FOOLING MOST OF THE PEOPLE MOST OF THE TIME
The subject is breast cancer.
In September, I received hundreds of letters from readers of
this column regarding headline news:
"DRINKING MILK PREVENTS BREAST CANCER"
I could not adequately comment until I read the original
study. That was harder than I thought. I could not find that
journal, and the original was eventually sent to me from
Norway. I read and analyzed the paper on a recent plane trip
Today I present you with an amazing story of scientific
fraud and deceit. This lie made every major American
newspaper and television news program.
The study appears towards the end of this column, but first,
I've also decided to publish a new scientific journal
That stands for:
Journal of Ignorant Minds (JIM) Doing Amazing Nothingness
Deceiving You (DANDY)
"Jim Dandy to the rescue." That's me. (That's also a 1958
song by rhythm and blues singer, Lavern Baker).
There are 250,000 different journals on this planet. Which
studies do you get to hear about? Most people do not read
studies in scientific journals. They read interpretations of
science articles written by biased reporters having no
background in science.
Those who finance studies and those with agendas decide upon
what you will learn today, tomorrow, and next week.
YOUR LEARNING PROCESS
A study is performed.
Somebody with a degree in marketing meets with the caterer
at the Waldoff Astoria and makes arrangements for an $80 per
person press conference. Shrimp cocktail and roast beef are
served. Celebrities are hired. The press cannot resist. They
show up for the freebie event, and the contents of expensive
glossy press kits make the 6PM news.
Tomorrow's newspapers contain headlines based upon today's
Newspaper articles based upon press conferences are re-
printed and sent to magazines. Industries with biases
purchase full-page ads extolling the virtues of their
products. They cite phony scientific studies published in
peer-reviewed journals as reported by stuffed newspaper
reporters who cite the stuff of press releases.
The lie gets recycled. It's an extremely vicious cycle.
You learn a scientific factoid based upon a scientific lie.
THE FRAUDULENT STUDY OF THE CENTURY
Drinking Milk Prevents Breast Cancer
That was the headline. Many internet sites have captured the
news, and include this life-saving advice. In fact, such
betrayal will result in the reverse effect. A leading breast
cancer site contains the article which I include in its
NEW YORK, Sep 21 (Reuters Health) - While women may not be
surprised to hear that drinking milk is good for their
health, researchers in Norway now report that milk
consumption appears to be associated with a lower risk of
developing breast cancer before menopause.
To assess the relationship between childhood and adult
consumption of milk and breast cancer incidence, Dr. Anette
Hjartaker of the University of Oslo and colleagues studied
48,844 premenopausal Norwegian women. Their findings are
published in the September 15th issue of the International
Journal of Cancer.
The investigators note that 317 cases of breast cancer were
diagnosed during an average follow-up period of 6.2 years.
Questionnaires were used to obtain information on milk
Hjartaker's group found that childhood milk consumption was
associated with a lower risk of subsequent breast cancer
among women aged 34 to 39, but not among women aged 40 to 49
After adjusting for age, reproductive and hormonal factors,
body mass index, education, physical activity and alcohol
consumption, the researchers also observed a negative
association between adult milk consumption and breast cancer
Women who drank more than three glasses of milk per day were
roughly half as likely to develop breast cancer as women who
did not drink milk. The type of milk the women drank and its
milk fat content did not appear to have any association with
breast cancer risk, the authors point out.
When the investigators combined childhood and adult milk
consumption, they saw a clear negative trend in the
incidence of premenopausal breast cancer with increasing
International Journal of Cancer 2001;93:888-893.
Seems like a pretty thorough study, right?
I just don't trust these scientists, and
obtained a copy of the original study.
Here are my criticisms of the "study."
1) 317 of the 48,844 women in the study got breast
cancer (six tenths of one percent), but the study
actually began with 57,664 women. Why were
the data from 8820 women eliminated? It turns
out that 986 of those women had cancer too
(11%). What does that indicate regarding the
2) Nine differerent categories of questions
were asked of the 48,844 women regarding
milk and other foods consumed. Only one
question was asked regarding milk consumption
as a child:
"How much milk did you drink as a
child each day?"
Even the authors recognize how poorly they
designed this so-called study. In the discussion
section (page 891), they write:
"Our questionaire included only a single
question on childhood milk consumption...
we do not know how well the question
reveals real differences...although no
significant association between childhood
milk consumption and breast cancer incidence
was found in our study, one may speculate
on a negative association."
IS THAT REAL SCIENCE OR REAL BIAS?
3) TABLE 3 reveals the incidence rate ratios
of breast cancer according to milk consumption
as a child and as an adult.
Based upon population statistics supplied by
the authors, the expectatiopn of breast cancers
for low milk consuming females was 156 cases out
of 311. The actual number of cases was only 42.
The expected number of cases of breast cancer
for the moderate and high milk consumption group
was 155 cases. The actual number of cases of breast
cancer for the milk drinkers was 269.
In other words, the authors mis-read their
Women who drank a lot of milk as children
developed more cases of breast cancer
than notmilk users. How much more?
A factor of 640%!
4) The authors bring their biases to the
discussion by writing (page 892):
"Calcium intake, however, has previously
been investigated with cancer risk,
especially of colon cancer..."
That conclusion was based upon another
phony study that was published in the
Journal of the American Medical Association
in October of 1998. That conclusion has been
accepted because of the press conference/press
release method employed by the dairy industry.
I wrote about that in great detail:
Often times, the conclusions from published
studies contradict their own data.
The "MILK PREVENTS BREAST CANCER"
conclusion is one such example.
Shame on scientists for their deceit.
Shame on the dairy industry for
marketing more illness.
Shame on the media for accepting
dairy lies, and for not investigating
and reporting the truth.
Shame on you and me for accepting at
face value previous marketing myths.