ARG-018

Milk and dairy products are rich in vitamin D and calcium—substances essential for building and maintaining bones. Many people therefore say that a diet rich in dairy products can help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that is linked to both environmental and genetic factors and that causes the bones to weaken significantly with age. But a long-term study of a large number of people found that those who consistently consumed dairy products throughout the years of the study have a higher rate of bone fractures than any other participants in the study. Since bone fractures are symptomatic of osteoporosis, this study result shows that a diet rich in dairy products may actually increase, rather than decrease, the risk of osteoporosis.


Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.


The author argues that a diet rich in dairy products may increase, rather than decrease, the risk of osteoporosis. In order to justify such argument, the author cites a long-term study, which shows that people who consistently consumed dairy products have higher rate of bone fractures. However, while it might be true that dairy products could increase the risk of osteoporosis, it is not a conclusion that can be safely achieved with the information given in the statement. So, we need some more evidences to evaluate the validity of such argument.


First of all, the study implies a link between a dairy-rich diet and the high risk of bone fracture. However, little is known about the details of the long-term study, and we can’t rule out factors other than dairy products that can lead to the increased risk of bone fracture. For example, as mentioned in the argument, such a disease could be linked to genetic factors. To test the veracity of the study, we need evidence about whether all test subjects started with the same health condition. If the test takers’ bones are genetically fragile, then the author’s argument would be largely weakened. To solve such uncertain question, a detailed report of family medical history is highly desirable. If the report shows that many of them have family histories of bone-related diseases, then the observed bone fracture is possibly due to genetic factor, and the study’s conclusion would be less logical. In contrast, if the report implies that their family members are healthy, then the study result will be bolstered and strengthened.


In addition, granted that genetic factors do not lead to higher rate of bone fracture, it is also mentioned in the argument that environmental factors will influence the rate of bone fracture. In this case, it is necessary for the author to provide evidences about whether the test takers are working under the same environments. For example, if some test takers have jobs such as professional athletes, factory workers or other jobs that can harm the bones and happened to consume more dairy products, then the study result will be more of a coincidence and the author’s conclusion is less logical. In order to make a balanced judgement, a collection of personal information is highly recommended. The test takers should fill out the form about their occupations and their food and dairy product preferences. The study result would be strengthened if the collection shows that most of the test subjects are working under the same environments such as white-collar office workers. On the other hand, if the forms imply that most test takers are blue-collar manual labors or professional athletes who also consume greater volumes of dairy products, then it would be less logically sound as the result would be biased.


Finally, even if we acknowledge that the study is reliable and persuasive, more evidence is needed to evaluate the assumption that bone fracture can surely be equal to osteoporosis. Built upon this conclusion is the assumption that bone fractures are symptomatic of osteoporosis. And yet no evidence is presented. It may be the case that bone fractures are caused by other diseases instead of osteoporosis. To clarify the confusion, the author should provide some scientific research paper investigating the relation between bone fractures and osteoporosis and perhaps reports of detailed medical examinations on those test subjects. If the research claimed that osteoporosis is the main cause of bone fractures and the subjects’ biomarkers indeed show signs of osteoporosis, then the author’s argument would be strengthened. Otherwise, if the paper showed that osteoporosis plays no part in bone fractures and other symptoms of osteoporosis are lacking, then the author’s conclusion would be weakened.


To sum up, while it may be logical to argue that dairy-rich diet would increase the risk of osteoporosis, the author does not convincingly present evidence to support the claim. We need more evidence to make a valid evaluation on whether higher input of dairy products would increase the risk of osteoporosis.


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