The story didn’t quantify any of the results from the study.
At least the story included an important perspective from one of the researchers: “Whether it is going to save millions of people, who knows?”
As we noted in our review of the AP story on the same study, we wish this story had reflected on some of the context provided in a recent Journal of the National Cancer Institute article, "Gene Expression–Based Prognostic Signatures in Lung Cancer: Ready for Clinical Use?"
Any early diagnostic tests for lung cancer that worked and were available would have public health importance. But these findings reported on are very preliminary – and it’s way too early to say that a supplement "appears to halt the precancerous changes" after a trial in just a few people – a low number the story didn’t report.
This test is not yet available, so a discussion of its cost is perhaps not warranted. The story states that myo-inositol is “cheap,” but that’s a relative term. Nonetheless, because of the early stage of the research, we’ll rule this not applicable.
This story did not provide any data to help readers determine how this test could be clinically useful or how well myo-inositol may work for preventing lung cancer. No quantified results were provided.
Unfortunately, the story does not mention harms or lack thereof associated with myo-inositol. And are there any harms from collecting cells from the windpipe with a brush? The story didn’t address this question.
There was no discussion of the study methods, nor was there information about the participants, including their age, how much they smoked, and for how long. Samples from only 16 individuals were used to determine the efficacy of myo-inositol, an important fact that should have been mentioned.
This story did not exaggerate the seriousness or prevalence of lung cancer in smokers.
No independent experts were interviewed for this story. Furthermore, the story failed to mention that Dr. Spira, one of the study’s authors, is the founder of Allegro Diagnostics and currently sits on the Board of Directors and serves as a consultant. The story only says he is "working with" the company. What does that mean?
The story did not mention alternative approaches for detecting early stages of lung cancer, including chest x-rays or CT scan screening.
This genetic test is not yet available, but the story could have been clearer on that point. The story suggests there is no question regarding the availability of myo-inositol; however, more information on the specific formulation used in the study, as well as the dosage would have been useful.
The story indicates that PI3K had "long been suspected in lung cancer."
This piece did not rely solely on a news release.