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creative commons Drab Makyo

This morning on CNN headline news I heard about results of a new study on coffee and tea consumption and type 2 diabetes.  It was a quick 30 second or so bit in which the reporter claimed that coffee and tea could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes up to 25%.

That is crazy, I first thought.     Then I realized, the problem with all these reports about the effects of tea, coffee, and even wine, on health is this: correlation does not equal causation.

Think about it this way.  The study, published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that coffee and tea drinkers (decaf or not didn’t matter) have about a 7% decreased risk of type 2 diabetes per cup of coffee drunk on average a day.  People who drank about 3-4 cups of coffee or tea had a 25% decreased risk of diabetes.  However, what if the non-coffee or tea drinkers were instead consuming their caffeine (or if they prefer, decaffeinated beverage) through sugary, high calorie drinks like soda?  Maybe the tea and coffee drinkers instead have the baseline risk of disease, but the soda drinkers have an elevated risk!  So really, if the study had instead looked at consumption of non-diet soda, the headline would have read something like “Soda can increase the risk of diabetes.” Read the rest of this entry »


Will you get the H1N1 vaccine when it is available to you?  Last week to take the poll.  I’ll be posting the results next week!  Please feel free to leave a comment about why you do or don’t choose to get the vaccine.  I’d love to know whether or not the extensive reporting about the flu has persuaded you one way or another.

Glacier Bay, Alaska

The big news story this week, dubbed “Climategate” , involves the release of hacked emails from Phil Jones, the head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and a professor at Pennsylvania State University.  What’s most notable about the reporting is the lack of reporting on certain major US news networks.  I commend CNN for their relatively unbiased reporting on this on their website, however other networks – ABC, CBS, and NBC – chose to bury the story by not even reporting on it.  I was going to commend Fox News for the initial story on the scandal, but the latest story they ran turned it into a political attack on Obama.

Unfortunately, ignoring the story has just fueled the rumors that climate change is a big conspiracy.  Read the rest of this entry »

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