oh, science (and the public)

First off, my nerdy side continues to be in heaven here at the NIH. Second of all, I just posted up this article on fb yesterday with dismal opinions of the food in general, when I attended another talk today that presented this AMAZING article:

and then came across these lovely reviews of the article:
and public report by The Washington Post
 
As the conclusions in the abstract by Schoenfeld and Ioannidis report: 

“Associations with cancer risk or benefits have been claimed for most food ingredients. Many single studies highlight implausibly large effects, even though evidence is weak. Effect sizes shrink in meta-analyses.”

From SBM:

“though…there are lots of studies out there that claim to find a link, either for increased risk or a protective effect, between this food or that ingredient and cancer, [and] very few of them actually provide convincing support for their hypothesis…We must resist the temptation to go too far in the opposite direction and reflexively dismiss even the possibility of such risks as the ACSH is wont to do, most famously with pesticides and other chemicals.” 

Bottom line:

“there are at least a few foods that are reliably linked to cancer. For instance, alcohol consumption is positively linked with several cancers, including pancreatic, esophageal, and head and neck cancers, among others….When you boil it all down, it’s probably far less important what individual foods one eats than that one eats a varied diet that is relatively low in red meat and high in vegetables and fruits and that one is not obese.” 

From Brown et al:

Important steps to improve the fidelity of research reporting include the following: Increased use and improvement of clinical trial and observational study registries; making raw data publicly available; making supporting documentation such as protocols, consent forms, and analytic plans publicly available; and mandating the publication of results from human (or animal) research supported by taxpayer funds...comprehensive approaches to improve reporting of nutrient-disease outcomes could go a long way toward decreasing repeated sensational reports of the effects of foods on health. However, none of these debiasing solutions address the fundamental human need to perceive control over feared events…the public is always the final audience. It is therefore imperative that we spend less time repeating weak correlations and invest the resources to vigorously investigate nutrient-cancer and other disease associations with stronger methodology, so that we give the public lightning rods instead of sending them up the bell tower.”
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