Kudos to journalists who cover medical science with caveats, without hype

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A couple of examples jumped out at me this week.

• Ron Winslow’s piece in the Wall Street Journal, “Novel Effort To Fight Cancer With Cancer Cells.” Excerpts:

“In an audacious twist on the concept of fighting fire with fire, scientists have developed a provocative strategy of fighting cancer with cancer” (The story was about tumor cells encapsulated within seaweed-derived beads.)

“It’s too early to know whether or how well the beads work in people, but in studies involving laboratory mice as well as dogs and cats stricken with cancer, the treatment substantially reduced the size of tumors.”

“The real question is whether this is going to translate into patients,” one expert said.

• Winslow’s WSJ colleague, Shirley Wang also demonstrated restraint in her piece, “Protein Is Found to Boost Memory“:

“The hunt for a substance that can improve memory took a promising turn Wednesday, as researchers said they had found a method that appears to reduce forgetting in rats.” … “It is too early to say whether (this) will be useful in humans.”

• Jon Hamilton on NPR covered the same story.

In a short story, he mentioned rats 9 times. He addresses the “Applicable to People?” question head-on: “But (one expert) says (this) may not be a good choice for a drug because of things it does outside the brain.”It actually can increase the growth of cancer cells,” she says. “So, I just hope that people wouldn’t think about, you know, injecting (this) into themselves.”

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