Saturday, 23 November 2013

More misrepresentation of science in the cause of so-called "public health"


One of the New Puritans' favourite approaches to the presentation of science is to take an extreme example - high doses of the chosen "evil substances" - and use this to run a scary story about consumption at more normal levels.

Here's an example from the Daily Mail:

Soft drinks laden with sugar could raise a woman’s risk of developing womb cancer, claim researchers.

Pretty straightforward and further evidence of how those "sugar-laden fizzy drinks" are so evil.

But hang on a minute, let's take a closer look:

Researchers discovered that postmenopausal women who reported the greatest consumption of sugary drinks had a 78 percent increased risk for estrogen-dependent type I endometrial cancer.

And that greatest consumption of fizzy drinks? It's consuming 60 plus 'units' (essentially, one can), which is about 20 litres a week. That's an awful lot of coke!

If you're drinking that much sugary drink, you've a problem. And:

The University of Minnesota researchers said that they couldn’t rule out that women who had lots of sugar-laden drinks had lots of unhealthy habits.

Looks to me like we're extrapolating from extreme levels of consumption here by women who are very likely to be seriously obese - this doesn't mean that your mum having a glass of coke while sitting in the garden is going to give her cancer of the womb.

It's just a scare story. And just to give you a little hope and cheer - if you're under 70 then, in the unlikely event that your can of 7Up gives you uterine cancer, you've a 90% chance of surviving.


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