August 18, 2017

Green and full of terrors

Q: Did you see avocado gives you breast cancer?

A: Me?

Q: Well, women with mutations in the BRCA genes, such as Angelina Jolie

A: 🙄

Q: “Women with the faulty ‘Angelina Jolie’ gene should cut back on trendy avocado-based breakfasts to slash their chances of cancer.

A: No.

Q: So the study wasn’t in women?

A: No. Or avocados.

Q: Mice

A: Not even. Cells in a lab. (press release)

Q: And the avocados?

A: The cells were given extra folate.

Q: And they got cancer?

A: No, they died.

Q: Then why is there a cancer story?

A: The researchers speculated that folate could be part of a future treatment for BRCA-damaged tumours.

Q: That’s kind of not what the Herald says

A: No, but they did get the story from the Daily Mail.

Q: So what do the researchers say about avocados?

A: They don’t mention avocados

Q: Ok, what do they say about folate, then?

A: “The authors caution that no conclusions should be drawn about whether there is any overall effect in a living animal consuming folate.”

Q: So it wasn’t the press release this time

A: No, this looks like it’s down to the Daily Mail.



Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »