Yale hype could raise false hopes for myeloma cancer patients

When you read news issued by Yale University based on a study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, you might reasonably assume that the information you’re receiving is reliable and devoid of hype. But you’d be wrong in that assumption. A PR news release issued on February 10, 2016 announced, “Yale researchers […]


Five Star Friday – news releases that shine or stink

After systematically reviewing 122 PR news releases in the past year, our reviewers have only graded 5 PR releases with a top 5-star score.  And one came this week – for a news release from Washington University in Saint Louis, “To Prevent Infection After C-Section, Chlorhexidine Better Than Iodine.”  Our reviewers noted:  “Like another release we […]

6 2/10/2016

Groups push pharma agenda under the guise of patient advocacy

There’s nothing like a new Astroturf group to confuse the public. Astroturfers gather ordinary citizens from the grassroots to advocate for various causes while in reality shilling for the trade associations, PR firms, corporations, and political organizations that set them up. Now along comes a new patient advocacy organization, Patients Rising and its sister group […]


Chocolate prevents preeclampsia? How a medical society’s poor PR helped drive this misleading message

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with a statement from Dr. Sean Blackwell, the program chair for the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine conference where the preeclampsia/flavanol research was presented. Please scroll to the bottom to view his comments. Fresh on the heels of a debacle involving flawed communications about chocolate milk and concussions at the University […]

2 2/5/2016

Can we cure our insatiable need for medical miracles?

The following essay is by Steven Atlas, MD, MPH, one of our longest-tenured story reviewers and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He reflects on a recent story that promised a “remarkable breakthrough” for multiple sclerosis, and why it’s important for HealthNewsReview.org to continue to criticize such stories.  As a practicing physician […]


Dump the diabetes cure talk – after a dozen patients in an early-stage trial

We’re going to react to headlines like this every time we see them.   Sure they are.  So are a lot of other people.  But should a leading news wire service be teasing a possible diabetes cure – after 12 people are enrolled in an early-stage trial? This was a business story, about a partnership between two […]


Fiber and breast cancer risk: holes in Harvard news release set stage for misleading news coverage

Today we’ve published three reviews that look at media messages related to a Harvard study on fiber consumption and breast cancer risk. Harvard news release review: Are we absolutely or relatively sure that increasing dietary fiber reduces breast cancer risk? NPR story review: How big is the reduction in breast cancer risk linked to a high-fiber […]

4 2/3/2016

Missing in action: Did US journalists miss a huge opportunity to critically examine mental health screening?

Last week a guideline recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, addressed depression screening in the adult population, with a special emphasis on women who are pregnant or have recently given birth. Maybe it was a lonely day in January, but these simple recommendations generated many headlines and […]

2 2/2/2016

Sunshine or more stonewalling? Maryland’s latest chocolate milk disclosures dodge the difficult questions

See Publisher’s note with update at the end of this post For University of Maryland (UMD) public relations officials who’ve been buried beneath an avalanche of criticism of late, a story in Sunday’s Washington Post would appear to signal an intent to start digging out. As regular readers of this blog know, University officials were beset by critics […]

5 1/28/2016

Health news headscratcher: How did a message about colonoscopies turn a full 180 degrees?

[Editor’s note: Officials from the University of Michigan have commented in response to this post; scroll to the bottom to view their statement.]   Disagreements over guidelines for cancer screenings have reached a state of near chaos. There’s so much confusion over the competing recommendations for when women should have mammograms that the American College […]


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