Health News Review
  • Jul 9 2014

    What women need to know about USNWR’s “16 Health Screenings All Women Need”

    When I see a headline such as “16 Health Screenings All Women Need,” I steel myself for what comes next. “All women need“? What came next in the US News & World Report column was a list of recommendations that included imbalance, incompleteness, and more controversy than the column suggests. For example: On clinical breast [...]

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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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  • Jul 1 2014

    Conflict of interest: ABC allows Ob-Gyn/”journalist” to report her opinion on pelvic exam recommendations

    From MedPageToday: Average-risk, asymptomatic women do not benefit from pelvic exams as part of routine care and face potential harms from false-positive results, according to a new clinical guideline. When screening for cervical cancer, clinicians should limit the physical examination to visual inspection of the cervix and use of cervical swabs for cancer or human [...]

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  • Jun 27 2014

    A couple of docs react strongly to NYT “Well” blog post on vitamin D screening

    The US Preventive Services Task Force this week released new draft guidelines on screening for Vitamin D deficiency. The draft “concludes that current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for vitamin D deficiency.”  Other bullet points: There is no consensus definition of vitamin D deficiency the accuracy of [...]

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  • Jun 26 2014

    Questioning some of the ways in which new drug treatments are reported to the public

    While I’m working on a grant proposal to keep this project alive, my publishing efforts have fallen off a bit.  But it’s comforting to know that somebody else is doing some watchdog work – somebody like Paul Raeburn at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker. This week he wrote, “Cystic fibrosis breakthrough, or Wall Street coup?” [...]

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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, [...]

    2 Comments
  • Jun 23 2014

    A bionic pancreas! The true and Holy Grail! – BMJ blog sarcasm with a lesson

    I don’t think that Dr. Richard Lehman was addressing last week’s news coverage of the artificial pancreas when he wrote in his weekly journal review on a BMJ blog: A hush falls over the great cathedral as the evening light grows dim. As if from above, unearthly music fills the incense laden air. The kneeling [...]

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  • Jun 13 2014

    Robotic surgery news & marketing – misrepresentation of evidence

    “Under the glare of an operating theatre lamp….” Here it comes:  another drooling, fawning news story about robotic surgery – this time from The Guardian in the UK under the headline, “Newcastle hospital’s £2m robot transforms medical operations.” It was surprising to see how unquestioning the story was. The subheadline: “Dexterity of Da Vinci robot [...]

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  • Jun 12 2014

    “Cancer pill fights disease & gives lifelong protection” – for mice

    It took The Daily Telegraph of the UK nearly 200 words and 8 sentences to get around to explaining that the headline above pertained to a study conducted in mice. And when the story did get around to it, here’s how it was reported: “Although the study was conducted in mice, researchers are confident it [...]

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