Medical research quiz

Choose the real research among the fakes

By Markian Hawryluk / The Bulletin / @markianhawryluk


Each year billions of dollars are spent on groundbreaking medical research, including studies trying to unlock a cure for cancer, AIDS or Alzheimer’s disease. Then there are the studies that leave you scratching your head. How did that study get funded?

Think we’re exaggerating? See if you can pick out which of these studies were actually published in medical journals and which ones we made up. (Or course, we cannot guarantee that some enterprising researchers won’t pick up on our ideas.)

Real or fake?

1. A study on the survival time of chocolates in a hospital ward found that chocolates survived a mean of 51 minutes. Chocolates were consumed most often by nurses or medical assistants, followed by doctors. Researchers concluded that while the survival time was relatively short, further studies were needed.

2. An analysis of emergency room visits found that children where more likely to be injured after falling out of a window if they landed on a hard surface rather than a soft surface.

3. Known as the “Beer Goggles Study,” British researchers tested whether men were more likely to judge women as attractive after consuming multiple pints of beer. The study found a direct correlation, with increasing rates of consumption leading to higher scores for attractiveness on a 1-to-10 scale. The curve leveled off after eight beers, although researchers suggested that may have been linked to the resulting visual impairment.

4. A study found that continuous positive airway pressure therapy improves golf scores in men with sleep apnea. Researchers compared 12 golfers with sleep apnea to 12 golfers with similar handicaps who did not have sleep issues. Using a CPAP mask reduced handicaps by an average of 11 percent. The researchers said it was important to find the unique factors that motivate patients to comply with treatment.

5. Researchers concluded that women who work at home have higher fertility rates than women who work in an office. Stay-at-home women were more likely to have children than office workers. Women who home-schooled were the most likely subgroup to have given birth at least once.

6. A research project considered the potential spread of bacteria when blowing out candles on a birthday cake. The researchers tested whether salivating before blowing out the candles affected the results. To simulate a realistic party atmosphere, test subjects consumed a slice of pizza prior to blowing out the candles. The study determined that it led to more bacteria being spread on the cake than when test subjects didn’t eat before.

7. A study conducted at more than 250 work settings found that individuals who wore short sleeves on the day that free flu shots were provided to workers were much more likely to get vaccinated than those who wore long sleeves. The researchers suggested that providing flu shots during the summer or turning up the heat in the days before the flu shot clinic would boost overall vaccination rates by 27 percent.

8. Researchers examining emergency room visits for gunshot wounds found that individuals were more likely to be shot accidentally if a gun was loaded. Risk factors for gunshot wounds included pulling the trigger, not keeping the safety on, and pointing the barrel toward a body part while cleaning.

9. A study tested three placebo formulations to determine which was more effective at curing depression. None had a statistically significant difference in efficacy compared with the others.

10. A review of all 14 James Bond novels concluded that the infamous British secret agent consumed four times the recommended amount of alcohol for an adult male. That would put him at risk for alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis, impotence and alcohol-induced tremor.

Answers: 1. Real. 2. Real. 3. Fake. 4. Real. 5. Fake. 6. Real. 7. Fake. 8. Fake. 9. Real. 10. Real.