This is the kind of story that comes with the daily drumbeat of health/medical/science research stories – a story that gets a brief light-hearted comment at the watercooler because of the cute headline – "Want to Cut Cancer Risk? Try Munching Pistachios." But it’s a story that delivers almost no meaningful information. Why?
Lung cancer is the top cause of cancer death in men and women in the US. So prevention is an important issue that demands better attention than this.
The cost of pistachios isn’t in question.
The story stated that the " pistachio group showed significantly higher blood levels of gamma-tocopherol" What does that mean? And what difference could it mean in peoples’ lives? Of course, not much can be said about such a small, short-term study, which makes the entire discussion of potential benefit – and the newsworthiness of the story – questionable.
There was no discussion of potential harms, but we will grade this as Not Applicable because this is not an intervention likely to cause harm.
The story never comments on the limitations of drawing conclusions from such a small (18 people in each group), short-term (4 weeks) study.
The story says that "Eating pistachios every day might reduce your risk for lung cancer and other malignancies." What other malignancies? The story never explains.
No independent sources were quoted in the story. Again, everything seems to have come from a news release.
The story didn’t give any context about nutritional approaches to reduce cancer risk.
The availability of pistachios isn’t in question.
No context was given about any other past research looking at vitamin E or gamma-tocopherol. And there is a substantial body of literature on this topic already from large cohort studies across the world.
The story appears to rely entirely on a news release.
The researcher’s quotes are the exact same quotes that appear in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.
There is no evidence of any independent reporting having been done on the story.