Een paar dagen geleden verscheen een alarmerend bericht in de media met de kop: “Oudere vrouwen blijven roken”
Ik kreeg het bericht doorgestuurd van een collega. We realiseerden ons dat als dit waar is, we in onze eigen data ook eens zouden moeten kijken naar die oudere vrouwen, en met name naar de gevolgen van ‘blijven roken’ voor hun gezondheid. Ik heb eerst maar eens wat speurwerk verricht en het originele artikel van het CBS opgezocht, zie tabel hieronder.
In de eerste zin van het AD artikel staat: "Door heel Nederland daalt het aantal rokers behalve onder vrouwen van 65 jaar en ouder." Als we naar de tabel kijken van het CBS kijken dan zien we eerst een lichte stijging van 4% en daarna een daling van 4%. Het ligt er dus aan ten opzichte van welke periode je het bekijkt....
De volgende zin zegt: "Een op de zeven oudere vrouwen steekt nog regelmatig een sigaret op. De tabel zegt 12%, dus volgens mij is dat (nog minder dan) 1 op de 8? En is dat eigenlijk wel veel? Ten opzichte van de andere groepen valt dat nog wel mee.
Maar het meest opvallend vind ik uitspraak van prof. Arie Dijkstra: "De meeste mensen die willen stoppen, zullen al voor hun 65e zijn gestopt. Deze vrouwen zijn hardcore rokers, ze denken dat ze op de een of andere manier baat hebben bij het roken."
Laten we eens goed naar de tabel (bron: CBS) kijken: 12% van de oudere vrouwen rookt. Dit is het aller laagste percentage dat in de tabel voorkomt. Kunnen we deze groep nu echt hardcore rokers noemen? Vergeleken met 65-plussers uit 1998-2000 roken er nu minder oudere vrouwen (12% nu versus 16% toen). Bovendien vielen de huidige 65-plussers ruim 10 jaar geleden in de groep 45-64 jarigen. Van die groep rookte 10 jaar geleden nog zo'n 30%. Er lijkt dus wel een flinke daling te zijn? Alhoewel je dat pas met zekerheid kunt zeggen als je longitudinale data hebt (dus gegevens van 65 plussers nu, en ook gegevens van diezelfde mensen 10 jaar geleden). Maar het is op basis van deze gegevens wel erg kort door de bocht om te suggereren dat deze vrouwen denken dat ze baat hebben bij roken.
Op zich staan er qua cijfers geen onwaarheden in het artikel, het is waar dat er bij de oudere vrouwen geen spectaculaire daling is te zien wat betreft het percentage rokers, maar de nuance ontbreekt: het percentage was naar verhouding al laag en is sinds 2000 toch met 4% gedaald (dit is een daling van 20%!). De cijfers lijken dus uit hun verband gerukt en verkeerd geïnterpreteerd.
Als er een nieuwsbericht de wereld ingestuurd wordt over deze tabel, zouden we ons dan niet veel meer moeten richten op de groep 16-24 jarige mannen waarbij het percentage rokers nu nog 33% is (versus 37% in 1990)? Of de groep 25-44 jarige mannen waarin het percentage rokers zelfs nu nog 36% is?
Ik stel daarom voor om de kop 'oudere vrouwen blijven roken' te vervangen door 'jonge mannen roken nog steeds het meest'.
P.S. Het originele CBS artikel staat hier.
Several months ago one of my colleagues mentioned that it would be a missed opportunity if we wouldn’t organize anything to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Netherlands Twin Register (NTR). And she was completely right! All NTR participants contribute on a voluntary basis. They never receive anything in return, except for an occasional thank-you card. Only because thousands and thousands of twins, parents and other relatives complete our surveys and participate in our research studies we have been so successful over the past 25 years. It’s about time to thank them!
But how? We started a brainstorm session with a group of 3 (and later 4) enthusiastic colleagues. What would our participants like to do? Where can we gather? What are the costs? We contacted lots of zoo’s, adventure park and museums all over the country and were surprised to find that so many organizations were enthusiastic to discuss the options. We short-listed and visited 4 organizations and in the end decided to organize our event in Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem (which conveniently happens to be my hometown since a few months). NTR participants can visit the zoo for a reduced price and we will organize a special ‘twin-program’ for them.
We picked a weekend in February 2013. Unfortunately the only available options were all in winter (low season for the zoo). My colleague N is worried that no one would come because it might be very cold in February. She already claimed a place/task with a temperature of at least 21 degrees Celsius for that weekend (lucky for her there is a tropical bush!). After some organizational difficulties, the ticket sale started some weeks ago. We advertised on Facebook and by email, we will add flyers to all outgoing mail and we have written an article about our twin event in our Twinfo (which is sent to all NTR participants within 1 or 2 weeks). My personal estimate - or should I say hope? - is that around 10,000 participants will visit the Zoo. Currently, we already sold more than 1,000 tickets … and counting! At least those people are not afraid of the cold!
Wow, my last blog was written six months ago. A lot happened in the past months. My two ERC-PhD-students started (and are doing great), I went on holiday (twice), I suffered from a horrible cold for weeks, I participated in a conference in beautiful Florence and last but not least I moved in with my new love!
So where shall I start, what can I tell? Because my website is work related, I will restrict myself to work stuff. Below I will share 'my-longest-trajectory-to-get-a-paper-published' with you..
