Scientists: cancer prevention causes cancer
August 31, 2009 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Kill or cure: making sense of the Daily Mail’s ongoing effort to classify every inanimate object into those that cause cancer and those that prevent it. Paul Battley uses automation and crowd-sourcing in the war against bad science reporting.
posted by fatllama (27 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Holy shit is that great.
posted by cortex at 11:02 AM on August 31, 2009

I'm going to chime in with a warning that Daily Mail links are likely to contain pictures of celebrities, often in practically semi-nude situations. If this offends you, you may not want to go to the Daily Mail site. Whatever happens, let's avoid the flabby-arsed clusterfuck that sprung up the last time the Daily Fail was linked.
posted by Dysk at 11:05 AM on August 31, 2009

Wow, this is something I once considered doing - realizing that 'causes cancer' and 'prevents cancer' appear in every other headline. I'm glad to see someone has taken on the challenge of sifting all this nonsense.
posted by vacapinta at 11:07 AM on August 31, 2009

alcohol both causes and prevents cancer

Ah alcohol, is there anything it can't do and also prevent?
posted by DU at 11:07 AM on August 31, 2009 [7 favorites]

Oh and you even managed to work the recent SMBC in! What a great post!
posted by DU at 11:09 AM on August 31, 2009

posted by GuyZero at 11:10 AM on August 31, 2009

The alcohol one makes sense.
It is proof that alcohol indeed is the cause of and solution to all of our problems.
posted by vacapinta at 11:10 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm doing my part by avoiding blowjobs from anyone wearing flip-flops.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:13 AM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

babies both cause and prevent cancer

...depending on the caprice of their MIGHTY BABY WHIMS.

posted by Greg Nog at 11:14 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

bacon causes cancer

posted by burnmp3s at 11:20 AM on August 31, 2009

You can assist me by classifying articles, saying

* What the article refers to, e.g. wine or Facebook.
* Whether the thing in question causes or prevents cancer.

Heh, Facebook. How could a website cause .. you're really going there?
Increased isolation could alter the way genes work and upset immune responses, hormone levels and the function of arteries. It could also impair mental performance. This could increase the risk of problems as serious as cancer, strokes, heart disease and dementia, Dr Sigman says in Biologist, the journal of the Institute of Biology.
Reliance on online communities leads to increased isolation; increased isolation could upset immune responses; upset immune responses could create CANCER!!1! Googling for Dr Sigman facebook, the first link is the Daily Mail piece. Second: this fluff piece that talks about some of the details, but doesn't do more than make light of the notion with some spooky graphic, and the third is Bad Science. Ahh, real thoughts and references posted.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:21 AM on August 31, 2009

Also, this site would be greatly improved if they added and Debunked and Supported links to 3rd party sites of quality, like the last 3 linked in the FPP.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:23 AM on August 31, 2009

Ok... what I gather is that if the Daily Mail posts a story about you, you'll either get cancer or you won't.

Changed my life.
posted by qvantamon at 11:25 AM on August 31, 2009

From the Bad Science link: "as part of the Daily Mail’s ongoing oncological ontology project"

Alliteration cures cancer.
posted by benzenedream at 11:29 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

“alcohol both causes and prevents cancer”

This is perfectly logical. Alcohol also causes and prevents oral sex. I suspect it would cause you to regurgitate the full English fry up breakfast as well.
Walnuts, of course, treat schizophrenia by distracting the aliens with the eyes in the back of their heads from treating you with Absorbitorn which prevents you from losing your thumbs and thus the power to create things like? You got it (plate of shrimp) the cure for cancer!
I discovered all this and they tried to give me skin failure, fortunately I had it treated with transdental electromicide (using a golf cart motor and a thousand volt capacimator).

But you think Big Science wants you to know that? No way.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:33 AM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

It's true. I work for Big Science and there's now way we'd want you to know that.
posted by bonehead at 11:39 AM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

This is awesome. Reminds me of another example of this kind of thing in science reporting I came across recently... Remember this topic and the spirited debate around it: Humans are evolving more rapidly? Well, now there's this, too: How fast are humans mutating?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:39 AM on August 31, 2009

I shall cling to this clinical navigation aid, for what I really want to do is outlive every last one of my peers, family and other loved ones so that a new generation of perfect strangers can be annoyed by me, well into the next century.
posted by uncorq at 11:44 AM on August 31, 2009

I thought it was single mums on benefits and asylum seekers eating swans from Royal Parks that were the major cancer risk factors in the UK. But does Big Science do the research?
posted by Abiezer at 11:50 AM on August 31, 2009

Eggs Good for You This Week

BOSTON—According to a Northeastern University study released Monday, eggs—discovered last week by a University of California-Santa Cruz study to be unhealthy, raising serum cholesterol by as much as 20 percent—have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health this week. "Contrary to what was previously thought, consuming an egg a day can lower a person's blood pressure and increase the heart's efficiency for the next week," the Northeastern study stated. The report urged Americans to increase egg consumption immediately, as eggs may be unhealthy again as soon as next Monday.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:02 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think you're better off just trying to eat as healthily as possible and not worrying too much about what has been "proven" to "cause" cancer*. If you do contract cancer at some point, it's not like you're going to drop to your knees and shake your fist at a specific bacon cheeseburger you ate in 2003...unless, of course, you ordered extra uranium on top.

* you know what really does seem to cause cancer? Getting old. Avoid that and you'll really better your odds.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:12 PM on August 31, 2009

Yes, but has anyone determined whether eating cancer cures or causes cancer? It seems like a no-brainer to me. If it causes cancer, so what, you already have cancer. And if it cures it, well there you go.
posted by digsrus at 12:12 PM on August 31, 2009

I predict that you'll never see this headline in the Daily Mail:

Hysterical, knee-jerk reaction to events causes cancer
posted by ob at 12:18 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

Speaking Latin causes cancer. This man spoke Latin his entire life, and died from twenty-six knife-shaped cancerous tumors. Indeed, this powerful carcinogen is believed responsible for the downfall of the Roman Empire. Its population recklessly took up speaking Latin in large numbers, and have all died as a result.

Despite this warning from history, some irresponsible people have allowed themselves to become addicted to Latin, risking certain death. It is believed that they were introduced to French as teenagers, which is a known gateway to harder languages like Latin. In order to stem the deleterious effects of Latin, the government have appointed Benjamin Jowett to coordinate health and social services against the spread of this newly-discovered cancer. It is believed that Jowett, refferred to as the "Roman Tsar Czar Ceasar", will tomorrow unveil a policy of offering those addicted to Latin free six month courses of Greek. Critics of the plan point that Greek is a known cause of kittens, and could be similarly harmful to the health of the nation.

posted by Sova at 12:30 PM on August 31, 2009

Metafilter: No Worse Than Bacon.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:35 PM on August 31, 2009

I think you're better off just trying to eat as healthily as possible and not worrying too much about what has been "proven" to "cause" cancer*.

As long as you limit this philosophy to things most people would agree are food, fair enough.

Just had to do my annual safety refresher at work. Apparently stabbing yourself repeatedly in the head with a needle that is contaminated with potentially infectious material is a bad idea. Who knew.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:39 PM on August 31, 2009

That's great, thanks!
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:42 PM on August 31, 2009

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