Health News Review
  • Dec 16 2014

    As the worm turns – from scientific paper to news release to bad news coverage

    A journalist-friend asked me to comment on this.   The story, in the Daily Express of the UK, finally got around to explaining that the breathless claims made in the headline and subheadline were based on research in laboratory worms. Microscopic worms. The story states: “Although (the worm in question) is a long way from [...]

    3 Comments
  • Dec 9 2014

    Exaggeration in health science news releases – and what we’re going to do about it

    It’s difficult to imagine a journal article and an editorial that could set the stage for what we intend to do on this site in 2015 better than this paper and this editorial in The BMJ this week – about problems with health related science news releases. (Addendum almost 2 hours after embargo broke:  BMJ-provided [...]

    1 Comment
  • Dec 8 2014

    At last: new life, new funding, new initiatives, new people for HealthNewsReview.org

    I am very pleased to announce that this project has received a two-year, $1.3 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. I had hinted at this good news with some of you in recent weeks, but was not able to share details until the grant paperwork was signed. The LJAF, on its website, [...]

    12 Comments
  • 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.   [...]

    No Comments
  • Sep 8 2014

    Competition between “cure” and “breakthrough” on MS story — in mice

    A paper in the journal Nature Communications reported on a mouse study of a condition similar to multiple sclerosis. Mice.  And mice only. But look at how it was reported.  There was competition betweenhow many stories would claim “breakthrough” versus how many would claim “cure.” The Daily Express in the UK:  “Could a cure for [...]

    1 Comment
  • 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 [...]

    4 Comments
  • Aug 19 2014

    Yay for a BMJ journal news release for including caveats about an observational study!

    I’ve criticized them many times, so now it’s time to salute them. And let’s hope the news release writers for BMJ journals continue this practice. This week, in a news release about a paper in one of the journals published by the BMJ, the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, was this caveat: “This is [...]

    No Comments
  • Jul 13 2014

    Journalists jump at chance to say “fart” in a story; botch what study & news release said

    This is like the old game of telephone. Communicate a message from person to person to person and watch how the original message disintegrates. The message in question started as a basic research paper in the journal Medicinal Chemistry Communications – entitled: The synthesis and functional evaluation of a mitochondria-targeted hydrogen sulfide donor, (10-oxo-10-(4-(3-thioxo-3H-1,2-dithiol-5-yl)phenoxy)decyl)triphenylphosphonium bromide [...]

    3 Comments
  • Jun 26 2014

    Questioning some of the ways in which new drug treatments are reported to the public

    While I’m working on a grant proposal to keep this project alive, my publishing efforts have fallen off a bit.  But it’s comforting to know that somebody else is doing some watchdog work – somebody like Paul Raeburn at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker. This week he wrote, “Cystic fibrosis breakthrough, or Wall Street coup?” [...]

    No Comments
  • 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 [...]

    7 Comments