. Step forward a research team from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, who walk you through the necessary procedures. To be honest, it might be best if you write all this down.2

OK, here’s what you need to do if you want a good night’s sleep: on entering the bedroom, close the blinds, draw the curtains and turn off all the lights. Best to do it in that order—turn off the lights first, and you’ll never know where you might end up.

The university’s chief of sleep medicine (that really is her title), Dr Phyllis Zee, explains: “It’s important for people to avoid or minimize the amount of light exposure during sleep.”  

And so to the final revelation. But first, it’s a universal truism that most of us are acutely aware of our looks or any blemish, and usually far more so than others are, who very likely don’t notice the blemish at all. It’s a problem that gets worse with age (but in reverse): self-consciousness is acute in late adolescence and the teenage years, especially if you’re a girl brought up in the Instagram era.

Everyone knows this, and “everyone” has now been joined by a research team from the University of Pennsylvania. After undergoing exhaustive research, they have discovered that people are more self-conscious about their surgical scars than are doctors and “independent observers.”3 (They now have independent observers for scar tissue?) 

They questioned 81 patients who had surgery for facial skin cancer to discover they were far more conscious of the scar tissue than anyone else, even the independent observers. The investigators give surgeons the skinny: “We should be direct with our patients and tell them that they are going to be the most critical of their appearance,” explained Joseph Sobanko, one of the researchers.

So now you know—or, rather, you always did.

 

1 

J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2022: dgac069

2 

Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2022; 119(12): e2113290119

3

Dermatol Surg . 2022 Feb 11. doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000003405