Health News Review
  • 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. [...]

  • 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 [...]

  • 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 [...]

  • 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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  • Nov 22 2013

    Nuts and death – journal animated video explanation

    You probably saw, read, or heard about news of an observational study in the New England Journal of Medicine pointing to a statistical association between nut consumption and lower death rate.  Larry Husten did a good job explaining the study on The NEJM itself posted a YouTube video that had journal editor Jeffrey Drazen’s [...]

  • Nov 20 2013

    Miracle medicine? Or caution, controversy, questionable methodology?

    I know what it’s like for patients to tune in when they hear news stories about a condition they have. I have a form of spinal arthritis known as ankylosing spondylitis (AS).  So when The Globe and Mail newspaper published a story referring to “a miracle medicine” for AS, I perked up. Hmmm, I thought.  [...]

  • Oct 17 2013

    Bacon bad for your sperm – news stories hit below belt again

    The New York Daily News reports on an observational study by the Harvard School of Public Health and concludes:  “Men should back away from the bacon if they want to make babies.” Here’s the nut graf – no pun intended: “Researchers analyzed more than 350 semen samples from 156 men who visited a local fertility [...]

  • Sep 5 2013

    The NY Times Well blog isn’t always so well

    The roller coaster ride of uneven quality of the New York Times Well blog was on display again as they posted, “Some Fruits Are Better Than Others.”  Excerpt: Recent studies have found that eating a greater variety, but not a greater quantity, of fruit significantly reduces the risk for Type 2 diabetes. This made researchers [...]

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  • Aug 21 2013

    ICYMI: another association ≠ causation case with labor induction & autism risk

    If more voices joined in to explain the limitations of observational studies, maybe we could have a reverse Tinker Bell effect.  “Clap loud enough and Tinker Bell will come back to life!”  Maybe if we clap loud enough for those who explain the limitations of observational studies, we can kill unfounded headlines and stories about [...]

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  • Aug 20 2013

    Scary coffee stories – add cream and two lumps of caveats

     Put Down That Coffee.  It Might Be Killing You. That was an actual headline from a story the other day about a paper published online first by Mayo Clinic Proceedings pointing to an association – not proof of cause – between heavy coffee consumption (>28 cups a week) and higher death rate in people younger [...]