Friday, 25 May 2012

The Express and arthritis (cont.)

Another day, another health 'cure' story from Jo Willey and the Daily Express:


This is not the same pill that the Express trumpeted as stopping arthritis pain on 25 April:


And on 9 May, the paper didn't mention any 'seaweed pill' when it claimed to have revealed the 'best way to battle arthritis':


And on 18 May, the seaweed pill was mysteriously absent from the Express' story claiming to reveal the 'easy way to halt the misery of arthritis':


With all these stories, it's a wonder there's anyone still suffering with arthritis at all.

But what of today's story about the 'seaweed pill'? Willey's article begins:

A pill made from seaweed could be the key to tackling arthritis.

'Could be'. A bit different from the front page 'will'.

But it seems that the 'seaweed pill' - the 'amazing tablet' than can 'fight other diseases' - doesn't actually exist in tablet form.

Willey goes on to say:

Various laboratory tests were carried out and the research team discovered that the seaweed – Leptolyngbya crosbyana – generates natural products known as honaucins with potent anti-inflammation and bacteria-controlling properties.

She then quotes one of the researchers, who points out:

"It’s a long road to go from this early-stage discovery to application in the clinic but it’s the only road if we want new and more efficacious medicines...In different arenas these compounds could be helpful, such as treating chronic inflammatory conditions for which we currently don’t have really good medicines."

Willey's article is a bit of churnalism that originated from a press release from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

The press release said:

Scientists identified the “nuisance” organism in 2008 on the reefs directly adjacent to the National Park Pu‘uhonua o H’onaunau off the Kona coast of Hawaii. The cyanobacterium is believed to be native to Hawaii and is usually inconspicuous.

Willey 'changed' this to:

Scientists first identified the “nuisance” organism in 2008 threatening the reefs next to a national park off the Kona coast of Hawaii. The cyanobacterium is believed to be native to the islands and is usually inconspicuous.

And this bit from the original:

Choi, Gerwick and their colleagues conducted various laboratory experiments and discovered that the seaweed (the cyanobacterium Leptolyngbya crossbyana) generates natural products known as honaucins with potent anti-inflammation and bacteria-controlling properties.

Became this:

Various laboratory tests were carried out and the research team discovered that the seaweed – Leptolyngbya crosbyana – generates natural products known as honaucins with potent anti-inflammation and bacteria-controlling properties.

Incidentally, the press release does not specifically mention arthritis.

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