10 July 2018

And now, from the murky depths of the 'net...

It is not a big story, all in all. Just a fairly random example of the crap that floats in quantities on the surface (and beneath it) of the endless ocean of bits and bytes we let into our houses.

A small (probably Israeli) Russian language outfit Mignews published an unremarkable short article, titled (translated):

Israeli doctors found out that whiskey protects against cancer

I am calling it unremarkable, because for many years media is inundated by articles about similar discoveries about any and all alcoholic beverages. For all I know, there might be even a grain (no pun intended) of truth in this claim.

In this case, however, the author of the Mignews article has shown an example of journalistic prowess far beyond any reasonable call of duty. Here is a translation of the main part of this short piece:
Israeli doctors after many studies concluded that whiskey can protect against cancer, reports on Monday, July 9, the Los Angeles Times.

Scientists from the medical center BIDMC found that an alcogolic drink helps protect healthy cells from oxidation and mutation due to the content of ellagic [?] acid (antioxidant), which is also present in many fruits. The substance prevents the degeneration of cells into cancerous cells.

Researchers also note that when using whiskey at moderate doses in the body, the level of "bad" cholesterol decreases and the content of "good" increases.
Well, to start with this wholly unremarkable bit of news, the author either doesn't dig English at all or went for an elaborated con job. In any case, its relation to the linked above article in Los Angeles Times is of totally perverted nature I would not dare to characterize. Here are some salient points:

1. The "Israeli doctors" - probably inspired by the full name of the institution: BIDMC means Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (in Boston, USA). The word "Israel" figures there, but...

2. The "discovery" of the wondrous anti-cancer qualities of whiskey - the word "cancer" appears twice in the LAT article in the following sentences:
  • Critics have also raised questions about how the study would address health risks associated with moderate drinking, such as cancer.
  • As an example, they said that an independent review of the study design determined that it didn’t track enough participants for a long enough period of time to determine whether moderate drinking could increase the risk of cancer.
So much for the cancer.

3. And now to the whole enchilada:
Instead, the NIH announced Friday it would shut down the study over concerns about the way officials solicited funding for the study from companies that sell alcoholic beverages. These “process irregularities” had “undermined the integrity of the research process,” the agency said in a statement.
By the time the clinical trial launched, companies including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken, Carlsberg Breweries A/S, Diageo (maker of Tanqueray gin and Captain Morgan rum) and Pernod Ricard USA (maker of Absolut Vodka and Chivas Regal Scotch whisky) had agreed to contribute $67.7 million in funding.
There is more, much more in LAT piece, but this should be enough to check the veracity of Mignews screed. And another quote from that screed:
Israeli doctors add that [whiskey] hinders the development of dementia.
It seems that at least one person in Mignews needs rather a lot of whiskey...

Unfortunately, there is rather a lot of purveyors of news on the 'net today of a similar or even worse quality. Be careful, y'all out there.