Authors from the reputable EMBO Reports have recently criticized media outlets for publishing controversial and weak studies with disregard to the impact they may have on our society as a whole. These authors have been vocal about criticizing the media due to the fact that certain studies have been presented to the public with little scientific support and sometimes with completely false findings. They believe that all journalists, scientists, journal editors and research institutions should have an equal part in taking blame for published studies that may mislead the public.
The authors reference an example where intense coverage of a Women’s Health Initiative study that lead to changes in medical attitudes and practices regarding the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in peri-and post-menopausal women.
According to the Boston University Medical Center, the media reported that this large study had been halted in 2002 after it showed greater risks of stroke, death and invasive breast cancer for women who took estrogen and progesterone compared with those who received a placebo. Physicians called for immediate curtailment of HRT use in women and prescriptions fell by more than 80 percent and remained at that level for years. Today, healthcare experts still routinely reference this study as demonstrating the dangers of HRT despite the fact that a 2013 follow-up study reported no significant difference between HRT and placebo for mortality nor for a long list of other adverse events.
“We believe that the collaboration between media and scientific journals in communicating advances in science and medicine to the public may result in misinformation and distortion. Unfortunately, this collaboration often exaggerates and allows bad science to be disseminated and shared. Media is often drawn to these controversial studies and they promote them with a narrative that is difficult to change even if it is wrong,” explains lead author Abdulmaged M. Traish, PhD, professor of biochemistry and urology at Boston University School of Medicine.
We understand that your health is of the upmost importance. We encourage you to perform regular self-examinations, monitor changes, and self-advocate by sharing any changes and new information with your licensed medical professional at Women’s Health and Menopause Center. Your doctor will speak with you about your concerns, perform an examination, and follow up with any necessary testing needed for your women’s health problem. We are here to answer your questions and provide the best options and plan of care for your personal health issue. If you do find changes in your body or experience any sort of symptoms, call and make an appointment with one of our Women’s Health and Menopause Center board certified obstetricians and gynecologists.