Health News Review
  • Aug 19 2014

    Hair loss treatment data in 3 people gets widespread (and often weak) news coverage

    Published results in just 3 people drew widespread international news attention. NBC News, which has a history of baldness treatment hype, did it again, putting a graphic behind anchor Brian Williams that played question mark journalism, asking, “Cure for Baldness?”  Short answer:  No.  Not yet.  Not after good results in 3 people.  But NBC had [...]

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  • Aug 7 2014

    Wording on “Low vitamin D boosts Alzheimer’s/dementia risk” is wrong

    The BBC headlined it, “Low vitamin D boosts dementia risk.”  And countless blogs and Twitter messages parroted that same line.  Erroneously. Because, as the BBC story itself went on to explain: “We need to be cautious at this early stage and our latest results do not demonstrate that low vitamin D levels cause dementia,” (the [...]

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  • Aug 5 2014

    The cost of cowboy doctors…debate over diet drugs…gems in JAMA Internal Medicine

    Imagine a Dartmouth economics prof giving a talk in Texas about the “cowboy doctor problem.” Whoa, Nelly, writes Carey Goldberg on the WBUR Boston CommonHealth blog. Jonathan Skinner, the Dartmouth prof, says “cowboy doctors were associated with nearly 60 percent greater spending among patients near the end of life.” A paper Skinner co-authored for the [...]

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  • Jul 21 2014

    Niacin news provides another example of how surrogate outcomes don’t tell whole story

    In his weekly journal review, Dr. Richard Lehman points out another classic example of how you can’t jump to conclusions just because a drug has an impact on a surrogate outcome.  It’s the big stuff we should focus on – not the surrogates.  He writes: Niacin is an abundant natural B vitamin, which lowers bad [...]

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  • Jul 13 2014

    Journalists jump at chance to say “fart” in a story; botch what study & news release said

    This is like the old game of telephone. Communicate a message from person to person to person and watch how the original message disintegrates. The message in question started as a basic research paper in the journal Medicinal Chemistry Communications – entitled: The synthesis and functional evaluation of a mitochondria-targeted hydrogen sulfide donor, (10-oxo-10-(4-(3-thioxo-3H-1,2-dithiol-5-yl)phenoxy)decyl)triphenylphosphonium bromide [...]

    3 Comments
  • Jul 10 2014

    BringMeTheNews website brings you dark chocolate study hype – minus the caveats

    Oh, how journalists love studies about dark chocolate. See some past examples I’ve collected. Recently I wrote: “We flood the American public with “health” news every day.  And the overload may very well cause confusion and disorientation about what’s important in health and wellness in our everyday lives….We’re losing people, drowning them in a sea [...]

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  • Jul 8 2014

    What does an 87% accurate Alzheimer’s test mean? Not much without positive predictive value.

    What does it mean to say that a new test is 87% accurate? I think most journalists writing about a paper published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia could not satisfactorily answer that question – about a statistic they repeatedly quoted in stories about that paper. The answer is:  Not much, if you don’t take [...]

    2 Comments
  • Jun 26 2014

    Readers react to mouse fitness study on NY Times “Well” blog – and I agree

    Earlier this week I praised one New York Times blog piece. But I have a quite different reaction to another I just read. The Times’ “Well” blog published a piece, “For Fitness, Push Yourself.“  It was about tips for you. The column fits in among other recent personal health postings on the blog on: heart [...]

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  • Jun 25 2014

    Which journalists reported an extra dimension on the 3-D mammography story?

    Faithful to the latest journal article, many news organizations dutifully reported what they were told by authors of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Breast Cancer Screening Using Tomosynthesis in Combination with Digital Mammography.“  The list of stories that resorted to sensational language – breakthrough, game-changer, best way of detection, [...]

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  • Jun 10 2014

    How predictive and productive is animal research?

    That’s a question BMJ editor in chief Fiona Godlee raises in a piece all health care and science journalists should ponder before penning their next rodent research story. And it should help news consumers put animated animal research claims into context as well. She discusses “the poor quality of the animal research on which much [...]

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