It’s a well-worn mantra: Correlation does not equal causation. But even if we know this, is it always accurately and responsibly reflected in our stories and headlines?
It can be simpler and more elegant to say “Vodka causes sexually transmitted infections” in a headline than “Vodka consumption associated with increased risk of sexually transmitted infections.” (Note: This is not a real headline or based on a real study.) But in this made-up example, it’s laughably obvious that vodka itself does not cause STDs. Continue reading
Cancer diagnosis and care are complex. When comorbid conditions, multiple medications, changing physiology and decreasing resilience are involved, they present further challenges for many patients and their cancer specialists. How can they treat a serious disease while minimizing the risk of mortality, side effects, and diminished quality of life?
The good news is that people generally are living longer. The downside is that with increased longevity comes increased odds of developing various forms of cancer. Continue reading
The registration and reporting requirements of Clinicaltrials.gov are vital to informing the evidence base – but only if study sponsors actually use it and keep entries updated. A recent research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests this is not happening often enough. That’s helpful for journalists to know if they are attempting to find all the recent evidence on a particular drug or intervention.
“Missing or incomplete reporting of clinical trial results and its scientific and ethical consequences are well documented,” wrote Kevin M. Fain, J.D., M.P.H., Dr.PH, and his team at the National Institutes of Health.
Can a precision medicine approach to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias improve outcomes?
That is the theory behind the Dementia Prevention Initiative (DPI). The Florida Atlantic University (FAU) program twists the usual methods used to research and treat AD by employing an “n-of-1” design individualize medicine down to a single patient. Instead of conducting a conventional trial of 100 people who get the same treatment, the program conducts 100 single trials personalized to the individual. The youngest DPI patient is currently 61, and the oldest is 86. Continue reading
The death of musician Glen Campbell on Aug. 8 after a very public struggle with Alzheimer’s disease has again focused attention on whether science will ever find a drug that truly halts this devastating condition.
Deaths from Alzheimer’s are increasing, according to the nonprofit advocacy group UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. The organization, which has the goal of stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020, lobbies legislators to increase research funding. Some 35 drugs are in various phases of clinical trials. But as this excellent Pacific Standard article reports, the goal of a cure by 2020, or 2025, is iffy at best. Continue reading
If it seems the newest studies are always reporting some new link – an association between two things or an increase or decrease in this, that or the other – it’s not your imagination.
Positive findings, those which find … “something,” tend to end up in journals more often. But a recent study in PLOS ONE suggests that this trend has decreased, thanks to a change in trial reporting standards around the year 2000. Continue reading