1 7/31/2015

NPR’s On the Media with a skeptic’s guide to health news/diet fads

Science journalist John Bohannon, Timothy Caulfield of the University of Alberta, and I are interviewed on NPR’s On the Media this weekend. On the Media, produced by WNYC in New York,  has begun publishing printable consumer handbooks to accompany their on-air programs, and they based one handout this week on our HealthNewsReview.org review criteria.


Tips for understanding studies

Periodic reminder about a collection of brief primers we offer in our Toolkit, covering the following topics: 7 Words (and more) You Shouldn’’t Use in Medical News Absolute vs. Relative Risk Animal & Lab Studies Commercialism Be careful with composite endpoints/outcomes Resources for Reporting on Costs of Medical Interventions Phases of Drug Trials Medical Devices FDA Approval Not Guaranteed Intention-to-treat analysis […]

1 7/28/2015

The problem with health stories based on animal research

“Too Much Salt May Delay the Onset of Puberty, Study Suggests.” Health conscious parents who strive to stay on top of current medical news may have paused at that headline, they might even have clicked it. The title, lede and second paragraph of this story published on TIME.com all state that too salty of a […]

2 7/27/2015

Fred Hutch president predicts cancer cure in 10 years; critics have heard it all before

Every few years someone steps in it by claiming we are close to a cancer cure – as if all cancers are alike and we’ll soon have all the knowledge we need to cure the myriad forms of cancer. The latest public figure to make that claim is Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center president Dr. […]


Taking stock of new Alzheimer’s drug coverage: A “landmark breakthrough” that offers no “clinically apparent benefit”

The big story dominating this week’s health news has been the presentation of new results on studies of Alzheimer’s drugs at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington. Eli Lilly was there to show off data on solanezumab, a drug that previously failed to demonstrate benefits in two big studies but is now being retested […]


Watch-dogging health news across the pond

It’s not only U.S. news media outlets that sometimes misinterpret results from medical research or play fast and loose with health claims. Since more and more of us are getting news from non-US sources, it’s only fair that we point out the strengths and weaknesses of these overseas sources as well. Today, stories from The […]


Wrong forces drive osteoporosis treatment – despite evidence of lack of benefit

An important piece in The BMJ has received very little news media attention so far, so we thought it was important to point it out here. Two endocrinologists wrote an Analysis piece, “Web of industry, advocacy and academia in the management of osteoporosis.” In a nutshell, they write that: Continued enthusiasm for calcium and vitamin […]

9 7/21/2015

War metaphors in breast cancer – “brave” word angers some

The following is a guest blog post by Sally James, a Seattle-based freelance writer who is also one of our regular story and news release reviewers. She tweets as @jamesian. A recent campaign by the Centers for Disease Control is called Bring Your Brave and aims to get younger women between 18 and 44 to pay […]

4 7/20/2015

Where is all the toxic kale coming from? An investigation of the “Vegetable Detective”

Update: This post has been revised to reflect input from Ernie Hubbard, the researcher profiled in the Craftsmanship piece that’s discussed in the post. See the editor’s note at the end for details. In our diet-obsessed culture, we’re bombarded on a daily basis with messages about the dangers of food-based toxins — everything from gluten in […]


Five-Star Friday: statins, funeral home death, devices, overtreatment, scorecards

This is our continuing look at excellence in writing about health care. The Five-Star Friday feature won’t appear every Friday, but whenever we can, and whenever we’ve collected enough gems to shine a light on. . -0- Fresh today, we published a criteria-driven 5-star review of a New York Times story, “2 Studies Back Guidelines for […]


Tips for Understanding Studies

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