ROBERT COHEN on MILK and CANCER
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
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, an announcement. I’ve also decided to publish a new scientific journal called: “JIM DANDY” 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
STEP ONE : A study is performed.
STEP TWO : 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.
STEP THREE :Tomorrow’s newspapers contain headlines based upon today’s press conferences.
STEP FOUR : 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.
STEP FIVE : 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 entirety: http://www.pinkribbon.com
To assess the relationship between childhood and adult consumption of milk and breast cancer incidence, Dr. Anette Hjartaker of the
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 consumption.
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 years.
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 incidence.
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 milk consumption.
SOURCE: 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 entire study?
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 own data.
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: http://www.notmilk.com/deb/101198.txt
BOTTOM LINE: 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.