Junk science is such a flexible tool, its application is truly universal. All you need is to choose a target — and let the media spread the lie.

Another study! Among the scary conclusions in this one: "All types of alcohol — wine, beer or liquor — add equally to the risk of developing breast cancer in women … experts now say there is enough evidence to blame alcohol for breast cancer … ‘Any alcohol consumption will raise your breast cancer risk’."

Fish in the middle of the article for this though (emphases added): "Though it is not entirely clear how alcohol contributes to breast cancer, some experts think it raises hormone levels in the blood to levels that could potentially cause cancer."

So the cause of the disease is something which some people who don’t know why or how still think could maybe potentially contribute to the disease. Our regular readers know this is par for the lifestyle epidemiology course.

The numbers are achingly amusing as well ("relative risk" noted as RR): "Compared with light drinkers — those who had less than one drink a day — women who had one or two drinks a day increased their risk of developing breast cancer by 10 percent [RR 1.1]. Women who had more than three drinks a day raised their risk by 30 percent [RR 1.3]."

As regular readers also realize, relative risks at this level are meaningless, as synonymous with identity (1.0) as chance allows in the formation of such results. We are not told, but given the closeness to 1.0, all or most of this study’s RR figures must also have been "statistically insignificant" (with confidence interval including 1.0), which point is really neither here nor there anyway: while "statistically insignificant" results are null by definition all RR results demand highly skeptical interpretation: "statistical significance" is exceedingly quirky and by no means an indication of practical significance. Furthermore it can well be assumed that heavier drinkers otherwise lead less than abstemious lives in untold ways which could not possibly be accounted for numerically, statistically, or in any rational manner.

The lead researcher is quoted: "A 30 percent increased risk is not trivial." In fact his relative risk result is not trivial, it is far less than that, utterly devoid of meaning and downright comical. Par for the course again.

Nearly all such studies are meaningless in themselves but have meaning attached to them by researchers and the media to the end of scaring people. For example, in 2005 the California EPA said that exposure to secondhand smoke causes breast cancer — smoking is not related to breast cancer but CAL EPA let that pass — then raised the estimated deaths attributable to passive smoking to 72,000.

So it goes. So politicians gleefully collaborate as scares abound and bars are put out of business by smoking bans. Now our esteemed leaders can proclaim they are not only “saving the children" who hang around in bars, but also fighting breast cancer in scandalously bibulous women, as more and more carcinogen-touting taverns bite the dust.

Who could possibly object to such enlightened policies? Apart from sane people we mean.

On it goes. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of smoking bans reminds us of the magnitude of work that needs to be done and the urgency of getting it done.



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