Did you take your vitamins this morning? Have you been eating salmon, broccoli, blueberries and other foods high in antioxidants, like a good little Self magazine reader? Well then you probably have skin cancer, or you will have it in, like, five minutes. A terrifying study by the Journal of Nutrition has found that the risk of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is four times greater for women taking the antioxidant supplements. Freak yourself out here. [ABC News]
I shouldn't say the stats are misleading — it's the reporting of the stats that are misleading. The headline could have been "Antioxidant junkies more likely to die in car crash than get melanoma." or "Margin of error in latest cancer study greater than difference measured — but we're journalism whores who can only use SCARE CAPS!!"
And another thing. All told, 81 out of 13,000 women got cancer, whether they were on antiox or placebo. That's 0.62%. Those may have been beach junkies or simply those genetically disposed to melanoma in the first place, and 31 of them happened to be in the antiox group. In technical terms, the p-value for this study's probably got a LOT of zeroes in front of it.