Health News Review
  • Dec 16 2014

    As the worm turns – from scientific paper to news release to bad news coverage

    A journalist-friend asked me to comment on this.   The story, in the Daily Express of the UK, finally got around to explaining that the breathless claims made in the headline and subheadline were based on research in laboratory worms. Microscopic worms. The story states: “Although (the worm in question) is a long way from [...]

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  • Dec 16 2014

    Edgar Allen Poe, Vincent Price, and Dr. Richard Lehman’s journal review blog

    Week after week, it’s a gem. This week, Dr. Richard Lehman’s journal roundup on his blog for The BMJ starts with a parody of Edgar Allen Poe, goes on to channel Vincent Price, and then it gets darker. He describes a New England Journal of Medicine paper on “Clonal Hematopoiesis and Blood-Cancer Risk Inferred from [...]

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  • Dec 9 2014

    Exaggeration in health science news releases – and what we’re going to do about it

    It’s difficult to imagine a journal article and an editorial that could set the stage for what we intend to do on this site in 2015 better than this paper and this editorial in The BMJ this week – about problems with health related science news releases. (Addendum almost 2 hours after embargo broke:  BMJ-provided [...]

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  • Nov 19 2014

    Evaluating evidence in media messages about breast cancer

    The National Breast Cancer Coalition asked me to deliver a presentation at its Project LEAD® workshop in Washington, DC, on November 16. Project LEAD® is designed for NBCC members who want “an introductory education in the science of breast cancer, research design, advocacy and understanding medical news in the media.” My slides appear below.   [...]

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  • 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 [...]

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  • 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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