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An element of mystery in zinc cold treatments

Rating

5 Star

An element of mystery in zinc cold treatments

Our Review Summary

The common cold is just that, common, and there is currently no cure. Treatments focus on reducing symptoms, but do not change the course of the infection. Prevention efforts focus on hand hygiene to reduce transmission. Large doses of vitamin C, echinacea and, more recently, zinc, have become increasingly popular judged by the number and variety of products that are now available. However, there is little evidence to support their use. This story reports on a recent review of the available literature on the evidence that zinc improves the outcomes in individuals with colds. The story does an excellent job of laying out the problem, describing the new information available from the literature review, and putting it into context for the reader.

The story does a good job of describing how many studies showed no effect of the zinc products. In the one study showing a benefit of zinc nasal gel, the story provides quantification of benefits in natural frequencies (days of duration of the cold) rather than in terms of relative reduction.

The story does a great job of describing the design of the current study, which is a special kind of literature review and quotes an independent expert as well as the lead author on the current study and the representative of the manufacturer.

Overall, this was a very well-written story, free of hype and full of helpful information.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention the costs of zinc products.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story does a good job of describing how many studies showed no effect of the zinc products. In the one study showing a benefit of zinc nasal gel, the story provides quantification of benefits in natural frequencies (days of duration of the cold) rather than in terms of relative reduction.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story discusses unpleasant taste, upset stomatch, stinging sensation and, potentially, loss of smell as harms or side effects of zinc products.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The story does a great job of describing the design of the current study, which is a special kind of literature review.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not exaggerate the seriousness or prevalence of colds. In fact the writer could have emphasized that colds are expensive, resulting in lost productivity and sick days due to illness in workers and their children.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story quotes an independent expert as well as the lead author on the current study and the representative of the manufacturer.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story mentions over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants, and pain releivers as alternatives, appropriately pointing out that there is no "cure" for the common cold.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that zinc products are available over the counter in drugstores.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that zinc products are not a new idea.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

Because the story quotes multiple experts, the reader can assume that the story does not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory

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