Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Why you should always take scary food news with a grain of salt

The new report about soda increasing the risk of pancreatic cancer is getting some good play right now. Perhaps it's true. It suggests that soft drink drinkers have double the risk of developing pancreatic cancer as those who do not drink it. But they need a more rigorous study than this one. Many factors were not considered, in a fourteen year study - including high fat diet, consumption of diet soft drinks or fruit juices, family histories of pancreatic diseases, etc. But the sheer numbers of those who developed pancreatic cancer jumped out at me in particular (H/T Village Voice):

The study, as the Washington Post reports, is not without its weaknesses: The total number of pancreatic cancer diagnoses was only 140 (pancreatic cancer is a very rare type of cancer, but it also has a very low survival rate), and 18 of those diagnoses were made among people who drank two or more sodas per week. Twelve cases were diagnosed among people who drank less than two, while the vast majority -- 110 -- were among people who didn't drink any soda at all.
Do also read the Washington Post article as well. It elaborates further.

Not to mention the fact that I know soda isn't the healthiest thing to drink, and I know that pancreatic cancer is a very sad and tragic disease. But these mitigating factors at least should have been considered. As it stands, I probably won't be scared by this study. But it's still a good thing to cut back anyway.