joreth: (Bad Computer!)

This article starts with the headline:  "New research challenges long-held notion that masturbation is healthy, abstinence rises on campus."   This confused me, since all the research I've seen up until now says the opposite.  The link didn't go to an obviously-religious paper, so I followed it to read what it had to say.

It starts out by telling us of a new study that shows an increased chance of prostate cancer in men who masturbate frequently.  Then it goes on to give the scary statistics of how many people currently have various STDs (it uses the HPV statistic, among others, which, although high, also has a very low mortality rate in comparison to other STDs, and a low symptomatic rate - not to downplay the seriousness of HPV, but let's not start a panic either by leaving out those details).  Then it gives a few anecdotes from college kids who are afraid to have sex.

Halfway down the second page, the reporter finally gets around to telling us that the study was not well done, it relied upon surveys of men who had prostate cancer to tell the researchers about their masturbatory habits in their 20s and 30s, and how this same study ALSO showed that masturbation can PREVENT prostate cancer for men older than 50.  So, it showed an increased risk for prostate cancer in young men and a reduced risk of prostate cancer in old men?  This study was circumstantial and not double-blinded or placebo-controlled (I'm not even sure if one *can* do a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study on the effects of masturbation against prostate cancer).

PLUS this same study showed other increased health benefits, like helping with insomnia, depression, reducing stress levels.  This study is also the first (and so far only, I think) study to go against an established, well-accepted claim with a wide body of evidence and research.  This means that it should fall under that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" category.  At best, this would be considered a preliminary study, one that poses an interesting question for further research, not a conclusive, robust study that makes a claim as this article has implied.

I have to give her some credit, the "journalist" did include those details about how poor and inconclusive and even contradictory the study was.  But she waited until the end of her article, the bottom of PAGE 2, and her headline is worded in such a way as to strongly imply support for the "conclusion" that masturbation is unhealthy.

It's because of sloppy journalistic writing like this that we have such an uninformed populace in our country.

Date: 2/12/09 06:41 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
As I mentioned in my little rant the other day, sex-negative writing always gets more attention than sex-positive writing.


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