4 6/17/2015

The dad bod: doughy ideal or dangerous health risk?

Guys, concerned that you may have let your body get a little soft over the years? There’s good news: your physique now matches what some see as the ideal of masculine sex appeal — the “dad bod.” The media has scrambled to cover this phenomenon sparked by Clemson University student Mackenzie Pearson. Although the term […]

4 6/12/2015

CDC, Sandman, and finding an “honest” appraisal of e-cigarettes

News releases on studies should put the evidence they report in context. But how do you judge a release when there isn’t enough… evidence, that is? In April, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced youth tobacco survey results with this headline and subhead: E-cigarette use triples among middle and high school […]


Five-star Friday – backs, brains, bedtime & more

Another of our attempts to shine a light on stories or news releases we reviewed that were highly-rated by our review team. We can’t review everything we see, but these were some we were able to assess using our 10 systematic criteria. News stories: 5-star score for the Wall Street Journal‘s “New Study Questions Use […]

1 6/11/2015

Proton beam therapy claims refuted by urologists on Twitter

On this website, we’ve tracked how proton beam therapy for cancer radiation treatment has been promoted, including in marketing efforts by medical centers that have made an expensive investment in the technology. Something posted on the website of the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute sparked a mini-furor this week with a couple of urologists who […]

1 6/10/2015

A flawed news release, and the resulting coverage, of a study on breastfeeding and leukemia

Last week, we published a review of a JAMA Network news release about a study on breastfeeding and childhood leukemia risk. Our reviewers called the news release “incomplete” and “one-sided,” and said they were worried that the flawed presentation would lead to “a flurry of overblown media coverage.” The study was a meta-analysis of previous […]

2 6/10/2015

LDL – Lion King of Surrogate Endpoints – key cholesterol issue this week

With all of the talk this week about new cholesterol drugs, it might be refreshing to slow down – practice slow medicine, slow journalism, slow breathing – and to do so to the words of Dr. Richard Lehman from his weekly journal review blog for The BMJ. This week he writes: “While we are on […]

3 6/9/2015

Why did last week’s mammography study get so much news, but the DCIS study didn’t?

Last week, journalists were handed a wonderful opportunity to educate readers about one important part of the dilemma in breast cancer screening recommendations.  Most of them blew the chance. Two unrelated papers were published in two different journals.   But while the work behind the papers was unrelated – different research teams with a different […]


Weak reporting of limitations of observational research

A research letter in this week’s JAMA Internal Medicine addresses an issue that has become a pet peeve of ours: the failure of medical journal articles, journal news releases, and subsequent news releases, to address the limitations of observational studies. Observational studies, although important, cannot prove cause-and-effect; they can show statistical association but that does not […]

10 6/5/2015

Astroturfers rule the day: FDA’s flibanserin reviewers were “emotionally blackmailed” by a slick lobbying campaign

If you think that most recommendations for drug approval in the US are made on the basis of careful epidemiology on the nature and severity of the disease, the numbers of patients afflicted, plus scientifically-derived data on the benefits and harms related to the drug, then the decision on June 4th to recommend the approval […]


Use of “cure” overwhelms any caveats coming later in WaPost Ebola story

Zoloft as Ebola cure? – blared the Washington Post headline.   “What if the cure for Ebola were already in your local pharmacy?” asked the question-mark journalism first line of the story. This was about a mouse study. And when you add, deep in the story, “A lot of drugs that look miraculous in mice end up doing […]


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