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Cheers & jeers for health news coverage of virtual colonoscopy

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In its weekly e-newsletter, the Integrity in Science Watch project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest offers its “Cheers & Jeers” section on health journalism’s coverage of conflicts of interest among sources. This week they wrote:

Cheer to Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press for reporting the financial ties to General Electric of C. Daniel Johnson of the Mayo Clinic, who was lead researcher for a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week that showed virtual colonoscopy using CT scanning machines, which GE manufactures, was just as effective as regular colonoscopy for detecting colon polyps that can lead to cancer.

Jeer to Judith Graham of the Chicago Tribune for failing to note Johnson’s ties to GE in her story on the colon cancer screening study.

Jeer to Liz Szabo of USAToday, who quoted Harvard Medical School emeritus professor Robert Fletcher touting the availability of new and better colon cancer screening tests, for failing to note that Fletcher is a financial consultant to Exact Sciences, which is seeking Food and Drug Administration approval for a stool DNA colon cancer screening test. Fletcher’s ties to Exact Sciences were revealed in an NEJM editorial.

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