Note to our followers: Due to a lack of sufficient funding, will cease daily publication of new content at the end of 2018. Publisher Gary Schwitzer and other contributors may post new articles periodically. If you wish to donate, your gift might help keep the site available to the public for a few more years, by defraying costs of web hosting and maintenance. All of our 6,000+ published articles contain lessons to help people improve their critical thinking about health care. Read more about our change in status. And here's how to make a donation.

‘Reverse’ diabetes with intermittent fasting? What you need to know

A health care message can get polluted, diluted, and distorted by many people as it moves from researchers, through journals and press releases, and ultimately into the news coverage. Here’s an example of what happens when it starts at the source with grandiose language used by the study authors, is perpetuated in newswire/releases and the […]


Now THIS is fake health news – and it appears in major newspapers across the U.S.

The story began:  “It is not often that another country beats the US to a medical breakthrough.  So when it happens, you know it’s something special.” But buyer beware.  Because it’s not so special when the story is bylined from “The Associated Health Press.” That’s not the venerable Associated Press wire service.  It’s a copycat […]


Headline vs. Study: Using cancer as clickbait

Using cancer as clickbait is ubiquitous and worrisome. It’s one thing to highlight studies that represent genuine progress, and quite another to write hopeful headlines about studies that are clearly not ready for prime time. Such is the case with 4 of the stories we feature below. It may seem like too widespread a problem […]

1 10/9/2018

It’s time for AAAS and EurekAlert! to crack down on misinformation in PR news releases

Whenever you see a news story that contains imbalanced and inaccurate information about health care, you’d be justified in wondering whether the content originated with a poor-quality PR news release. We’ve been demonstrating how these promotional documents can mislead readers about animal studies, phase 1 research, and minimally invasive surgery — to name just a few of the […]


5-Star Friday: Integrity

Sometimes all it takes is a little Bob Marley; not just his music, but quotes like this: “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” When integrity is lost — especially by those who we expect it […]

2 10/5/2018

What The New York Times didn’t say about a woman ‘caught in the crossfire’ between insurers and drugmakers

This week a New York Times story introduced readers to a young woman with a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), which is characterized by high cholesterol levels and early heart disease. The story — titled “These Cholesterol-Reducers May Save Lives. So Why Aren’t Heart Patients Getting Them? — began: Heart disease runs in Mackenzie […]


Osteoporosis and vertebral compression fractures: Advocacy groups and medical device maker spin misleading message

In case you ever wondered, October 20th is World Osteoporosis Day. In preparation, two advocacy groups — the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the National Bone Health Alliance — have joined forces with Medtronic, the world’s largest medical device maker, to raise awareness about what they consider to be an “under-diagnosed” problem: vertebral compression fractures (VCF) from […]


Problematic PR releases: Why you should dig deeper when you see the term “minimally invasive”

Consumers are gung-ho about so-called “minimally invasive” procedures, which typically require smaller incisions than traditional open surgery. Partly, it’s for good reason. Technologies like laparoscopy and arthroscopy — which use tiny cameras and instruments — have reduced complications and sped recovery times for many common operations. But not every treatment or test billed as “minimally […]


What you need to know about yet another study on Alzheimer’s and exercise

Including “exercise” and “Alzheimer’s” in the same headline is sure-fire clickbait for a lot of people. For example: 150 minutes of exercise every week can reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease (The Economic Times) Exercise may delay rare form of Alzheimer’s (HealthDay) But these headlines refer to a study published earlier this week that doesn’t justify such […]

2 9/24/2018

Why scary stories about sepsis could lead to some unintended harms

There’s no shortage of frightening news about healthy young people suddenly felled by sepsis, a condition in which the body’s immune system goes into overdrive in response to an infection. Never mind that most people who get sepsis in the U.S. are older adults, and that others at high risk include infants, women giving birth, […]


Tips & Resources for Analyzing Health Care Claims

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