If you’ve been near a newsagents today, you may have seen this blaring headline
‘Hmm, that seems unlikely’ was my first thought, unless you could somehow use it to defend yourself when attacked. Sure enough reading further into the article, we realise the following:
- Its not rhubarb, its parietin (the pigment which makes rhubarb orange) which is important
- The chemical killed half of cancer cells in a lab
- There’s not been any tests in people yet
So a more accurate headline would be ‘Chemical found in rhubarb kills 50% of leukaemia cells under controlled laboratory conditions’. Not catchy I admit, but certainly not misleading.
In all fairness to Giles Sheldrick, the journalist who wrote this story, none of this is his fault. He even gets it right when he calls rhubarb a vegetable, rather than a fruit. All he did was send an interesting and well-written story into the editorial ether. The fact it came back with a headline that not only misrepresented the scientific research but the contents of his own article.’