Juliet Walker: BMJ in the news

Juliet WalkerA BMJ research paper reports that drinking hot tea is strongly linked with an increased risk of developing oesophageal cancer. The study was conducted in the Golestan province, northern Iran, where there is a high incidence of the disease. The BBC wrote that, ‘the finding could explain the increased oesophageal cancer risk in some non-Western populations. Adding milk, as most tea drinkers in Western countries do, cools the drink enough to eliminate the risk’. The Times agreed adding that, ‘Britons may also take comfort from the fact that most of us prefer our tea at between 56 and 60C’. The Daily Telegraph suggested that we should, ‘Follow Mrs Beeton’s advice and drink tea five to ten minutes after making’. As well as reading the research paper, you can also watch a video where the authors of the paper talk about their findings.

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Juliet Walker is the Editorial Intern, BMJ

  • Juliet Walker reports that “drinking hot tea is strongly linked with an increased risk of developing oesophageal cancer”. At this point, I’d put a question: “Also in individuals negative for Oncological Terrain and oesophageal INHERITED Real Risk, conditio sine qua non of oesophageal Cancer occurrence?” (Ask google.com, among about 424 URLs, I advice to read: http://sciphu.com/2008/11/meadle-ages-of-todays-medicine.html)

  • Yesterday I made the comment that there appears to be an uncritical tendency by journalists across the planet to regurgitate anything which appears in a medical journal as Gospel. It reminds me of a mother parrot feeding her young. My comment was rejected probably as the BMJ don’t like adverse comments. It was not offensive although satirical.

    We have a programme on ABC TV here called Media Watch which shows just how slavish journalist are and how they plagiarise and repeat the same party line uncritically. It is an embarrassment to watch it. We had a long-serving Premier here once in Queensland who used to regard talking to journalists as “feeding the chooks”. (A chook = hens/fowl/chickens).

    It is the job of journalists not only to report but to interpret and to be critical lest they become just drones without a brain. Most readers don’t use theirs as everything in print is correct.

    This “hot tea” article is a hot one as everyone I know drinks hot tea and the story has hit the press in Australia and I suppose elsewhere which is good for BMJ sales as it creates a lot of mindless chit chat.

    I am also dismayed that the BMJ is so fragile that it cannot stomach any criticism of either its journalists, its content or the wider impact such articles have on society.

    I have made some cogent points about the article on Rapid Responses.

    How many articles published are found to be unsubstantiated within the next five years? I would estimate about 80%.