Health News Review
  • Feb 20 2014

    “Medical Matters” program debuts on Public Radio Tulsa

    I’m pleased to be part of a radio series on Public Radio Tulsa for at least the next four weeks.  It’s called “Medical Matters,” hosted by Dr. John Schumann. The series debuts today. Each week, he’ll ask me to review 3 or 4 health care stories that caught my eye. You can listen by clicking [...]

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  • Feb 19 2014

    Health/science news criticism: “nothing at stake here except the survival of credible journalism”

    Paul Raeburn of the Knight Science Journalism Tracker wrote: The Washington Post announced Tuesday that it will stop reprinting university and other press releases in its Health & Science section following the disclosure of the practice by the Knight Science Journalism Tracker last Friday. The fact that a blogger like Raeburn had to be the [...]

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  • Feb 6 2014

    Journalism via news release as Pfizer gets free publicity without releasing any data

    This week, Pfizer announced news from a trial of a drug for advanced breast cancer. The Pfizer news release stated “that the randomized Phase 2 trial [PALOMA-1] of palbociclib achieved its primary endpoint by demonstrating a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) for the combination of palbociclib and letrozole compared with [...]

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  • Feb 4 2014

    Don’t start fist-bumping over a study in two people!

    The Skeptical Scalpel, the nom de digital of a retired surgeon on a blog and Twitter, writes this week: Some well-intentioned researchers from West Virginia University published a small study claiming that substituting a fist bump for a handshake might reduce the transmission of bacteria. Since many illnesses can be transmitted by contaminated hands, the [...]

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  • Jan 23 2014

    A patient advocate’s powerful piece on Lisa Bonchek Adams and the Kellers’ criticism – the DCIS Sea of Uncertainty

    I’ve been slow to comment on the firestorm of criticism that arose when Emma Keller of The Guardian questioned the Twitter messages by Lisa Bonchek Adams, a young woman with stage IV breast cancer. I haven’t felt the need to comment since so many people have done such a thorough job of writing about this [...]

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  • Jan 22 2014

    Misleading BMJ news releases may be one reason journalists report on more observational studies

    Just a few days ago, a paper in the journal PLoS One, “Media Coverage of Medical Journals: Do the Best Articles Make the News?” showed how journalists are more likely to report on observational studies than on randomized clinical trials.  The authors suggest this shows a systematic bias to report on weaker evidence. And here’s [...]

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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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  • Jan 9 2014

    Saying No to “Know Your Numbers” campaigns

    “Know Your Numbers” campaigns can serve a useful purpose. But they can also be guilty of non-evidence-based fear-mongering.  They can fuel obsessions with numbers that fully-informed people might just as soon not know anything about. There can be harm living our lives worrying about numbers, test results – making ourselves sick when we are, in [...]

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  • Jan 9 2014

    Newspaper cheerleading for local medical device company on page 1

    I’ve documented a track record in my local Star Tribune newspaper of cheerleading for local medical device companies.  This undoubtedly happens across the US in other local papers but I live in Minnesota and we have a lot of medical device companies here and this is what I see most often. And today the paper [...]

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  • Jan 6 2014

    NBC vastly exaggerates the potential benefits of lung cancer screening

    The US Preventive Services Task Force recently released a new recommendation on screening for lung cancer. The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography in adults ages 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Screening should [...]

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