Friday, 6 August 2010

Saying it again, louder

NZ's Ministry of Health [updated, see here]:
Methodological issues and uncontrolled confounding have called previous evidence [about the alcohol J-curve for cardiovascular health] into question (Jackson et al 2005 [a letter to the editor in the Lancet!]; Rimm and Moats 2007)
What Rimm and Moats 2007 ACTUALLY SAID:
The evidence discussed above provides substantial support for the hypothesis that moderate drinking reduces the risk of CHD. Beer, wine, and spirits all have demonstrated significant benefits. These benefits are likely mediated through strong and lasting effects of alcohol on HDL cholesterol, fibrinogen, and glycemic control. The “sick-quitter” hypothesis and the concern that moderate drinkers lead a healthier lifestyle may explain a small proportion of the benefit attributed to alcohol in some studies, but recent studies which have removed sick quitters, updated alcohol and covariate information on diet and lifestyle factors, and separately documented benefits of alcohol among healthy and unhealthy populations further add to the evidence that moderate alcohol consumption is causally related to a lower risk of CHD.
Yes, Rimm and Moats 2007 note that the previous evidence was called into question. But then they go on to test it and find that everything holds up.

This is lazy at best (MoH reading only the first half of the abstract, or borrowing somebody else's incorrect citation), deliberate dishonesty at worst. If you saw it in a student thesis, you'd wonder about whether the Proctor ought get involved. Shonky. Shonky shonky shonky. It isn't enough just to put a footnote. You also have to get the sign right in describing what the article's about.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, but the MoH and healthists don't WANT alcohol to have any health benefits, and in fact have already decreed that this is so. Case closed! :)