I hate science press releases.
Well, not exactly. I hate science press releases that hype a study beyond its importance. I hate it even more when the investigators who published the study make statements not justified by the study and use the study as a jumping off point to speculate wildly. True, it’s not always the fault of the investigators, particularly if they don’t have much experience dealing with the press, but all too often scientists fall prey to the tendency to gab glibly and give the reporter what he or she wants: Pithy, juicy quotes that relate the results to what the reporter wants them related to. It’s irritating as hell, not so much because it’s pure self-promotion. (After all, self-promotion is not in and of itself a bad thing) but rather because it’s almost inevitably an excuse for the investigators to say what they want without peer pesky peer reviewers telling them that they should keep their remarks focused on what the evidence will support. Often these press releases lead to credulous news stories that make conclusions that aren’t justified from the actual study. Sometimes an investigators’ comments are taken out of context. Sometimes the investigator says something dumb. Sometimes it’s all three.
There’s a certain Reuters story entitled Cancer cells slurp up fructose, U.S. study finds making the rounds, and it’s being represented as yet more evidence about the evils of high fructose corn syrup. That it might be viewed as a few years in the future, after followup studies have been done, but for right now all it is is an intriguing study being used to serve an agenda that it doesn’t serve well:
I mentioned this research earlier but this post by Orac does a much better job going through the science. we are a long way from knowing much at all about fructose metabolism in a human and its effects on pancreatic cancer.
The work is interesting but deals with isolated cells and mainly shows that the cells can use fructose, when we might expect them to only be able to use glucose.
The problem, if there is one, I would expect comes from consuming too much of any sugar rather than what type. Reducing the intake will be healthier than changing which sugar you eat.