Archive for August 10th, 2007

Power to the Prostate!

Brocoli ‘stops’ prostate cancer…

Pomogrante juice ‘can slow prostate cancer’…

Oily fish ‘blocks prostate cancer’…

But hold on. Flaxseed also ‘block prostate cancer’

Green tea ‘prevents’ prostate cancer…

Garlic may ‘repel’ prostate cancer…

tomatoes ‘fight’ prostate cancer…

And even plain old olive oil (and a few herbs) can ‘cut prostate cancer risk’.

Meanwhile, Soy improves Prostate Cancer ‘Outlook’.

Oh and nuts are great too, but only a few mind.

With all this it’s a wonder 10,000+ men in the UK died of it in 2005. I do wonder about food/health stories offering false hope to readers. It’s not just prostate cancer either. ‘Curry could help fight Alzheimer’s’ (in the Guardian last month) , and the same story from the BBC back in 2001. I mean how much turmeric is in the average bog-standard Ruby Murray house Tikka Masalla really?

Another angle that’s often taken is the ‘Bad things are actually good for you!’ approach. A single glass of red wine can fight colds, boost ‘good’ cholesterol, and cure a sore throat. And everyone know chocolate is good for you nowadays -pig out foks!

Unsuprisingly what gets lost in these stories is a number of important details, such as ‘the study was performed by undergraduates on five mice’ or ‘the subjects actually took grape skin supplements not actual wine’, and they’re rarely attributed either, just you know ‘Scientists’. Now I’m in no way surprised that the media are telling people perhaps what they want to hear. But in effect they’re saying to people, drinking a bottle of red wine and chunking down a curry and then eating a bar of Dairy Milk when you get home and you’re doing yourself some good.

Bad Science in the Guardian had a great piece on how ‘science’ is reported in the media the other week, and I think food stories fall into the similar camp: food scare stories (death, cancer, disease, pollution obesity), food heal stories (superfoods, anti-oxidants, enriching, healthy, “good” bacteria/cholesterol etc.) and food wacky stories (giant things, blackberries in March, pizza saved my life etc.)

And if we’re lucky they’ll bother to report the expert saying ‘we’d all be a lot better off if we ate a balanced diet and less processed food’… but who wants to hear that?

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
August 2007