A Followup to yesterday’s blog- about misleading headlines and articles

OK.  Let’s use an article disseminated today by the Associated Press, written by Lindsey Tanner.  (Tanner may not have chosen the headline- but the article is not quite kosher, either.).  Here’s the link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38301219/ns/health-cancer/

First- the title- Study:  Test-tube kids face increased cancer risk.  It’s one to make any bloviater proud-  but, as you might suspect, it’s so misleading as to be ridiculous.  (As you read this, you fill out the REAL facts.).  The sub-headline was developed to make the article feel more substantial, but it’s not.  First of all, there are 27000 births and they are comparing them to 2.4 million- regardless of any other changes.  But, as soon as you read the first sentence of the article, you can see the furious backpedaling.  “…the reason probably has nothing to do with how the infants were conceived…” So, either change the headline- or don’t report this scaremongering bit at all.  This attenuation continues until you read in the third paragraph “…cancer in these children is rare…”  Or, the fourth paragraph “The risk “is so small that it can’t matter…”.

Well, certainly made all the facts clear.  But, then, why use such a headline?  Because someone wanted to sell us something- either a newspaper- or to stop in vitro fertilization (IVF) processes cold.  (No, I don’t know Tanner or the AP, but it’s clearly someone’s agenda.)

After reading the “facts” of the article, I looked up the cancer statistics.  While I can’t perfectly match up the population, you can draw your own conclusions.  The Swedish Official Statistics report a cancer incidence of 0.5% for all children under 24 (2008), with less than 0.1 for leukemia and brain cancer- as opposed to the article’s 19 y old or lower of 53 IVF children developing cancer v. 38 expected (their numbers, not mine).  Notice that Sweden expects about 50, not 38, but that’s close enough.

The article goes on to say “…it’s uncertain whether similar results would be found in the more racially diverse United States”.  And- here’s possible the only takeaway from the article- that 1% of all US births are IVF.  (I had no idea it was that high).  I could not find a similar study for the US (it was broken down at 39 and younger, not 24 and younger.)  However, our cancer rates were much higher than that for Sweden:  US 44.9 male and 37.5 female birth to death v. 29 and 27.1 for Sweden. What that means no one knows.

But, for right now, this article provides NO useful information whatsoever.  It may be relevant, but it probably isn’t for our population.  Our politicians and our media have to be more critical in their reporting- and until they are, trust but verify has to be the daily regime.

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About RAAckerman@Cerebrations.biz

A polymath whose interests span chemical engineering, medicine, biotechnology, business, management, among other areas. Among my inventions/developments: dialyzer, dialysate, neurosurgical drill, respiratory inspirometer, colon electrolyte lavages, urinary catheters, cardiac catheters, water reuse systems, drinking water system, ammonia degrading microbes, toxic chemical reduction via microbes, onsite waste water treatment, electronic health care information systems, bookkeeping and accounting programs, among others.
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