Take re­search con­clu­sions with pinch of salt

The Straits Times - - FORUM - Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

In this day and age, one must con­stantly be scep­ti­cal about the con­clu­sions de­rived from sci­en­tific re­search (Study links green tea with in­creased risk of Type 2 di­a­betes; Jan 8).

With enough fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives or other ul­te­rior mo­ti­va­tions, sci­en­tific re­search can be skewed to prove just about any­thing.

One also needs to un­der­stand that di­etary re­search is no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to con­duct, with com­pa­ra­ble dou­ble-blind stud­ies be­ing al­most im­pos­si­ble to achieve due to be­ing clouded by an­cil­lary fac­tors.

Given that peo­ple in China tra­di­tion­ally drank green tea and had low rates of di­a­betes, it seems to go against epi­demi­o­log­i­cal and cul­tural ob­ser­va­tions to con­clude that the con­sump­tion of green tea is linked to an in­creased risk of di­a­betes. It was only with the adop­tion of a Western diet rich in sugar, dairy and meat, com­bined with the Asian sta­ple of rice, that the di­a­betes rate shot up ex­po­nen­tially among Asians.

Surely this link is more in­tu­itive than the one be­tween di­a­betes and green tea?

And if di­etary re­search is al­ready so fraught with com­pli­ca­tions, what more ret­ro­spec­tive stud­ies of in-utero nu­tri­tion (Why some peo­ple are born to have a beer belly; Jan 8)?

Is there re­ally a need to in­voke the spec­tre of in-utero mal­nu­tri­tion just to ab­solve beer drinkers of the sin of ex­ces­sive calo­rie con­sump­tion in the form of al­co­hol?

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