Good News For Hypercholesterolemic Hamsters
Posted by apgaylard on May 18, 2008
On Friday BBC News On-line reported, under the headline “Juice ‘prevents clogged arteries’ ” that, “Juices made from apples or purple grapes – and the fruit themselves – protect against developing clogged arteries, a study suggests.” Is this good news? Well, yes if you are a hypercholesterolemic hamster. Unfortunately, for those of us who aren’t, this piece provides no way to tell.
The article is based on a paper published in the April 2008 issue of Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, entitled “Phenolics from purple grape, apple, purple grape juice and apple juice prevent early atherosclerosis induced by an atherogenic diet in hamsters.”
Now, this piece seems to fall between two stools: not meeting the needs of either the expert or lay reader. By adopting the typical BBC style of not providing the original reference, or much in the way of technical detail, it is not likely to appeal to a knowledgeable audience.
Perhaps more tellingly, there is no way for someone without a good technical background in this area to extract any meaningful information. To help me understand the applicability of this work to my species, I’d really like to have been told how relevant the hamster model is to humans in this case. It would be nice to know whether the (presumably) unnatural atherogenic diet the hamsters endured had any implications for the interpretation of this work.
Without this sort of background information the piece fails to inform. It certainly doesn’t justify the content of either the title or first paragraph. Without explaining how good a model the hamster is, the ‘human sizing’ of apple or grape quantities is not very helpful.
The article also, unhelpfully, digressed into propagating the anti-oxidant myth, “A British nutritionist said: “High levels of anti-oxidants are recognised as being good for you.” ” Nutritionists (always a word to set alarm bells ringing) may recognise this, but the evidence is just not there.
So, this looks like good news for over-indulgent hamsters. I’d like to know whether this is at all relevant to me: should I be drinking four glasses of purple grape juice a day?
This piece sheds no light on the issue it purports to address. It doesn’t meet the needs of either the expert or lay audiences. It just fills up space and helps peddle the anti-oxidant myth. Now, the BBC is not by any means alone in providing questionable coverage of this story, though it was quite late to the party; but it’s sad to see the BBC do this badly.
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