I monitor Google Alerts for “telomere” stories and one that got the most reposts ever was this story about a small saliva telomere study in 75 Guatemalan women taken 13 years apart. The conclusion was that women with more children had longer telomeres and therefore the conclusion:
“HAVING MORE CHILDREN MAKES WOMEN LIVE LONGER”.
These kinds of oversimplification stories are my pet peeve because who is getting funded to do these studies and why? What is going on?
Notwithstanding my experience with online dating in my late 40s and Dana Delaney’s recommendation to stay young by not having any husband or kids, I would say that this study is not designed to prove this given the many confounding factors at work. Just because there is an association between something doesn’t mean it is causally related. Read this blog about smoking being better than drinking Coke to understand confounding and how to infer causation.
Every day, my mind is blown by stories like that neutrinos move faster than the speed of light, shattering Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, or that the Astronomer who demoted Pluto (and told us at my niece’s high school graduation that there are countless satellites out there bigger than Pluto) has now proclaimed a ninth planet our solar system.
And then it hits me! Maybe science is just like journalism- you take a point of view and sell a story. If science were all that sciency, why can’t it tell me what makes a knuckle crack? I mean shouldn’t that be an easy thing to figure out? Just saying.