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[P]
Coffee Linked to Stillbirths; Risk Negligible, Says Coffee Association

By Eloquence in Science
Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 02:10:59 PM EST
Tags: Food (all tags)
Food

The BBC reports that a new Danish study of 18,478 pregnant women (full text of the study) has linked high coffee consumption to a significantly increased risk of stillbirths. "Compared with women who did not drink any coffee, women who drank four to seven cups a day had an 80% increased risk of stillbirth, and women who drank eight or more cups a day a 300% increased risk." The researchers controlled for confounding variables such as socio-demographic factors or a higher likelihood to smoke and drink alcohol (drinking being the highest pregnancy risk).

The BBC story is also interesting as a classic example of corruption in media.


The BBC article, which is based on a Reuters story (Yahoo copy will expire, mirrors), ends with the following paragraphs:

Don't worry

Roger Cook, of the British Coffee Association, says that pregnant women should not be alarmed by these results and should continue to enjoy their coffee in moderation.

He said: "The results of this study do not alter the advice given to pregnant women, on caffeine consumption during pregnancy, by the Food Standards Agency who state that 300mg caffeine - equivalent to three mugs or four cups of coffee per day - is perfectly safe and will have no adverse effect on the mother or the foetus.

"Further, the Centre for Pregnancy Nutrition, state that it is perfectly safe for a pregnant woman to drink up to four or five cups of coffee or tea a day while pregnant or breastfeeding."

The leading headline, "Don't worry", gets us in the right mood, then we are provided with information straight from the British Coffee Association, which has nice little "facts" on its website such as:

  • Coffee gets a break - 20 good things about coffee
  • Filtering Out the Facts About Coffee
  • Coffee Improves Concentration
  • Coffee Could Stop Alzheimer's!
  • Coffee Shown to be a Powerful Antioxidant

Of course there's also a page "for our younger visitors" which, mysteriously, links to an espresso ice cream recipe.

This is a source that the BBC supposedly trusts enough to title its views with the headline "Don't worry", views that do not in any way counter the Danish research, which cites studies supporting its conclusion going back into the 1980s, such as a study on monkeys showing increased risk of stillbirths and an earlier study which concluded that the "ingestion of caffeine may increase the risk of an early spontaneous abortion among nonsmoking women carrying fetuses with normal karyotypes". Big Coffee has, in the past decades, successfully managed to cover up these documented health risks -- Big Tobacco could learn a lesson or two from these guys.

The BBC has a good reputation as being more critical than other mainstream sources; yet, in this case, it has enthusiastically reproduced PR spin by an industry group; spin which can be deadly. It provides a longer quotation from the BCA than the Reuters article, moves it to the end for increased impact and prefaces it with the headline "Don't worry". Hanlon's Razor, "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity", just doesn't cut it here: This deliberate act of distortion can only be adequately explained with corruption.

It is also quite clear from the way the Reuters and the BBC article are structured that the coffee lobby group must have been informed in advance about the BMJ study, and had a press release ready at the time it was published. This is the way PR groups work, whether the subject is coffee, second hand smoke or global warming. Next time you see a "product <foo> increases concentration, lowers cancer risk" story, look at the source.

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Poll
Cups of Coffee per Day?
o Coffee? Yuck! 35%
o 0-1 21%
o 2-4 24%
o 5-7 5%
o 8 or more 2%
o must .. get .. more .. coffee 9%

Votes: 202
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Yahoo
o reports
o full text of the study
o Reuters story
o mirrors
o British Coffee Association
o for our younger visitors
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Coffee Linked to Stillbirths; Risk Negligible, Says Coffee Association | 113 comments (97 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
-1 dump (3.75 / 4) (#1)
by SilentNeo on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 09:02:02 PM EST

You have come nowhere near the burden of proof for corruption. There are many other possibilities. One likely one is the BBC news agent who made the story likes his coffee and is likely to spin it that way. Also, it isn't likely Big Coffee could gain much, anyways, by distorting the output of a single media outlet. Especially when the story "Coffee company tries to bribe BBC" would be soo much juicier, and likely to backfire on Big Coffee.

British Coffee Association + BBC (2.50 / 2) (#2)
by Eloquence on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 09:08:01 PM EST

There may be other interesting outlets for them, but thet BBC is clearly among the most relevant in the UK. Also, Reuters swallowed part of the spin hook, line and sinker, which means that it will show up in newspapers all over the world.

One likely one is the BBC news agent who made the story likes his coffee and is likely to spin it that way.

Maybe, but that would be a gross violation of any ethical standard journalists are supposed to comply with, and presumably be caught by another editor. You can always make the stupidity assumption until you have a money trail, but at some point the complexity of the stupidity assumption is higher than the complexity of the corruption assumption.
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[ Parent ]

Coffee goes with... (3.80 / 5) (#3)
by tang gnat on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 09:18:55 PM EST

Stress. People who drink coffee are probably pushing themselves beyond what they should normally do. Now, who wouldn't agree with me in saying that stress could cause baby health problems?

Stressed monkeys, too? [nt] (3.66 / 3) (#4)
by Eloquence on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 09:30:23 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
Yes nt (4.00 / 3) (#6)
by bjlhct on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 09:40:48 PM EST



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[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
I put my monkey through all sorts of stress (n/t) (none / 0) (#56)
by leviramsey on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 01:04:36 PM EST



[ Parent ]
8 cups a day? yeesh. (4.00 / 6) (#5)
by Work on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 09:34:26 PM EST

Thats a huge amount of stimulant in anyone's system, and to do that day after day?

I love coffee, but moderation in everything people, moderation.

I dunno. (4.00 / 2) (#7)
by bjlhct on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 09:41:48 PM EST

I know several people who drink that much.

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[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
heh... (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by Work on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 09:35:29 AM EST

are they kind of twitchy? There've been a couple times ive drank that much throughout the day, and had a restless night of bizarre dreams and thoughts. And coffee doesn't usually affect me before bed.

[ Parent ]
Yes, twitchy. (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by bjlhct on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 02:43:27 PM EST

But they say you get used to it.

They also say they don't drink that much, but I know they're lying about how much one of their giant mugs holds, especially as that amount is printed on the front. ;-)

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

Don't worry ... (4.75 / 4) (#8)
by ukryule on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 09:51:30 PM EST

Aren't you getting a bit overexcited about 2 words? Ignoring for the moment that the sub-headings in those BBC articles are famously random, isn't "Don't worry" actually good advice?

There is nothing (that I can see) which is unreasonable or distorted about the statement from the BCA. He proposes drinking in 'moderation' and quotes the Food Standards agency saying 3-4 cups/day is OK. Given that that is almost exactly what the lead researcher of the study says as well - everyone seems to be in agreement.

You seem to have a problem with the fact that the British Coffee Association was quoted at all in the story, but have you got any problem with anything they said? Is the advised 3-4 cups a day too much in your opinion?

