Silly, unsupported headlines on coffee-tea & MRSA

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Among the headlines that turn up on a Google search today:

Coffee and tea to the rescue in minimizing the spread of flesh eating bacteria

Tea Time; Drinking Beverage May Half MRSA Superbug Nostril Infection

Coffee and tea: MRSA fighters

Tea and coffee help fight superbug

Reminder: these headlines are based on an observational study, which can’t prove cause and effect. So all these statements – or even hints – of a causal link – are wrong.

If you need help understanding the limitations of observational studies, read our primer on association versus causation.


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Kip Hansen

July 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Read the original study in the Annals of Family Medicine. They claim to find the effect in those who drink ONE or more cups of tea or coffee PER MONTH. — but for coffee only in the statistically transmogrified data.
That’s one powerful effect!
It appears again that advanced statistics in the hands of the statistically innumerate can produce the desired results from almost any body of numbers.