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Insulin for Alzheimer’s: caveats, NBC?

NBC News led into last night’s story about insulin for Alzheimer’s disease with anchor Brian Williams calling it “a big health news story.”

Then, in the first line of the piece, reporter Robert Bazell said, “It could be a dramatic new treatment for Alzheimer ‘s disease.” There was no mention of what the study authors wrote:

“Although we achieved statistical significance for our primary outcome measure, the observed effects were small in absolute terms, and thus their clinical significance is unclear.”

Seems like a pretty important caveat to include.

“Unclear significance” – in the researchers’ own words? Or “could be a dramatic new treatment” – in the reporter’s selection of words?

[2017 Update: This video is no longer available. But you can find the transcript HERE]

We know TV reporters are squeezed for time. But rather than hyping “It could be a dramatic new treatment for Alzheimer ‘s disease,” CNN’s Elizabeth Landau chose to use these words: “It’s premature to think of this as a treatment.”

Just as pithy. Just not as sensational. Far more responsible.

Don’t miss our systematic review of the New York Times piece on the study.

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