CNN reports: “Exercise can cancel out the booze, says study.”
It’s the season of celebration, office holiday parties, and a toast (or 10) to the coming year. We’re not making any judgements, we like a glass of bubbly as well as the next person. But, if you’re thinking your daily (or in our case weekly) dose of Cardio or swimming or hot yoga is going to counteract the effects of all that imbibing…despite what our on air news folk tell us...IT JUST WON’T.
“Exercise can cancel out the booze, says study.” No, it did not say that.
What the study, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, stated was “We found a direct association between alcohol consumption and cancer mortality risk.” And – repeat after me – association ≠ causation. So a statement of causation – such as “exercise can cancel out the booze” – is an overstatement.
CNN wasn’t alone in this misrepresentation, so if you’re thinking, well, I heard this or read this on some darn reliable media outlets…..
- TIME reported: Exercise may lessen some of the bad effects of alcohol The story used terms like “benefit” and “protective effect” – bad choices in describing observational study results, the limitations of which were never mentioned.
- MedicalDaily.com: Sweat out a hangover: Exercise helps to offset some of the adverse effects of alcohol. They used a silly opening line: “Everyone has their own personal hangover cure, from certain foods to just laying in bed all day, but a new study suggests that those who prefer to sweat out the alcohol with exercise the day after drinking may actually have the upper hand.” Again, not one word about the limitations of observational research.
- The Guardian: Exercise can cut risk from alcohol-related diseases, study suggests. It began with a strong – and inaccurate – causal statement: “Drinkers who do the recommended amount of exercise can reduce their risk of dying from alcohol-related cancer.”
The journal – and the authors – cannot be absolved of all responsibility for misleading statements, since their conclusion read: “Meeting the current physical activity public health recommendations offsets some of the cancer and all-cause mortality risk associated with alcohol drinking.” The term “offsets…risk” implies causality.
But, in the end, if you’re going to cover studies, you need to independently vet the evidence, and what researchers claim. And that didn’t happen here. That’s one of the reasons why, as we expand our new division and specialty at medical3danimationcompany.com, we’ll be publishing regular bulletins about heath care in a wide variety of articles. You can subscribe here https://medical3danimationcompany.com/bulletin/
When media misleads like CNN as it continued to erroneously report on this study:
- “You might want to chase that next beer with a little exercise.”
- “Exercising the recommended amount “cancels out” the higher risk of cancer death brought about by drinking.”
- “Similarly, physical activity lessened any greater risk of death resulting from any cause due to alcohol.”
- They allowed the researcher to discuss a “moderating effect of physical activity” when, in fact, cause and effect had not been proven.
- They did throw in, 3/4 of the way into the story, an independent expert’s comment that “Because it is an observational study, the results only “suggest a relationship” between exercise, drinking and health benefits.” Too little, too late, after rampant use of causal language was embedded in readers’ minds by then.
We’ll take the time to do the research and report the reality. Our INSIGHTS newsletter will have some clinical information, updates on ACA changes in the new administration that affect us all, and more. If there is a specific area of interest you’d like us to dive into, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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