I came across an item today.
There was nothing spectacular about it – it was just one of those endless mindless "research" projects that is supposed to shock the world but in fact is just bolstering a few egos, justifying a few salaries and with a bit of luck a drop of future employment [“further research is needed”].
What does intrigue me about these "studies" is the language used. They are an absolute goldmine of weasel words.
"Drinking three alcoholic drinks a day can cause liver cancer, research has suggested.
Being overweight or obese and consuming foods contaminated by aflatoxins (toxins produced by certain fungi) also showed “strong evidence” of causing the disease, the World Cancer Research Fund said.
Its research, which analysed 34 studies involving 8.2 million people, more than 24,500 of whom had liver cancer, also suggested higher consumption of coffee “probably” protects against liver cancer, while physical activity and fish consumption may also decrease the risk although further research is needed."
In other words, their research showed little or nothing. They might as well have declared that riding bicycles may cause earthquakes and that there is strong evidence that pruning an apple tree on a Monday may contribute to climate change.
Notice however the first sentence. They state the startling result for the sake of the headline, and then qualify it knowing that the headline will omit that bit. It has worked perfectly in this case, and the newspaper has obediently and slavishly printed the opinion as fact.
So here we have [and I quote] "the most comprehensive review to date of global research into the relationship between diet, weight, physical activity and liver cancer" and they come up with little or nothing. A study of that magnitude should throw up definite results if there are results to be found, and not something that is full of ifs, buts and maybes.
The fact that they have discovered sweet fuck all doesn't deter them from making recommendations however.
"[..] women should try to limit their alcohol intake to one drink per day and men to two drinks a day.
Other recommendations included being as lean as possible without becoming underweight and carrying out physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day."
And they then come up with their dramatic conclusion –
"Around three or more drinks per day can be enough to cause liver cancer."
Unfortunately for the "researchers" the paper has also [by mistake?] printed a lovely fisking job by a Cambridge Professor who points out that the whole project is effectively meaningless.
The damage has been done however. The "researchers" have got their headline and the Proles will lap it up.
How long before we see the Puritans quoting this "study" as gospel in their quest to abolish alcohol?
I can see the headlines now…