Health News Review
  • Sep 15 2014

    “Catastrophizing parlance” about diabetes

    Earlier today, I published a critique of a news story that was imbalanced in its reporting about pre-diabetes.  The story referred to a “national health crisis.” In his weekly BMJ blog reviewing journals, Dr. Richard Lehman addressed other hyperbolic language used to describe Type 2 diabetes.  He wrote:  In the catastrophizing parlance of the Lancet, [...]

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  • Jul 10 2014

    The BBC interviews two of my favorites on risk literacy & shared decision making

    Two of my favorite health care thinkers appeared – together – in recent BBC magazine and radio interviews:  Gerd Gigerenzer and Glyn Elwyn. The BBC magazine story, “Do doctors understand test results?” is worth a look. The two also appeared on the BBC radio Health Check program. There’s nothing really new in the magazine feature, [...]

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  • Mar 8 2014

    Absolute versus relative risk – hyping the obesity decline statistics

    On Slate.com, Razib Khan wrote, “The Obesity Rate for Children Has Not Plummeted:  Despite what the New York Times tells you. The Times wasn’t alone in hyping “Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade,” reporting on a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Dozens and dozens of stories [...]

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  • Feb 24 2014

    Bohemian Polypharmacy – latest in clever YouTube video series

    I don’t know how James McCormack, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia, finds time to produce these videos, but I’m a big fan.  His latest is “Bohemian Polypharmacy” – a parody of Queen’s classic song “Bohemian Rhapsody” – a song all about polypharmacy – taking more medicines than are clinically indicated. [...]

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  • Feb 7 2014

    New cholesterol guidelines present need for shared decision-making

    Dr. Victor Montori and two Mayo Clinic colleagues published a perspective piece in JAMA this week, “Patient-Centered and Practical Application of New High Cholesterol Guidelines to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease.” In it, they discuss the new American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) guidelines for assessing cardiovascular disease and for treatment of blood cholesterol to reduce [...]

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  • Jan 9 2014

    Saying No to “Know Your Numbers” campaigns

    “Know Your Numbers” campaigns can serve a useful purpose. But they can also be guilty of non-evidence-based fear-mongering.  They can fuel obsessions with numbers that fully-informed people might just as soon not know anything about. There can be harm living our lives worrying about numbers, test results – making ourselves sick when we are, in [...]

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  • Dec 20 2013

    Did people learn from Angelina Jolie breast cancer news coverage?

    No, according to a study published in the journal Genetics in Medicine this week. And the researchers had several direct messages for journalists, such as: Celebrities can successfully raise awareness about a health issue, but it is a greater challenge for health journalists to ensure accurate understanding. As our understanding of the genetic contribution to [...]

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  • Dec 17 2013

    Orac on Oz: fear-mongering over cellphones, bras and cancer

    On Twitter, one journalist wrote: “Has Dr. Oz reached his reprehensible worst?” See Orac’s post on ScienceBlogs for the entire story – which begins: “These days, Dr. Oz seems to stand for everything I oppose in medicine: Fear mongering, quackery, making claims that he can’t back up with science, and, of course, filthy lucre.”   [...]

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  • Oct 22 2013

    When doctors don’t discuss harms of screening tests with patients

    Another important paper in the JAMA Internal Medicine “Less is More” series. “Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment: Evaluation of What Physicians Tell Their Patients About Screening Harms,” is by one of my risk communication gurus, Gerd Gigerenzer and colleague Odette Wegwarth. They surveyed 317 US men and women aged 50-69 years, a population with the highest exposure to [...]

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  • Sep 12 2013

    Let me count the ways I’m troubled by this NBC News.com “cookies & cancer” story

    The story came to my attention when I saw Twitter comments such as “How not to communicate about cancer risk factors.  Oy.” That was in reference to an NBC Today Health website piece entitled, “Drop the cookie:  Sweet, starchy foods ‘probably’ cause women’s cancer.“  It was based on the report, whose cover page appears at [...]

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