Search Results for "association causation"
Why would the Wall Street Journal post this Fox News video on coffee as cure & killer?
A “Nature’s Medicine Cabinet” video – courtesy of Fox News, was posted on the Wall Street Journal’s website last week. The one-minute clip flew by – but packed with a boatload of misinformation. Excerpts: “Coffee helps reduce the risk of Parkinson’s Disease.” “It radically reduces the risk of colon and rectal cancer” Those […]14 9/1/2010
Prevention Magazine: we said we'd be watching you and we are!
The September issue of Prevention magazine inaccurately headlines a story, “4 Ways Coffee Cures.” There’s no solid proof that coffee cures anything – unless some of you cure bacon with java, which I don’t want to know about. What the story (below) did was to try to present a cute little graphic summary of observational […]6/23/2010
Wisdom of the crowds: news consumers tired of misinterpreted observational studies
People are not dumb. Even if – or maybe especially if – news stories don’t point out the limitations of observational studies and the fact that they can’t establish cause-and-effect, many readers seem to get it. Here are some of the online user comments in response to a CNN.com story that is headlined, “Coffee may […]6/9/2010
Short people got no reason – to read too much into the shortness – heart risk story
“Short people have higher heart risk” screams the headline on CNN.com, treating it as a statement of fact. “Shortness Boosts Heart Disease, Death Risk” is the headline in a HealthDay story seen on BusinessWeek.com. Wrong. Such a study as the one being described can only establish association; it CANNOT prove causation. So it is wrong […]4 5/6/2010
CBS is wrong on coffee "lowering risk" of uterine cancer
Wrong because observational studies can’t prove cause-and-effect. So causal language like “lowers risk” is simply inaccurate. And the constant banner across the bottom of the screen – “2 cups lowers uterine cancer risk” – is misleading. Physician-correspondent Jennifer Ashton never mentioned the limitations of observational studies. And she never corrected the anchor when she said […]2/3/2010
Depressed over your Web use? Or the latest study?
This is what I look like after long hours on the Internet. But that does not mean I’m depressed. And neither does the widely reported study in this week’s journal, Psychopathology, prove that long hours on the Web cause depression. That’s because it’s an observational study – the kind that can’t prove causation – even […]12/22/2009
WSJ "Research Report" column is a real gem
Every two weeks, the Wall Street Journal publishes a terrific column by Jeremy Singer-Vine. Each column gives a brief synopsis of a recent research story and then gives readers caveats about or limitations in the study itself. It’s exactly the kind of breakdown that more journalists should do every day when they cover medical research […]10/8/2009
NYDN story on Mediterranean diet & depression was, well, depressing
HealthNewsReview.org review summary: A 183-word story just can’t do much. And this story didn’t. The NY paper clearly picked up the story from the BBC and passed along erroneous information about basic information such as where the study was published. But at the heart of the story was the improper and inaccurate use of causal […]9/8/2009
Kudos to journalists who evaluate the quality of the evidence
The Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal deserve credit for pointing out the limitations of some types of studies. The Times reported on a study questioning whether the dietary supplement quercetin lived up to its hype that it might improve athletic performance. Key quote in the story: The results were disappointing, said the […]9/4/2009
As predicted, tons of erroneous news stories on BMJ thigh study
At this point, just about 12 hours after the study was released, I find more than 140 stories online on the misleading “thick thighs protect against heart disease” theme promoted by a BMJ news release. Nary a mention in any of these about association versus causation – or about how an observational study like this […]8/5/2009
CNN hypes migraine "cure" and scares people on cholesterol-dementia link
You tell me if this sounds like a cure. CNN.com posted a Health.com story on face lift surgery “curing” migraines. Excerpt: In the year after the procedure, 57 percent of those who had the actual surgery reported the complete elimination of migraine headaches, compared with just 4 percent in the sham surgery group. In addition, […]12/20/2007
Does Your Language Fit The Evidence?
The following is a guest column by Mark Zweig and Emily DeVoto, two people who have thought a lot about how reporters cover medical research. A health writer’s first attempt at expressing results from a new observational study read, “Frequent fish consumption was associated with a 50% reduction in the relative risk of dying […]