Health News Review
  • Jan 5 2014

    Journalists: don’t use the term “massive” heart attack if you don’t know what you’re talking about

    A popular ex-Minneapolis mayor, 58-year old R.T. Rybak, had just left office last week. Then, yesterday, a local hospital announced: “Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak came to the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Emergency Department about 1 p.m. today by ambulance complaining of shortness of breath and chest pains after cross-country skiing 7.7 miles in Theodore Wirth [...]

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  • Jan 2 2014

    Take the health news quiz of the year

    I’m late on this, but it’s too good not to note. From the UK, the NHS Choices Behind the Headlines site offers its 2013 health news quiz of the year. Sample question: What rather unpleasant sounding treatment was described by the BBC as a potential cure for inflammatory bowel diseases? A) Inhaling the smell of raw [...]

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  • Jan 2 2014

    Too many unaddressed questions in too many stories about vitamin E for Alzheimer’s

    On December 31 there may not have been much news.  Journalists may have grown tired of “Best of 2013″ or “Top 10 whatever” stories.  So a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association that reports that “patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease had slower functional decline” after taking big doses of Vitamin [...]

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  • Dec 20 2013

    Did people learn from Angelina Jolie breast cancer news coverage?

    No, according to a study published in the journal Genetics in Medicine this week. And the researchers had several direct messages for journalists, such as: Celebrities can successfully raise awareness about a health issue, but it is a greater challenge for health journalists to ensure accurate understanding. As our understanding of the genetic contribution to [...]

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  • Dec 19 2013

    More BMJ Christmas specials: virgin births & strange nativities

    The BMJ published a paper based on a survey “to estimate the incidence of self report of pregnancy without sexual intercourse (virgin pregnancy) and factors related to such reporting, in a population representative group of US adolescents and young adults.” Results: Of 7870 eligible women, 5340 reported a pregnancy, of whom 45 (0.8% of pregnant [...]

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  • Dec 19 2013

    PBS NewsHour debate on Glaxo drug marketing announcement was almost waste of time

    GlaxoSmithKline announced this week that it would begin the “process to end direct payments to healthcare professionals for speaking engagements or attendance at medical conferences by start of 2016″ and that it would stop paying drug reps based on the number of prescriptions that doctors write. The announcement got a lot of news coverage. Disappointing [...]

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  • Dec 18 2013

    Celebrities and health: good, bad, and ugly – in the BMJ

    Katie Couric, Kylie Minogue, Michael J. Fox, Christina Applegate, Suzanne Somers, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow. Just a few of the celebrities who have publicly taken advocacy stances on behalf of certain health care ideas. “Following celebrities’ medical advice: meta-narrative analysis,” is a paper in the BMJ. It concludes: “The influence of celebrity status is a [...]

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  • Dec 18 2013

    4th annual year-ender on health care PR crap

    I don’t think all public relations messages about health care are crap.  But most of what I see is. And I can’t stand seeing public relations that may end up hurting the public. The Public Relations Society of America’s code of ethics talks about serving the public good…and “a special obligation to operate ethically.” Hmm.  [...]

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  • Dec 17 2013

    Orac on Oz: fear-mongering over cellphones, bras and cancer

    On Twitter, one journalist wrote: “Has Dr. Oz reached his reprehensible worst?” See Orac’s post on ScienceBlogs for the entire story – which begins: “These days, Dr. Oz seems to stand for everything I oppose in medicine: Fear mongering, quackery, making claims that he can’t back up with science, and, of course, filthy lucre.”   [...]

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  • Dec 17 2013

    Premature Alzheimer’s drug predictions – and Reuters plays right along

    There’s a reason why we urge journalists to include independent perspectives in all health care news stories. Reuters provides a fresh example of what happens when you don’t. You end up not challenging a drug company executive’s comments that: he “hopes to launch a new Alzheimer’s medicine in 2017 in what would be the first [...]

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