Correlation n’ Causation

Can a Brussels Sprout save your life? I want to believe it’s true, but my inner skeptic says this is another superficial Yahoo science headline by someone too busy to read or think…

Veggies Improve Breast Cancer Survival–Study

Chinese women who ate cabbage, broccoli and leafy greens saw improved survival rates after breast cancer than women who did not eat these cruciferous vegetables, said a US study presented on Tuesday.

The findings came from data on 4,886 Chinese breast cancer survivors age 20-75 who were diagnosed with stage one to stage four breast cancer from 2002 to 2006 and who were part of the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival study.

Women who ate more cruciferous vegetables over the 36 months following their diagnosis saw their risk of dying from any cause decrease by 27 percent to 62 percent compared to women who reporting eating little or none of these veggies.

Hey, maybe a Facebook type program is posting wire service reports. Are humans actually involved in selecting the headlines? Is some commenter about to say, ‘no sh—n Sherlock?’ Okay, I’m old. But age brings wisdom.

I love Chinese food, or Chinese-American, since I’ve never been to the Old Country. Chinese food doesn’t include dairy, favors rice over wheat, and has lots of veg. They do things to cabbage my Irish family would not.

Also, I have noticed that a person of hardier disposition will enjoy a plate of cabbage more than someone who has to be persuaded to have a little slice of toast. Also, a Chinese woman who counts cabbage as a staple food might need to walk more, might be more physically active, might afford fewer total calories… lots of possible factors.

The researchers who conducted this study aren’t making any wild claims. I think that there’s a very good chance that future studies will support their conclusions. I think there is evidence from many sources that cruciferous vegetables are really good for you. And even if it turns out they are kind of a dud, a plate of cabbage will not clog your arteries as much as a fast-food burger.

Fast-food cabbage may be the answer, if they can keep out the recycled grease and pink slime. You can’t take food out of culture, lifestyle and demographic and draw accurate conclusions.

On the other hand, like the cook who throws spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks, this small study might land on a truth. A diet heavy in cruciferous vegetables might contain micronutrients that boost immunity, and fill you up too much to eat junk.

I really think that cabbage is under-appreciated and deserves to be liberated from the little paper coleslaw cup. Thank you, Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival study, for adding to the evidence that Grandma was right.

2 thoughts on “Correlation n’ Causation

  1. Having had some experience with “data” from Mainland sources, if that is what this represents, I would express caution, caution, caution in easily accepting the reports. This is not to say that there not benefits to sound diet, but “cures” to cancer from diet represents a dangerous extension of belief.

  2. Broccoli,cabbage,etc are pretty good and don’t sem to contain harmful stuff-Brussels sprouts suck-really,really suck.
    Just one man’s opinion.
    Cruciferous vegetables are gassy-I wouldn’t recommend a heaping plate of cabbage,beans and eggs with a beer on the side.
    Unless you’re extremely bored and enjoy lighting farts for a pastime.
    And live alone.

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