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Extracting the facts about pomegranate pills

Rating

5 Star

Extracting the facts about pomegranate pills

Our Review Summary

This was not one of the LA Times’ Healthy Skeptic columns, but it may as well have been.  As that column often does, this story dampened the hype surrounding claims for pomegrante juice and pills.

We especially appreciate the point-by-point analysis of evidence that the story undertook.

 

Why This Matters

A cardiologist quoted in the story said, “If people want to take them, that’s fine, but it’s not based on any scientificallly valid information….There’s no definitive clinical trial demonstrating a beneficial effect of pomegranate fruit, juice or pills in people.”

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story includes the cost of pomegranate pills.

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

Satisfactory

The story included critical analysis of claims of benefit, including the overview quote:  “There’s no definitive clinical trial demonstrating a beneficial effect of pomegranate fruit, juice or pills in people.”

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

Not Satisfactory

There are potential harms of the supplement including drug interactions with several common medications including antidepressants as listed in Medlineplus. A description of these potential harms can be found at:  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/392.html#Safety
So there are not only questions about benefits, there are very real harms to consider as well.

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

Satisfactory

Excellent point-by-point evaluation of the evidence for claims made about purported benefits for the heart and for the prostate.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

No disease-mongering here.

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

Satisfactory

Good sourcing with independent experts and identification of company funding for one researcher.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The ending quote delivers an appropriate contextual wrapup:  “If they’re part of an overall healthy diet, I don’t object,” (Dr. John Gordon Harold, cardiologist says), but I’m not sure the ends justify the means.”

The story could have reminded readers that there is evidence for how to reduce risk of heart disease, such as smoking cessation and exercise. Also, there are a variety of therapies for erectile dysfunction.

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

Satisfactory

The availability of pomegranate-containing fruit and pills is clear in the story.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  No claims of novelty were made.

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

Satisfactory

Independent reporting throughout.

Total Score: 8 of 9 Satisfactory

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