If you were a 7-month pregnant woman who had been following Food Standard Agency advice on coffee, wouldn't you like to see a statement at the end saying "Don't Worry, the guidelines haven't changed"? I know I would.

Spin that kills (3.00 / 5) (#11)
by Eloquence on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 10:04:58 PM EST

Yes, I do think that carelessly quoting industry representatives without providing balancing scientific opinion (a rebuttal of the rebuttal) is dangerous and immoral. Imagine an article about tobacco with the same structure -- people would be furious. But this is, after all, about coffee, and everyone loves coffee. It has this nice, healthy, sophisticated, cozy image, just like tobacco did before people associated it with cancer. Too bad that it kills babies.

The statement "The results of this study do not alter the advice .." is, of course, misleading, because this study has just now been published, and none of the cited authorities have had time to adjust. It is irresponsible, because the later quoted level of "four or five cups of coffee or tea a day" as being "perfectly safe" is exactly the threshold level at which the Danish study showed a significantly increased risk of stillbirths. If the "journalist" in question had wanted to write a balanced article, he would have asked the cited authorities (and done some background research on them just in case). As is, the article embraces irresponsible industry spin that can lead expecting mothers to rationalize behavior potentially deadly to their children. Coffee "in moderation" is one cup per day, not three, not four, not five.

If you were a 7-month pregnant woman who had been following Food Standard Agency advice on coffee, wouldn't you like to see a statement at the end saying "Don't Worry, the guidelines haven't changed"?

If you had been smoking for 20 years, wouldn't you like to see a statement at the end of an article saying "Don't worry, smoking doesn't kill"? Of course you would. That still would make it irresponsible and corrupt journalism to add such a statement.
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[ Parent ]

What spin? (5.00 / 2) (#15)
by ukryule on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 10:58:05 PM EST

The head of the team that did the research was quoted in the article as saying:
"But based on our knowledge to day it seems reasonable at least to reduce coffee intake during pregnancy to less than five cups per day."
How is this not in agreement with the Food Standard Agency recommendation? You seem to think that any article quoting a coffee advocacy agency is unbalanced. My view, is that if they don't ask the coffee association for their view, then they're not doing a decent job as journalists.
As is, the article embraces irresponsible industry spin that can lead expecting mothers to rationalize behavior potentially deadly to their children.
Oh, please. The article highlights potential problems with coffee drinking in pregnancy. Any pregnant woman who reads it is going to either read it carefully and make their own decision, or go and ask their local doctor about it.

[ Parent ]
The one which works best - the one you don't see (2.66 / 3) (#21)
by Eloquence on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 01:12:40 AM EST

The study by Wisborg et al. has found the critical threshold to be four to seven cups. If you want to make a reasonable recommendation for an entire population, you usually define limits that are well below the point where health problems become immediately visible, because you have too little information about the variability of the affected metabolism. Even though this study had a sample size of ~18500, as both the number of stillbirths and the number of heavy coffee drinkers are low, you have very little active data to work with.

Wisborg et al. have defined the threshold level at four cups. Their questionnaires did not include a definition of "cup", which is why they have placed the data in ordered categories (0, 1-3, 4-7). What they have shown, with high certainty but pending verification by other researchers, is that the effects on the birth process are quite drastic at the higher levels of intake. Any recommendation as to how many cups are safe based on their analysis is imprecise. The recommendation given is a minimum behavior change suggestion because after that threshold, the risk becomes very high and obvious. The words "at least" are crucial here (and I wonder if they were taken out of context).

Now the BBC even undermines this very conservative suggestion (the only reasonable one being: don't drink coffee or alcohol if you're pregnant) by embracing the view of an industristy organization, whose only argument is that the current guidelines for pregnant women do not reflect the new data -- and who cites further outdated data which suggests that it is "perfectly safe" to drink even more than the conservative suggestion by Wisborg. The BMJ study was published two days ago -- of course you can take existing guidelines and quote them, but it is irresponsible to do so. And let's not go into the process for health guidelines by government entities, which is of course beleaguered by lobbying.

The bottom line is: If you can think for yourself, read and understand a scientific study, you can use the BBC article to get the source and draw your conclusions. If you, however, need the voice of authority, the BBC article masks deception as authority and leads you on a potentially deadly course.

Any pregnant woman who reads it is going to either read it carefully and make their own decision

Oh yes, the informed reader. The only problem with that theory is that coffee is addictive, and people are always willing to rationalize their habits. This article gives them everything they need to do so.
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[ Parent ]

horrible tasting stuff (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by melia on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 09:23:50 AM EST

a rebuttal of the rebuttal

what about the rebuttal of the rebuttal of the rebuttal? You're biased! Surely the rebuttal of the last paragraph is the first few paragraphs?

Too bad that it kills babies.

Sensationalist. Yeah, you!

If the "journalist" in question had wanted to write a balanced article, he would have asked the cited authorities (and done some background research on them just in case)

How do you know he didn't do some research on the FSA? or the centre for pregnancy advice? You don't. You assume that because it's a quote, what was quoted wasn't verified.

It would have been irresponsible journalism if the coffee industry hadn't been given the chance to reply. I don't understand the problem with a 2 sided article.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]

What's the problem (none / 0) (#99)
by pyro9 on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 09:22:48 PM EST

Given your level of concern, you'll definatly want to avoid Dihydrogen Monoxide. I just don't see a problem with an article that echos current medical advice and agrees well with the results of the study. If they had said "drink all you want", there would be a problem.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
And how many women actually drank 8 cups per day? (4.33 / 6) (#9)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 09:54:37 PM EST

What other health problems did they have?


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


I checked the original paper. (5.00 / 2) (#12)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 10:06:58 PM EST

Here I go, talking to myself...

Apparently, 5 percent of Danish women really guzzle the coffee. In addition:

Women with a high intake of coffee were also more likely to smoke and had a higher intake of alcohol. They were older, more often multiparous, more likely to be single, less likely to be students and had fewer years of education.

I would argue that these other factors were probably important - but the paper indicates that they compensated (statistically) for these other factors and the risk is still elevated.


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
5% (4.00 / 2) (#13)
by Eloquence on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 10:06:58 PM EST

See table 1, which also includes the studied confounding variables.
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[ Parent ]
LoL. (5.00 / 2) (#52)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 12:05:10 PM EST

I like that we both apparently posted the info at the exact same moment!


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
More scaremongering. What's the true risk? (4.66 / 6) (#10)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 10:00:25 PM EST

I love these articles that put things in terms of relative risk. "three times as likely". Okay. But what does that mean? If the odds of a still birth went from 1 in 1 million to 1 in 300,000 - I'm not going to get that worried.

If the odds went from 1 in 5000 to 1 in 1500 - well, that might be more worrisome.


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


t (3.50 / 2) (#19)
by SilentNeo on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 12:57:01 AM EST

actually if the data is true you should be very, very worried because the danger isn't the stillbirths and massive failures you can see. Its probably that whatever damage the caffeine does, most of the time it isn't detectable and the baby is born with no visible damage.

