An imbalanced infographic: Is this the best way to bring ‘the most exciting, up-to-date science to the world’s attention’?

The infographic mentioned in the headline was featured in a news release published earlier this week from the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematologists (ASH). It was meant to draw attention to four “late-breaking abstracts” that were all from drug studies funded by the pharmaceutical companies developing the therapies. Companies that were also major […]

3 12/13/2017

Of mice and “man flu”

Spreading like a virus on steroids, a BMJ feature article about the “man flu” shows there is now “science” behind the claim that men seem to have worse symptoms–and may be justified in complaining about them more vocally and persistently than women–when suffering from colds or the flu.   Generating stories in Newsweek, CNN, LA Times, […]


What’s going on with Newsweek’s health/medical news coverage? What you need to know.

In the era of churnalism – churning out mass volumes of health/medical/science news every day – some news organizations seem to be simply going through the motions. Newsweek lifted much of its “story” from The Guardian, in proclaiming a breakthrough in unpublished results from an early Phase I drug trial for Huntington’s Disease. Recently, in […]

1 12/8/2017

Temple University again greases the clickbait machine with canola oil study

Scientists should be lauded for investigating health claims used to a market a product. But when preliminary findings are reported to the public without appropriate context, that’s a problem. And it’s one that we’ve seen twice in the past six months at Temple University. In June we criticized an overreaching university news release: “Temple study: […]

4 12/8/2017

Birth control pills & breast cancer risk: big study generates big differences in quality of news coverage

Are the newer birth control pills of the past few decades safer  — at least regarding breast cancer risk —  than older oral contraceptives? It’s a question doctors have been eager to study for some time. And this week a Danish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine provides some important, albeit observational, […]

12 12/7/2017

How to communicate about obesity without promoting stigma

It’s not hard to tell when the CDC has released updated information on obesity rates in America. A quick scan of Facebook or Twitter and you’ll likely see headlines like “10 Fattest States in America,” and “Americans are getting even Fatter.” The pictures published alongside these articles often show people with obesity, slovenly dressed and […]


Cheese and heart disease: What you need to know

It’s pretty indisputable that cheese is delicious. But could it also be good for you? That’s the clickable headline of the day, based on this meta-analysis of past studies looking at the relationship between cheese and heart disease. As with all observational research, there are some important caveats. Here are four worth keeping in mind:  


Video game therapy for ADHD: News touts a ‘landmark’ study but nobody has seen it

Remember when Pokémon Go was going to be the next big thing for depression and anxiety? Those were heady days. Of course you’d be hard-pressed to find many Pokémon hunters at the local PokéStop nowadays. And yet in the summer of 2016, we tracked all sorts of health claims related to the app, including one that […]

3 12/6/2017

Sham surgeries: A tale of medical reversals & the role of the media

For many of us a “sham” is not a good thing. It conjures images of fraud and being duped. But in the world of surgery (and other interventional procedures) a sham — or sham surgery, more precisely — can be a positive thing. Last month was a good example as the publication of three separate […]


Smithsonian’s imbalanced stem cell coverage: Will it help dodgy clinics lure desperate patients?

Smithsonian Magazine’s American Ingenuity Awards aim to celebrate the “cutting edge of American achievement” by recognizing innovators in a variety of fields. But in its zeal to honor a groundbreaking stem cell researcher, the official journal of the Smithsonian Institution may have contributed to unbalanced media coverage that often leads desperate patients and their families […]


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