We live in an information-overloaded world. Everyday I’m reading about something new which causes cancer. Apparently getting up to use the loo in the middle of the night causes cancer. The only thing dangerous about these articles are the articles themselves. They wrongly inform us, and they make us feel guilty for eating almost anything. Why do we need to feel more guilty? Why do we need to pile even more pressure on ourselves to eat ‘right’? It’s one thing to feel guilty about a McDonalds, but don’t make me feel guilty about eating a chicken breast.
The Telegraph published an article yesterday claiming a high-protein diet is ‘as bad for you as smoking’ (read the bullshit here). However, after looking through the research it has become clear that their claims are unsupported (read why it’s bullshit here). You can find details of why it’s wrong below, but for now I want to concentrate on the PR aspect.
Perhaps the holy grail of PR scaremongering is this link here – the Daily Mail cancer list. It’s a list which shows the number of items which the Daily Mail has claimed causes cancer. As you can see, the list is huge.
What annoys me the most is the fact that I really needed to do my research to find out that the original article was wrong. What if I didn’t have time to read up on it? What about the people (including me) who mostly read the top headlines and nothing more? Well, I’d be left with the thought that I shouldn’t eat too much protein. Or I’d feel guilty about eating protein.The last thing we need today is more confusing information. We also don’t need to feel more guilty. We’re piling so much pressure on ourselves to be perfectly healthy and protein is actually a great way to get our calories in… much better than carbohydrates. Newspapers are just trying to find new ways to catch peoples attention and I’m getting sick of it.
If you’ve made it through the post so far, great, here are the main reasons why the original story is wrong:
- The effects show those between 50-65 had an increased risk from cancer, but those over 65 actually showed a reduced risk. Therefore, all effects were cancelled out. The sample sizes were also too small.
- There was no scientific evidence of how eating meat vs. smoking affected someones life span or risk of cancer. The original paper doesn’t assess the risk of smoking at all… it doesn’t even compare protein eating to smoking. The Telegraph just made up the link on the spot to scare people. We need protein, we don’t need smoking.
- Do you eat the same type of food every day for your whole life? Well this study wrongly assumes we do. Food information in the study was only collected over a 24-hour period. This isn’t really true to life as many people change their eating habits over time.
So, read everything with a pinch of salt.