Monday, March 30, 2015

Study refutes apple-doctor relationship

"Evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away," according to the abstract of a paper published on the web site of the Journal of the American Medical Association today.

Graph of apple health data

However, "the small fraction of US adults who eat an apple a day do appear to use fewer prescription medications."

That's according to the paper "Association Between Apple Consumption and Physician Visits: Appealing the Conventional Wisdom That an Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away" (JAMA Intern Med doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.5466).

The authors also found that, compared to non–apple eaters, apple eaters were less likely to smoke, were better educated, and were more racially diverse.

Nonsmoking and education are correlated to better health, and when the data were adjusted for these and other factors the authors found that apple eaters saw doctors as often as non–apple eaters did.

The paper describes a cross-sectional study of 8,728 adults.

Thanks to Dr. Bradley Flansbaum of New York for flagging this story.

There is a lot of junk science about apples and health on the Internet, and I've chosen to stay away from the whole topic for the most part. But this is irresistible, indeed Ig Nobel–worthy.

Readers may also want to read the note from the editor of JAMA Internal Medicine about the scope and timing of this publication.

PS Who eats an apple a day, anyway? Oh yeah.

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