Posted by Gary Schwitzer in Health care journalism
The September issue of Prevention magazine inaccurately headlines a story, “4 Ways Coffee Cures.” There’s no solid proof that coffee cures anything – unless some of you cure bacon with java, which I don’t want to know about.
What the story (below) did was to try to present a cute little graphic summary of observational studies that show a statistical association between increasing coffee consumption and fewer early deaths, fewer deaths from heart attack, fewer cases of dementia and fewer cases of type 2 diabetes.
But such observational studies (they actually never cite the source – I’m just giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’re citing observational studies) can NOT establish cause and effect therefore it is inaccurate for the story to use terms like “cure…protective…lowers (or reduces or slashes) your risk.” Besides being inaccurate, such stories fail to educate readers. They mislead.
We ask the editors of Prevention to read and understand our guide, “Does the Language Fit the Evidence? Association versus Causation.”