Thursday, May 5, 2011

A typical example of how not to present a medical study

Here is an example of how not to present a medical study. What is wrong? Because it has a scary title "Study: Weight Gain May Boost Survivors' Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence, Death" and ends with:

"The findings don't necessarily mean that everyone with middle-age creep is at higher risk of dying from cancer — the authors say that more work needs to be done to clarify whether there are thresholds of weight gain that trigger increases in risk, and more studies need to explain how weight and cancer are related."

I am not targeting this medical study - I am sure it was done with the best of intentions and had some significant results somewhere, I am merely using it as an example of how not to present study results.

This happens all the time - they come up with a scary title that basically says "You are doomed and are going to die". Examples are:
  • "A new study has proven that use of plastic increases carcinogens in your blood."

  • "A new study has proven that eating red meat is bad for you but they aren't sure how to get enough protein without red meat if you are allergic to legumes and soy".

  • "A new study says breathing normal air causes lung cancer".

  • "A new study says eating will make you fat".

  • "A new study finds exercise can be dangerous".

Then they ramble on about the study 'we aren't really sure why this happens' and end with 'more studies are needed to decipher what we just figured out and see if it is significant in anyway'.

So my thought is that I will ignore this study because I have gained more than 5% of my diagnosis weight (which is a number you will never know) and stick with the fact that they don't know what this correlation means at all.

PS Please stop with that stupid survivor label. We aren't survivors. We are people living with a cancer diagnosis. I didn't survive anything more than a bunch of doctor appointments.


lisae said...

I love your line about surviving a bunch of doctor appointments!

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