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Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss


1 Star

Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss

Our Review Summary

HealthDay published – and at least one major news organization (BusinessWeek) republished – this overly enthusiastic story about what substances in tequila plants, garlic and onions may do to "fight bone loss" and a host of other problems.  Read the review for full details.


Why This Matters

The credibility of journalism is called into question with stories like this. Independent vetting?  None.  Making the leap from mouse research to what "can be used" in products for children and infants to help prevent various diseases?  Indefensibly definitive language. 


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  Cost not discussed but there is no product yet to cost estimate.

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

Not Satisfactory

First, this was in mice – a fact that was minimized in the story.  But we don’t know how many mice were tested. Was it two?  Was it 200? And we’re only given a relative benefit statistic – "50 percent increase in levels of a protein associated with the build-up of new bone tissue."  50% of what? 

Yet this mouse story allowed the researcher – based on a quote from a news release – to say: 

"They can be used in many products for children and infants to help prevent various diseases, and can even be used in ice cream as a sugar substitute."


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

Not Satisfactory

Not a word about potential harms. 

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

Not Satisfactory

It took 5 paragraphs – half way through the story – before it was mentioned that the research on bone growth was in mice.  And even then no caveats were provided about interpreting such evidence. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

Besides the headline claim about fighting bone loss, the story states that "Experimental studies suggest that fructans may be beneficial in diabetes, obesity, stimulating the immune system of the body, decreasing levels of disease-causing bacteria in the intestine, relieving constipation and reducing the risk of colon cancer."  Are you sure you didn’t leave something out?

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

No such comparisons provided.

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

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  The availability of these plants is not in question.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story briefly mentioned past experimental studies suggesting benefits from fructans.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story admits that it is based on "background information in a news release from the American Chemical Society."

Total Score: 1 of 8 Satisfactory


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