Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of Dreadful science reporting in the media

The Burzynski Clinic part 2

A few years ago, a man called Bernie Madoff was running an investment company. You've probably heard of him. He was offering wonderful rates of return on investments, far in excess of what any other investment companies were offering. Of course, the rates of return he was offering couldn't really be delivered. The whole thing was a scam. Eventually, the FBI came and arrested him and put a stop to his little schemes.

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Making NHS health records available to private companies

There has been a flurry of activity in the media in recent hours about a proposed plan to make anonymised NHS health records available to private companies.

I am completely and utterly baffled by this. It is being presented as if it is something new. It isn't. The General Practice Research Database (GPRD) already contains vast amounts of anonymised data from NHS patients, and can be made available to private companies who are prepared to pay the appropriate fee. This has been going on for many years. Indeed, I have analysed data from the GPRD on behalf of pharmaceutical companies myself on more than one occasion.

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The Burzynski Clinic

I have seen a number of very sad stories over the last few months that all have something in common. The most recent was printed in the Observer last Sunday. It is an utterly heart-rending story of a little girl who is dying of brain cancer. It is hard to imagine anything more terrible for any parents to have to face.

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Duration of exclusive breastfeeding and risk of anaemia

There's been a lot of stuff in the news today about a paper that's just been published in the BMJ by Mary Fewtrell and colleagues, which questions the current recommendation that infants should be exclusively breastfed for 6 months. There are many issues here, and I don't have time to look at all of them, but one thing that I found interesting is that the paper raises the possibility that exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months may increase the risk of iron-deficiency anaemia in the infant, compared with exclusive breastfeeding for only 4 months.

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Implanon and contraceptive failures

Today a story has been in the news about the "scandalous" contraceptive failures reported with Implanon, a long-term hormonal contraceptive which is implanted under the skin. See here and here for examples from some of our most respected broadcasters. And see here for an example from possibly our least respected "news" source, the Daily Mail.

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It's life Jim, but not as we know it...

NASA's astrobiology unit held a press conference yesterday, in which they made the eagerly-awaited announcement about their latest piece of research.

Now, given that an announcement from NASA's astrobiology unit was eagerly awaited, it's not surprising that there had been a lot of speculation that they'd discovered aliens. No serious commentators were expecting little green men, of course, but there was some quite serious speculation that they might have discovered some microbes, perhaps from an asteroid, of non-terrestrial origin.

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The R word

Earlier this week, we learned that NICE is going to lose its powers to decide whether drugs should be funded on the NHS. This is one of the most spectacular triumphs of political fuckwittery over common sense that I've seen for a long time.

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Last week's big news story

There was an absolutely huge story in the news last week. Can you guess which one I mean?

It wasn't the Chilean miners. That was a big story, of course, and utterly heartwarming to see it have such a happy ending, but the story I'm thinking of is of much greater significance. And it certainly wasn't Margaret Thatcher's 85th birthday, although you may have missed that. In a beautiful little piece of irony, it was knocked off the news by the story of a country looking after its miners.

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Plagiarism hurts

First of all, for blindingly obvious reasons, I should acknowledge that the title of this blog post is not original. "Plagiarism hurts" was the title of an article in EMWA's journal The Write Stuff by Elise Langdon-Neuner, its editor-in-chief (page 13 of this issue, 1.6 MB pdf). I'm sure that Elise won't mind me re-using her title, with proper attribution.

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Weight watchers and churnalism

Today, a story appears in the news citing the latest research which shows that sending obese patients to Weight Watchers helps them lose twice as much weight as normal NHS weight loss treatments. The story appears, in remarkably similar form, on the BBC, and in The Guardian, The Telegraph, and even The Sun.

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