Health News Review
  • 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 [...]

    2 Comments
  • Feb 6 2013

    Five year survival rates can mislead – message to medical educators, medical journals, journalists and the public

    Professor Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute in Berlin published an article in the BMJ last week, “Five year survival rates can mislead.” Excerpt: While running for president of the United States the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani announced in a 2007 campaign advertisement, “I had prostate cancer, 5, 6 years ago. My [...]

    4 Comments
  • Dec 17 2012

    Pediatricians’ statement on thimerosal in vaccines

    Guest blogger Harold DeMonaco submitted this column: “They are DANGEROUS when they get together and do a little thinking!” That’s a quote from an anonymous posting in response to a MedPage Today story on today’s American Academy of Pediatrics endorsement of a Recommendation of WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization to allow [...]

    2 Comments
  • Jul 10 2012

    Epidemiologists call them “absolute risks”; you and I might call them the real numbers

    In a recent Huffington Post blog post, Dartmouth’s Gil Welch addressed an old, pet theme of ours, “The Problem is Relative.”  Excerpt: Numerous studies have shown that the general public has exaggerated perceptions of the health risks they face — as well as exaggerated expectations of the benefit of medical care. Is it because they’re [...]

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  • Mar 13 2012

    Red meat study/stories deserve a closer look, too

    Physician-blogger Marya Zilberberg, a professor of epidemiology at U-Mass, Amherst, writes,”Unpacking the meat data.” She says a study from Harvard – and news coverage of it – about how red meat is bad for you “deserves some unpacking.” Excerpt: The investigators examined two large observational cohort studies totaling over 100,000 subjects and tried to estimate [...]

    6 Comments 1 Star
  • Jan 6 2012

    “Stop inappropriate, expensive & perhaps even unethical radical therapies for a condition that by itself does not kill”

    That’s an excerpt from a recent commentary in the British Journal of Urology International (BJUI) by authors from urology departments in Canada and the UK asking, “Should we really consider Gleason 6 prostate cancer?” (subscription required for full access). The National Cancer Institute defines the Gleason score as: A system of grading prostate cancer tissue [...]

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  • Jan 5 2012

    CDC fixes holiday pitch after getting aspirin advice wrong

    The following is a guest post submitted by Frederik Joelving, reporter and editor at Reuters Health. You can follow him on Twitter at @joelving. ———————————————————————————————————————————– A couple of weeks ago, I received an email reminding me just how easy it is to stray from good evidence in the name of disease awareness. And this time [...]

    1 Comment 1 Star
  • Aug 16 2011

    FDA publishes “Communicating Risks & Benefits: An Evidence-Based User’s Guide”

    The FDA’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee, of which I’m a member, today published a book written by committee members, “Communicating Risks and Benefits: An Evidence-Based User’s Guide.” The book is available online as a pdf file. My chapter was on the tendency for journalists, when reporting on health care interventions, to exaggerate benefits and minimize [...]

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  • Jul 11 2011

    “Think Inside the Box” – call for plain English facts labels about Rx drugs

    Catchup from last week: Dartmouth’s Steve Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz had a New York Times op-ed piece last week, “Think Inside the Box,” promoting their terrific idea of “a simple model” for conveying “independent, plain-English facts” about prescription drugs. They write: “The government should follow through on proposals to require fact boxes, similar to those [...]

    2 Comments
  • Dec 28 2010

    A leading health policy issue for 2010-11: communicating tradeoffs in screening test decisions

    One trend that stands out from 2010 is what I call screening madness. I’m referring specifically and solely to the promotion of screening tests outside the boundaries of evidence and to the emphasis only on the benefits of screening tests with concomitant downplaying or complete disregard for the harms of screening. Why is this a [...]

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