CBS is wrong on coffee "lowering risk" of uterine cancer

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Wrong because observational studies can’t prove cause-and-effect. So causal language like “lowers risk” is simply inaccurate. And the constant banner across the bottom of the screen – “2 cups lowers uterine cancer risk” – is misleading. Physician-correspondent Jennifer Ashton never mentioned the limitations of observational studies. And she never corrected the anchor when she said she didn’t drink coffee but maybe she should start, nor when the anchor asked, “Besides drinking coffee, what can you do….”

What’s the harm in this? This is the kind of “yes, it’s good for you….no it isn’t” superfluous news coverage that helps all journalism lose credibility with the public.

Read our primer on misleading language on observational studies to learn more.

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Comments (4)

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Rogue Medic

May 12, 2010 at 11:47 am

This also leads to complaints that science is frequently wrong. When research is reported inaccurately, it isn’t the science that is the problem, it is the reporting. However, that is not the way the eventual awareness errors is reported or interpreted.


May 17, 2010 at 10:12 pm

i think that his story is reflective of a very poor understanding of clinical trial. The study is flowed in many was most obvious ways. I think if the network is going to allow this doctor to report this type of non science, they are doing a disservice. i think the Dr. needs a basic course n epidemiology. sadly as your site points out, reports lke this undermine legitimate medical advance report because viewers tell me one day you say one thing and then it is wrong the next day.
I would suggest the doctor look at the conclusions fro the nurses studies on HRT which indicated that HRT cut risk for heart attacks, dementia and then the randomized control studies which showed the harmful effects of HRT.
Barry Ramo MD
Medical Editor KOAT TV (abc)