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

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Cynicism Redux

Posted on March 25, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, History, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

All hands on deck…   All hands on deck…   All hands on deck!

What we got here is an OFFICIAL COMPLAINT from a (gasp!) bona fide reader.  She is Mary**** @ some college.  Mary****, who found the RSS and Comments feeds before I did, checked “follow future comments,” an action she now deeply regrets.  Seems she is now innundated with multiple emails of the same comment.  She wishes to “unfollow” them, but, I don’t know how that is done.  Thus, this appeal to blog spammers.  (I know this doesn’t help you, Mary****, but, I have over 300 such comments to winnow through and delete, all arriving in the last two weeks.)

Geeze, people, didn’t you see my post where I said I’m highly skeptical of everything?  For example:  There is a recent television ad about quitting something-or-other, and the happy convalescent brags, “I quit something-or-other in just 2 weeks on this program.”  The Program Voice cheerfully chimes in and says, “Yes!  We’ll send you a free 30-day supply just so you can try our successful program.  If you like your results, we’ll sell you more of this stuff.”  See, right there, doubts creep in.  Look at the time-line:  2 weeks after starting that free program, I am cured of my malady.  I now have 2-weeks’ worth of free snake oil left.  The seller has given me a month’s supply, and I’m not going to buy any more because I am cured.   How is the seller going to make money to pay for that television ad?  Surely, the advertiser is not lying about quick results.

Look, all you virtual stowaways, I read that book on blogging for money tips.  I know about back-links.  I know you can do them manually, as in an honest reply to WHAT YOU ACTUALLY READ, or you can get a plug-in to your blog to mass produce “relevant comments” to other blogs.  It’s okay, I mean a few of them sounded genuine, but, I got wise when I read the identical comment three times in succession with only slightly different URLs.  Also, thanking ME for the USEFUL information in the OMG postings was another give away:  those two postings contain NO information, useful or otherwise.  I know, because I WROTE THEM.  Please, for mine and Mary****’s sakes, take your comment blaster and set it to SEMI automatic.  And, take aim before you fire so your comment sorta matches the “awesome” posting your spam machine detected. 

Can’t hurt either to set your timer to about 100 seconds before your “new post” detector detects a new post.  Really, it’s just another clue to spamming when, 45 seconds after I hit “publish” my smart phone alerts me to an e-mail that Yo-Yo Spin liked my post and thought it was awesome.  (I hope there is no one out there calling him-/herself “Yo-Yo Spin.“) 

Next up:  To Be Announced (That’s not the subject, just a note that I haven’t decided yet.)

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Pismire: Getting The Handles Right

Posted on March 19, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Pismire is the archaic term for ant.  Pronounce it any way you like and make it yours.  I like it because of its origin.  Ants utilize formic acid as an agent of defense or as a means of disabling a potential meal.  The greater the number of ants nesting in a given area, the stronger the odor of the acid, which, incidentally, is the same as urine.  Breaking the word down, mire is an old term for ant, and pis meant the same as our familiar term piss.  Put ’em together and you literally get…

Piss ant, a designation we use disparagingly to mean insignificant, obnoxious, ubiquitous, troublesome, vexing abundant, irksome…   I could go on, and probably will later, but, let’s stop there for now.

PAU.  Acronym for Piss Ant University.  There just seems to be a special place that turns out hordes of aspirants to obnoxity (might be a made-up term), people whose sworn duty in life seems to be to just piss you off.

PU.  By enunciation, that could refer to the malodorous presence of these critters, but it’s a new acronym I’ll use for pismire ubiquity.  Feel free to think “P-U” whenever you see it.

Ubiquity, by the way, means, “They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere.”  I’m not talking down to you on this term, it’s just that I heard it a number of times before I was curious enough to look it up.  When talking about the prevalence of something, ubiquitous just doesn’t jump off the tip of your tongue.  Be thankful  this term has yet to be used as frequently, and as inappropriately, as passion.

Piss’ant-ism is a condition that is endemic to many segments of our social infrastructure;  neither Orkin, Terminix nor any other exterminator can rid us of these pests.  The afflicted really seem to think they are pursuing relevant matters and issues that must be fixed for the rest of us (ala VICKI of the Will Smith movie, I Robot?) whether we want it fixed or not.   It is, after all, for our own good…

Or, as my cynicism assures me, for the financial good of the piss ants, who pursue their chosen shticks with the fervor of religious zealots in the premeditated intent of making a buck off us compliant sheep, who frequently confuse the skulking jackal with the shepherd.  (Ooooo, I finally did it — a one sentence paragraph.)

Next up:  Meet the press

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...