But really, it does help explain things and uses the example of the chocolate study that was announced recently that said 39% risk reduction for heart attacks if you eat chocolate. This is how they explain it:
"The study found that the combined risk of heart attack and stroke for those who ate the most chocolate was 39 percent lower than those who ate the least. That’s the relative risk reduction - what’s the absolute risk reduction?
For those who ate the most chocolate, researchers documented 2.72 cases of heart attack or stroke per 1,000 people per year, or .272 percent - the modified risk. For those who ate the least, there were 1.44 cases per 1,000 people per year, or .144 percent - the starting risk.
Subtract those two and you get .128 percent. (That’s actually nearly 50 percent lower than .272 percent, but researchers made adjustments for other risk factors like blood pressure to get to the relative risk reduction number of 39 percent).
In other words, there are two ways to look at these results: Eating chocolate decreases your combined risk of heart disease and stroke by 39 percent, or it decreases your risk from about .272 percent per year to .144 percent (before adjusting for other risk factors). That’s a pretty small reduction."
So in other words, when ever you hear that something reduces your risk by a certain amount, you need to ask what the risk was without the reduction and what is the real difference in the rate of diagnosis.