[ Parent ]
And how many of our mothers (none / 0) (#50)
by leviramsey on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 10:34:40 AM EST

...drank coffee while pregnant?



[ Parent ]
well (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by SilentNeo on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 11:58:23 PM EST

Just because the damage done isn't immediatly noticable without careful, statistical testing doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You'll never know for certain if you personally lost mental acuity or athletic or immune system performance from the subtle damage caffeine may have done. However, it can be proven this might have occurred.

[ Parent ]
Yeah... (none / 0) (#85)
by leviramsey on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 02:51:11 PM EST

I'm 6'5", smarter than you, and more athletic than you. Unless I was supposed to be the tall version of trhurler, I fail to see how I've been damaged.



[ Parent ]
All depends (none / 0) (#98)
by pyro9 on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 09:04:11 PM EST

There's really no evidence presented for anything beyond stillbirth. It could be a threshold phenomenon where anything sublethal is harmless (or even beneficial). It might also be that it tends to cause stillbirth only in the presence of otherwise hard to detect abnormalities.

But we don't know because the study wasn't trying to determine any of those things.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Risks (4.50 / 2) (#34)
by Znork on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 04:52:12 AM EST

Frankly, I still wouldnt worry. I'll bet that more than 1 in 1500 pregnant women get run over in traffic or miscarry due to stress.

I'm going to start worrying about this kind of thing the day I decide I'm not ever getting out of bed again due to the high risk of injury or death while showering, using kitchen utensils, or the unspeakably dangerous act of going outside and getting to work.

If you dont actually see people dropping dead from something, the relative risk is quite irrelevant compared to the chances you take every day.

[ Parent ]

Good god! (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by cdyer on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 08:40:12 PM EST

1 in 1500 pregnant women get run over in traffic!!??  Where do you live, Manila?  Could you imagine how much you'd have to pay street cleaners if anywhere NEAR that many people got run over period?

Jesus Christ!

Cliff

[ Parent ]

Traffic accident stats (5.00 / 2) (#70)
by dark on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 08:22:30 AM EST

You'd be amazed. I googled around for some statistics and found the ones for Kentucky. Turns out that in one year (2000), one in 4911 people there were killed in traffic, and one in 76 were injured. So I don't think the 1 in 1500 estimate was that far off, especially if you consider that an injury can cause a miscarriage even if the mother survives.

[ Parent ]
That sounds about right. (5.00 / 1) (#73)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 09:08:27 AM EST

Remember, the press doesn't harp on traffic fatalities unless there's some special aspect to make the story more exciting. People die in traffic accidents every day. Frankly, I expect that a pregnant woman is more likely to be killed in a violent crime than suffer a miscarriage due to coffee.


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
Stillbirth statistics (none / 0) (#100)
by jandev on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 09:59:45 PM EST

FWIW, having lost a stillborn baby girl two months ago (see here), I did a lot of web research. Turns out that there's little solid science there, except that the odds of loosing your child after 20 weeks gestation and before birth are about 1 in 120, and that the cause can be anything, and will most likely (2/3 of the cases) never be known in individual cases. In our case for example, an autopsy and a myriad of blood tests didn't reveal why Florence died.

And no, while pregnant my wife didn't drink coffee, tea, or alcohol, and didn't smoke.


"ENGINEERS" IS NOT POSSESSIVE. IT'S A PLURAL. YOU DO NOT MOTHERFUCKING MARK A PLURAL WITH A COCKSUCKING APOSTROPHE. APOSTROPHES ARE FOR MARKING POSSESSIVES IN THIS CASE. IF YOU WEREN'T A TOTAL MORON, YOU WOULD BE SAYING SOMETHING LIKE "THE CIVIL ENGINEER'S SMALL PENIS". SEE THAT APOSTROPHE? IT'S A HAPPY APOSTROPHE. IT'S NOT BEING ABUSED BY SOME GODDAMN SHIT-FOR-BRAINS IDIOT WITH NO EDUCATION. - Nimey
[ Parent ]

Big Coffee? (4.81 / 11) (#14)
by rusty on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 10:50:24 PM EST

Big Coffee has, in the past decades, successfully managed to cover up these documented health risks -- Big Tobacco could learn a lesson or two from these guys.

Who's spinning now? "Big Coffee"? That's up there with "a card-carrying member of the ACLU" for carefully chosen associative scare-words.

Since your choice of phrasing passes all your own tests for "media corruption," what's the source of your corruption?

It is also quite clear from the way the Reuters and the BBC article are structured that the coffee lobby group must have been informed in advance about the BMJ study, and had a press release ready at the time it was published.

It sounds to me like Nigel Bumworthy from the BBC called up Frankie Frenchroast at the BCA and said "Eh, chap, there's this study out wot says how coffee is bad for pregnant women. What do you think of that, guv'nor?" And the BCA rep responded. I mean, what do you think is supposed to happen, the BBC calls up the BCA out of the blue but doesn't tell them why? "Sooooo... just calling to, you know, see if you've got anything to say..." Ludicrous.

I can't find a single way this even approaches issues of journalistic ethics. They reported the study up front, they asked for an opinion by an affected industry group, and clearly labeled it as such. You've got your two sides, your facts of the study, all sources identified and readily bias-apparent. You're making a mountain out of an anthill here, and if I didn't know better, I'd suspect you of being a card-carrying member of Big Journalism yourself.

____
Not the real rusty

Sigh (2.33 / 6) (#18)
by Eloquence on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 12:47:30 AM EST

Who's spinning now? "Big Coffee"?

I never claimed to be writing a neutral report here. This is quite obviously media commentary, and the use of "Big Coffee" is tongue in cheeck -- and a small reminder that, while people generally recognize tobacco to be a multi billion dollar market, the same is not true for coffee.

It sounds to me like Nigel Bumworthy from the BBC called up Frankie Frenchroast at the BCA and said "Eh, chap, there's this study out wot says how coffee is bad for pregnant women. What do you think of that, guv'nor?" And the BCA rep responded. I mean, what do you think is supposed to happen, the BBC calls up the BCA out of the blue but doesn't tell them why? "Sooooo... just calling to, you know, see if you've got anything to say..." Ludicrous.

Neither is likely, because the statement is identical to the one quoted by Reuters, only that the BBC version is longer. The Reuters version als notes ".. he said in a statement." In other words, this is a BCA press release (not on their website), of which the BBC has reproduced longer portions, relocated it for more impact, and added the nice "Don't worry" headline. Why? Jesus, have you never heard of incentives? Go back to this story and search for "Formula One".

I can't find a single way this even approaches issues of journalistic ethics. They reported the study up front, they asked for an opinion by an affected industry group, and clearly labeled it as such. You've got your two sides, your facts of the study, all sources identified and readily bias-apparent.

