Headline vs. study: Stem cells ‘slow aging’ and ‘rejuvenate’ old hearts

A 2014 analysis by the Media Insight Project found that about 6 out of 10 Americans admit they did nothing more than scan the headlines in the past week. And that’s just the people that admit it. Then, last summer, French and American researchers found that nearly 60 percent of links shared on social media had never been clicked […]

3 9/5/2017

Tone deaf again on pharma conflict of interest: STAT piece praising drug reps fails to disclose industry payments

[Editor’s note: The STAT article that’s the subject of this post has now been retracted following our investigation showing that the physician listed as the author did not write the piece, and that the content of the article was initially crafted with the assistance of a public relations firm.] I woke up this morning after a […]

5 9/5/2017

Facts about the new ALS drug Radicava that you’re unlikely to see in news stories

Talking to me with the assistance of a speaking valve, Chris Simon made it clear what he thought of Radicava, a newly approved drug for patients who have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). “It’s more fool’s gold than it is gold,” said Simon, who has ALS and lives in California. He doesn’t plan to take the […]

1 9/1/2017

A $475,000 cancer drug: Wall Street sees ‘bargain’; patients see ‘completely broken’ system

We’ve long been calling for news stories to address cost when they discuss new health care interventions. But it’s exceedingly rare – if not unheard of — for cost to figure prominently in nearly every story about a new drug approval. Yet that’s what we saw in the coverage of Novartis’s innovative new leukemia therapy […]


Despite flood of news stories, experts warn against unneeded tetanus shots after Harvey

For health care reporters covering Hurricane Harvey, there is no shortage of issues to address, whether it’s the health hazards of polluted flood waters, unexpected insect threats (fire ant rafts, anyone?) or the long-term risks of mold growth. But there is one fear that sometimes circulates in news stories after floods that should be shelved, […]

3 8/30/2017

The fat vs. carbs merry-go-round spins again

Any study focused on fats vs. carbs, heart disease and death, encompassing several countries, and that challenges existing dietary guidelines around the world is bound to generate news coverage — as well as a slew of eye-catching headlines: Low-fat diet could kill you, major study shows (The Telegraph) The Low-Fat vs. Low-Carb Diet Debate Has […]


FDA announces action against two stem cell clinics: Is that a ‘crackdown’?    

Numerous news outlets covered the FDA’s announcements yesterday (see here and here) of enforcement action against two stem cell clinics that were alleged to offer unapproved and unsafe treatments. Many reports framed the announcement as a ‘crackdown’ on unscrupulous businesses: New York Times: F.D.A. Cracks Down on ‘Unscrupulous’ Stem Cell Clinics Washington Post: FDA cracks down […]

1 8/25/2017

Physical activity and dementia: another negative study, another void in news coverage

If you Google the search terms “physical activity” and “Alzheimer’s disease,” you will be served up a long list of links that almost exclusively tout the notion that exercise could help prevent or slow down the progression of dementia. They are reassuring and hopeful messages but arguably not representative of the mixed science on this […]

5 8/24/2017

U of Iowa responds to our criticism of oregano ‘cure’ — and reveals a broken process for promoting its research

Here’s some free advice for public universities facing journalists’ scrutiny about how they promote their research:  Be open and transparent and above all, engage! Few things motivate journalists more than public officials – or public institutions – stonewalling honest questions. Journalists rarely get tired and just go away, regardless of how much those officials or […]


Walnuts for weight loss? Times makes huge leap based on brain scans of 9 people

Stories in the New York Times’ “Well” blog have been known to drive us nuts — never more so than when they blithely tout the health benefits of walnuts based on research that’s too preliminary to support such claims. The latest example came on Friday in a very short and exceptionally incomplete piece headlined: “Walnuts for […]


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