Seemingly ambiguous


The technological and scientific advances made by the western countries are undoubtedly awesome. Especially in the field of medical science, their contribution has helped humanity to conquer many life threatening conditions. Reading about the research conducted in laboratories and universities abroad makes one marvel at the amount of time, energy and funds invested in these endeavours. At the same time, some of the reports make for confusing, if not amusing reading. Invariably, these extracts are couched in ambiguous terms like ‘may’, ‘seem to’, ‘likely to’ and ‘probably’.

Sample this. Curd ‘seems to’ encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, which aid in the production of digestive enzymes according to a study conducted in the ... state university. A few weeks later, an extract of a report published in some medical journal says “researchers in the ..laboratories say that curds contain saturated fats which are ‘likely to’ raise cardiovascular risk in humans and skimmed buttermilk would be a better option”. Here’s some news for coffee addicts.

“Some studies” have found coffee drinkers have lower rates of colon and rectal cancers and are 50 per cent ‘less likely’ to get liver cancer. Heavy coffee drinkers ‘may be’ half as likely to get diabetes because coffee ‘is thought’ to contain chemicals that lower blood sugar. Coffee ‘may’ also raise metabolic rate, which prevents diabetes. Coffee ‘seems to’ help protect men from Parkinson’s disease. Admittedly though, some reports do mention that the studies are only preliminary and not conclusive in nature. But then, why release them for public reading? Imagine a man soaking up on coffee to outwit Parkinson’s and ending up with hyperacidity!
Here’s another one. Older adults who walk slowly are ‘about three times’ more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. The same report says walking pace is linked to increased incidence of hospitalisation due to falls in older adults. So ‘it seems’ older adults have to choose between dying of heart problems and breaking their hip and pelvic bones! In the face of such contradictory reports, moderation in everything ‘seems to’ be the right thing to do.

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