And this is exactly what I worried about. You have posted here repeatedly that you want sites like Indymedia to be "balanced". If this is your definition of media balance, go to hell with it. Media balance doesn't mean quoting shady industry spokespersons without critically investigating their claims by, for example, asking for backup information from other sources. "They've reported the study, they asked for an opinion by an affected industry group .. you've got your two sides". Fuck that balance. A CIA operative once joked that journalists were cheaper than call girls - apparently that is still the case.

We're talking about human lives here. One should not treat such things lightly.
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[ Parent ]

Then investigate (5.00 / 3) (#20)
by rusty on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 01:12:13 AM EST

The reason this isn't being treated as a Woodward & Bernstein affair is that it's a story about some study on coffee. Trying to build this up into an issue about human lives at stake!!! (won't somebody please think of the children) makes legitimate media criticism look dumb by association.

If there's a problem with this story, it's that news outlets feel compelled to cover every new study that someone feels like releasing, so they have to write a metric ton of this crap every day. One study doesn't prove squat, just like one quote from an industry flak doesn't prove squat. Here's what these guys say, and here's what these other guys say. There's nothing else to this story. If you think there is, prove it. You haven't proven anything so far.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

What non-scientific bullshit (3.66 / 3) (#22)
by Eloquence on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 01:20:31 AM EST

This is a 7 year study on 18500 subjects. It is probably the largest study on coffee associated risks during pregnancy to date. (As a side effect, it provides some new data on other health risks such as smoking, alcohol and overweight.) It is the attitude of the postmodernist anti-intellectual to reject such scientific data with the typical "Oh, today they say this, yesterday they said this. You can get a study to support anything, I tell you."

What is there to prove? You can read the research. The industry representative cited existing guidelines which are obviously not based on the research. The article embraced this bullshit without critically investigating by, for example, asking the cited authorities on their opinion about the new study (which would likely be "We haven't verified that yet"). If you want to criticize the BMJ study, do so. Attack its methodology, that's perfectly fine. The article does nothing of the sort. It is merely industry spin on inconvenient new facts. Your ignorance regarding such public relations campaigns is both surprising and depressing.
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[ Parent ]

One study (5.00 / 4) (#23)
by rusty on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 01:36:04 AM EST

One study does not prove squat. It has nothing to do with being a pomo intellectual (which I am not), it has a lot to do with being a former physics major (which I was). I believe the study, sure, so far as it goes. But it's still one study. One study doesn't prove anything. It provides evidence. Another study will provide more evidence, or refute the first study's evidence. That's how it goes. If I were a pregnant woman, I'd probably take the scientists word over the coffee lobby's, that's for sure. But you're trying to make some kind of argument here that the coffee lobby are a bunch of blood-drinking baby killers, because they believe that perhaps one more cup won't do so much harm, and that the BBC is, what, taking spin money from Big Evil Coffee to paint it in a positive light? You don't really say -- you just imply "corruption" of some kind. Come out with it! Who's on the take? Who's the bagman here? If you've got the beans, spill 'em.

Besides all of this, you're acting like the BBC will somehow determine the ultimate behavior of billions of pregnant women and possibly cause untold death and suffering by not wholeheartedly embracing the findings of every new study. Ridiculous. Get some perspective.

I'm not attacking the study here, or science in general. I'm just laughing at your frothy indignation. You've got a career ahead of you though, Mr. Nader, if you can get Big Coffee into court, and maybe force some warning labels. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

No, not one study (3.66 / 3) (#26)
by Eloquence on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 01:55:19 AM EST

As I've pointed out in the article, previous studies have found the same link -- this is why there are guidelines on coffee intake during pregnancy. And as I have explained in another comment, when definining guidelines, you need to get reasonable distance between the known risk and the recommended intake. Decisions like this obviously have to be based on the existing evidence. It's called the precautionary principle, and industry groups have attacked it for years.

No, the BBC will not determine the behavior of billions of women, but it reaches out to millions, and Reuters, whose spin on the story is far more acceptable, to hundreds of millions. Will human lives be affected by this report? Nobody knows. That it's in violation of basic journalistic ethics is nevertheless obvious.

But you're trying to make some kind of argument here that the coffee lobby are a bunch of blood-drinking baby killers, because they believe that perhaps one more cup won't do so much harm,

They don't "believe" anything. They want you to believe certain things. Corporations are amoral and only interested in profit maximization, and they will do what it takes to accomplish this goal. This is why they're not exactly the best source to get info when trying to write a "balanced" story.

and that the BBC is, what, taking spin money from Big Evil Coffee to paint it in a positive light? You don't really say -- you just imply "corruption" of some kind. Come out with it! Who's on the take?

Corruption happens all the time, and it is almost never proven. Most of the time you just see it in the outcome of certain decisions. As I said, you have to apply Hanlon's Razor and see if it still cuts it. However, at some point you have to assume so much incompetence (because you're not willing to believe that people take "favors" to do things) that it would be better to just shut down the existing media as a safety precaution.
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Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
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[ Parent ]

Nodding and smiling (5.00 / 4) (#27)
by rusty on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 02:19:45 AM EST

"But based on our knowledge to day it seems reasonable at least to reduce coffee intake during pregnancy to less than five cups per day."

Says the actual researcher for this study.

"Further, the Centre for Pregnancy Nutrition, state that it is perfectly safe for a pregnant woman to drink up to four or five cups of coffee or tea a day while pregnant or breastfeeding."

Says the coffee lobby.

However, at some point you have to assume so much incompetence (because you're not willing to believe that people take "favors" to do things) that it would be better to just shut down the existing media as a safety precaution.

Says you.

I like to believe you're a thoughtful, reasonable person, but then every once in a while you do this to me. Get a grip. The study and the coffee trade group spokesperson are saying the exact same thing, and you're accusing the BBC of graft for reporting it. Because it amuses me, though, if you have a real accusation to make, I do wish you'd come out and make it. Enough of this beating around the bush about "favors" already. Who's on the take? I want names. Which reporter in the (state funded and perfectly solvent) BBC is so hard-up as to risk their career for a little bit of that dirty caffeinated loot? And, perhaps the biggest question of all, what trade org is going around paying reporters to quote them agreeing with scientific studies, cause I want a piece of that action. Easiest dollar any reporter ever made, right there.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Exactly the same? (3.33 / 3) (#28)
by Eloquence on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 02:33:45 AM EST

The study and the coffee trade group spokesperson are saying the exact same thing,

See my reply to Ukryule. Most importantly, the coffee lobbyist uses the phrase "perfectly safe" (twice), which none of the authorities obviously do, and the researcher notes that coffee intake should be at least reduced to that level. That's not exactly "exactly the same".

I like to believe you're a thoughtful, reasonable person, but then every once in a while you do this to me.

Ditto. :-)

you're accusing the BBC of graft for reporting it

I'm not accusing the BBC because it reports it, I'm accusing it because it acts as an uncritical distributor for industry propaganda. There's no investigative reporting whatsoever, and the whole section is paraphrased with "Don't worry". This is dangerously unethical.

Enough of this beating around the bush about "favors" already. Who's on the take?

