Dubious Reports

This morning, the Baltimore Sun published my op-ed about disease-mongering by special interests.


Also this morning, the Today Show heavily promoted a story about the outbreak of “wrong-site surgery,” where a careless surgeon removes the wrong limb.

Yes, it happens, but hardly at the alarming rate Katie and Matt had indicated. Turns out, according to the respected physician-author Atul Gawande, who was interviewed on the set, that all of last year there were a grand total of 84 such cases reported.

Over a 20 year period, he went on, there were only 25 “important” cases. A large study suggested the rate of operating on the wrong body part is 1 in 100,000. Even if underreported — and don’t you think if you had the wrong arm amptuated you might report it to everyone? — a doubling in the rate would be 2 in 100,000.

On the same subject of numbers, kudos to Judy Peres of the Chicago Tribune for an in-depth explanation of what to make of yesterday’s study that calcium CAN protect elderly bones, a finding that seems to contradict the Women’s Health Initiative study of two months ago that calcium made no difference. http://tinyurl.com/f9axg

One study measured prescribed calcium versus placebo and the other study measured the placebo against women who actually took the calcium, excluding non-compliers. And that’s the difference.

More at the HealthBehaviorBlog www.cfah.org

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