PODCAST #31: DCIS … searching for clarity

What is DCIS, or ductal carcinoma in situ? Is it an incidental abnormality that only became recognized as screening mammography became more widespread and sophisticated? Or, is it a pre-cancer that gives doctors a head start in treating breast cancer before it spreads? These are questions that nearly 60-thousand women are faced with each year […]


Tummy troubles? NBC News touts hypnosis as ‘the answer’ for millions

NBC Nightly News wants you to know this: “Hypnotherapy can be an effective treatment for heartburn and other stomach conditions. It’s a powerful alternative treatment, backed with plenty of scientific evidence” What other conditions? Apparently, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome to name a few. How does it work? “Hypnosis […]

2 7/6/2017

Alcohol industry isn’t just funding studies; it’s also funding journalism to sway public opinion

Just four days ago, the New York Times reported, “Is Alcohol Good for You? An Industry-Backed Study Seeks Answers.” Because it was the day before the July 4th holiday, the story may not have received the attention it deserves, so we shine a spotlight on it here. Excerpts: Now the National Institutes of Health is starting […]


A newspaper’s murky partnership with a regional oncology center: boosting revenue but misleading readers

Like presumably many of my fellow Austin, Texas residents, I follow the Austin American-Statesman newspaper on Facebook because I want news–not sponsored advertorial content masquerading as journalism. But that’s indeed what I got recently when I checked my phone and this popped up: Because of the familiar blue logo and masthead symbol, I scanned it […]


Small studies: Be vigilant when writing about them and skeptical when reading about them

If you’re a runner you might be drawn to a headline like “Turns out running may actually be good for your knees: Running lowers knee inflammation and may even protect against arthritis, according to a new study.”  You might even scan the article then file the information away for future reference, like when you notice […]


5-Star Friday: Our staff has your Fourth of July reading right here!

As we head into Independence Day weekend, it’s a time for Americans to reflect on the many things we have to be proud of in this country. But we also have things that need to be fixed. Some problems — like our health care delivery system — are daunting, complex, and arguably urgent. It’s often […]

4 6/29/2017

Bad idea for health news: The Atlantic sells podium to industry sponsors at Aspen festival

As pleased as I was to see smart people grappling with the problem of misleading health news last week at the Aspen Ideas Festival, I don’t think it’s accurate to suggest that “fake” stories are a major problem with health news today. “Fake Health News Metastasizes” was the title of the Aspen session addressing this […]

2 6/28/2017

Media ethics pitfalls of pay-for-play broadcast health information

This would be a good case study for the next textbook on media ethics. On radio and television in the Providence, Rhode Island area, Dr. Tad Sztykowski bought media time to reach listeners and viewers about his work at his Centers for Integrative Medicine and Healing. Now he may need to buy time to think […]

3 6/27/2017

3-D mammograms for all: political gimmickry that may harm more women than it helps

At the end of New York State’s legislative session two weeks ago, a bill mandating insurers to pay for tomosynthesis, also known as 3-D mammography, passed the Senate, the last hurdle before reaching the governor’s desk. In truth, the bill had no hurdles. No dissenting votes – not in the Senate or in the Assembly, […]


Multiple health news ethical problems with Minneapolis TV station’s Mayo Clinic story

Health care news that is spoonfed by medical centers to local TV news organizations can perhaps do as much harm as good. How? Such “news” can and does mislead readers when the TV station accepting the spoon-feeding doesn’t do any original reporting, doesn’t have anyone on staff trained in how to cover health care research […]


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