Tag Archives: animal studies

Should you cover animal research? Check out these tips first

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Most journalists know — or quickly learn — that animal studies are problematic and usually best left uncovered if writing about general health and medical findings for a broad consumer audience. In fact, simply the way animal are bred and used in research can be problematic.

Aside from the controversy over use of animals in research and debates on the usefulness and relevance of that research, the fact remains that humans aren’t mice, or rats or horses or pigs or even chimpanzees. What happens in animals therefore cannot ever be directly translated to human anatomy and physiology. Continue reading

Be cautious, skeptical with comprehensive reviews of evidence

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: nekrum via Flickr

I recently was assessing a lengthy review of the evidence on environmental exposures and breast cancer risk, and as I read, red flags started popping up. While I may not know the evidence base in this area extremely well, I knew it well enough to recognize that the authors were making statements I was pretty sure were not supported by the evidence — or at least not to the extent the review suggested. Continue reading

Satirist John Oliver imparts valuable advice for health journalists

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

If satire is a lesson, as novelist Vladimir Nabokov allegedly said, then John Oliver is among its best teachers — even, perhaps surprisingly, when it comes to assessing medical studies and their coverage in the media. If you haven’t already seen the segment I’m talking about, it’s really worth the time, both for lessons and for laughs, to watch it in full below.

During Oliver’s HBO show “Last Week Tonight,” he went on a tirade on Sunday about how poorly the media frequently portrays the studies that science is constantly producing. Continue reading

BPA linked to problems in factory workers

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Scott Hensley, on NPR’s newly christened “Shots” health blog, points us to a five-year study of men who work in Chinese factories that make bisphenol A or use it to make other products.

plastic-bottle

Photo by How can I recycle this via Flickr

The study found that “Men exposed to high levels of BPA on the job had a much greater chance of sexual problems than men who weren’t.” The factory workers are exposed to much higher levels of BPA than the average American, so research into how low a level of exposure might affect the human reproductive system must be done.

There are concerns that BPA is a threat to human health. Some studies have linked it to cancer, diabetes and developmental damage in animals, while other studies have not found such a link. Meanwhile, researchers have charged that studies showing a link were flawed. And, of course, the laboratory research is limited to animals. The controversy has extended to how the chemical has been covered in the media.