The media and the "facts"

Do you start your day with one of these?

A quick question – is coffee good for you or bad for you? I did a quick Google search to see what kind of information is out there. Here is one of the first pages I came across:

The page contains a list of all the bad things coffee can do to you, such as liver damage, high blood pressure, mood disorders, insomnia, etc. It sounds pretty grim. However, next I came across this page:

This page explains that coffee drinkers have fewer heart problems and are less likely to acquire Type 2 diabetes. So what is it – is coffee good for you or bad for you? The answer is that it is both and neither, at the same time.

As with most things in life, the truth is complicated. Coffee has some beneficial properties and some harmful properties. It doesn't fit nicely into a box labelled "good" or "bad". However, journalists know that bold statements are more likely to sell, so that's what makes the headlines. Furthermore, they actively seek out "experts" with extreme opinions. The downside is that when new medical discoveries are made they rarely get reported accurately in the press.



The bottom line is that health information in the media is biased toward exaggerated claims. This is true for headlines about fertility as well, so it is very important to keep this in mind when you see the news.