The first inkling that something was up was that the DM webpage didn't mention the name of the report, referring to it only as "last week's health report". The thrust of the piece was that publishing a report which pretty much said that everything you eat will affect your cancer risk to some degree will make people switch off listening to the good healthy eating advice and lose the message.
What struck me as odd, is that the Daily Mail for as long as I can remember has been putting all inanimate objects in the known universe into the categories of either causing or curing cancer. With the help of a sturdy ScienceMangle™ they have been one of the most repetitive sources of cancer fear for the worried well. How could we forget those lethal grapefruit or the bowel-busting one-glass-of-wine? I'm certainly glad that I'm not a tall, 14-year-old, left-handed, brunette who is sexually active (from the Daily Mail's perspective, at any rate....)
EDIT: I said 'inanimate objects' above. Apparently, it is also animate objects - bring on the carcinogenic canine.
Luckily for us all, DM debunks its own stories every once in a while. Now listen up and read carefully. It's time for Spot The Difference or Compare & Contrast or however you like to refer to it. Have your ScienceMangle™ set to "Irony".
Let's start with the DM's "Unravelling the Cancer Myths".
MYTH: You can get cancer from barbecued food.
FACT: The blackened crust of barbecued food contains substances called heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs), which are carcinogenic.
But there has been no evidence produced which links barbecued food to cancer.
Perhaps this is because you would never eat enough charred food to cause the DNA damage that is central to cancer development.
And compare with the article "Cancer: Foods to Avoid"
HETEROCYCLIC AMINESMinimise any risk, you say? Hmmm... talk to me about deodorants:
A potential [cancer-causing] culprit is [sic] heterocyclic amines which are formed on the surface of meat when it's grilled, roasted, fried or barbecued - especially when burned or charred.
Risk factor: Although animal studies suggest that high intakes of heterocyclic amines can promote cancer, there is no direct evidence in humans. But it makes sense to minimise any risk.
"Why Women should avoid deodorants that could cause breast cancer" (if I was being pedantic, I would say the answer is in the title, but I digress). Two weeks later we get:
MYTH: Using anti-perspirant can cause cancer.
FACT: An e-mail made the rounds a couple of years ago falsely linking antiperspirant with an increased risk of breast cancer.
It said anti-perspirant stopped toxins being purged from the body in sweat instead being deposited in the lymph nodes, causing cell mutations.
Cancer Research UK and the American Cancer Society have rubbished the claim, saying it is simply not true. Firstly, sweat does not contain toxins. And there is no proven link between anti-perspirant chemicals and cancer.
Now, of course, everyone knows that mobile phones cause cancer - at least, we're told it does by the DM; eye cancer and brain tumours are your lot, even if you're only on the phone for ten minutes. But, phew, relief and everything's fine because the ScienceMangle™ has been momentarily switched off, so that we can be told
MYTH: Mobile phones give you brain cancer.
FACT: So far, most studies have found no link between mobile phone use and brain cancer. But the jury is still out on just how damaging mobiles are.
Of course they are - the jury consisting of the DM's shareholders and lots of middle class unintelligentsia. These stories will always sell papers to this demographic - all you need is a list of all the objects in the world, access to some medical journals and a good, well-maintained ScienceMangle™.