I already responded to this question.
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Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
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[ Parent ]

Question (none / 0) (#55)
by leviramsey on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 01:00:26 PM EST

There's no investigative reporting whatsoever,

How do you know that? Prove it.

the whole section is paraphrased with "Don't worry".

Can you come up with a better two-word summary of that section?

This is dangerously unethical.

Why is it unethical? The BBC is reporting how a group interested in the research responded to said research. If that's unethical, this has to be unethical, as it is the same thing:

A scientifically done study (and they exist, you can get a scientific study (especially on health issues) to say whatever you damn well please) shows that higher caffeine intake results in better performance on mathematics exams (IIRC, there are many studies which indicate that very fact). A media outlet reporting on that study ends the report with a quote from a group campaigning against caffeine, distilling their statement to 2 words to serve as a subheadline.

If you find that situation ethical, I ask you, do you find it to be ethical simply because it gives voice to an opinion you agree with (and conversely find the BBC unethical because it voices an opinion you disagree with)? If that is the case, I further ask you, how much are you willing to forgive if it advances an opinion you agree with?



[ Parent ]
Lies and half-truths (none / 0) (#108)
by Eloquence on Thu Feb 27, 2003 at 10:29:00 AM EST

How do you know that? Prove it.

The Reuters article indicates that the words are taken verbatim from a press release. You can, of course, assume (in violation of Occam's Razor) that the reporter nevertheless asked an FSA official for confirmation, but if he did so, and did not report the FSA official's opinion except for the indirect attribution by the industry spokesperson, that would be even more reckless.

Can you come up with a better two-word summary of that section?

Industry Advice, Industry Reaction, Industry Opinion would all be fine. Even "Don't Worry" (in quotation marks) or Don't Worry? would have been half acceptable.

Why is it unethical? The BBC is reporting how a group interested in the research responded to said research.

A corporation, by its very definition, is interested in profit maximization. Its "opinion" is defined by this purpose. When a corporation admits a health risk, you can be sure that the stuff it is talking about will kill you. Statements that are made by a corporation therefore have to be subjected to intense scrutiny, because they are masters of the art of deception (what is called "public relations"). You would know that if you had bothered to follow the links at the end of the article.

That does not necessarily mean that they will lie. For example, a statement like "This does not alter the advice of " .. is certainly true -- because, after all, the group in question cannot yet have reacted to a study that was released two days ago. Regardless, it is inherently misleading, because it suggests that the current safety guidelines are not affected by the new study. The same is true for the second quote. (The statement that these groups consider caffeine levels below the threshold "perfectly safe" is a bold-faced lie though, at least for the Food Standards Agency -- see their webpage on caffeine. No serious health body would ever use these words, obviously.

My complaint was not, however, that an opinion was reported. A statement by a health body like the FSA would certainly have been preferable to a statement by an industry group, but if you have to report industry opinion, at least investigate industry claims. Certainly advocacy groups have to be subjected to scrutiny as well, especially as they are often fronts for even more industry interests. For every source you cite, you have to ask yourself: How trustworthy is this person? Are they genuinely interested in telling the truth, or do they want to push an agenda?
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Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Oh, come on. (5.00 / 2) (#68)
by DarkZero on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 06:18:08 AM EST

They don't "believe" anything. They want you to believe certain things. Corporations are amoral and only interested in profit maximization, and they will do what it takes to accomplish this goal. This is why they're not exactly the best source to get info when trying to write a "balanced" story.

This is just your run-of-the-mill anti-corporate demonization. Corporations are run by human beings. Their mouthpieces certainly do "believe" things. They're not machines and they're not fucking pod people trying to take over the Earth. The goals of a corporation may be amoral, but that says absolutely nothing about the people within them. Would you truly be shocked if some of them really believed that moderate amounts of coffee weren't dangerous? That corporate employees and management were something other than pathological liars serving their corporate masters?

And second, I wouldn't call them the "best source to get info" (because that's beside the point), but I'd certainly call them a necessity for a balanced story. When someone makes an accusation against someone else, as this researcher has with his study, even the most basic high school journalism demands that you speak with the accused and publicize their response. You may think that that simple rule does not apply to coffee companies because they're just greedy corporations run by soulless automatons devoted to the accumulation of money that couldn't possibly have opinions, but you're wrong. There are many instances where corporations should be treated differently from unorganized citizens, but the simple journalistic dynamic of the accuser and the accused is not one of them. When you publicize the accuser's side of the story and then either omit the accused's side or help the accuser rip their opponent's argument to pieces in your article, you're not practicing good journalism. You're writing an op-ed.

Keeping proper balance in an article like this is simple. Here's the accuser's side. Here's the logical argument he gave us. Here's the accused's side. Here's the logical argument he gave us. The end. That's it. No choosing one side over the other, no ripping apart the statement of whichever one you disagree with, just one side's argument, then the other side's argument, and you're done. It's just that simple.

[ Parent ]

Demons in your head (none / 0) (#109)
by Eloquence on Thu Feb 27, 2003 at 10:54:57 AM EST

Corporations are run by human beings.

To hear this tiresome, idiotic argument that can be found in every second Slashdot discussion from you is a disappointment -- but maybe I have confused you with someone else. Yes, Microsoft is run by human beings, so is Apple, so is IBM, so is Nestle, so is General Motors, so is Lockheed Martin. The land mine some kid in Angola is tripping over as you read this, guess what, has been made by humans, in factories built by humans, just like the bombs that may soon fall on Baghdad.

And you know what? The humans who made them either don't give a shit, or they give a shit and suppress it, or they are fired. The whole structure of a corporation evolves through the natural selection process of the free market to tolerate only those people who are unlikely to cause the corporation to lose money. On the higher levels, that means people who are willing to make decisions that cost other people lives. If a corporation's leaders are not willing to make such decisions, they are replaced, by the people who own the corporation. And don't give me any bullshit about shareholders with moral values. Yeah, right. Look at your friends and colleagues who have stocks and then tell them that company did something morally unacceptable. Watch their reaction. How many will sell their stocks, and how many will rationalize the actions of the company? Money is the most addictive drug.

Would you truly be shocked if some of them really believed that moderate amounts of coffee weren't dangerous?

That is absolutely irrelevant. The people who "genuinely" believe cannot be distinguished from those who believe because it suits their personal interest to do so (you always justify what you do -- path of least resistance, selective perception and all that) or from those who pretend to believe. From the outside, they all look the same. The essential point is that a corporation will not tolerate the unbelievers, especially outspoken ones. It will fire you if you make claims about a corporation that could hurt its bottom line. And you know what? Many people would even consider it illoyal to do something like that. To "tell on" "your" corporation. When Nestle killed children in Third World countries through their irresponsible formula campaign, I bet many people working for Nestle were genuinely convinced that this was all a sick "think of the children" campaign against "their" company, by some evil "environmental whackos".

