Q:  What do you think about this new research on tea preventing diabetes?

A: That’s not what it says

Q: Sure it is. Big black letters, right at the top: “Three cups of tea a day can cut your risk of diabetes… even if you add milk”

A: I mean that’s not what the research says

Q: The bit about milk?

A: Well, they didn’t study milk at all, but that’s not the main problem

Q: They didn’t study cups?

A: No. Or diabetes. Or, in one of the studies, tea.

Q: Hmm. Ok, so this “glucose-lowering effect” they write about, is that a lab study?

A: Yes.

Q: Mice?

A:  One of the studies used rats, the other didn’t

Q: Cells, then?

A: No, just enzymes in a test tube, and a highly processed chemical extract of tea.

Q: Ok, forget about that one. But the rat study, that measured actual glucose lowering and actual tea?

A:  Almost. They gave the rats a high-sugar drink, and if they were given the tea first, their blood glucose didn’t go up as much.

Q: Which of the two studies was this one?

A: The one where the story just says the results were similar and doesn’t give the researchers’ names, only their institution.

Q: Wouldn’t you think the story would say more about this one, since it actually involves blood glucose and, like, living things?

A: In a perfect world, yes.

Q: The story says they don’t think milk would make a difference. What about sugar?

A: No mention of it.

Q: That’s strange. Quite a lot of British people have sugar in their tea. Wouldn’t it be helpful to say something?

A: You’d think.

Q: How much tea did the rats get?

A: The lowest effective dose they report is 62.5 mg/kg of freeze-dried tea powder

Q: What’s that in cups?

A: The research paper says “corresponds to nine cups of black tea”.

Q: Per day?

A: No, all at once.

Q: So we need to get bigger cups?

A: Or fewer reprinted British ‘health’ stories.