Hopelessly devoted to imbalanced advice on network TV

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The CBS Early Show let actress-singer Olivia Newton-John appear on their program this week to promote a commercial product without a balanced review of the evidence. olivia.png

In fact, the anchor led in to the relevant part of the interview by prompting the celebrity, “Tell us about your crusade.â€?

(Newton-John:) “I’d like to introduce the Liv Aid, which is a Breast Self Examination kit to encourage women to do regular breast self-examination, because early detection is key.â€?

Newton-John went on to remind viewers that she found a lump during breast self-exam 16 years ago. She said she was working with the Curves chain to try to get these LivAid kits to one million women.

But a recent review of the scientific literature by the Cochrane Collaboration stated:

“Data from two large trials do not suggest a beneficial effect of screening by breast self-examination but do suggest increased harm in terms of increased numbers of benign lesions identified and an increased number of biopsies performed. At present, screening by breast self-examination or physical examination cannot be recommended.”

There was never a mention of this in the CBS program – only free airtime for a “crusade” – and a commercial one at that.

Shame on CBS for providing one-sided, incomplete information to its viewers.

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