Study links market volatility to deaths

Source:Global Times Published: 2011-1-7 9:00:00

A senior investor looks at the stock updates provided at a local securities company's branch office Thursday. Photo: IC

By Zhou Ping

Local experts are doubting findings of Shanghai-based research that attributes stock market volatility as a cause of death for people with coronary heart disease (CHD), after its online debut in an overseas magazine last week.

Written by Ma Wenjuan, a Fudan University postgraduate student, the article "Stock volatility as a risk factor for coronary heart disease death" is also supposed to appear in the European Heart Journal's January print edition.

The work of Ma Wenjuan also combines research from Kan Haidong, Ma's mentor and a professor at the same school, and Song Guixiang, head of vital statistics at the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which supplied statistics used in the study that concludes fluctuations in the stock market cause similar highs and lows to the heart rates of CHD patients - weakening their ability to cope with their disease.

Ma was unwilling to comment publicly on the study Thursday, but said she had selected a sample large enough to show trends. Mentor Kan agreed.

"We want to warn people about these risks," he told the Global Times Thursday. "There have been many reports about investors dying after following their stocks on the big board."

The research points to the rising and falling markets as contributing to 22,272 deaths from 2006 to 2008.

The study essentially examines a series of statistics provided by the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention during the two-year period, and suggests that every 100-point change of the Shanghai Composite Index corresponded to a 5.17 percent increase in CHD deaths.

The study was based on a model that eliminates weather and pollution as contributing factors.

But local experts deny that the research is scientific.

"It's missing a scientific sample group and no reasonable correlation between the speculation and the conclusion," Ma Jin, a professor from the School of Public Health associated with Jiao Tong University, told the Global Times Thursday.

He added that the research, at the very least, needed to be matured over time in order to make such sweeping conclusions.

According to Li Xinjian, head of cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment for the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the study should be shifted to explore the linkages between stock market fluctuations and the mortality rates of people with CHD.

"This would make more sense," he told the Global Times Thursday. "The deaths of people with CHD that the study looks at all lag behind the fluctuations so it's inconclusive to say that the earlier volatility is responsible."

Meanwhile, Song from the CDC, which supplied the study's statistics, said Thursday that the research should not be quickly dismissed, but admitted that the work could be improved upon.

"We should specify the sample group in further research and focus the study on CHD patients exclusively," she told the Global Times Thursday.

Posted in: Society, Metro Shanghai

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