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

Fresh on the heels of a debacle involving flawed communications about chocolate milk and concussions at the University of Maryland, our reviewers have uncovered another example of chocolate-related research being inappropriately hyped in a news release by an institution that should know better. Frequent reviewer and guest blogger Matt Shipman, a public information officer at North […]

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 […]


Half-baked coverage of potatoes and gestational diabetes

The humble potato made big news twice this week. In one instance, a photograph of an unwashed potato sold for $1.5 million (Australian) to a collector. You can see a representation of the image here, for free. Almost as strange, the Washington Post reported that pregnant women should lay off potatoes because eating even one […]

10 1/27/2016

The Opioid Crisis: Facts that news coverage is missing

Pop quiz: In the last two weeks, what class of drugs was mentioned in the State of the Union address, was the subject of new guidelines proposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was reported to kill more Americans than car accidents and whose users are 40 times more likely to abuse […]


Calling out BS on “Promoted stories”

We got some nice recognition from Rodale, Inc. this week, which included our work in their first “Rodale 100″ list “honoring trailblazers positively impacting lives around the world.”  They published a nice article about our work, “Meet the Guy Who Calls Out B.S. Health News For a Living.”  (They didn’t use the part of the interview […]


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