Posts Tagged ‘headlines’

Does White Rice Cause Diabetes?

June 18, 2010 1 comment

White Rice vs. Brown Rice

According to a recent study, white rice may increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes.


The study looked at nearly 200,000 Americans and found a heightened risk of diabetes in those who ate white rice as opposed to brown rice.

However, rice constitutes only about 2% of the American diet, as opposed to nearly 30% for some Asian cultures. Yet, there is a smaller rate of diabetes in Asian cultures than in America…

Do you see the problem here? And Scientific Amercian, a publication I usually love, actually put their headline as “White Rice increases risk of Type 2 Diabetes”.

That really pisses me off! Totally mis-representing the findings of a study to increase readership shows extremely poor scientific integrity.

I think the more likely scenario here is that those who eat brown rice as opposed to white probably also do more to improve their health. They probably eat other whole grains, eat less fat, and exercise more. And oh wait, the researchers even state that eating brown rice was associated with “a more health-conscious lifestyle”.  To quote the 1990’s, “Umm…duh!”

We all know one of those jerks who is always telling us to “eat this, not that” because its healthier.

“You shouldn’t eat so much sodium.”

“You should really try soy milk.”

“I love running.”

“You should eat more whole wheat and whole grains.”

Guh. I hate those jerks. Mostly because they are right.

Anyway, CNN also covered this study, but the headline they gave it was: “Brown rice instead of white may lower diabetes risk.” This is such a better headline, and y’know what? I bet they got just as many hits on that story as Scientific American did on theirs.

Now, lets be clear. I sure as hell think that brown rice is better for you than white, but I also think that WHITE RICE IS GOOD FOR YOU! White rice is low in fat, sodium, and it goes well with vegetables; it just needs to be eaten in moderation, which, lets face it, we all have trouble with sometimes.

So eat rice (preferably brown, but whatever), eat less fat, exercise more, and you will be more healthy and lower your risk of diabetes.

Oh, and read the research, not the headlines.

Extra! Extra! Bad Science Writing!

June 10, 2010 Leave a comment

It seems I’m not the only one who thinks Science reporting has gone way downhill.

This week, the Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society, Dr. Otis Brawley, wrote to CNN expressing his concern over the quality of science writing.

Dr. Otis Brawley

He cites the problem of medical conferences increasingly becoming venues for medical companies to showcase their products. Investors are always looking to put money into a potential cure to who-knows-what, so these companies over-hype their product with scientific studies.

The findings of these studies are often overblown, and then get picked up by the media. We can all relate to these sensationalized headlines…

It seems almost every week there is a headline that reads: “Chocolate Cures Cancer, study finds”. So we gorge ourselves on chocolate, until the following weak when the headline reads: “Chocolate causes Cancer, study suggests”. Scary.

Brawley thinks that the recent economic downtown has led to the layoff of many experienced science reporters, to be replaced with fresh out of school interns who don’t know ass from elbow (I paraphrase).

Enthusiastic writers latch onto the overblown claims of medical companies and report upcoming cures for breast cancer, AIDS vaccines etc.

Although not technically wrong, these goals are well into the future and in many cases have only been observed in mice or other lab animals, which unfortunately do not often translate well to human physiology. These details are, of course, left out of the newspaper article.

So the public is getting misled and getting their hopes up about new cures and treatments to every ailment under the sun.

If such a prominent physician is starting to notice the horrendous scientific reporting that has been occurring, then it is certainly time for a change.

Luckily, thanks to technology, there is a hope. One of the greatest resources for scientific news and commentary is the Blogosphere. There are innumerable science blogs out there from those more credible than yours truly, who really care about their topic of expertise and would love nothing else than for you, the layman, to read their opinions and gain some more scientific knowledge for yourself. A few of my favourites are Science-Based Medicine, Bad Astronomy and NeuroLogica.

Its all out there, and its free with your internet access. Use it.