1 7/21/2017

5-Star Friday: Great reporting on glioblastoma, stem cells, surgery as placebo, and the ‘non-simplicity of mental illness’

Medicine as science. Medicine as theater. The former connotes certitude and rigor. The latter more nuance and drama. For those of us who practice medicine, or turn to it for help, or write about it, we realize it’s all these things. This spectrum is what makes it both delightfully compelling and frustratingly complex. This week […]


Journalists and consumers need to immunize themselves against hype about unproven vaccines

I was in the waiting room of a medical office last week when I noticed this teaser on the cover of an old beauty magazine: “Acne vaccine?” I flipped through the April 2016 issue of Allure to find a short blurb about a University of California, San Diego, researcher who “has been working on two different […]


Stem cell ads: Promise much, deliver little

Paul Knoepfler PhD is “disturbed and concerned.” Here’s why. Knoepfler is a stem cell researcher and professor at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine. Over the past couple of years he has noticed more and more big budget ads for unproven stem cell therapies showing up in major American newspapers, such as these: Perusing […]

2 7/18/2017

Why journalists should take greater care when reporting on alternative health treatments

A couple of recent headlines dealing with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) caught our attention: “Acupuncture may be effective painkiller in the ER” — HealthDay News “New study shows promise of yoga in treating back pain” — CBSNews.com When it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When we reviewed these stories, we […]

4 7/17/2017

Podcast #32: Newly-revised List of Industry-Independent Experts for Journalists

If anyone ever says that he or she can’t find an industry-independent expert for a news story or for an FDA committee, they just haven’t looked hard enough. For 9 years, we have hosted what is, to the best of our knowledge, a one-of-a-kind list of health care industry-independent experts. Now that list has been […]

2 7/14/2017

Clueless on healthcare: here’s how we can get smarter

Medpage Today sent me a video this week that triggered a stream of consciousness about health literacy … or illiteracy. Here’s my chain of thoughts, not a scientific approach by any means, but more of my trip down a sobering rabbit hole which ends with this question: How much of the health information that journalists […]


Surrogate Markers: Why health care consumers & journalists need to know about them

Rarely a week passes for us at HealthNewsReview.org that we don’t come across surrogate markers being misunderstood or misused. It’s understandable. On the surface they often seem intuitive, while spotting their misapplication is not. But if more consumers and health journalists learned just a few ways to spot this, it would go a long way […]


Medscape video series on colorectal cancer in young adults: Does it fear-monger?

It’s a video series that mostly features one doctor, from one cancer center, that seems to want to make one thing clear about colorectal cancer (CRC) in young people: “there’s a rising tide of young people … (in their) 20’s, 30’s .. with colon cancer” “since the mid 1990’s there’s been a sharp increase in […]

3 7/11/2017

Coffee & sleep stories mostly miss the association ≠ causation emphasis

Just a quickie.  You’ve heard what follows many times before from us.  It is one of the most common flaws in health care journalism. Studies that show a statistical association between two things do not necessarily prove that one thing causes another to occur. We saw that principle violated several times in news coverage of […]

1 7/11/2017

Fact-checking pharma: 5 cancer drug myths, busted

The FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, recently tweeted that his agency is winning accolades from cancer docs. #FDA is winning plaudits for its thoughtful work on cancer drug approvals https://t.co/R737OivfcJ #ASCO2017 — Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) June 2, 2017 He was referring to an editorial in The Oncologist by Dr. Bruce Chabner, a cancer researcher, […]


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