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Read Original Story

Extract may help treat bladder infection

Rating

3 Star

Extract may help treat bladder infection

Our Review Summary

This is a story about some preliminary research in mice for a treatment that may increase the affectiveness of antibiotic treatment for urinary tract infections. 

The story made it clear that this was a preliminary study in mice.  But the headline, "Extract may help treat bladder infection," is misleading.  This is an animal experiment, not a treatment.  The story itself made clear that this is "a long way from being used in patients."  But such headlines are problematic.  

Even in the realm of mouse research, the story should explain how big was the benefit seen.  We're not told how many mice improved, if the experiment failed in any or how many, etc.  

If an international wire service is going to send stories of animal research all over the world, it should be clear about the nature of the evidence and the quality of the evidence. 

There was no discussion of possible harms of treatment.  The story stated that forskolin is used in some places by some people.  There is, however, an absence of evidence about either its saftey or harm and it is unwise to conclude from this that it is therefore 'safe'. The story could have also discussed the fact that there is no regulation of nutritional supplements such as this in terms of what they do and don't contain.

The last third of the story had an appropriately cautious tone about the potential of forskolin to have utility for the treatment of recurrent urinary tract infections.  

While this story did contain some good background information about the compound it discussed, it failed to provide a clear picture for the reader about what is known about its use even in mice – much less in people. 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of the cost of forskolin.  The story failed to mention the amount needed or the length of time it would need to be taken to obtain the effect described. 

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

Not Satisfactory

 First, this was a mouse study.  The story was clear about that.  But the headline, "Extract may help treat bladder infection," is misleading.  This is an animal experiment, not a treatment.  The story itself made clear that this is "a long way from being used in patients."  But such headlines are problematic.  

Even in the realm of mouse research, the story should explain how big was the benefit seen.  We're not told how many mice improved, if the experiment failed in any or how many, etc.  

If an international wire service is going to send stories of animal research all over the world, it should be clear about the nature of the evidence and the quality of the evidence. 

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

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of possible harms of treatment.  The story stated that forskolin is used in some places by some people.  There is, however, an absence of evidence about either its saftey or harm and it is unwise to conclude from this that it is therefore 'safe'.

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

Not Satisfactory

This was a story based on a mouse study.  That was very clear.  It stated this does "absolutely not" mean people should attempt to treat themselves with this extract.  It said that the next step in research was experimentation in larger animals.  And it ended with a strong statement that "For now, this concept is a long way from being used in humans." 

However, readers can't judge the quality of even this mouse research evidence because the story doesn't explain whether there were control groups of mice.  Did all mice get the extract?  Did all benefit?  What was the failure rate?   

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story did not engage in disease mongering.

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

Satisfactory

Several sources were interviewed. Comments at the end of the story from an additional scientist not involved in the study tempered some of the enthusiasm in the rest of the story. 

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story did not provide information about usual treatment options for urinary tract infections. Readers can't judge the possible future impact of the current experiments without getting some context about current treatments. 

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

Satisfactory

The story mentioned that the herbal extract forskolin was available in health food stores.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The addition of forskolin to antibiotics for the treatment of bladder infections is not current practice and would represent a novel approach to the problem as suggested by the story.

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

Satisfactory

Does not appear to rely solely or largely on  a press release.

Total Score: 5 of 10 Satisfactory

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