NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine - https://archive.org/web/.

Five-star Friday (& some that didn’t make the list)

5-starsTo end this week, in which we had new reasons to question the ways in which health science studies are reported, it may be particularly fitting that we introduce a new “Five-star Friday” feature, to shine a light on recent news stories or news releases that received top 5-star scores from our reviewers.

In May alone, 5 news stories and 1 2 news releases got top honors. (An additional 5-star news release review was published on Saturday May 30.)

5-star news story reviews

Associated Press: Balanced, complete evaluation of study on vitamin supplements for skin cancer prevention

The Wall Street Journal: Balanced, insightful report on tradeoffs of treating premature babies at edge of survival

The Philadelphia Inquirer highlights FDA “loophole” allowing use of heart device without testing

The New York Times (twice):  The Times shines in coverage of new injection for double chins and The Times offers informative breakdown on the value of lung cancer screening

(4-star scores were recorded this month for stories by NPR, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and Fox News.)

 

5-star news release reviews

 

Other recent gems:

Tara Haelle’s piece for the NPR Shots blog, dismantling a study, a news release, and news stories that “oversold findings” about Hib vax preventing leukemia. She writes: “The experience reaffirmed the lessons I’ve learned in my years of reporting on vaccines and other scientific research: Be wary of grand claims, get outside perspectives on new research and never, ever rely only on the press release.”

MedPageToday: “Only 3% of patients with stable angina received all the information necessary to make an informed decision about undergoing angiography and possible percutaneous coronary intervention.”

The Sydney Morning Herald‘s story about an article by Ray Moynihan In the journal PLOS One:  “Public Opinions about Overdiagnosis” – an Australian survey that concluded, “A small minority of Australians surveyed, including those reporting being screened for prostate or breast cancer, reported being informed of overdiagnosis; most believed people should be informed; and a majority felt it inappropriate that doctors with ties to pharmaceutical companies write disease definitions.”

On Newsworks:  “When inaccurate science stories go viral and spiral out of control.” Excerpt:

“It was a small news station in Albuquerque,” she said. “News stations have a long and glorious history of sending people out to swab various surfaces for science to find bacteria on them. So they apparently sent one of their reporters out with a microbiologist, swabbed a few beards and ‘oh my goodness there is bacteria in your facial hair and some of it is similar to the bacteria that is found in your gastrointestinal tract.'”

It quickly escalated from that to “hey, there’s poop in your beard” and “your beard is as dirty as a toilet.”

 

Not in our gem collection:

The Telegraph reported that “erectile dysfunction can be cured by drinking coffee.”

Dr. David Samadi’s news release announcing, “Free Consultation for Patients Newly Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer” via the website ProstateCancer 911.com. Is he the Oz of urology?

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