Science fact or fiction? Making sense of cancer stories
A Cancer Research UK blog, explaining how to assess the quality of health claims about cancer.Key Concepts addressed:
- 1-12 Dramatic treatment effects are rare
- 1-7 Beware of conflicting interests
- 2-1 Comparisons are needed to identify treatment effects
- 2-15 Fair comparisons with few people or outcome events can be misleading
Cancer is a hot topic in the media, from headlines about the latest cancer-fighting ‘superfood’ to scare stories about the causes of cancer.
And hardly a week goes by without a front page dedicated to a potential “wonder drug” or new treatment.
And it’s no surprise – most of us have been touched by cancer in some way or other, so there’s a big appetite for news. But this wealth of information can be overwhelming – and can sometimes seem contradictory.
Is red wine good or bad for us? Just how much broccoli should we eat? And why does it take so long for headline-grabbing “breakthroughs” to result in better cancer treatments?
It can sometimes seem that scientists don’t know what they’re talking about, or that everything is over-hyped. How do you know what to believe?