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Alcohol & breast cancer stories worthy of lining the bird cage

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I should have mentioned Sandy Szwarc’s blog, Junkfood Science, long ago. I am impressed by the depth and thoroughness of her analysis.

This week she jumped all over news coverage of a study linking alcohol intake to breast cancer.

You should read the entire post, but it begins:

Does a single drink a day really raise a woman’s risk for breast cancers? That’s what 403 media stories (and counting) have been reporting, based on a new study said to be “the largest of its kind.â€? But not all studies reported in the news are worth taking seriously or let worry us. Here’s why this one shouldn’t have even registered on our radar.

Since there’s actually no study to review (!), we’ll walk through the news. When would you have changed the television station or tossed the newspaper aside?

According to the news, the researchers reviewed data on 184,418 post menopausal women and found that women who drank even just one to two drinks a day were 32% more likely to develop breast cancers of a certain type (estrogen-receptor and progesterone-receptor positive, or ER+/PR+). This study was said to provide evidence that alcohol is positively associated with breast cancer.

When hundreds of news outlets around the world report on a single study, out of the hundreds released each day, on exactly the same day and all saying exactly the same thing, you can be sure someone issued a press release. Sure enough, this paper came with a press release.

Please go to the link above to read the rest of her comments on this study and news coverage about it.

Blogs like hers give citizen journalism a good name.

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