2 9/6/2018

Why one woman’s emotional plea for early colon cancer screening may harm instead of help

A 32-year-old cancer patient has taken to Facebook to urge people to “get screened early for colon cancer” — and a number of news outlets are spreading her impassioned message without giving it sufficient scrutiny. The news coverage is a classic case of muddling the distinction between diagnosis and screening, and it could expose readers […]


Problematic PR releases: more mice, more muddled messages

In our continuing series on problematic public relations news releases, we add another entry to our category on claims made about animal studies. The reason we’re continuing to hammer away on this issue is that, as you’ll see in these examples, many news releases deliver misleading messages that can easily be misinterpreted by readers.  We […]


Podcast: The problematic promise of a ‘cure’ for Alzheimer’s disease

The Alzheimer’s Association has fundraising commercials promising breakthroughs and cures for a disease in which the cause is unknown and a treatment hasn’t been found.

Is this irresponsible? Unethical? Potentially harmful?


More prizes for prostates: Tulane promotes PSA testing with football memorabilia, photo-ops

Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans is a modern teaching hospital offering the latest innovative treatments from a staff of highly trained experts. So why do its communications about prostate cancer sound like they were crafted on a bayou backwater that’s 20 years behind the times? Their PR team is promoting an event called Man Up! […]


Wasted wasps and deadly dog licks: How the summer’s creepy crawlies are infecting our health news

It’s been a long, hot summer with no small amount of scary headlines. While we’ve covered the topic of summer scare-mongering before, what’s trending this summer is less random and more insect-and-critter obsessed. Bats, ticks, dog saliva, drunken wasps, and a vast array of parasites could truly turn this into a summer of despair (if […]

1 8/28/2018

Observations about today’s observational studies in the news

We write about the limitations of drawing conclusions from observational studies quite a bit. Why?  Because there are ever more such studies and ever more news stories and PR news releases about such studies.  And few include an important discussion of what these studies can do and what they can’t. We want to be very […]


What you need to know when it comes to bad news about “good” cholesterol

Some headlines over the weekend heralded dire-sounding news about HDL, the so-called “good” cholesterol: Too much good cholesterol could raise risk of death, study suggests (Newsweek) Excessive ‘good’ cholesterol can be life threatening: study Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) But those scary statements are misleading. Here’s why. The stories are based on an abstract presented at the […]

1 8/28/2018

New questions about the $3B/year robotic surgery business

When Intuitive Surgical, manufacturer of the DaVinci robotic surgery system, last month reported that it had exceeded revenue and earnings expectations for the quarter, the company CEO said, “We’re neither satisfied nor comfortable.” But, clearly, neither are some observers in medicine satisfied or comfortable about the technology’s explosive growth.  This is the final sentence of […]

3 8/27/2018

How the ‘optimism’ narrative in Alzheimer’s helps the drug industry and harms patients

When I think about what will be lost when HealthNewsReview.org closes its doors at the end of 2018, our emphasis on independent expert assessment of health care claims looms as one of the biggest deficits. We’ve pointed out time and again how health care news can be tainted by the influence of industry and hidden […]


What you need to know about stories proclaiming ‘no safe level of alcohol’

We’ve often highlighted the perils of superficial reporting on observational studies claiming to show health benefits from alcohol. Likewise with an analysis published this week in The Lancet that focused not on the benefits but the harms of alcohol consumption, drawing on data from hundreds of studies. That research drew dozens of misleading and unequivocal […]


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