Health News Review
  • Jan 5 2014

    Journalists: don’t use the term “massive” heart attack if you don’t know what you’re talking about

    A popular ex-Minneapolis mayor, 58-year old R.T. Rybak, had just left office last week. Then, yesterday, a local hospital announced: “Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak came to the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Emergency Department about 1 p.m. today by ambulance complaining of shortness of breath and chest pains after cross-country skiing 7.7 miles in Theodore Wirth [...]

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  • Jan 2 2014

    Take the health news quiz of the year

    I’m late on this, but it’s too good not to note. From the UK, the NHS Choices Behind the Headlines site offers its 2013 health news quiz of the year. Sample question: What rather unpleasant sounding treatment was described by the BBC as a potential cure for inflammatory bowel diseases? A) Inhaling the smell of raw [...]

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  • Jan 2 2014

    Too many unaddressed questions in too many stories about vitamin E for Alzheimer’s

    On December 31 there may not have been much news.  Journalists may have grown tired of “Best of 2013″ or “Top 10 whatever” stories.  So a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association that reports that “patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease had slower functional decline” after taking big doses of Vitamin [...]

  • Dec 20 2013

    Did people learn from Angelina Jolie breast cancer news coverage?

    No, according to a study published in the journal Genetics in Medicine this week. And the researchers had several direct messages for journalists, such as: Celebrities can successfully raise awareness about a health issue, but it is a greater challenge for health journalists to ensure accurate understanding. As our understanding of the genetic contribution to [...]

  • Dec 17 2013

    Premature Alzheimer’s drug predictions – and Reuters plays right along

    There’s a reason why we urge journalists to include independent perspectives in all health care news stories. Reuters provides a fresh example of what happens when you don’t. You end up not challenging a drug company executive’s comments that: he “hopes to launch a new Alzheimer’s medicine in 2017 in what would be the first [...]

  • Dec 13 2013

    Health care news year-end stories are starting to pour in…stay tuned for mine

    California Healthline lists “Three of the most over-hyped health care reform stories of 2013.” The BMJ has begun its Christmas 2013 articles.  This week, they offered: Were James Bond’s drinks shaken because of alcohol induced tremor? The hospital clock that was telling a patient to die “Nominative determinism” – should your surname carry a health [...]

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  • Dec 13 2013

    First the hype, now the science – platelet-rich plasma therapy in orthopedics

    A paper in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons on platelet-rich plasma in orthopedic uses raises questions about the proliferation of that approach:  “for many conditions, there is limited reliable clinical evidence to guide the use of PRP. Furthermore, classification systems and identification of differences among products are needed to understand the [...]

  • Dec 13 2013

    Doing an autopsy on a feel-good local TV health news story…and the harms therein

    On the Skeptic Ink website, William London, EdD, MPH, a public health professor at California State University, Los Angeles, writes: “On July 12, 2013, I came upon a video recording and transcript of a typical feel-good local news feature: Local doctor battles cancer through natural healing. It appeared on KGET, the NBC affiliate station in [...]

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  • Dec 8 2013

    My talk to Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at MIT Medical Evidence Boot Camp 2013

    Last week in Cambridge, I spoke again (5th time?) at this event.  Always an honor.   Always a smart audience. Thanks to Phil Hilts for the invitation and the opportunity to share our work with a new group of journalists. Here are my slides.   ——————– Tweet Follow us on Twitter: and on Facebook. [...]

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  • Dec 7 2013

    HIV “cure” not a cure after just a few months of followup

    Just 5 months ago, news spread about an HIV treatment experiment, including liberal use of the word “cure.” New Scientist:  Bone-marrow transplants ‘cure’ men with HIV Medscape:  Stem Cell Transplant Patients Renew Excitement for HIV Cure HealthDay: “These patients have become the second and third known cases of a ‘sterilizing cure’ “ ABC News: “the [...]

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