Health News Review
  • Nov 4 2013

    The Economics & Politics of Drugs for Mild Hypertension

    Dr. David Cundiff was co-author of the Cochrane systematic review, “Pharmacotherapy for Mild Hypertension.”  The following is an unsolicited guest blog post by Dr. Cundiff. —————————- The Cochrane Collaboration’s Hypertension Group published a systematic review of drug treatment for mild hypertension in August 2012 showing no evidence that drugs benefit patients while about 11% have [...]

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  • Oct 15 2013

    Reflecting on one little paper in Science 40 years ago – Jack Wennberg’s legacy

    This week, Dartmouth celebrated the publication of a paper 40 years ago that it seemed no one wanted to publish. It was Jack Wennberg’s Science magazine paper, “Small Area Variations in Health Care Delivery.” In the Los Angeles Times today, Dartmouth’s Gil Welch writes: “Similar populations living in different regions of the United States get [...]

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  • Oct 4 2013

    Imbalance in reporting on Alzheimer’s PET scan research

    Just two weeks ago, CBS reported on PET scans for Alzheimer’s disease, “New scan may diagnose Alzheimer’s as brain changes occur,” based on a study in the journal Neuron.  (Do they scour this journal all the time?) Just four days ago, the Washington Post reported on “good news on Alzheimer’s: Better ways to diagnose it.“  [...]

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  • Sep 19 2013

    “Not-so-fine line between empowerment and fear, between awareness and exploitation” on testicular cancer campaigns

    Veteran public health reporter André Picard of The Globe and Mail writes, “Sack the hysteria: Men’s shorts aren’t filled with cancer time bombs.“  He also posts this image from one campaign. Story excerpt: “Not only are the big organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society starting to take interest in men’s gonads, a bunch of [...]

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  • Sep 18 2013

    Patient protection from conflicted medical guidelines

    A piece in the BMJ, “Ensuring the integrity of clinical practice guidelines: a tool for protecting patients,” lists: Red flags that should raise substantial skepticism among guideline readers (and medical journals) Sponsor(s) is a professional society that receives substantial industry funding; Sponsor is a proprietary company, or is undeclared or hidden Committee chair(s) have any [...]

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  • Sep 9 2013

    When the word “cancer” corrupts thought and action. Labeling hurts. The words matter.

    In recent weeks, there have been new calls for new names for some cancer diagnoses – cancer labels – that change peoples’ lives forever. This week in the BMJ, Dr. Barry Kramer, director of the National Cancer Institute’s division of cancer prevention, and two colleagues wrote an editorial, “The word ‘cancer’:  how language can corrupt [...]

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  • Sep 4 2013

    Basics for Evaluating Medical Research Studies

    A new book, “Basics for Evaluating Medical Research Studies: A Simplified Approach,” according to its authors, “represents a summation of our decades of work in this field.” The authors are Sheri Ann Strite and Michael E. Stuart, MD – two people I’ve had occasional communication with over the past year or so.  You can read [...]

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  • Sep 3 2013

    Star Tribune is wrong about experts recommending annual physicals

    Just last week we wrote about some of the problems with a TV station’s continuing “Know Your Numbers” campaign.  Now the Star Tribune fuels the “Know Your Numbers” obsession with a front page story in its Variety section today. There’s nothing wrong with the article’s reminders about blood pressure, total cholesterol, blood sugar, BMI and [...]

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  • Aug 26 2013

    TV station should stop promoting questionable screening tests at MN State Fair

    This is the third year I’ve written about questionable screening test promotions presented by Minneapolis TV station KARE-11 at the Minnesota State Fair. In 2011: What kind of informed decision-making place took place before Fair goers were lured in for prostate cancer screening? In 2012:  What kind of informed decision-making place took place before Fair [...]

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  • Jul 30 2013

    If you have low back pain, chances are increasing that you won’t be treated based on best evidence

    That’s the strong suggestion of a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, “Worsening Trends in the Management and Treatment of Back Pain.” It concludes: “Despite numerous published national guidelines, management of routine back pain increasingly has relied on advanced diagnostic imaging, referrals to other physicians, and use of narcotics, with a concomitant decrease in (nonsteroidal [...]

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