March 7, 2013
Yesterday, I was scanning through medicalnewstoday.com, catching up on the wacky and highly dangerous world of medicine.
What caught my attention were the story headlines themselves. In the news biz, everything depends on those headlines and what they mean, imply, suggest. They’re magnets.
So take a trip with me through one day of the magnetic field.
First, let’s get a few OOPS headlines out of the way:
“Common Cancer Vaccine Ingredient Diverts T-cells From Tumors”
“Shelf Life of Blood Nearer 3 Than 6 Weeks”
“One-Third of Doctors Miss Electronic Test Results”
These headlines should be rewritten and blasted across the front pages of newspapers and jammed into the top spots on the evening television news. But no. They aren’t. They might disturb the sleeping masses.
GIGANTIC CANCER VACCINE SCREW-UP
ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO GET A BLOOD TRANSFUSION?
DOCTORS ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL…AGAIN
The common cancer vaccine ingredient referred to in the first headline is mineral oil. It’s used in experimental cancer vaccines being tested on animals. Seems the T-cells in the body, stimulated by the vaccine, fail to attack the cancer tumors. Instead, they attack the injection site. Where the vaccine was jabbed. Oops.
The T-cells are attacking the mineral oil!
You mean, all these studies of cancer vaccines, for all these years, were goofing on a monumental stupidity? The immune systems of all these mice were turning around and attacking the hole where the vaccine went in? Yes, the T-cells, in fact, were attracted to the mineral oil. Wonderful. And for a bonus, the result was infection. Good work. Splendid work.
In case mineral oil is ever found to be lethal, we can make the body attack it.
The next headline refers to the fact that, finally, researchers have figured out something important about blood used for transfusions: better not use blood stored for six weeks—it’s not any good. Oops.
Hospitals have been using six-week-old blood forever. But that blood doesn’t transfer enough oxygen to the patient. No. Doctors shouldn’t be transfusing blood older than three weeks.
In fact, a Johns Hopkins newsletter drops this little nugget. “One previous, large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has already shown that cardiac surgery patients who received blood stored longer than three weeks were almost twice as likely to die as patients who got blood that had been stored for just 10 days.”
Oops, oops, oops.
“Remember Frank? Hell of a guy. Always on the go. He went to the hospital for surgery and they gave him old blood. He died. Tragic. But hey, the doctors tried. They thought that, like wine, blood is best when it’s aged.”
The third headline has to do with the problem we all face in sorting through the ton of emails we get every day. In the wacky wonderful world of medicine, many test results on patients are now transmitted to doctors via email. How modern. One little problem, though. The doctors miss them. They don’t read the emails. Oops.
“Mr. Jones, your test results have been delayed. Don’t know why. So I’ll just wing it. Let’s see. I’ll put a blindfold on and reach into this cabinet full of different medicines and grab a bottle. Here, take this twice a day. And don’t call me. If you convulse, try 911.”
Now we come to a type of headline I love. The maybe-could be headline. Actually, it’s a lying headline, but it’s couched cleverly—if you have no more than three brain cells to work with:
“Obesity Gene Linked to Skin Cancer”
First of all, this assumes researchers have really found a gene that causes obesity. That’s sheer baloney. Generally, baloney causes obesity. Second, the word “linked” means, “Might be relevant, we don’t know, we’ll see, or maybe we’ll just drop the whole idea…but we did get some grant money for the research.”
“Investigators Identify Genetic Risk Factors for Age-Related Macular Degeneration”
Translated, this means: “There might be two or three or possibly six or 40 genes related to macular degeneration, we don’t know, but we can build a little model that quantifies what we call risk, which is a probability, but this makes no difference, because we don’t have a genetic treatment for macular degeneration; in fact we don’t have ANY genetic treatment which works across the board for ANY medical condition. But we did get grant money for this study.”
“Two genes linked to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)”
Ditto. “Linked” means maybe, could be, we don’t know, and we have no genetic treatment for Lou Gehrig’s Disease and we don’t know whether we ever will. It also means: this disease may not be a disease at all; it could be head injury or exposure to a chemical, but we call it a disease because disease-names equal money.
Next, we have the DUH headlines.
“Sleeping Pills Raise Hip Fracture Risk in Nursing Home Residents”
Really? You mean people who live in a daze because they’re loaded with sleeping pills day after day actually fall down and break something? Astounding. And you discovered this by doing a full-bore study? Good for you. Here’s a suggestion for your next grant application: “Bright lights suddenly turned on, accompanied by sirens, cause people who are sleeping to wake up.”
