Furthest Right

More bad science: what causes early puberty?

Here’s a prime example of our major human problem — arguing from the human as the cause of all effects, and therefore, having no idea what actually causes anything, although we feel better treating the world as if it were a personalitied human like us:

A UK-led team located two genes on chromosomes six and nine that appear to strongly influence the age at which menstruation starts.

The genes sit right next to DNA controlling height and weight.

Dr Aric Sigman, psychologist and fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, said: “Early menstruation is a health issue because beyond being an inconvenient surprise for a girl and her parents, it’s also associated with a higher risk of a variety of diseases and psychological problems.

However, they also accept that the onset of puberty is influenced by factors such as nutrition and exercise, and the effect of a single gene is likely to be relatively small.


From our mailing list:

This is yet another example of statistics gone awry. There is no question that an early age of menarche generally halts female growth, but not for the reasons that this psychologist is suggesting. It is a matter of physiology resulting from the sudden increase in estrogen as it affects the transhydrogenase enzyme systems of the mitochondria.

Growth is halted through the effects on long bones as a consequence of substrate inhibition induced by high estrogen levels. The stuff about estrogen being the cause of disease–any disease–is just another form of statistical nonsense with little scientific basis but a lot of incidental connection.

(Incidentally, the very latest on estrogen suggests that prolonged birth control pills reduce cancer rates. These conclusions are also statistical studies. ) Such incidental connections fall into the spurious category of white arctic foxes and snow. Do foxes cause snow to fall in the arctic? Does snow cause foxes to be white?

Another way of looking at this: the obvious idea is that habits cause higher estrogen levels, and that halts growth, and that the same habits are causing early menarche. But our preference as a group is to avoid blame and fault, so we choose to claim it’s all genetic.

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