Coffee Good, Reporting Not So Much

Coffee MakerOne of big news items yesterday was a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine stating the coffee habit wasn't going to prematurely kill your average coffee drinker. Good news, to be sure. But how much can we trust the information?

I've been long skeptical of news reports on medical studies. The information typically comes out of a press release from the study authors with no independent scrutiny, but you're almost never told this. If the topic is something I'm interested in, I like to do a little digging.

Here's a sample of some of the Canadian Internet news coverage:
CBC: Coffee drinking not harmful and may help against heart disease: study
canada.com: Coffee not a killer - and may protect women: study
dose.ca: Coffee not a killer - and may protect women: study (Yup, same article as canada.com)


The canada.com/dose.ca article is better than CBC's. CBC's is actually a little bizarre. They chose to highlight "No cancer correlation" in a sub-heading and followed up with precisely one line of text on the topic. It's not the way I was taught to organize with headings.

I thought one of the more interesting bits of information was caffeine not being a factor. Both "leaded" and "unleaded" coffee gave the same results. Given it's a key consumption choice I thought it odd the fact was buried or not mentioned in most reporting.

In spite of my wariness of press releases, the one for this study actually has the best presentation of the information:

ACP Press Release: New Study: Coffee Drinkers Have Slightly Lower Death Rates Than People Who Do Not Drink Coffee

And not one of the press releases or news reports I found actually gave the URL of the Annals of Internal Medicine article: http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/abstract/148/12/904

Where I found the information I was curious about:

Grant Support: Supported by National Institutes of Health research grants CA87969, CA55075, HL34594, and HL60712. Dr. Lopez-Garcia is supported by a contract from the Ramón y Cajal Programme. Dr. Hu is partly supported by an American Heart Association Established Investigator Award.

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.

2 comments

Marina wrote 13 years 24 weeks ago

Funny thing. I heard the

Funny thing. I heard the same news yesterday and my first thought was YEY! I'm not going to die from drinking coffee (just everything else)! I must admit that I didn't give much thought to where the data or study came from. :( Thanks for the extra tidbit of research!

dale wrote 13 years 24 weeks ago

And the data is particularly

And the data is particularly good for women! I wish coffee reduced men's risk of heart disease.

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