Who’s Afraid of the Big Fat News?

Sandy at Junk Food Science worked hard yesterday to debunk the latest rash of new stories on a study showing a supposed correlation between higher BMI and certain types of cancer.

Today provided one of the most extreme examples of medical marketing, with 2,090 news stories all appearing on precisely the same day, in media around the world, and all saying the same thing: a new study claimed to have found overweight or obesity to be associated with higher risks for cancers.

I highlighted this first quote from Sandy’s story, because I was amazed at the number: 2,090 news stories! My god. I wonder if anyone has ever done a comparison between how widespread obesity news stories are and how widespread say, stories about wars, treaties, terrorism, and so forth are? Why do I get the sinking sensation that the difference may not be that much, perhaps even in obesity’s favor?

However, read on:

The authors did a literature search in Medline and Embase for internationally published papers (from 1966 to November, 2007) on certain cancers (“less common cancers” than the World Cancer Research Fund study) and the terms “obesity,” “adiposity,” “body mass index” or “body size.” …. They also eliminated all of the studies that found no associations between cancers and BMI. … Only one cohort had different ethnicities and only two included Black Americans. They didn’t control for endless confounding factors, let alone any, such as smoking, socioeconomic status, use of hormones, medications or steroid usage, age, etc. … They only looked for correlations between higher BMIs and cancers, not correlations between lower BMIs and cancers. …

I’m going to let this all speak for itself, with the one qualification: in the scientific community, we call this “cooking the books.” You all know it better as Plain Ole American  100% Grade A Fine Quality Bullshit.

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