Health News Review
  • 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 He [...]

  • 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 [...]

  • 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 [...]

  • 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” [...]

  • 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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  • Dec 3 2012

    Cardiobrief: Exercise And The Limitations Of Observational Studies

    Cardiobrief blogger Larry Husten writes: “Last week I wrote twice about exercise. Strictly speaking, both stories were complete lies.” Well, Larry is speaking strictly there.  But his heart is in the right place. Go to Cardiobrief and read the entire post, but just to capture it here, the following is what Husten thought about the first [...]

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  • Nov 27 2012

    Heart journals ask scientist-authors to do what we’ve been teaching journalists for years

    For years we have been coaxing and educating journalists – and the general public – to understand that the language used to describe studies – especially observational studies – is important. We have published a primer, “Does the Language Fit the Evidence?  Association Versus Causation.” Well don’t feel picked on any longer, journalists.  Some journals [...]

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  • Nov 13 2012

    Not so fast on fasting for cholesterol tests

    Lots of news coverage of an interesting study and accompanying commentary in this week’s “online first” edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine – suggesting that fasting may not be necessary before cholesterol tests.  From the banks of the Charles, Harold DeMonaco, MS, one of our expert story reviewers on, weighs in with his [...]