Health News Review
  • Feb 27 2015

    MS joins the coffee club, in which association ≠ causation

    Yes, another new member for the coffee club.  Nary a week goes by without a new observational study about the benefits or risks of coffee consumption.  And almost always, many news organizations fail to explain the limitations of the observational studies. Today’s example, though, gives us one of the better cross-media comparisons of people who [...]

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  • Feb 9 2015

    Endometrial cancer joins the “coffee club” in which association ≠ causation

    Did the latest round of causal claims about a coffee observational study stem from a news release? I’m betting so, because not many journalists I know regularly read the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomakers & Prevention, which is where the latest coffee study appeared. Indeed, that’s a journal published by the American Association for Cancer Research.  AACR [...]

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  • Jan 29 2015

    What was missing in many stories about sugary drinks & girls’ 1st periods

    A study published in the journal Human Reproduction found that “more frequent sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption was associated with earlier menarche (age at first menstrual cycle) in a population of US girls.” The data came from questionnaires filled out by 9 to 14 year old girls.  A built-in limitation of this kind of research is [...]

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  • Jan 23 2015

    Squelching rage when reading “Twitter knows when you’re going to have a heart attack”

    That was the headline of a UPI.com story that began:  “Twitter’s fast pace and knack for promoting public spats can surely raise heart rates and get the proverbial blood boiling, but the platform known for hashtags and half-formed thoughts can also predict heart attacks — or at least rates of heart disease.” It’s a story [...]

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  • Jan 22 2015

    Coffee & melanoma: add to annals of abused translation of observational research

    The annals of confusing news stories about observational studies showing an association between coffee and…fill in the blank…have a new entry. Do a Google search for “coffee and melanoma” and you’ll get thousands of returns. Many of these stories inappropriately used causal language – suggesting that a cause-and-effect had been proven, when it hadn’t. TIME, [...]

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  • Jan 21 2015

    Cleveland Clinic Tweets Misleading Claim That Lives On and On

    The following is the first guest blog post from one of our new contributors, veteran health care journalist Trudy Lieberman. Another veteran, Andrew Holtz, also contributes.  I shudder to think that, among the 3 of us, we have well more than 100 years of journalism experience, but I’m thankful for what that means in bringing [...]

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  • 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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