OK I may be talking rubbish here. I would be real interested if someone who really knows could honestly say. This is a serious subject.
The BBC carried this story about alcohol and cancer in women.
Basically I think they are saying that Alcohol causes cancer.
Now that may be so, but as far as I can figure it there is no real direct evidence that it actually does. I figure it looks suspiciously like guesswork and assumptions to me, as far as I can discover.
Now I am not saying they are wrong, but I am not all that convinced they are right either and this sort of stuff has to be right.
It was a seven year study of women, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the author was Dr Naomi Allen.
They say a little short of 70,000 of the middle-aged women in the study developed cancer and “a pattern emerged with alcohol consumption”.
I guess they mean a correlation of some sort. Simply it is where two sets of measurements show a relationship. They either go up and down together, or do the opposite.
In this case levels of alcohol consumption and various cancers.
The thing is, just because you get a correlation it does not mean that one is caused by the other.
Take daisies. They open and close. Take a commuter rail service in the town where the daisies grow.
If you were to compare the daisies opening and closing with the railway timetable you would notice a correlation between the two. But the daisies don't cause the timetable to be the way it is. The trains don't make the daisies open and close.
If anyone thought that they could change the daisies opening and closing by running all the trains at night instead they would be making an expensive mistake. Both are really driven, when you get down to it, by the rotation of the earth.
Now my question is this. Do any of these researchers that are always playing with statistics...
(because that's what they are doing as far as I can see... and they do say. “Lies, damned lies and ..” well, Statistics)
...do any of them check to see if there really is a cause and effect between the two things, or just a “relationship”?
For instance that there is not something to do with lifestyle, affluence, preservatives, the baby boom population hump that is getting, lets face it, middle aged, whatever... That ties say cancer and alcohol consumption in an English speaking western society together?
Oh and how come no one in France ever noticed this link? Given the amount of wine consumed there. Wasn't someone trying to claim how good for your health the odd glass of red wine was a while back based on a similar sort of statistical study there?
It's not just alcohol either. Someone seems to come out with stuff like this on a regular basis about all sorts of things.
If they are pushed can they honestly show you a real cause and effect link, or only point to similar pattern?
It is a worry...