Health News Review
  • 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 [...]

  • 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 [...]

  • 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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