Risky Science Reporting

I sent this correction in to Reuters today:

In a recent Reuters article by Maggie Fox, it states as a matter of fact:

Eggs are rich in cholesterol, which in high amounts can clog arteries and raise the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The implication is that eating cholesterol can clog arteries and raise the risk of heart attack and stroke. This idea has been largely discredited. For instance from the Harvard School of Public Health:

While it is well known that high blood cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk for heart disease, scientific studies have shown that there is only a weak relationship between the amount of cholesterol a person consumes and their blood cholesterol levels or risk for heart disease. For some people with high cholesterol, reducing the amount of cholesterol in the diet has a small but helpful impact on blood cholesterol levels. For others, the amount of cholesterol eaten has little impact on the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood.

The differences there are considered to be likely genetic. The subtleties are important here, so it’s probably best to either report the subtleties or don’t report oversimplifications, as they can easily lead to disinformation and non-constructive behaviors.