Thursday, March 09, 2006

More conspiricy theories in NZ Herald

Good grief, it must be cut&paste week at the NZ Herald. Now we're on to underarm deodorant causes breast cancer - with studies by Philipa Darbre PhD ! from the UK! at a university!
Let's try Googling for other information (- deodorant corporate websites). We get on the first page and i don't these from a block of cheese so the bollox meter is turned on and ready to fire up. (here) talks about the findings and shock horror, quotes an alternative opinion!

But American Cancer Society epidemiologist Michael Thun, MD, says even if the parabens do promote estrogen-dependent tumor growth, the risk from cosmetic use is "minuscule" compared with other known tumor promoters.

In his editorial, Harvey cited animal studies suggesting that paraben exposure is 500 to 10,000 times less potent as a tumor promoter as taking oral estrogen or being obese.

"The risk at an individual level is tiny, compared to other known risks," Thun tells WebMD
Hhhhmmmm, this kinda puts it in perspective, being fat seems 1000's of times more dangerous than not having stinky armpits.
to give Dr Darbre her due:
"Our research certainly does not prove causality, but we believe that in a few of these tumors the level of this chemical was high enough to promote breast cancer cell growth," Darbre tells WebMD. "We don't know, however, if parabens can cause normal cells to become cancer cells."
So it would seem like the media have done their own little beat up job looking for a headline. If you don't understand 'correlation is not causality', i think i've done a post on it or google for it, its in the top 3 science 'rules'.
A fellow researcher comes up with this gem;
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence of a harmful effect,"
Whilst true, its hard to live your life by this kind of mindset. You'd be left quivering in your home not able to decide if using doorknobs gives you cancer - it might, but the fact no-one's put 2 and 2 together on this one puts it squarely in the 'acceptable risk' category.... here, who states M.D. for gravitas pulls apart a similar email scam running around a couple years ago. Go read it. No bollox bells going off with this one, seems entirely lucid.

Conclusion? Anti-persperants don't give you cancer, or if they do, the risk is 1000's of times lower than all the other ways you're going to die so do up your seatbelt, lay off the junk food and wear a condom.

Once again, the NZ Herald drops the ball on real reporting, it seems perfectly happy to peddle any old pseudo science claptrap that lands in its inbox. Will someone for crying out loud put a scientist/MD on their reporting staff?


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