Shares many of the same fundamental flaws as its HealthDay competitor:
Women facing menopause deserve more details on a study than this – a story that is likely to draw eyeballs while delivering few of the details that women really need.
No discussion of cost. 10 weeks of acupuncture treatment – the course given in the study – ain’t chump change.
The story told us that a five-point scale was used to measure the severity of symptoms. That’s better than the HealthDay story did. But only slightly better because the story never went on to tell us how much the scores dropped on that scale. So the story didn’t give any sense of the scope of the benefit, using just vague, nonspecific language – “significantly lower scores.”
By saying “significantly lower” and never providing real numbers, the story leads readers to believe the evidence is definitive. Some readers may never even reach the bottom of the story. They will see the headline and the lead and assume that acupuncture may be right for them.
No discussion of potential harms – only of benefits.
The story started in the right direction by ending: “Because the study was small, the researchers say more investigation is needed but….” – and here comes the unchallenged claim – “…that their results seem promising, suggesting traditional Chinese acupuncture could be an alternative for women who are unable or unwilling to use hormone replacement therapy in the pursuit of relief of menopausal symptoms.”
Among other things, the researchers admit they didn’t monitor long term relief.
Maybe if the story had turned to an independent expert, the story would have scrutinized the limitations of the evidence more closely. But it didn’t.
No overt disease mongering.
No one was quoted. No independent expert evaluation.
No discussion of other research in this field, including lots on acupuncture.
No discussion of the availability of acupuncture. Picture a woman who’s just begun experiencing menopause and has never had any reason to think about acupuncture. She reads this story about Turkish research on Chinese acupuncture. Even if she’s interested, she is not given any clue about the availability of the approach in the U.S.
No mention of any of the other research that has looked at acupuncture for menopausal symptoms.
It does appear that the story relied solely on a news release. Some of the language is nearly identical.
“They suggest that the explanation for the reduced severity of hot flushes might be that acupuncture boosts the production of endorphins, which may stabilise the body’s temperature controls.
The authors caution that their study was small and that they did not monitor how long symptom relief lasted, but they suggest that traditional Chinese acupuncture could be an alternative for those women unable or unwilling to use hormone replacement therapy to ease troublesome menopausal symptoms”
“The researchers say reduced severity of hot flashes may have occurred because acupuncture boosts production of endorphins, which may stabilize the temperature control system of the body.
Because the study was small, the researchers say more investigation is needed but that their results seem promising, suggesting traditional Chinese acupuncture could be an alternative for women who are unable or unwilling to use hormone replacement therapy in the pursuit of relief of menopausal symptoms.”