Health News Review
  • 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 [...]

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  • Apr 10 2013

    Familiar pattern in stories of male pattern baldness & heart disease

    A paper published in BMJ Open, “Male pattern baldness and its association with coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis,” drew lots of news coverage. When I began to scan some of the news, I scratched my head, pulled out some hair, tousled what was left, and finally decided I had to address some of what I [...]

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  • Apr 2 2013

    Jane Brody’s One-Sided Take on Sodium

    On the Well blog of the New York Times, health columnist Jane Brody reports on a study that estimates how many lives could be saved if there was less sodium in the American food supply. The following is a guest post about that piece by Kevin Lomangino, one of our story reviewers on HealthNewsReview.org. He [...]

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  • Mar 12 2013

    A good example of how to report on an observational study

    NPR’s Richard Knox has been around the block a few times – a veteran science journalist.  And it shows in the way he covered a study pointing to an association – women who took aspirin had fewer diagnoses of melanoma. Emphasis on association, not causation. He allowed one of the author’s enthusiasm to come forth [...]

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  • Feb 12 2013

    Valentine’s Day isn’t the only time observational studies are miscommunicated. It just seems that way.

    Health news this week is dripping with warm, gushing claims about the health benefits of chocolate – just in time for Valentine’s Day. Headlines such as: Chocolate – the love drug. Dark Chocolate & Red Wine – The food of love and health Chocolate is good for health and relationships. But one blogger wrote, “I [...]

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  • Jan 24 2013

    “The risk that press reports would fall into the trap of reporting this study as definitive”

    A paper in JAMA Internal Medicine this week, “The Association of Aspirin Use With Age-Related Macular Degeneration,” concluded: “..from this prospective population-based cohort that regular aspirin use is associated with a 2-fold increase in risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) during a 15-year period. These findings appear to be independent of cardiovascular disease, smoking, and [...]

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  • Jan 21 2013

    Observational Studies and Falsification Endpoints

    Last week’s Journal of the American Medical Association included an article, “Prespecified Falsification End Points: Can They Validate True Observational Associations?” that got guest blogger Harold DeMonaco, MS, thinking in a way that might get you thinking.  Here is his guest post: ————————————————- That JAMA article by Prasad and Jena offers a rather unique solution [...]

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  • Dec 18 2012

    Please, Grey Lady, don’t spill more coffee observational studies on us

    The New York Times – in its print edition today and on its Well blog – reported, “Risks:  Coffee Linked to Fewer Oral Cancer Deaths.” That is technically accurate.  An observational study like this – actually a questionnaire-based survey of a large number of people – can point to a statistical association – a “link” [...]

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  • Dec 7 2012

    My talk to Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT’s Medical Evidence Bootcamp for Journalists

    For what I believe was the fourth time in the past five years, Phil Hilts of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT asked me to speak to their Medical Evidence Boot Camp.  It happened this week in Cambridge. I was honored and delighted to be on the same program with Drs. Steven Woloshin and [...]

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