Health News Review
  • Nov 19 2014

    Evaluating evidence in media messages about breast cancer

    The National Breast Cancer Coalition asked me to deliver a presentation at its Project LEAD® workshop in Washington, DC, on November 16. Project LEAD® is designed for NBCC members who want “an introductory education in the science of breast cancer, research design, advocacy and understanding medical news in the media.” My slides appear below.   [...]

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  • Sep 26 2014

    Flawed news about skirt size-breast cancer observational study

    The paper in the journal BMJ Open was entitled, “Association of skirt size and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in older women.”  Association, not causation.  That, alone, should have been a clue to journalists. If they missed that, certainly they’d follow the news release from the journal, right? That news release got it right: “Going up [...]

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  • Sep 3 2014

    European Society of Cardiology added to News Release Wall of Shame

    The press office of the European Society of Cardiology has been busy with the organization’s big annual meeting that concludes its 5-day run in Barcelona today. But I regret to announce that I’m adding them to my News Release Wall of Shame for one of their news releases headlined, “Drinking tea reduces non-CV mortality by [...]

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  • Aug 21 2014

    Misleading PBS story: Study shows prostate cancer risk rises in male cyclists over 50

    One of our readers tipped me off to the flaws in this recent story posted by PBS Newshour. And if you read the reader comments left online in response to the story, you’ll see that she wasn’t the only one who was troubled.   For such a short story, there’s a lot wrong here. The [...]

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  • Aug 19 2014

    Yay for a BMJ journal news release for including caveats about an observational study!

    I’ve criticized them many times, so now it’s time to salute them. And let’s hope the news release writers for BMJ journals continue this practice. This week, in a news release about a paper in one of the journals published by the BMJ, the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, was this caveat: “This is [...]

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  • Aug 7 2014

    Wording on “Low vitamin D boosts Alzheimer’s/dementia risk” is wrong

    The BBC headlined it, “Low vitamin D boosts dementia risk.”  And countless blogs and Twitter messages parroted that same line.  Erroneously. Because, as the BBC story itself went on to explain: “We need to be cautious at this early stage and our latest results do not demonstrate that low vitamin D levels cause dementia,” (the [...]

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  • Jul 29 2014

    6th time I’ve called out BMJ news releases on observational studies

    I do not enjoy this – repeatedly calling out The BMJ for its misleading news releases on observational studies. But I’m going to keep doing it until I see a change. The last time I did this, just two months ago, change was promised by The BMJ editor Trish Groves. But here we go again. [...]

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  • Jun 11 2014

    BMJ news release on red meat & breast cancer may have misled reporters again

    I shuddered as soon as I read the BMJ news release headline, which read: “Estimated risk of breast cancer increases as red meat intake increases.“  I shuddered because I predicted to myself that many headlines, if not complete news stories, would report this as proof of cause and effect.  Or, at the very least, caveats [...]

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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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