Blog Profile / Health News Watchdog blog

Filed Under:Health
Posts on Regator:664
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Archived Since:March 23, 2015

Blog Post Archive

Drinking alcohol key to living past 90? What you need to know

Here’s a recipe for misinformation: Take two topics well known to generate clicks: alcohol and longevity. Find a study that suggests alcohol increases longevity. Fail to mention the study is observational but still emphasize cause-and-effect language in your headline. Here’s what you get: Drinking Alcohol Key to Living Past 90 (NY Daily News) But it […]

A perfect storm for broken bones or for disease-mongering of osteoporosis?

Last week in The New York Times, Jane Brody predicted “A Perfect Storm for Broken Bones.”  But the column has elements of a perfect storm of disease-mongering. She writes that “fewer adults at risk of advanced bone loss and fractures are undergoing tests for bone density, resulting in a decline in the diagnosis and treatment of […]

Podcast: Timothy Caulfield – fighting Goop and cheating death

Timothy Caulfield, the author of "Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?" shares his thoughts on the battle of science vs. hype, public trust in science, the importance of social media in health care journalism, the art of communicating health care information, and -- of course -- the role of celebrity in pseudoscience.

‘Ultra-processed’ foods and cancer: Headlines show the right way, and the wrong way, to frame study results

Today’s headlines on ultra-processed foods and cancer offer a good case study in the right way — and the wrong way — to frame the results of an observational study about diet and the risk of disease. The stories are based on a French study in which more than 100,000 people were asked about their […]

Advocates push for access to secret clinical data, while FDA drags its feet

A recent analysis of once-secret clinical trial data concluded that a popular morning sickness drug, Diclegis, doesn’t actually work. That surprising finding, made possible by the release of previously undisclosed data by Canadian regulators, drew a barrage of headlines, including coverage by Reuters, Healthline, and HealthDay. Show More Summary

Why does CMV get so much less news coverage than Zika — despite causing far more birth defects?

There are two viral diseases that, if they infect pregnant mothers, can cause birth defects and a range of other health problems for their babies. One disease affects thousands of infants each year in the United States, while the other affects fewer than a hundred. Why has news coverage focused almost exclusively on the less […]

Stories about tragic flu deaths wrongly portray Tamiflu as a panacea

A number of news stories on Monday linked the flu-related death of a Texas schoolteacher to her reluctance to fill a prescription for a generic version of antiviral drug Tamiflu. They were misleading because there’s no evidence that antiviral medications can prevent an otherwise healthy person from dying of the flu. They’re also emblematic of […]

Headline vs. study: If only health news headlines would …

If only jolts of electricity to my brain could make me less forgetful. If only mice and baby pigs could read; or, at least, learn which oils and infant formulas are good for them. If only headlines — like those we feature below — would stop misleading people. Especially when it comes to common health […]

Asparagus and breast cancer study: What you need to know

Blocking the amino acid asparagine in genetically modified mice was linked to slowed breast cancer metastasis, according to a research letter published in the journal Nature. It’s an interesting premise, and one that’s likely worth further study, but as several of our alert Twitter followers pointed out to us, some journalists went overboard on this one: […]

Toilet Bowl Tuesday: A craptastic race to the bottom for misleading health news

Sunday’s Super Bowl supposedly represented the zenith of professional football: top players, in top form, playing at the top level. Anyone want to give me odds on any of the following news stories — which all showed up in our newsfeed before 9 AM today —  winning some sort of Toilet Bowl for health news? […]

Wearable defibrillator is said to save lives, but patients and doctors question at what cost

In the summer of 2015, while standing in her kitchen, Rachel Pezzani heard her 11-year-old daughter Natalie scream from another room. Pezzani raced to her, scared that Natalie’s wearable “LifeVest” defibrillator was about to go off. Natalie, still recovering from recent emergency heart surgery related to a birth defect, was wearing the device per hospital […]

What you need to know about news headlines claiming ibuprofen use during early pregnancy impacts fertility of children

It’s quite a presumptuous leap to translate this study, “Ibuprofen is deleterious for the development of first trimester human fetal ovary ex vivo,” into this headline from the U.S. edition of The Guardian, “Ibuprofen taken in early pregnancy could affect daughter’s fertility – study.” No. Show More Summary

5-Star Friday: The judicious use of anecdote

You’ll often hear us warn about the injudicious use of anecdote in conveying health care information. It’s a real problem. But there is judicious use. There is personal story that illuminates — but doesn’t substitute for — medical information. And when it’s done well — as it is in many of this week’s 5-star selections […]

What you need to know about a Washington State report on health care waste

  ProPublica reporter Marshall Allen opens his article about a Washington State report on unnecessary medical care like this: It’s one of the intractable financial boondoggles of the U.S. health care system: Lots and lots of patients get lots and lots of tests and procedures they don’t need. The authors from the Washington Health Alliance […]

Animated map illustrates ‘wildfire spread’ of unregulated stem cell clinics in U.S.

A newly published animated map shows how an unregulated industry of stem cell clinics developed in less than a decade, growing from zero businesses in 2008 to nearly 600 in 2016. The map was created by UC Davis stem cell researcher Paul Knoepfler, PhD, and University of Minnesota bioethicist Leigh Turner, PhD, who first documented […]

NY Times hails discovery of new genetic heart disease risk factor, but what about researchers’ industry ties?

Earlier this week, The New York Times introduced the American public to a potential new heart disease risk factor involving mutated stem cells, known as “CHIP” (clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential). The enthusiastic story by journalist Gina Kolata makes for a fascinating read about some fascinating science. The gist is that in some people, mutated stem cells […]

Is the NFL using the CDC to ‘manufacture doubt’ on head injuries?

It’s almost here: Super Bowl weekend. The big game, the big TV ads, the big halftime show, the big bowls of chips and salsa … and the big hits. Dramatic hits that make some of us cheer, make others cringe, and make some players retire. A recent paper in the BMJ’s Injury Prevention journal raises questions […]

Podcast: The promise of precision medicine

In the past half year the FDA has approved the first three gene therapies for use in the US. This comes less than 18 years after the announcement that the human genome had been fully sequenced. It was a milestone wrapped in a promise; a promise that became known as “precision medicine.” But has that promise become reality?

In the real world, harms of lung cancer screening prove greater than expected

While hospitals and advocacy groups eagerly promote lung cancer screening to the public, some researchers are shining a spotlight on data that shows the harms of lung cancer screening occur more often than anticipated. A whopping 56 percent of the time, current and former heavy smokers who were screened with low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans […]

New blood pressure guidelines are promoted with scars and scare tactics

The American Heart Association (AHA) has faced criticism for issuing new, more aggressive guidelines that lower the threshold for high blood pressure and set lower treatment targets for millions of Americans. (We’ve written extensively about those guidelines and the SPRINT study that formed the basis for them.) Now the AHA is facing renewed criticism for […]

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