Your beloved people working in corporations are building bombs that will kill and cripple people right now. They are funding local wars to get diamonds, oil and other resources, they are building monopolies, suing people out of existence. For each of the corporations I named above, I could show you a register of their "sins". Yet I am sure in each of these there are people with presumably strong moral values. That doesn't change for a second the fact that as soon as these values get into the way of the corporation's profit interests, they will be trashed, eliminated, trampled, and the people in question will get their asses kicked. If that wasn't the case, please explain to me how a monstrosity like a landmine factory can ever be built? Why do not the people in the company raise their hands, sing songs and resist the orders of their masters? Or better, why do not the masters realize the errors of their ways and start manufacturing socks instead? Maybe some of them have. But as long as there is a market niche for landmines, there will be people who make them. And as long as lying is more profitable than telling the truth, corporations will lie to you whenever they can get away with it. They have evolved that way.

Any journalist who does not realize this and treats corporations as yet another "side" whose opinion should be uncritically reproduced is not a journalist, he's either a whore or a complete idiot. I for one don't think that the BBC employs complete idiots in its higher ranks, but YMMV.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Important missing argument (none / 0) (#101)
by pyro9 on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 10:19:28 PM EST

Looking at table 2 from the study, I note that the group that consumed 1-3 cups a day had just a little over half the chance of stillbirth of those who drank none at all. Looks like some coffee might be a good idea.

It's also worth noting that the figures adjusted for smoking and drinking are not quite so extreme.

Finally, in order to discover an actual threshold, the numbers should be broken down further. For example, did most of the stillbirths in the 4-7 group occur in the group that drank 7? Does it increase linearly, exponentially, or is it discontinuous?

It appears to be a good study, but it's not the last word on the subject.
The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]

One study that (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 09:04:35 AM EST

Didn't actually change current knowledge.

AFAIK, coffee hadn't been linked to stillbirths before, but the amount involved was already known to be beyond "known safe" levels.


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
Don't listen to him... (3.50 / 2) (#35)
by bsimon on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 04:53:33 AM EST

...look at his sig, he's clearly a mouthpiece for Big Pickle...

you have read my sig
[ Parent ]

That just sounds so wrong (4.75 / 4) (#38)
by wiredog on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 07:42:54 AM EST



Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Let's remember the recent acrylamide scare (4.75 / 8) (#17)
by demi on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 11:37:33 PM EST

and also the claims that whitening toothpastes containing peroxide and/or carbamide peroxide were potentially mutagenic. In both cases the reporting was totally hysterical. This report is far more moderate and I would agree that the risk is negligible for pregnant women that drink a few cups of coffee a day (less than 4). The reason I agree is because this is a purely statistical study with no toxicological underpinings. To quote from the study:
Due to a higher intake of coffee and a faster metabolism among smokers 17 18 we hypothesised that the fetotoxic effect of caffeine could depend on smoking habits during pregnancy. However, the risk of stillbirth associated with coffee was similar in smokers and non-smokers.

Despite the size of the study we were limited in our ability to study the clinical causes of death. However, there did not seem to be one single cause that could explain the increased risk of stillbirth among women with a high intake of coffee.

On the journalism side, I agree that nobody should consult a trade association or advocacy group as a sole source of information. However, this statement is true (bolded for emphasis):
He said: "The results of this study do not alter the advice given to pregnant women, on caffeine consumption during pregnancy, by the Food Standards Agency who state that 300mg caffeine - equivalent to three mugs or four cups of coffee per day - is perfectly safe and will have no adverse effect on the mother or the foetus.
Especially when the researchers are quoted as saying this:
"But based on our knowledge to day it seems reasonable at least to reduce coffee intake during pregnancy to less than five cups per day."
I read over the report and as far as I can see that statement is true, and possibly more accurate because it speaks in terms of an active agent of a quantified dose, rather than cups of coffee which may vary in size, potency, and composition. Of course, try to get 20,000 pregnant women to participate in a study where they all take various and blind doses of caffeine and see how many stillbirths there are at high doses. It might be funny to post an ad to one of the childbirth support forums and see what happens.

...[the BCA website] which has nice little "facts" on its website such as...

First, do you dispute that any or all of these things are "facts"? Usually they are the result of a sole scientific study, and irresponsibly paraphrased at that, sort of like the one you cite in this article. Secondly, trade associations are most frequently guilty of sins of omission, rather than telling outright lies. And lastly, "Big Coffee"? I love it! +1 FP!

80% of what? (4.00 / 8) (#24)
by RyoCokey on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 01:36:51 AM EST

If the original risk was 1:1000000 then an 80% increase doesn't even get us to 1:500000. Sounds like yet another complete fluff piece if you ask me. Stories like these are a dime a dozen and almost universally inconsequential.

Personally, I feel they'll eventually link all risk factors to the consumption of H20.



Pacifism in this poor world in which we live -- this lost world -- means that we desert the people who need our greatest help.
-- Francis Schaeffer,
Yes, and... (3.60 / 5) (#36)
by fink on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 05:09:43 AM EST

We all know how bad dihydrogen monoxide is for you...

:-)

----
[ Parent ]

Everyone settle down now..... (2.83 / 6) (#25)
by TubeShoot on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 01:41:33 AM EST

....we all know that the #1 cause of death is being alive now don't we ???


"Quote thyself..........I do."--TubeShoot '03

Damn (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by carbon on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 02:59:27 AM EST

And here I thought the #1 cause of death was dying.


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
Coffee is bad for you in other ways too. (4.25 / 4) (#29)
by hedgehog on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 02:56:45 AM EST

Too much caffeine has been linked to a loss of bone density, meaning osteoperosis later in life. It's one of the reasons that I keep on trying to cut my coffee habit. I think this study forms the wrong conclusions, though, because the instances of stillbirth are pretty low. If I ever decide to get pregnant, I'd definitely cut out caffeine because who knows what it might do to the baby? Like, if it's linked to a reduction in alzheimer's doesn't that mean that it affects the brain in some other way? That might not be good for a brain which hasn't yet formed!

I only drink like one cup a day though, unless I really, really have to stay up late for some reason.

Bsimon's Razor.. (3.20 / 5) (#31)
by bsimon on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 03:20:12 AM EST

Hanlon's Razor, "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity", just doesn't cut it here: This deliberate act of distortion can only be adequately explained with corruption.
Never attribute to corruption that which can adequately be explained by laziness

I think your story needs a shave...

you have read my sig

The BBC (4.87 / 8) (#32)
by DarkZero on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 04:28:51 AM EST

You don't seem to understand how the BBC's site works. Their sub-headlines within their stories are not statements, but instead extremely brief summaries of what is going to be said in the next section. When the entire next section is a rebuttal from the other side, it can sometimes look like a statement. Take an article about the Iraq war, for instance. Say there's an article about a group thoroughly debunking the reasons to go to war with Iraq. The last section, where the Bush Administration responds, would probably be called "Clear, Present Danger" or "Iraq Poses Risk". Conversely, say there's an article thoroughly debunking the reasons NOT to go to war. The last section, where a group like ANSWER responds, would probably be called "Bush Wants War" or "Inspections Need Time".

