So, every time a study is reported in the news telling us something is bad for us, I do more reading.
This week you probably saw the news reporting a study that said too much animal protein causes cancer.
I just read a review of the study.
It was a poorly designed study (imagine that!). Studies usually are poorly designed when there is an "agenda" the funding source is trying to prove or disprove.
The most glaring item was that there were 3 study groups (consuming different amounts of animal protein) and they were not equal size.
One had ~1,000 participants
One had ~4500 participants
and the 3rd had ~450 participants.
In a quality study, these groups should be equal more-or-less.
Interesting, one of the researchers is reportedly the founder of a company that produces an all plant-based meal replacement. This is hardly a non-biased researcher.
A quote from the article I read:
"The usual errors There are two facts that every study fails to clarify:
1) Association does not mean causation (just because we observe singing in the bath, it does not mean that being in the bath causes singing any more than singing causes being in the bath); and
2) Relative risk is a poor measure when absolute risk can be reported instead. (You can double your chance of winning the lottery by buying 2 tickets. Your relative chance is twice as high as it was before. Your absolute chance was 1 in 14 million and is now 1 in 7 million. You’re still not going to win the lottery!)
This study has absolute risk numbers and should share them. There could be 4 deaths in 1,000 people from cancer in the high protein group and 1 death from cancer in the low protein group. This meets the headline “four times as likely to die of cancer”, but it’s hugely different to having a 1 in 1,000 chance of dying vs. a 1 in 250 chance of dying – neither of which is going to lose you any sleep at night. I’ve emailed Dr Longo to ask for the raw data on death rates to see what the absolute risk is. (And remember – this is still only in the 50-65 age group and will be the other way round in the over 65s).
Long story to remind you,
DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ
JUST BECAUSE THEY DID A STUDY DOESN'T MEAN THEY PROVED ANYTHING