Cancer Risks From Our Food

Posted on December 3, 2012  Comments (3)

comic showing the dangers of drawing false conclusion based on statistical significance

Randall Munroe illustrates RA Fisher’s point that you must think to draw reasonable conclusions from data. Click the image to see the full xkcd comic.

Pretty much everything you eat is associated with cancer. Don’t worry about it. by Sarah Kliff

The changes in cancer risk were all over the map: 39 percent found an increased risk, 33 percent found a decreased risk and 23 percent showed no clear evidence either way.

The vast majority of those studies, Schoenfeld and Ioannidis found, showed really weak associations between the ingredient at hand and cancer risk. A full 80 percent of the studies had shown statistical relationships that were “weak or nominally significant,” as measured by the study’s P-values. Seventy-five percent of the studies purporting to show a higher cancer risk fell into this category, as did 76 percent of those showing a lower cancer risk.

Sadly the evidence is often not very compelling but creates uncertainly in the public. Poorly communicated results and scientific illiteracy (both from publishers and the public) leads to more confusion than is necessary. Even with well done studies, good communication and a scientifically literate population nutrition and human health conclusion are more often questionable than they are clear.

Related: Researchers Find Switch That Allows Cancer Cells to SpreadGlobal Cancer Deaths to Double by 2030Physical Inactivity Leads to 5.3 Million Early Deaths a Year

3 Responses to “Cancer Risks From Our Food”

  1. Ron Knolton
    December 11th, 2012 @ 10:55 am

    Sadly today, Food corporation are not interested in your health. Instead they are interested on only one thing: enlarge their revenues.So they don’t care if the food they produce is causing a health risk, the only thing they care about is taste. So they put chemicals and other endangering ingredients into it.

  2. James
    December 17th, 2012 @ 9:24 am

    Thanks for spreading awareness! After reading your article and watching the video which you posted, I made a quick research about this topic and found that nearly 1.5 million new cases of cancer were expected to be diagnosed last year- while 559,650 people were expected to die from the disease. Food like charred food, dark toast, red meat, heavily salted, smoked and pickled foods can lead to higher rates of stomach cancer.

  3. Robert Brave
    March 17th, 2013 @ 7:38 am

    A study by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has found that regular consumption of deep-fried foods such as French fries, fried chicken and doughnuts is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, and the effect appears to be slightly stronger with regard to more aggressive forms of the disease.

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