Stupid science scare story of the day: Fox News on hairspray

Headline:Study: Exposure to Hairspray May Lead to Increased Birth Defects


“However, there is no proof that exposure to hairspray can cause hypospadias, said the authors of the study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. “Women shouldn’t be alarmed,” said study leader Professor Paul Elliott.”

Bit late for that…

3 Responses to Stupid science scare story of the day: Fox News on hairspray

  1. The peer-reviewed study is titled “Endocrine Disruptors in the Workplace, Hair Spray, Folate Supplementation, and Risk of Hypospadias: Case-control Study”. The full text of the article is available for free here.

    Apart from love of alliteration, why do you call it a “stupid science scare story”?

  2. Because the message of the study’s authors is completely contradicted by the headline.

  3. The authors wrote: “Excess risks of hypospadias associated with occupational exposures to phthalates and hair spray suggest that anti-androgenic endocrine disrupting chemicals may play a role in hypospadias.” A case-control study cannot establish causality, but it can provide supporting evidence by demonstrating a statistically significant association.

    For instance, smoking was established as a cause of lung cancer thanks to evidence from a variety of sources, including case-control studies; e.g. Doll R, Hill AB. Smoking and carcinoma of the lung. BMJ 1950;221(ii):739-48.

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