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Women who eat lots of fiber have less breast cancer

Rating

5 Star

Women who eat lots of fiber have less breast cancer

Our Review Summary

It’s not often you see a story that so simply explains possible confounders in research.  This story hammered the point:

  • the findings don’t prove that fiber itself lowers cancer risk
  • the results can identify associations but can’t tell what will happen if people change behavior
  • it’s impossible to rule out that big fiber eaters had healthier habits overall that would cut their risk.

 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  The cost of fiber in the diet is not in question.

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

Satisfactory

We’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt, although suggest a minor change in the future.

The story only used relative risk reduction figures. It could have included just a line to explain why it may not be statistically appropriate to pool absolute risk reductions in such a meta-analysis.

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

Not Applicable

While there are hypothetically potential harms of too much fiber in the diet, this story in this context didn’t need to drill down on them.

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

Satisfactory

Strength of the piece.  It repeatedly stressed:

  • the findings don’t prove that fiber itself lowers cancer risk
  • the results can identify associations but can’t tell what will happen if people change behavior
  • it’s impossible to rule out that big fiber eaters had healthier habits overall that would cut their risk.

Perfect, easy to understand explanation of possible confounders.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There is no disease-mongering of breast cancer in the story.  In fact, it includes an important little line of context: “About one in eight American women get breast cancer at some point, with less than a quarter of them dying from it.”

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

Satisfactory

Two expert independent perspectives were included.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story did touch on other risk factors:  “alcohol drinking, weight, hormone replacement therapy and family history”

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

Satisfactory

The story explains that fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains are all high in fiber.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story wrapped the new analysis into the context of prior work:

“While earlier research has yielded mixed conclusions on the link between cancer and fiber, it would make scientific sense: According to the Chinese researchers, people who eat high-fiber diets have lower levels of estrogen, which is a risk factor for breast tumors.

 So to get more clarity, the researchers combined 10 earlier studies that looked at women’s diets and followed them over seven to 18 years to see who developed cancer.”

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

Satisfactory

The story clearly did not rely on a news release.

Total Score: 8 of 8 Satisfactory

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