Health News Review
  • 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 [...]

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  • 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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  • Jun 10 2014

    Slow down on making claims for semen test for prostate cancer

    Recently, all sorts of sensational headlines popped up about: Semen test may improve prostate cancer detection Semen test for prostate cancer helps diagnose early warning signs Prostate cancer accurately identified with semen test Prostate cancer diagnosis may be more accurate with semen test Semen test is latest diagnostic prostate cancer tool and may be best [...]

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  • Mar 10 2014

    On Alzheimer’s study, standout stories evaluated both evidence & ethics

    A study published in Nature Medicine is sending journalists tumbling over each other with enthusiasm for claims that a blood test could help predict Alzheimer’s disease. Dozens and dozens of stories reported the study with no independent scientific perspective and with little or no discussion of the ethics questions involved in an Alzheimer’s test – [...]

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  • Feb 24 2014

    Bohemian Polypharmacy – latest in clever YouTube video series

    I don’t know how James McCormack, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia, finds time to produce these videos, but I’m a big fan.  His latest is “Bohemian Polypharmacy” – a parody of Queen’s classic song “Bohemian Rhapsody” – a song all about polypharmacy – taking more medicines than are clinically indicated. [...]

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  • Feb 4 2014

    My weekly fix from Richard Lehman’s journal review blog

    Jut a few gems from the February 3 edition: “Oh great. Another phase 2 study of a pricey monoclonal antibody to address the “epidemic of osteoporosis,” i.e. a pharma-driven epidemic of overdiagnosis in older women. With a nice surrogate end point: bone mineral density, which bears an oblique relationship to fracture risk. And, in a [...]

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  • Jan 21 2014

    Journalists have “systematic bias” to cover weaker studies

    A paper in PLoS One, “Media Coverage of Medical Journals: Do the Best Articles Make the News?” answers a resounding “No.” Excerpt: Media outlets must make choices when deciding which studies deserve public attention. We sought to examine if there exists a systematic bias favoring certain study design in the choice of articles covered in [...]

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