Did you notice the story that hit all the newspapers last week about how the birth control Pill prevents heart disease and cancer and all that? Well, there’s more to the story than those articles would have you believe. In fact, it shows how credulous the media can be when it sees something it wants to believe.
“Doctors don’t normally prescribe oral contraceptives to women with a history of heart disease anyway. So of course looking at the data of women who take the pill will show that most of them have a lower history of heart disease. Their doctors wouldn’t give it to them otherwise.”
And then we also learn that this wasn’t an actual peer-review scientific study, but a reassessment of statistical data.
Closer examination shows the “study” is actually not a new independent study but a reassessment of statistical data drawn from the US Women’s Health Initiative, a 15-year examination of the effects of hormone treatments on rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. The information that made headlines last week was composited by a team of analysts from Wayne State University headed by Dr. Rahi Victory.
We also don’t know who actually funded the study. So rather than ask probing questions and act as skeptical as they would of a report that says abstinence prevents sexually transmitted diseases (well, duh!), they bought this story, lock, stock, and barrel.