Health News Review
  • 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.   [...]

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  • 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 [...]

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  • 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 [...]

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  • 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 [...]

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  • 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?” [...]

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  • 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 [...]

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  • Jun 10 2014

    Slow down on making claims for semen test for prostate cancer

    Recently, all sorts of sensational headlines popped up about: Semen test may improve prostate cancer detection Semen test for prostate cancer helps diagnose early warning signs Prostate cancer accurately identified with semen test Prostate cancer diagnosis may be more accurate with semen test Semen test is latest diagnostic prostate cancer tool and may be best [...]

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  • Mar 6 2014

    Improving news releases by medical journals and academic medical centers

    The journal Evidence-Based Medicine recently published an editorial, “Journals should lead the way in improving medical press releases,” by Dr. Joshua Fenton of the University of California, Davis. As one who has written frequently about flaws in journal news releases,* I am pleased to hear another voice call for change. Excerpts of his editorial: While [...]

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  • Feb 6 2014

    Journalism via news release as Pfizer gets free publicity without releasing any data

    This week, Pfizer announced news from a trial of a drug for advanced breast cancer. The Pfizer news release stated “that the randomized Phase 2 trial [PALOMA-1] of palbociclib achieved its primary endpoint by demonstrating a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) for the combination of palbociclib and letrozole compared with [...]

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  • 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 [...]

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