Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Bugs in showerheads

A schoolboy error in one of the health news stories from the BBC today provides further evidence for a theory I've recently been developing.

The headline reads Taking showers 'can make you ill'. Once you read more, however, you realise that the research on which it's based provides no evidence whatever that taking showers can make you ill. All it shows is that various unpleasant bugs, such as Mycobacterium avium, can lurk in shower heads. Given that most people shower every day and seldom develop mycobacterial infections, I suspect that any risk from such infected shower heads must be pretty low. For the journalist to write a headline like that is an egregious example of extrapolating beyond your data.

So what's this theory of mine that has just received further support? It's that when a journalist writes a headline with quote marks in it, particularly in a health-related story, whatever is contained within the quote marks is almost invariably not true.

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