It doesn’t take much to please us sometimes – but putting "mice" in the headline goes a long way most days. If you’re going to report this stuff, you better be up front about the level of research. And this story went on to include other caveats, including an ending quote that was an apt conclusion – "interesting and thought provoking" but "what’s proven in humans is totally another level."
It is interesting and thought-provoking to consider the potential impact of a widely-available, generally safe and inexpensive generic medicine being used in this new way. But the research – and the potential – deserve to be wrapped in the caveats that were clear in this story.
The story explains that "Metformin (originally marketed as Glucophage, though it is now available as an inexpensive generic) has been in use for more than two decades and is currently prescribed to 40 million Americans." Good enough to get a satisfactory score.
Like the Reuters story, HealthDay gave only relative risk reduction data, not absolute. Please read our brief primer and learn from it.
Why not tell us 34 percent fewer tumors THAN WHAT?
At least the story noted, "no one knows if metform in safe in non-diabetic populations but some clinical trials are starting to look at the issue."
Adequate overview of how the research was done, the likely mechanism of action, and a broader look at some other related human research – all points done better than in the competing Reuters story.
And considerable credit goes to HealthDay for putting mouse research in the headline – something Reuters didn’t do.
No disease mongering in this story.
Several sources interviewed – including one who appears to be independent of this research.
This job did a better job of at least mentioning alternative approaches and also other research. This quote even touched on the possible future decision-making impact of this research: "All other things being equal, many diabetics face a choice of oral agents, and early evidence that metformin may have an effect on the oncology side may increasingly play a role in decision-making."
But, importantly, the story ended with another quote about the new research: "interesting and thought-provoking, what’s proven in humans is totally another level."
The current widespread use and availability of metformin is clear from the story
The story gives at least a brief overview of past research – including evidence of impact of metformin diabetic people.
It’s clear that this story did not rely solely or largely on a news release.