On 1 february 2010(!) at 21:59 in the evening, I received a group-email from the head of my department. It was a response on a meeting earlier that day. She wrote to about 10 people: "this afternoon, the idea was born to publish a paper on the comparison of similarities in dizygotic opposite sex twins and dizygotic same sex twins. It sounds like a wonderful plan and I have written a short intro". The idea was to make a universal script and ask people within our department to run the script on their own phenotypes. I can't remember why Marijn and I volunteered to take the lead for this paper? But anyway, we did. We made a plan, we wrote two mx-scripts and sent it around with instructions and a deadline: March 29 (2010). The next step (we thought) was to write some text around the tables and finish the paper. To make a long story short: scripts were adapted, new deadlines were set, reminders were sent, Marijn left the department, text was rewritten etcetera. But in the end, the manuscript was ready. In February 2012, 2 years after the idea was born, we optimistically submitted the paper to Nature Genetics. Of course this was way too ambitious and it was rejected without review. An attempt to submit it to Plos Genetics also failed. The good news is that Plos One reviewed the paper and decided to give us a minor revision. Maybe, just maybe we manage to publish the paper within 2 years and 6 months.
Take home message for everyone who is struggling with a paper: don’t give up, in the end, the paper will be published! Although it might not be Nature Genetics ;-)
My ERC project was supposed to start January 1st, 2012, but unfortunately it already started December 1st 2011. This was due to my own mistake. I didn’t realize that this sentence in the grant agreement: “The duration of the project shall be 60 months from the first day of the month after the entry into force of the grant agreement” indicated that the project started in the month after the grant agreement was signed.
The agreement was signed on November 22nd , so the project officially started on December 1. No exception possible. When I asked whether it was possible to change the starting date, they were unrelenting: “The contract is now signed so I can no longer change the agreed starting date mentioned in the grant agreement under article 3”.
Looking back, I’m glad there was some delay in the preparation of the grant agreement, otherwise the grant agreement might have been signed in September or October already. So an important note to all future ERC laureates: choose the date your grant agreement is signed carefully!
Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the start of 2012. Next week, 2 enthusiastic PhD-students will start working on my ERC project. Both have sent a letter to our department because they were interested in a PhD-job. Both have an interesting background and CV. Both are very motivated and enthusiastic. But both have very different backgrounds, which makes the input in my project even more diverse. So I’m excited and I look forward to 2012. Let’s start to look beyond the genetics of addiction!
Happy new year everyone!
On the day I heard the good news about my ERC grant, the head of our department was in the UK. Of course I was looking forward to inform her. Although it sounds strange in 2011, she doesn’t use a mobile phone. So I sent her an email. I checked my email later that evening, and also the next morning (my free Wednesday), but no response from her. Normally she checks email very regularly, regardless whether she is at work, at home, at a conference or whether it is a weekday, a weekend day or a holiday.
In the end, it turned out that she was at a conference without internet access (so not 2011). Wednesday afternoon she checked email in a Starbuck’s café. Of course she had tons of mails, so she sent an email to Natascha to ask whether there were urgent matters. Natascha responded that there was nothing urgent, but that obviously my ERC grant was very good news. So this is how she finally got the news and at 15:00 I got an email with her congratulations. She wrote “If I wasn’t drinking Starbucks coffee right now, I would order champagne”.
Well, both coffee and champagne were very appropriate since my ERC proposal includes not only research to nicotine and cannabis but also caffeine and alcohol! Maybe I should have recommended a cigarette and a joint too...
The year 2011 has been a hectic year in many ways. For the blog on this website, I will restrict myself to science-related stuff. The biggest ‘science-event’ of 2011 (or maybe of my whole career) was getting my ERC starting grant.
It was a long trajectory. First the writing-process, than the tough critics of the internal vu-committee. It almost discouraged me to submit the proposal. But luckily I did submit my proposal (November 2010) and the invitation to come to Brussels for an interview was promising. The interview itself was a very special and exciting experience although I was in and out the room within 20 minutes and I was not sure whether this was good or bad. And then on a Monday in July, one of the professors of my department, Eco, asked whether there was news about my ERC. He heard that someone else within our faculty had received positive news. From that moment on, I nervously checked my email every 5 minutes. It didn’t help. I had to wait till Tuesday 17:30 before the email came in with subject ‘ERC feedback to applicants’. The content of the email was not more than “I would like to inform you that a new communication has been added to your ERC-Feedback-to-Applicants-account”. And after I logged in three (!) new documents were added to my account. I first opened the Evaluation letter of the review panel. I quickly scanned the text until I read: “I am very pleased to inform you that the ERC review panels, composed of independent experts, have favorably reviewed your proposal” but then at the bottom of the letter was written: “At this stage this letter should in no way be considered as a commitment of financial support by the European Union”. The other letter was from the President of the European Research Council. This letter said: “I am very pleased to inform you that the Panel has recommended your proposal for funding at a sufficiently high position on the priority list, which is expected to allow actual funding. I offer you my warmest congratulations for this success.”
Slowly, I started to realize that maybe my proposal was granted. But I didn’t like the formulation ‘ít is expected to allow actual funding’. Why can’t they just write an email with the text: congratulations, your proposal is granted? Anyway, I was still a bit insecure so I printed all the documents and looked around for my colleagues. But almost all doors were closed and all colleagues were gone. Gladly, Eco was still at work. I dropped all the papers at his desk and said “I’m not sure but I think I have good news”. He looked at the papers for just a few seconds and confirmed that my proposal was granted! Hip hip hurray!