Tag Archives: evidence

Brain health supplements offer mostly hype, false hope


Photo: Kenny Stoltz via Flickr

I don’t know about you, but every time I see a commercial for one particular supplement marketed to improve brain health, I cringe. The ad is misleading and can lead people to think that consuming essentially an unregulated blend of herbs and spices can help stave off cognitive decline or even prevent Alzheimer’s. If only it were true.

The ads are so misleading that the Federal Trade Commission and state of New York actually took the manufacturer to court in 2017 to get the company to stop airing them. (A judge later dismissed charges against the company’s former president, but let the rest of the suit go forward). Continue reading

Alcohol and longevity: Beware of evidence limitations

Photo: Eric Jusino via Flickr

Can drinking alcohol really help us live longer? According to a recently published study, the answer is … maybe.

You probably guessed that was coming.

Although moderate alcohol intake in older adults previously has been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death, recent studies have suggested little, if any, health benefit in consuming alcohol, as The New York Times reported last year. Continue reading

Be skeptical of products and treatments for microbiome, experts say

Journalists and health providers should be skeptical about products and treatments related to the microbiome because researchers are still in the early days of understanding how it works and its connection to health.

Three scientists – Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, director the Washington University Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology, Dr. Lita Proctor, the National Institutes of Health’s former Human Microbiome Project coordinator, and Dr. Anna Seekatz, Clemson University assistant professor of biological sciences – all emphasized to reporters that researchers are far from unlocking the key to the body’s community of microbes. Continue reading

Should you cover animal research? Check out these tips first

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 animals 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

Australian physician-journalist offers pearls for health journalists

Norman Swan

One of the best ways to become a better health journalist is to find out what the best in the biz are doing — and then make it your own. Great health journalism is happening all over the world, and, with his diverse, far-reaching résumé, pediatrician and broadcast journalist Norman Swan demonstrates the breadth of what journalists can accomplish.

As the longtime producer and presenter of the Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s Health Report, Swan is a bit like the antipodean version of the U.S.’s Sanjay Gupta. Continue reading