Death Cup 4: Was coffee study faked and misleading?

Posted on December 30, 2013. Filed under: Health Studies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

ABOUT 76% WAS FABRICATED by my calculation, based on the article’s wording.

Now that I have your attention, let’s get the preliminaries out of the way.  Source refresher:  an online article on August 15, 2013, by Jenny Hope, put up at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health, on a blog called MailOnLine.

Tossing a few stinky red herrings around, Dr. Snow-Job (a.k.a., Dr. Lavie of the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans) said:

  • “There continues to be considerable debate about the health effects of caffeine, and coffee specifically, with some reports suggesting toxicity* and some even suggesting** beneficial effects.”
  • Boy, if I read about results like I found*, I would avoid the problem even without definitive evidence.  (It is too aggravating for me to re-read that story, so I sorta just paraphrased that last comment.)

Dr. Snow-Job, knowing his claim differs from the vast majority of earlier studies, emphasized some studies alleging coffee toxicity* while trivializing the many studies claiming its benefits.  Grasping for further validity, he off-handedly alludes to a “genetic coffee addition” that may make some people vulnerable to his alleged harmful effects…

  • So, Dr. Snow…   any ideas about what this gene was doing for about 100,000 years while hanging around our double helices waiting for Folgers, Maxwell House, Maryland Club, Community, and Starbucks to show up so it could take a coffee break?
  • …I mean, other than just being available to prop up your so-called study?

And yet, through all of these “suggestive” studies, this multi-billion dollar a year industry continues to supply hundreds of millions of customers who HAVE NOT been dropping like flies.

Dr. Euan Paul, Executive Director of the British Coffee Association, at the other end of the chain Dr. Snow-Job rattled, rebutted the “study” with:

  • “…the study’s limitations may have skewed the findings.
  • “Previous studies have found either NO LINK between coffee consumption and heart deaths, or a POSITIVE EFFECT ,” he added.
  • “Other factors such as smoking and poor fitness could partly explain the link with premature death.
  • “There is a growing body of data which suggests that coffee is perfectly safe when consumed in moderation — four to five cups a day — and as part of a balanced diet.”

Now, there is something I DON’T understand.  Controversy is the life blood of the “responsible news reporting” industry (a.k.a., The Big P).  That stuff really drives media sales.  According to

  • …Dr. Lavie, 4 to 5 cups a day is excessive consumption.
  • …Dr. Paul, 4 to 5 cups a day is moderate consumption.
  • …Dean (that be me), 4 to 5 cups is time to start my 2nd pot of coffee…   this morning.

So, hey, all you PAU grads, where is the 2-week ongoing coverage to define (according to the media) excessive vs. moderate consumption?  I am sure you experts in yellow journalism could whip up something between your morning and afternoon coffee breaks.  Dr. Lavie won’t mind if you throw his name around a little.  After all, it’s just more publicity.

Dr. Lavie actually took time to run up a list of statistics based on his…   uh…   study.  I found that odd, since I always thought you had to have real numbers from which to create viable statistics.

  • Snow-Job’s stated age parameter for the study is 20-87 years, which implies a study span of 67 years.
  • Dr. Snow’s stated study length is 16 years.
  • The difference between the “real years” (16) and the “implied years” (67) is 51 years.  Thus, 76% of the claimed study range had to be recounted from the participants’ memories.   That is a polite way of saying that the claimed input data would have to be faked.
  • Don’t get me started on the total lack of breakdown on that 43-thousand plus participant figure…   and, when they quit participating because of death or lack of interest.

Cynicism — my general outlook on existence — is held in low esteem by many of my fellow Homo sapiens.  I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE IT:

  • Is the 20-87 age range the starting ages of the subjects or their ages at the end of the study?  If starting ages, the 87-year-olds finished at 103 years of age, and the 20-year-olds at age 36; if it is their ending ages, then the 20-year-olds began the study at age 4.  AM I BEING OVERLY CRITICAL?
  • The 20-year-old starters quit documenting at age 36, years before entering the dreaded death zone of 40-55 years of age (US Mortality Table, year 2011).  That means there is no recorded data on how their coffee-swilling may have influenced their longevity.
  • The over 55-year-old starters…   what can I say?  They started the study already free and clear of the Lavie Death Zone.  That entire group (How many?  What percent of the total?) left no recorded study data for their pre death-zone drinking habits.  In any case, they had all thumbed their noses at the “premature coffee death” hypothesis before they picked up that first pencil

So, Lavie, when you say you applied the results of the study to the under 55 age group to get an inordinate indication of premature deaths…   EXACTLY TO WHICH RESULTS WERE YOU REFERRING?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Doctor Euan Paul, Executive Director of the British Coffee Association, who has agreed to give you an encore reading of his objections to Lavie’s publicity stunt.  Doctor Paul, go ahead.

  • The study’s limitations may have skewed the results.”

Thank you, Sir, for stating the more than obvious in such concise terms.

Comparing the “study” to the US Mortality Table for year 2011 shows an interesting result: 

  • Lavie states 2,500 deaths during the 16 years of the study, with just under 1/3 of these from heart issues.  Annual average of these figures:  156 deaths, 46 from coronary causes.  Annual percentage of Lavie’s coronary related deaths:  29%
  • Death zone figures from the US Mortality Table for 2011 gives 1,852,355 deaths, with 597,689 of those coronary related.  Annual percentage of US coronary related deaths32%

Is it just me, or do the annual percentages show that Dr. Lavie of the Ochsner Medical Center, has just demonstrated —

  • the LONGEVITY BENEFITS of consuming 4 OR MORE cups of coffee per day?  

Since NO ONE on the planet Earth knows a given individual’s projected life span until that person dies, what god-like power gives Lavie or any other researcher the temerity to decree what is “premature” death?

___________

*Yeah, that would be Lavie’s own report.

**He is appalled that other studies differ from his own’

***The Chicken Little ploy.  Tacit admission of bull shit?

______________________________________

Series references:  premature death, 4 cups a day, coffee, Dr. Carl Lavie, Dr. Euan Paul, faked study, cynicism, statistical death zone, researcher, coffee addiction gene, caffeine, health effects, longevity benefits

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