The Week That Wasn't: Eggs, Women Scientists, and Cyberhacks

Liz Neporent


May 24, 2019

Welcome to The Week That Wasn't. We can't cover every medical story out there. Here are three we didn't devote coverage to this week — and why.

Yet Another Egg Study

We passed on a recent Finnish study suggesting that eating a daily egg does not increase the risk for stroke, because it only adds to the growing confusion about whether eggs are evil or dietary saviors.

A significant number of the study's participants carry APOE4, a genetic phenotype found in about a third of the Finnish population, which has been shown to amplify the effect of dietary cholesterol. But here, regular egg consumption wasn't associated with a greater chance of stroke, including among the APOE4 carriers. This implies that moderate cholesterol intake from eggs doesn't increase stroke risk, even in individuals predisposed to the health effects of dietary cholesterol on serum cholesterol levels.

So why did this article reach a different conclusion than some previous investigations? Like many nutritional studies, this egg study relied on dietary recall, a notoriously unreliable method of data collection. This one also didn't include a large or diverse group of participants, nor did the study population have preexisting cardiovascular disease at baseline. Also, because the researchers didn't ask whether people enjoyed their eggs poached, scrambled, fried or otherwise, the study doesn't factor in the health impact of cooking preparation.

Women of Science Organize Online

A group of women in the scientific community started out last year with the goal of gathering information on a few hundred of their fellow female scientists. That effort has turned into a searchable database of more than 8500 female scientists available for use by researchers, journalists, conference organizers, and anyone else looking for a reliable scientific expert.

500 Women in Science, as the group is called, published an article in PLOS Biology earlier this week that highlights the impact of their project. The database has been accessed more than 10,000 times since its inception, and about 11% of the participants said they've been contacted for media interviews and other opportunities as a result.

We didn't cover this story in detail because it focused on the scientific community as a whole rather than women in medicine specifically. That doesn't stop us from applauding any effort to bring much needed attention to women working in scientific jobs. And we frequently highlight the achievements of women in the medical field.

Medical Cyberattacks Are Soaring

Fans of the TV show Homeland may remember a 2012 episode in which terrorists killed the vice president by hacking into his pacemaker. When the show aired several years ago, many viewed this plot point as implausible. But experts now believe such events are not only possible, they're probable.

In a report released earlier this week, the digital analytics firm NetScout noted that digital attacks that paralyze networks at hospitals and physicians' offices have increased 1400% in the past year. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has issued 29 medical device vulnerability warnings, known as advisories, in the past fiscal year — more than the 23 it issued in the previous 5 years combined, according to research done by the Hearst Television National Investigative Unit.

Although SFGate and other news outlets did a good job covering this story, we passed because it wasn't tied to an individual, noteworthy incident. We'll keep an eye out for future coverage. In the past, we've noted that radiology may be an area of particular cybersecurity concern.

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