Coffee reduces your stroke risk – or does it?

Here we go again, says health journalism watchdog Gary Schwitzer of Health News Review, citing headlines that blare claims like “Coffee may reduce stroke risk!”

These media headlines introduced findings from a new study in which women who drank more than a cup of coffee a day had a 22% to 25% lower risk of stroke than those who drank less, according to Swedish researchers.

Their research was published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in North America, behind heart disease and cancer.

But Gary Schwitzer explains that although this was a big study (over 34,000 women ages 49-83, followed for an average of 10 years), it was only an observational study that can’t prove cause and effect. Continue reading

Amazing (and strange) examples of placebo miracle effects

Join science broadcaster Daniel Keogh (aka Australia’s Professor Funk and host of the ABC series The Stupid Species: Why Everyone – Except You – Is An Idiot) as he leads us on this short and enlightening exploration of the many strange effects of placebos (and nocebos).  Watch his 3-minute video.  See also: Dr. Ben Goldacre’s Rapid-Fire Story of the ‘Nocebo Effect’

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A day in the life of a medical ghostwriter

With a university degree in biology, young David landed a new job with a medical communications company. His first writing assignment was to produce scientific abstracts for studies of a newly approved antibiotic. Alas, the drug had a major weakness: it didn’t work on pneumococcus, a common bacterium. But this wasn’t something the drug’s manufacturer (David’s client) wanted doctors to know.

So David and his fellow medical writers were ordered to just avoid writing about it.  Continue reading