Study questions studies

“Is everything we eat associated with cancer?” a much noted paper in this vein asked.

Every year, researchers publish hundreds of academic studies about the health effects of various foods – chocolate, kale, red wine, you name it. 

These, in turn, become fodder for articles, books and blog posts.

But how much of this information is worth the trouble? Surprising little, according to a number of key researchers.

In recent years, these sceptics have caused a stir by poking big holes in the nutritional science behind popular diet advice. Even the findings published in distinguished health journals have come under fire.

Collectively, their work suggests that we know far less than we think we do about what to eat.

“Is everything we eat associated with cancer?” a much noted paper in this vein asked. (See report here)

A new paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed academic studies conducted on common cookbook ingredients. 

Of the 50 ingredients considered, 40 had been studied for their impact on cancer. Individually, most of those studies found that consumption of the food was correlated with cancer. When the research on any given ingredient was considered collectively, however, those effects typically shrank or disappeared.

“Many single studies highlight implausibly large effects, even though evidence is weak,” the authors concluded.