5-Star Friday: liquid biopsies, resveratrol, Med diet and more

This is just a quick Friday shout out to a handful of recent 5-star efforts that we’ve reviewed and which deserve recognition: Reuters adds some cold water to direct-to-consumer ‘liquid biopsy’. Our reviewers called this one particularly strong on characterization of harms and pointed to this informative text: “Patients might be attracted to a less-invasive test […]

2 9/18/2015

Another potentially troubling “partnership” between a news org & Mayo Clinic

Journalist Paul John Scott of the Rochester Post Bulletin writes, “Mayo, Star Tribune form content partnership.”  He begins: Mayo Clinic has entered into a sponsored content deal with the Star-Tribune to generate health, disease and condition treatment related info-graphics for the Twin Cities’ largest newspaper. The clinic describes the arrangement as an opportunity to distribute […]

2 9/18/2015

NIH SPRINT study sparks questions about overtreatment of mild hypertension

Last week the National Institutes of Health (NIH) took the unusual step of announcing the early conclusion of a “landmark” study on managing hypertension. What makes it unusual is that when the NIH made the bold announcement that intensive intervention with a combo of three drugs to reach a new target systolic blood pressure of […]


Where does the hype come from? A news release/news story comparison

Hype in health news stories often originates with an exaggerated news release from an academic institution, research suggests. But news releases aren’t always to blame when journalists make over-the-top claims about a study. Sometimes, the news release can do an excellent job of presenting a careful, cautious summary of the research that emphasizes limitations and […]


Podcast on overdiagnosis & radiology: the arsonist & the firefighter

Professional definition: Radiologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries using medical imaging techniques, such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound. Dr. Saurabh Jha says his profession can be both the arsonist and the firefighter with overdiagnosis. Jha, a radiologist at the Hospital […]

5 9/15/2015

Sniffing out the truth on dueling aromatherapy studies

The following is a guest post by Earle Holland, who, for almost 35 years, was the senior science and medical communications officer at Ohio State University. He’s been a member of our editorial team since January. It started as a Facebook post from a friend of a friend, a comment excitedly anticipating the arrival of […]

3 9/14/2015

Low pulse = higher crime rate? Cause-and-effect confusion in heart rate/crime stories

An LA Times story crossed our radar recently with what seemed like an exceptionally provocative premise: “What if a test could identify young men who were nearly 50% more likely than their peers to become violent criminals?” To me, this sounded like something out of the 2002 Tom Cruise sci-fi flick Minority Report — which […]

1 9/14/2015

Dr. Richard Lehman: Why does having abnormal glucose tests cost the USA $245bn?

Dr. Richard Lehman’s journal review blog for The BMJ is one of my favorite weekly reads. Today he comments on last week’s study that led to all of the news coverage claiming that half of all Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes. He wrote: Now when I read most of the literature about diabetes I feel […]

7 9/11/2015

NIH, news media, need to slow down on the SPRINT hype

This post has been updated with additional expert commentary on the SPRINT trial and the NIH’s announcement regarding the results (scroll to the bottom). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today made an announcement about the SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial) study that is making big waves across the world of health care. Landmark […]

6 9/11/2015

Idolatry of the surrogate: Overdiagnosis in diabetes – podcast with Dr. John S. Yudkin

Our new podcast features an important topic:  Is there overdiagnosis of diabetes?  Is the creation of the term and the diagnosis of “pre-diabetes” another form of over diagnosis? The topic was addressed 4 years ago in an article called “The Idolatry of the Surrogate” in The BMJ.  One of the authors, Dr. John S. Yudkin is […]


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