Fake, Fact, Context – Journalism Affects Health News

Fake, Fact or Out of Context Tabloids and News Outlets Over exaggerate Again Over Cancer Cure Claim.
Fake, fact or out of context yesterday news outlets including the BBC, The Sun and The Independent reported the latest breakthrough in a potential cancer treatment in the scientific Journal Nature Immunology and conducted by researchers from Cardiff University (Crowther et al., 2020).
The breakthrough is exciting, but it is in the early stages and has not been tested in humans. The actual research found that a recently identified white blood cell called a T-Cell with a receptor which, can recognise and destroy various cancers in a laboratory environment. This work could eventually lead to new immunotherapies that can cure all types of cancer. However, this work is in its infancy and will take years for this work to bear any fruit if at all.
When genetics was discovered it was thought that all cancers would be able to be identified and cured using gene therapy. It’s been decades since gene therapies were on track to cure all cancer and most gene therapies never panned out. However, that may change in the future due to new gene editing tools.
Let me take you through the BBC’s short report released yesterday on this subject. You can find the report here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51182451 we can see that the author is James Gallagher a BBC health and science correspondent. It’s always well worth looking at who has created the report. The title of the report “Immune Discovery ‘may treat all cancers’ shows that the journalist is attempting to distance himself away from what he is writing by using single quotation marks which show the quote was taken from a source within the original research. However, the quote in the title is placed out of context. If you read the article or go further and read the actual research, it states the research is young and much more work is needed.
The moral of the story here is journalists should not pick up the latest promising research and blow it up to sell more papers or land more internet hits. It leads to confusion within the public about health, nutrition and fitness research. A prime example is coffee, one moment the press state it’s bad for you the next it’s good. Well the research tells you within context whether it’s bad or good; the press only report the headlines and in turn that headline and report gets taken out of context.
Make sure you stay informed not by reading the articles with the catchy headlines but by reading everything in context. Journalists want quantity over quality that is they want lots of headlines and they want to be the first and this affects the quality and the integrity of the work.
CROWTHER, M. D., DOLTON, G., LEGUT, M., CAILLAUD, M. E., LLOYD, A., ATTAF, M., GALLOWAY, S. A. E., RIUS, C., FARRELL, C. P., SZOMOLAY, B., AGER, A., PARKER, A. L., FULLER, A., DONIA, M., MCCLUSKEY, J., ROSSJOHN, J., SVANE, I. M., PHILLIPS, J. D. & SEWELL, A. K. 2020. Genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screening reveals ubiquitous T cell cancer targeting via the monomorphic MHC class I-related protein MR1. Nat Immunol.

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