“Short people have higher heart risk” screams the headline on CNN.com, treating it as a statement of fact. “Shortness Boosts Heart Disease, Death Risk” is the headline in a HealthDay story seen on BusinessWeek.com.
Such a study as the one being described can only establish association — it CANNOT prove causation. So it’s wrong to say short people have higher risk. It is wrong to say shortness boosts risk.
Blogger and cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Wes Fisher beat me to the punch by blogging about the continued journalistic confusion between association and causation. He wrote:
“About the only thing that can be concluded from this so-called “analysis” is nothing more than maybe we should consider studying if this association actually exists.”
Tell ‘em, Dr. Wes. And tell ‘em, Randy: “Short people got no reason” to worry — at least not yet — from this study.
*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*