Rather than an evil conspiracy backed by the coffee industry or just a simple case of bias, this is simply a case of a what happens when you set strict journalistic guidelines for every story. When you try to break a story down into two or three three-word headlines, some of them are eventually going to sound incredibly stupid. When the subject of an interview doesn't give you anything that can be quoted in three words or less, it can even look like a case of bias.

They should really have put it in quotes... (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by bsimon on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 04:48:42 AM EST

"Don't Worry", would have been much better. That helps make it clear that it's a summary of someone else's opinion, without taking up any more space.

you have read my sig
[ Parent ]

I don't get it (4.00 / 4) (#37)
by dalinian on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 06:16:35 AM EST

What's the problem here? The recommendations of the researcher and the recommendations of the coffee association guy are exactly similar. And they haven't tried to hide the bias.

Where's the corruption? Do you think they've tricked the researcher into saying something she didn't want to say?

If theis doesn't get to the front page (3.92 / 13) (#39)
by wiredog on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 07:43:45 AM EST

then Big Coffee has already won.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

Big Coffee got me... (3.00 / 2) (#40)
by bsimon on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 08:07:41 AM EST

I just had a few cups... and my hands are shaking too much to click +1 FP

you have read my sig
[ Parent ]

The real scandal of Big Coffee (4.36 / 11) (#41)
by twistedfirestarter on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 08:28:53 AM EST

Is why they (As in Nestle, etc.) charge so much for it and pay so little of that to the people who actually grow the coffee beans?

So? (4.00 / 10) (#48)
by leviramsey on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 10:28:05 AM EST

It's considered a good practice to quote a dissenting view in any story. It's what separates real journalism from Pravda-style journalism.

Putting it near the bottom is where it belongs; it's not in tune with the main thrust of the story (and it's not like it's there for the nefarious reasons you cite) and, to be honest, it's not news that the British Coffee Association would say those things.

You have heard of the old journalistic adage: put the important stuff first, because many people do not read the whole article (either through laziness, the boss coming over, deciding halfway through that the article isn't worth reading, or another reason). Any Slashdot troll knows this (if the first paragraph of your troll seems insightful, it's apt to get modded as such, regardless of what you put in later paragraphs).

Kinda pitiful to see that your typical Slashdot troll is smarter than you, isn't it, Eloquence?



Huh? (4.40 / 5) (#60)
by Anonymous 7324 on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 05:57:58 PM EST

Pregnant women who drank eight or more cups of coffee per day during pregnancy had an increased risk of stillbirth compared with women who did not drink coffee (odds ratio=3.0, 95% confidence interval 1.5 to 5.9

One wonders how much constitutes drinking, and how much doesn't.

Also curious is that in a paper that proposes to correlate coffee consumption with stillbirths, I at least was unable to find an r^2 or r value?

No r, because... (none / 0) (#106)
by vectro on Wed Feb 26, 2003 at 09:16:22 PM EST

... they didn't gather data about specific numbers of cups, they asked women to place their usage in the range 0, 1-3, 4-7, or 8+. So while a chi-square test might be appropriate, regression analysis is probably not.

Not to mention the ill-definedness of a 'cup' in this context.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

8 cups != moderation (4.50 / 6) (#61)
by lvogel on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 07:35:42 PM EST

That's a LOT of coffee, especially for pregnant women. Considering the fact that pregnant women are advised against ANYTHING excessive (including hot water), it's hardly a conspiracy. Would it be scandalous if the article said hot water was bad, followed by a list of different articles discussing the benefits of hot water?
-- ----------------------
"When you're on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog!"

-a dog
The Big Hot Water Conspiracy! (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by wiredog on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 10:04:05 AM EST

Every bit as Evil as Big Bacon!

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Big Hot Water + Big Chocolate = Big Cocoa (5.00 / 1) (#79)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 11:15:06 AM EST

Ahhh cocoa...

But I'm just sure there's some kind of illegal trust goin' on there that's making use illegal tying practices (and don't even get me started on the great marshmallow conspiracy).

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
DONT YOU MESS WITH BIG COCOA. (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 05:28:05 PM EST

I let them take away my cigars. I let them limit my coffee. But if you touch my M&Ms, you're in for world of hurt!


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
They can have my Hershey bars (none / 0) (#103)
by wiredog on Wed Feb 26, 2003 at 07:56:21 AM EST

when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers!

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
An Interesting Fact (2.50 / 4) (#69)
by Hellraisr on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 07:52:58 AM EST

Tim Horton's in Canada puts Nicotine in their coffee.. but an amount small enough that they do not have to tell you by law about it.

-1 to Canada centric. (3.00 / 2) (#71)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 09:02:39 AM EST

Seriously, who is Tim Horton? How do you know they put nicotine in their coffee? Where do they get it, since pure nicotine is poisonous and used as an insecticide?


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
Sources Please (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by jdrake on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 10:04:30 AM EST

Where is this info coming from?
-----------------------------------------
- If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is around, is there any sound?
- If the universe is created, and nobody is around, is there any bang?

[ Parent ]
Check here: (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by tricknology2002 on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 10:40:46 AM EST

http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/nicotine.htm

[ Parent ]
True, but... (3.66 / 3) (#74)
by TubeShoot on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 10:00:18 AM EST

...you can't die if you never lived now can you??


"Quote thyself..........I do."--TubeShoot '03

That depends (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by Orion Blastar on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 11:35:24 AM EST

on if you define life as being after birth or after conception.
*** Anonymized by intolerant editors at K5 and also IWETHEY who are biased against the mentally ill ***
[ Parent ]
Good God! What's next? (4.00 / 3) (#77)
by wiredog on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 10:08:43 AM EST

An article about the Big Bacon Conspiracy?

Oh, wait a minute...

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

Nope,... (3.66 / 3) (#82)
by TubeShoot on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 02:09:52 PM EST

....close but no cigar. Being alive is being alive (i.e. not dead) and being dead is being dead (read as: not living). That should clear up the debate. Happy living (or not being dead if you prefer)!!


"Quote thyself..........I do."--TubeShoot '03

please,donīt let people be missinformed.... (3.33 / 3) (#83)
by Niha on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 02:27:00 PM EST

  In cases like that,information should be objetive.It´s about people´s health....

-1 Use some common sense. (3.00 / 3) (#84)
by RofGilead on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 02:50:18 PM EST

If you are pregnant, don't take any substances which dramatically affect your body. Caffeine is a drug, just like nicotine, just like alcohol... People need to use some common sense if they are going to carry a child. In other words, be smart and stay caffeine free.

-= RofGilead =-

---
Remember, you're unique, just like everyone else. -BlueOregon
I apologize to everybody... (3.33 / 3) (#86)
by leviramsey on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 02:56:04 PM EST

My standard policy of very low 5 standards for interesting discussions caused this turd of a story to autopost.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.



