Why is this extraordinary? The Listener has been going to pack for ages and is well into sensationalist tabloid territory. Its science/health reporting is a joke and the writers seem to have no idea of scientific method or what constitutes scientific research. It regualrly trots outs hysterical stories of the "Diet Coke Wants to Kill Our Children" ilk. The latest story on cellphones causing cancer is just appalling and relies on a very dodgy piece od research, which has been well and truly skewered here: http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2008/03/cell_phones_and_cancer_real_or.php
The writer seems to think a "self-published" research study is considered credible. By the author perhaps, but by noone else in the scientific community.
The most disappointing aspect is that there are no major print media doing good quality scientific reporting. They all seem to have decided hysterical and one-sided is the way to go. The tragedy is that there are valid concerns and debates that are being hijacked by ill-informed nutters.
I think an issue here is that the report is on an "unpublished study" Although the journal system is not without it flaws, having a study accepted for publication means it has been subjected to peer review and scrutinised, and often a commentary accompanies it. Many researchers are rejected or are made to strengthen studies before they are accepted for publciation. An "unpublished" study is meaningless, and part of the problem is the lack of knowledge about how research studies are run. Even published studies need to be read carefully.
Having worked in a newsroom, most journalists can't even work out gst percentages let along understand a statistical analysis, and then the news editor will slant it to whatever is the most sensational story.
After my father nearly bleed to death after my mother misguidely gave him a "natural" supplement I am more in favour of a tighter regulatory framework. Unfortunately many people, like my mother, assume natural means safe, It doesn't. Warfarin in particular, which is a blood thinner, interacts with many other drugs and supplements. This is why the recently released Aneline milk carries a warning for people on blood thinners as the added vitamin K will increase its affect. Even grapefruit will interact with other medications. Unfortunately studies have shown that most people fail to tell their doctor that they are taking a natural supplements, as in my father's case. My mother gave him a concotion of garlic and herbs. He merrily got a tooth pulled not realisng the combination had stripped all the clotting factor from his blood. 14 hours and a litre of blood later the doctors will still trying to stop the bleeding.
Supplements do have their place, but be informed - go to to PUBMED, which is the scientific research paper library, and see what studies have been done on that particular supplement. St Johns Wort is a good example. Numerous studies are available that have been well run showing that it works well for mild to moderate, but not severe depression. All the studies for homeopathy show at best they have a placebo effect.