Health News Review

New research shows that daily cups of coffee can reduce risk of Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, gallstones, and type 2 diabetes.

Our Review Summary

There is a growing body of literature suggesting that coffee drinking can lower one’s risk of type II diabetes. This story covered the latest such evidence, and made it clear that this is part of a growing body of “more intriguing evidence.”

In a brief story (less than 350 words), ABC News did a decent job of covering the latest research.

A brief review of the problem of Type 2 diabetes would have been helpful to anchor the piece, along with a review of ways to prevent the disease (avoid becoming overweight, daily exercise, dietary modification).This article reported on the results of a study in the June 26, 2006 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine which found that increased use of decaf coffee was associated with decreased risk of developing type II diabetes. The article reported this inaccurately as “The study out today found decaffeinated coffee is just as effective against diabetes as regular coffee, because both are loaded with the same nutrients.” In fact, the study found that while decaffeinated coffee was found to be associated with a statistically significant lower risk of developing type II diabetes, caffeinated coffee was not. The story did not address an obvious question: if coffee consumption is so beneficial for reducing the risk of developing type II diabetes, then why is the incidence of this disease on the rise at the same time that Americans are consuming more coffee?

Nonethless, in a brief TV news story, ABC News covered many of the bases (and addressed a majority of our criteria).


Criteria

Not Applicable

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

While there was no mention of coffee cost, this element is not particulary germane to this story.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The article reported that drinking four eight-ounce cups of coffee was linked to a 30% reduction in the risk of developing diabetes. Rather than relative reduction, the article should have included the absolute reduction. The rate at which women who drank coffee developed type II diabetes was 6.05% while the rate in women who drank 4-5 cups of coffee per day was 4.30%. The relative difference always sounds more convincing; the absolute difference is what is probably most meaningful to viewers. So, in this case, a 30% relative difference equated to an absolute difference of less than 2%.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no mention of potential harms that might be derived from increased coffee consumption. The article could have included concern about disrupted sleep, heart palpitations, increased urinary frequency, and jitteriness.

Satisfactory

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

Because of the design of the study covered in this story (a prospective epidemiologic study), it is not possible to conclude that increasing decaffeinated coffee consumption will decrease the risk of type II diabetes. This important point was covered by one of the physician quotes in the story. The speculation about what was in decaf coffee that resulted in the decreased risk of type II diabetes was not well grounded.

Satisfactory

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

Other than painting perhaps a little too rosy picture of all the potential benefits that might be gained from coffee consumption, this article did not practice disease mongering. It did not present any data on the prevalence of type II diabetes. The story could have mentioned that the Type II diabetes has become rather common place and is a public health issue.

Satisfactory

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

It appears that this story is based on a research study in the Archives of Internal Medicine and from comments by one physician and one researcher. It certainly would have been better to actually mention where the study was published rather than referring to it as “the study out today”. It would also have been better to give us some perspective about the value of the quotes provided by giving some background on the two people interviewed. Nonethless, we credit the story for having different perspectives.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

There was no mention of other lifestyle strategies that an individual might pursue in order to lower the risk of type II diabetes. This is a particularly important public health message. Moderate daily physical activity, such as walking, has also been shown to lower the risk of type II diabetes.

Satisfactory

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story isn’t about a treatment per se, but about the effects of drinking coffee, which is readily available to all. The story is quite clear about the widespread availability and use of coffee.

Satisfactory

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

There is a growing body of literature suggesting that coffee drinking can lower one’s risk of type II diabetes. This story covered the latest such evidence, and made it clear that this is part of a growing body of “more intriguing evidence.”

Not Applicable

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

There is no evidence that this story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 5 of 8 Satisfactory


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