1 5/26/2017

We are in a crisis of crap health news — this week’s reporting shows why

I can’t remember a week that has featured so much useless reporting about studies that are meaningless to the average reader. All the stories featured clickbait-y diet topics like alcohol, chocolate, coffee, and fiber. All were based on observational studies that can only show associations, not cause-and-effect, and which are prone to drawing conclusions that […]


The anatomy of a drug website: 5 pharma tactics to be wary of

Imagine you have an amazing office visit with Dr. Wunderbar who offers the following:  unequivocal confirmation that the symptoms you’ve been experiencing actually represent an accepted disease with a real name  studies, statistics, and even anecdotes from other patients validating your experience  help in finding discounted prices for the proven treatments you’ll need enough time to answer […]


Weekly dose of chocolate lowers AFib risk? Oh how we wish it were true

Right on the heels of Tuesday’s overblown news that “even one glass of alcohol a day raises your breast cancer risk” comes another series of diet-related headlines–this time on another foodstuff guaranteed to garner publicity: chocolate. In this case, instead of chocolate being bad, we learn it might be good: Researchers reviewing data from the […]

1 5/23/2017

Today’s alcohol and breast cancer headlines are wrong: Here’s how news reports could have done better

Multiple news outlets are running stories today about the role of alcohol in promoting breast cancer risk. ABC: Consuming just 1 alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk, report finds Washington Post: Just one alcoholic drink a day increases risk of breast cancer, study says USA Today: One small drink a day increases breast […]


Belief in health bullshit is a global problem; a big study points to solutions

You’ve probably gotten bad medical advice at some point, and odds are good that it started when you were a kid. For example, it was conventional wisdom where I grew up that you should put butter on a burn. But despite the fact that “everyone knew this,” it’s not only wrong, but dangerously wrong – […]

14 5/19/2017

“Fat but fit”? Studies confuse, while advocates & journalists do little to clarify

Can you be fat but fit? Over the years the answer to that question has been:  yes, no, and depends. What it really depends on is what study you read. The answer was “yes” in this 2012 study in which lead author, Francisco Ortega concluded: “”It is well known that obesity is linked to a large […]

1 5/18/2017

High drug prices: Don’t let industry excuses go unchecked–or patient voices go unheard

With the cost of medications approaching stratospheric levels, criticisms of the drug industry have been gobbling up a fair bit of media space these days.   In one particularly memorable take, John Mack, aka the “Pharma Guy,” writes that pharma CEOs seem to be living in an alternate reality where they easily justify their high prices, and […]

2 5/17/2017

Why you should back away slowly from health care news stories relying on case studies

When science journalist Dave Mosher tries to explain the risks of giving medical case studies a lot of attention, he turns to extraterrestrials.   “Think like an alien who’s visiting Earth for the first time,” said Mosher, who also is one of our contributors. “If the first being you met was a cow, would you […]

4 5/16/2017

Cashing in on emotions: How pharma profits from medicalizing the normal spectrum of feelings

I most likely have Pseudobulbar Affect — or “PBA.” I know this because I took a quiz on a website designed by the drug company who sells the only FDA-approved treatment (brand name = Nuedexta, by Avanir Pharmaceuticals) for this “medical” condition.  It’s not good news because — after I turned 50 — I also took […]


5-Star Friday: thoroughness & thoughtfulness

This is a unique Five Star Friday in that we have examples of great reporting from both the breaking news end of the spectrum, as well as a long-term and in-depth investigative project. We also have two stories that scored very highly with our reviewers. This is important because the two diseases covered — Alzheimer’s […]


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