Posted by Dr Katy Taylor on 16th August 2018
Are the reported breakthroughs for humankind involving animals as honest and successful as we are led to believe?
A new analysis by HealthNewsReview.org1 in the USA has been examining the fact and the fiction behind the headlines of important ‘breakthroughs’ in human medicine. The Review analyses articles which often include attention grabbing headlines, which more often than not suggest ‘hope, promise, or progress for extremely common conditions, that affect hundreds of millions of people’ rather than provide solid evidence to demonstrate significant scientific development.
In an era of so called fake news, does the research behind the headlines really live up to the claims that are being made to present an accurate, balanced and credible message to the reader?
The Health News Review team highlighted two reports based on studies involving tests on mice which give an insight as to how the headlines aren’t always as promising for human health as we might be led to believe:
Press Release from SSIB (Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviour): Diabetes drug with better side-effect tolerance could improve treatment
The headline suggests that a new drug could help people living with diabetes, but does the word ‘could’ offer false hope? Delving into the article, it becomes clear that the diabetes drug only helps a species of shrew that has a vomiting reflex similar to that of humans. The research is at far too early a stage to extrapolate any benefits to human health – not quite the promise as inferred in the headline.
Time Magazine reports: ‘How Omega 3 Fats May Improve Fertility’
The article makes some big claims that “healthy fat can boost your chances of getting pregnant” and “a common fat found in fish like salmon and plants like flaxseed may play a role in boosting fertility”. The bold promises made in the piece overshadow the subtle reference to the fact that the research was all carried out on mice and that further studies are needed to confirm the effect Omega 3 might have on human fertility. With many women struggling to conceive, is it reasonable for false hope to be spread amongst the headlines?
There is a lot of hype and over-speculation about the promise to human health when it comes to animal research, that is often unhelpful and even damaging. We urge you to not always trust the headline, and always question everything you hear about animal experiments being essential for medical progress.
1. Of news release and mice: https://www.healthnewsreview.org/2018/07/3-news-releases-about-3-mouse-studies-teach-important-lessons-about-how-extrapolating-benefits-to-humans-is-unjustified-and-harmful/