Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Wine, gives you cancer but makes you thin

Once again, reporters pick up on stories related to booze. There are two wine stories in the news at the moment. Both found on the Telegraph website (and others)

Booze, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bar_Hard_Rock_Cafe_Prague.png
 Story 1, Red wine holds key to better health for obese patients


Headline suggests drinking wine = good for health. The headline is misleading, but the study write up is pretty good. No 'scientists' in this article, only EXPERTS. Whoever they are...

This article is written about a small study on humans (11 male obese patients). The patients were given the treatment for 30 days (so very short term). Treatment was an injection (not a glass of) resveratrol (compound found in grapes at low levels - according to The Telegraph you would have to drink 13 bottles a night to acheive a dose similar to that in the study - not sure where this figure comes from). Results were compared to placebo treatment (the participants were given a placebo injection for 30 days at the start of the trial). The paper found that, ' 30 days of resveratrol supplementation induces metabolic changes in obese humans, mimicking the effects of calorie restriction.'

The Daily Mail go with the headline -  Red wine ingredient protects against heart disease and diabetes

but fail to mention the amount of actual wine you would have to drink in order to match the levels used in the study (shame on you) and also throw in the rather bold claim, 'resveratrol, the wonder substance which found in the skin of red grapes, is also thought to increase life expectancy'.  I am not sure what backs that claim up...


Research paper freely available to read here - http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(11)00386-X#Summary

Story 2, One glass of wine a day increases risk of breast cancer: research

Another story from the Telegraph, unsure why ':RESEARCH' is used in the headline. The study did not look at wine, it studied alcohol consumption.

Information from the study paper -  very large study (105 986 American Nurses) monitored between 1980 and 2008. The population of the nurses,93.7% white, 2% black, 0.7% Asian, and 3.6% other or unknown race/ethnicity.  Information was collected by survey - one consideration is, how truthful were the nurses about their alcohol consumption? Were those reporting low, 'moderate' amounts of alcohol really consuming low amounts? It seems alcohol consumption was averaged over years where there was missing data for participants. They did include 'dummy variables' for missing data. Obesity seems to have been completely omitted from the variables in the study, which is a problem because weight gain and loss is a risk factor in breast cancer.

Results (quoted from paper) 'Increasing alcohol consumption was associated with increased breast cancer risk that was statistically significant at levels as low as 5.0 to 9.9 g per day, equivalent to 3 to 6 drinks per week (relative risk, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.06-1.24; 333 cases/100 000 person-years).' The first line in the Telegraph reports, 'women who drink just four small glasses of wine a week increase their risk of developing breast cancer by 15 per cent'. I am unsure where The Telegraph have got this statistic from.

Also from The Telegraph, 'Women who drank up to four units a day were 50 per cent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who did not drink at all, it was found'. Unless I am missing something, (and please correct me) the Telegraph seem to have created their own statistics for this study.

Daily Mail reports - Two glasses of wine a day could increase breast cancer risk by 50 per cent

Made up statistic in use on the headline. Article seems to be copied from The Telegraph, just rea-arranged in a different order.

Research paper available here - http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/306/17/1884.short
 

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