'Curious' About Medical Studies That Contradict

Pop quiz: is coffee good or bad for you? How about wine? The answer seems to depend on what the “newest” health study says that day.

All of the apparent flip-flopping is frustrating for WBZ viewer Brad who Declared this Curiosity:

“I’m curious about how accurate studies actually are? They’re always coming out, and they contradict each other.”

So, I decided to study the studies. I found as an unintended buddy of the study (being a newscaster sometimes means guilt by association), that our reports can confuse a lot of people.

At the Breakfast Club diner in Allston, Gordon Walton was chowing down on eggs and sausage when I asked him, “aren’t you tired of the newscasters who are always talking about studies?”

“No, it’s humorous,” he said. “It’s funny.”

Great. I guess I’m a clown now.

So why are there so many studies? One expert told me that we, as a society, crave information about our health.

“We crave them because they offer, sometimes, the promise of an easy answer” said Professor Alan Sager of Boston University’s School of Health.

Sager also said that when it comes to studies, more can be less. “People can become confused and people can lose their trust or confidence in the scientific base that a lot of prevention is based on,” Sager said.

WBZ’s Dr. Mallika Marshall admitted that it’s sometimes tough to decide what is worth reporting.

“It can be frustrating to have to contradict myself,” Dr. Marshall told me. “But, I do my best to interpret what comes out on a daily basis.”

Back at the diner, Jim McLaughlin of Cambridge told me about the most important study of the day: his own study on ham and cheese. “Ham and cheese is delicious. Very healthy. See the bod? It’s all ham and cheese.”

Now that’s a study I can believe in.

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