Damn You! (5.00 / 1) (#87)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 03:07:21 PM EST

I'd say Rusty needs to tweak the auto posting routine a bit. This thing posted with ~+20.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
When I rated... (none / 0) (#89)
by leviramsey on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 03:13:41 PM EST

It was hovering at about zero. I'm surprised it even got up to 20...

Maybe the auto-kill threshold should be increased (ie stories below a certain score will not autopost)? 45 sounds good to me...



[ Parent ]
Agreed (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 03:20:57 PM EST

If a story can't get to =45 it shouldn't be posted. This stroy is a perfect example of why. Other than the author's posts there are only 4 or 5 written in support of the argument. All the rest are making fun of it.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Part of me likes to see these stories stay though (none / 0) (#91)
by leviramsey on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 03:26:22 PM EST

As the pointing and laughing bit will hopefully allow us to link to this story the next time Eloquence posts a crackpot story like this (this is not his first time at this sort of thing...).



[ Parent ]
True (5.00 / 1) (#92)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 03:32:36 PM EST

Fun should be had by all as the gawking and mocking ensues. Eloquence? Well, this one is just an outright stinker, whereas the "fondling kids for world peace" story was at least interesting.

Oh sorry about that last post. It somehow got sent through the syntax and spelling blender prior to posting ;-).

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
You Don't Have to Agree (4.00 / 2) (#95)
by Alfie on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 05:54:15 PM EST

You don't have to agree with a story to vote it up. I disagree with Eloquence's conspiracy angle—I attribute the reporter's lighthearted attitude to culture and to the effects of advertising. However, it's important that people be aware of the dangers of the drugs they take.

Caffeine is a xanthine which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system—that is, it stimulates a person's "flight or fight" response. This makes a person more attentitive to one's surroundings, increases blood pressure and oxygen delivery to the brain, and tends to cause bowel movements. Obviously, being in the "flight or fight" state over long peroids of time can be stressful to one's body. I think it's reasonable to consider the possibility that pregnant mothers who use caffeine to make themselves more alert may also be adversly effecting the development of their child. There are many factors to consider, including the dose of the caffeine and how habituated the mother's body is to the drug.

The problem I see here is that people are not treating caffeine as if it were a drug. The bias in the reporter's story is that it is basically a fluff piece which gives equal time to the PR spin and the scientific study. A reporter should use his or her mind rather than follow a simple method of quoting equal parts of both sides. This may require the reporter to actually work to understand the study and to look for flaws in its methodology. If the reporter considers the study and finds it credible, then yes, he or she very well should give it higher precidence than PR spin.



[ Parent ]
You had a 5 until: (5.00 / 1) (#96)
by leviramsey on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 05:59:26 PM EST

The bias in the reporter's story is that it is basically a fluff piece which gives equal time to the PR spin and the scientific study.

There's nothing wrong with giving both sides of the issue the opportunity to make their point. It's one of those pillars of good journalism.



[ Parent ]
Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#97)
by Alfie on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 06:08:22 PM EST

On my second reading of the story, I see it wasn't as biased as I first thought. As another poster pointed out, the blurb was a summation of the next few paragraphs, and quite possibly a tongue-in-cheek blurb at that.



[ Parent ]
Sizeable Flaw (4.00 / 1) (#102)
by DarkZero on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 10:59:40 PM EST

I've always found the fact that comments that completely disagree with the story that they're in and rack up over a dozen fives actually help that story get posted to be a little screwy. I always wondered if it would cause a problem and I think that this story is it.

We all would've been better off if we'd just posted "U SUX0R!!!111 UR 0PINI0N B TEH SUCK LOLOLOLOLOL!!!!11", had the comment hidden, and then had more people pile on the zeroes when they review the hidden comments. That seems a little counterproductive. I doubt that the system would be exploited in this way since we haven't seen many attempts to get a story shot down by giving every comment in the story a zero, but when we write dissenting comments that get like eighteen fives, we're sort of exploiting the system by accident.

[ Parent ]

Perhaps its the British sense of humour... (4.00 / 4) (#88)
by ScheissGeyser on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 03:13:34 PM EST

It is made very clear that the comments come from a vested interest, that headline "don't worry" is very much tongue in cheek.

I wouldn't read too much into it.
Joining in is fun. I like fun.

Perhaps they meant: Don't Panic <nt> (none / 0) (#112)
by Alannon on Fri Feb 28, 2003 at 03:23:43 AM EST



[ Parent ]
only 8 cups? (4.00 / 3) (#93)
by ibbie on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 04:57:45 PM EST

hey, i drink that much in the first hour of my da... uuhn

*gack!*

*thud!*

--
george washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but he also admitted doing it. now, do you know why his father didn't punish him? because george still had the axe in his hand.
Caffeine bad, drugs good! (2.75 / 4) (#104)
by Silent Chris on Wed Feb 26, 2003 at 10:21:04 AM EST

Obviously, caffeine is not a drug!  Otherwise, K5 would be rooting for it!

spare a thought for the producers (4.66 / 3) (#105)
by danmermel on Wed Feb 26, 2003 at 12:09:37 PM EST

there are all these people in Africa and South America who have seen the price of coffee go through the floor and some can't even get enough money to cover their costs.

This all dates back to the mid 90s, when the US withdrew from a coffee pact which kept prices steady. The big multinational companies have made an absolute killing (after all, you haven't seen the price of coffee go down at the shop, have you?)

So although I have some simpathy for pregnant women who drink more than 8 cups of coffee a day (and buzz around the house all day, presumably), frankly I don't think they are they main victims of "Big Coffee". And yes, "Big Coffee" does exist.. it's called Nestle.

why (none / 0) (#110)
by melia on Thu Feb 27, 2003 at 11:23:29 AM EST

I do have sympathy for coffee producers, i'm sure this issue needs looking into quite deeply. However wouldn't it be a good idea to try and encourage producers to change to a different crop? Fair-trade schemes just seem to help lock people into this product.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]
commodities (none / 0) (#113)
by danmermel on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:13:48 AM EST

all these commodities always suffer the same fate... look at cocoa in Africa, bananas in Central America, etc etc.... and every change is gut-wrenching for the communities involved.

the only crops that are consistently profitable are the illegal ones: coca, marihuana, opium, etc. all this crop substitution talk, I think, is a red herring.

[ Parent ]

so (4.00 / 1) (#107)
by auraslip on Thu Feb 27, 2003 at 02:04:40 AM EST

if you want to not have children you just have to drink lots of coffea, smoke, and drink vodka?
I'll pass the information to my girlfreind.
124
smoke a lot and drink coffee won't mix (5.00 / 1) (#111)
by pakje on Thu Feb 27, 2003 at 02:35:41 PM EST

If you smoke, the breakdown speed of caffiene in your body is more than doubled. So it's either smoke or coffee.

[ Parent ]
Coffee Linked to Stillbirths; Risk Negligible, Says Coffee Association | 113 comments (97 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
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