Tuesday, March 15, 2005


This article in the New York times is an example of the reason that I am having this conversation with myself in the first place. Not only is it about a study that was clearly overpublicized and misinterpreted, it's also not a very good article.

The article talks about a study done in 1997 that showed that girls were reaching puberty as early as 9 and 10 years old. And Apparently the proposed cause was the bovine hormone used in milk. And so apparently "Sales of organic dairy products took off rapidly" (This article talks about the growing popularity of organic products, but that probably had more to do with overall increased consumption of organic products than it does with one study.)

Apparently this study received a lot of media attention. Here is the original article that appeared in the NYT's in 2001. And there are some follow up articles about groups that doubted the claims of early puberty. Suffice it to say that the ENTIRE second page of the original article talks about how milk was a possible cause and really presents no actual proof. Lots of narrative and talk about conversation.

Anyway, so now it is 2005, and we know we were wrong and that milk probably has nothing to do with early puberty. And so this is what we get from the NEw York Times

A study published in 2001, led by Dr. Kaplowitz, showed that girls who developed sooner tended to have higher body-mass indexes. It also said that the findings of the early puberty study coincided with a rise in nationwide rates of obesity.

THE BOTTOM LINE - Bovine growth hormones are not connected to the early onset of puberty in girls.

Studies these days are irresponsible, and looking for media attention (t0 get funding). But getting media attention can spread misinformation and that can have worse affects on society. And it is even worse when the media is irresponsible with the attention it gives to these studies.

Oh and as an added bonus "Watching TV Hastens the Onset of Puberty!" Can you find the logic derailment in that study?

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