Thursday, November 01, 2007

Prof. Tietbohl where are you?

What do you call a bus load of Epidemiologist at the bottom of the ocean? A good start. With the recent release of the diet and cancer report, we are going to be bombarded with meaningless data. In the words of my college psychology professor, Prof. Tietbohl, correlation never, never, never, never,never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, equals causation. NEVER! Now that I've gotten that off my chest, lets addrress the issue of relative vs absolute risk. I have read all about how processed and red meat raises your risk of cancer by 15%. Sounds scary, like they want you to believe that eating this way gives you a 15% chance of getting cancer. Such is not the case. It raises your chances by 15%, but they don't say a 15% increase of what, do they. According to the report, red and processed meats are convincingly linked the colorectal cancer. According to the CDC's latest data available for the U.S., your chances of developing colorectal cancer are 0.05%. Add 12 ounces a week of red and processed meats, and you increase your risk by 15%. Your risk is now, drum roll please, 0.058%. (I rounded the numbers.) All of the news and media outlets will however focus on the relative risk, ignoring how small the actual risks are. This will provide fodder for the folks pushing the politically correct diet agenda. Mean while, I'll be having a ribeye and drinking Jack Daniels.

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