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Research Methodology: Media Style

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:40pm

Obesityirony Of course you all know by now that scientists have put exercise into a pill.

This is yet another example of ridiculous interpretation of science by the media. The pill was tested in a mouse! Humans are not mice. Exercise and it's benefits are extremely complex and multifaceted. The media is going completely bonkers over this very catchy headline. Geez, even the local news in market 115 picked it up last night!

I read the paper and the researchers end it with:

"We believe that the strategy of reorganizing the preset genetic imprint of muscle (as well as other tissues) with exercise mimetic drugs has therapeutic potential in treating certain muscle diseases such as wasting and frailty as well as obesity where exercise is known to be beneficial."

The might have added:

"Our results should be interpreted cautiously as animal models do not necessarily translate to humans, and the safety and long term effects of these substances have not been evaluated...not even in mice!"

The researches haven't done much to add caution to the conversation.

“It’s a little bit like a free lunch without the calories,” said Dr. Ronald M. Evans, leader of the Salk group."

I can only image what's next.

So did my friend Rachael. Here are her upcoming headline suggestions: 'Pop a pill for a six pack'; 'NHS saves millions by replacing physios with a pill'; 'Health clubs face bankruptcy'; 'Sudden rise in heart failure'; 'Couch potato wins marathon with no training!'

Yikes. This is the last thing we need.

Finally, from the WSJ article linked above:

If the medicine "results in better-looking people, that would be good," said comedian Fran Lebowitz. "All I have right now is a vision of slim, vain, lazy mice."

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