Monday, July 9, 2018

Are neckties dangerous to your health?

Wearing a necktie significantly decreases cerebral blood flow says a new study in the journal Neuroradiology. This finding caused a minor flurry of activity on Twitter, and as usual, the press sensationalized and misinterpreted the study’s results.

Here’s a headline from the Deccan Chronicle: “Wearing ties hamper [sic] productivity in office; here’s why.” The sub- heading is “Study suggests men who wear T-shirts in the office may produce better work.” T-shirts were not mentioned in the paper. The name of the journal that published it was incorrect in the article too.

Forbes didn’t do much better. It’s lede is “Neckties are stupid. Could they also make you stupid?” The paper said nothing of the kind.

Leave it to the New York Post to win the prize by starting its story with “Comfortably dressed men may be smarter and higher-functioning than guys who wear ties—because the neckwear reduces blood flow to the brain, according to new research.” And the Post story warned “In extreme cases, insufficient blood flow to the brain can kill organ tissue or cause a stroke.”

The German investigators actually found after tightening a necktie cerebral blood flow is reduced by an average 7.4% with a further drop of 5.7% when the tie is loosened after 15 minutes. These findings were based on MRI data measured in 15 men wearing ties compared to 15 men who without ties. The paper said a drop in cerebral blood flow was observed in 13/15 (86.6%) subjects wearing a necktie.

The results control group are a bit confusing because 5/15 (33.3%) showed an increase in cerebral blood flow, while 6/15 (40%) had a decrease. The paper says the remaining six had less than 1 mL per minute per 100 g variation in a cerebral blood flow which was judged as no change. The math doesn’t quite add up as 5 + 6 + 6 = 17. The reason for the drop in cerebral blood flow in 40% of the controls was unclear. The authors thought it might have been due to anxiety caused by “the initial unfamiliar situation inside the MRI.”

Jugular venous flow was also measured and showed no significant changes in either group.

The authors did not attempt to address cognitive function. They said only five of the subjects had a drop in cerebral blood flow of 10% or more and “the clinical value of our findings should be investigated in further studies with different patient cohorts.”

I have a different suggestion. Forget the whole thing because it is not worth wasting time on.

Thanks to @Vilavaite (Dr. María J. Díaz Candamio) for the tip.


artiger said...

Whoever conducted this study, aren't there more important issues on which to focus? And doesn't a journal like Neuroradiology have editorial panels to weed out trash like this. Sheesh

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Looks like everyone is looking for content no matter what it is.

William Reichert said...

The finding in this study is not surprising.
According to the text in James Comey's new book, "A Higher Loyalty", the Mafia's preferred method of murder was strangulation.
Isn't getting dressed for work, getting murdered or committing suicide really just a question of how enthusiastically you apply the tie?.

Critic said...


I find it embarrasing when people who call themselves "sceptic" use that kind of negative wording in their opinion. This just shows you will not go beyond your level as blogger.
It is a pity that everyone thinks he is a "sceptic" these days.

Oldfoolrn said...

An interesting post which jump started an old memory; the Queckenstedt test for spinal stenosis. We used to wrap a BP cuff around a patients neck and inflate just after opening pressure of CSF was obtained. IF there was no change in CSF pressure with jugular vein compression a + test indicated subarachnoid obstruction. A necktie would be far more elegant than a BP cuff because it's normally found around the neck.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Critic, I'm not sure what "kind of negative wording" you are referring to. I think my level as a blogger for the last 8 years is pretty good. My current count of page views is over 3,325,000.

Old Fool, I had heard of that test but I have never seen it done.

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