How PR people can distort the science

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Got an email from a PR company the other day – same PR company I’d asked to take me off their mailing list last year. This important note proclaimed that:


“2010 is the year of the Pomegranate. On January 5,
Reuters posted an article stating that Pomegranate helps reduce the risk of breast cancers. It is increasingly important for women to do all they can to continue fighting this ugly disease. Incorporating pomegranate into your foods and recipes is an easy way to get the appropriate doses to fight off many diseases and illness – including breast cancer.”

What the news release didn’t tell you was what else was in the Reuters story:

• This quote: “It’s not clear that these levels could be achieved in animals or in humans because the (compounds) are not well absorbed into blood when provided in the diet,” said Gary Stoner of Ohio State University.

image002.jpgWait. What’s that? The research WASN’T in humans? Not even in animals? Only in a lab dish? Hmmm. The news release didn’t say that either.

But it DID tell women that adding a teaspoon of the product it was promoting – handsomely captured in the photos provided – would “aid in the fight of breast cancer.”

The PR person offered to send me samples of the product. I won’t ask for those.

She also said she looked forward to my feedback. i’ve just delivered it.

As long as they keep me on their mailing list, I’ll continue to point out the completely unfounded claims they make. The leap between what’s seen in the lab and what may happen in mice or in women should not be minimized in the attempt to pitch products.

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Ken Leebow

January 14, 2010 at 9:49 am

I bought a bought a 16oz bottle of POM (not to drink, for a diet and health presentation). Here are the stats: 300 calories and 15 teaspoons of sugar.
I think I’ll pass on this “health” drink and use it as an example of how we consume 170 pounds of sugar per year.
Gary … Keep up the good work. It’s a battleground out here.


January 18, 2010 at 8:41 am

Yes, it is a battle out there, but don’t you get tired at times? It’s like swimming up Niagara Falls. Despite efforts like yours, Gary, and those of others, such as Daniel Carlat, Howard Brody, PRWatch, Healthy Skepticism, etc. we are treated to a never-ending flood of bullshit (excuse my English; I guess the more polite term is “paltering”). I guess all you can do is all you can do, even if it is like pissing in a forest fire. So, along with Ken Leebow, I say…keep it up.