One of my pet peeves is the health advice handed out by the news media starting with the phrase “a new study shows”. After slogging my way through a statistics course, an epidemiology course, a research course and an evidence-based practice course, I have come to the conclusion that you can prove or disprove anything with one study. Kind of like the saying that you can justify anything with one isolated verse from the Bible.
A quick sampling of recent ones include:
“A recent study shows” that:
- children snack too much (no, do you think?)
- boiling shrimp for 10 minutes can reduce allergens (well, if I was allergic to shrimp, I wouldnt’t want to test that theory, and who would want to eat shrimp that has been boiled for 10 minutes anyway?)
- sugary drinks lead to early grave
- coffee 1. does not contribute to heart arrhythmias (except in those people who have problems with heart arrhythmias) 2. Prevents diabetes 3. Makes you live longer
- drinking beer wards off prostate cancer
- pistachios prevent lung cancer
- a mediterranean diet prevents Alzheimer’s (does that mean there are no Greek or Italian people with Alzheimer’s?)
- routine prostate exams do more harm than good (say, what?)
- green tea prevents glaucoma
- napping helps you learn better
I hope that people don’t take the little sound bites too seriously. A slow news day creates some strange items, and the weirder it is the better the news people like it, whether the “study” is well done or junk science, they just don’t care.
The napping part I got covered, I am constantly falling asleep while trying to study. I also read once that whatever you are reading right before you fall asleep is retained better. Hmmmm. There must be a way to use this information to my advantage.