“Inappropriate Use of Opoids, FDA Extremely Concerned”
Again, astounding to learn—people are using too many opoids. And the FDA concern is felt coast to coast. We appreciate that. While you’re at it, you (FDA) might express some concern about the fact that you’re certifying drugs as safe and effective that are killing, like clockwork, 106,000 Americans every year. And that’s a very conservative estimate.
There’s one more DUH headline. It took me an hour to figure out what it means:
“Optimism and Feelings of Vulnerability Skewed Following Tornado, Should Be Reflected in Emergency Preparedness”
As far as I can tell, they’re talking about people who feel optimistic after a tornado hit their town. Meaning: these residents say they don’t expect another one in the future. Wow. Researchers state this optimism is inappropriate, and therefore emergency responders should prepare for it…or something. Again, study completed, grant money deposited in bank account.
“Are you going to be home tonight for dinner, Daddy?”
“No, Jimmy, I’m going to be working. I have to drive to Small Town USA and nag the local residents, who were hit by a tornado last year, by asking them whether they feel optimistic about a lack of tornadoes in the foreseeable future. This is vital information I’m gathering. I can’t remember why at the moment, but it is putting food on our table. So clean your plate at dinner tonight.”
Then we have a feel-good headline. Maybe.
“Good Quality Hospital Care Indicated by Facebook ‘Likes’”
Well, isn’t that special. Forget hospital records. Forget the fact that hospitals kill 119,000 Americans every year (by conservative mainstream estimates). Who cares? Our hospital got 489 Facebook Likes from patients. Good work, guys. Here, let me read one Like to you:
“Although I was given a heart bypass for my broken ankle, the recovery period was highlighted by balloons which the staff brought into my room and the candy bars they placed on my night table. Was that a nurse who walked into my room at three in the morning, or was it a hooker paid for by the assistant director, who seemed very concerned about my well-being and had me sign some kind of waiver while I was drugged to the gills with morphine?”
Finally, we have this headline:
“Children with ADHD Require Long-Term Treatment Well Into Adulthood”
Let’s see. ADHD is a fake disorder for which no diagnostic test exists. The drugs used to treat it are cheap speed, which can cause very dangerous effects, like hallucinations, aggressive behavior, and deep sadness. But no problem. Keep drugging kids all the way into adulthood. Ruin their lives. It’s good for business.
Well, there you are. That’s just a partial list of one day’s medical headlines.
Kudos to the headline writers and the conscientious journalists who got their stories right and really let us know what’s what. We’re now much wiser, and we feel confident that medical science is marching forward into a future where, for example, tiny nanobots can be injected into our blood streams. These bots, armed and programmed with such useful and true medical information, will automatically make changes inside our bodies and correct any problems they discover.
We’ll feel better and be better. We’ll take a moment every day to bow down to the guardians of our health.
Give us more medicine! Give us more care! Heal us! We trust you! We love you!
Here are a few basic headline-rewrites that better reflect medical journalism in today’s world. I’m 100% sure that if the NY Times ran them across the top of the front page, day after day, the readership would explode and the Times would rescue itself from impending financial ruin.
HA-HA-HA; WHEN DOCTORS SAY ‘GENETIC LINKS FOUND’ THEY MEAN ‘WE HAVE NO IDEA BUT WE’RE BANKING $$$’
ADHD A FICTIONAL FANTASY, BUT THE DRUGS SELL LIKE CRAZY AND SCREW KIDS INTO PRETZEL SHAPES
VACCINE ATTACKS HOLE IN THE BODY WHERE THE NEEDLE WAS STUCK
MILLIONS OF PEOPLE STONED ON PAIN KILLERS ARE TURNING INTO ZOMBIES, HIP-REPLACEMENT BUSINESS SOARS
THOUSANDS OF DOCTORS DON’T READ YOUR MEDICAL TESTS, WING IT FOR FUN AND PROFIT
WANT A DEFICIT OF OXYGEN? GO TO A HOSPITAL AND GET SOME OLD BLOOD
FACEBOOK-LIKES CURE CANCER, ALTHOUGH DEATH MAY BE A SIDE EFFECT
I’m available for freelance headline work.
The author of an explosive collection, THE MATRIX REVEALED, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29thDistrict of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails atwww.nomorefakenews.com