Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Critics detect hype in “Bra Detects Breast Cancer” news

From the 19 October 2012 article at

We asked two people at the National Breast Cancer Coalition to react to the announcement.  Annette Bar-Cohen wrote us:

“The discovery of breast changes earlier and earlier in the process needs to go along with our ability to translate that into knowledge that will actually be lifesaving.  Otherwise we will see an increase in incidence, an additional rise in overdiagnosis and overtreatment, and perhaps no reduction in mortality – no additional lives saved. So a recognition of the role of this technology in the early detection field would be good.”

Laura Nikolaides of NBCC responded:

“I am intrigued by the idea – we are always interested in any new ideas = but have found this reporting (note: she was specifically referring to the Boston Globe and CBS pieces) incredibly frustrating.  More questions are raised than are answered.  The details provided aren’t even consistent.  One report implies that a woman would wear the bra over time, on an ongoing basis, the other report claims it would be a one time thing.  Neither report says that in fact, a woman would need to have several sensors or patches applied to her breast and that the bra itself is the monitor (found this on the parent company website).  Another confusion is the temperature issue – a business report on the company says the technology is actually monitoring 9600 data points of cell metabolism that are then converted to temperature changes.

I was very interested to see the data on the clinical trials, but couldn’t get to it.  I was able to get to the parent company website, which said the trials were conducted at Ohio State, but couldn’t get any more info.   So, bottom line, is that as someone who is very interested in any new ideas on detecting early changes in the breast, I found the reporting on this new idea stunning for the lack of details on what the technology actually is, what it does, how it works, how it was validated, etc.”

Finally, I turned to one of our smart story reviewers on, Mandy Stahre, PhD, a young survivor of breast cancer having been diagnosed at age 31.  She is a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD training and has served as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program.  She also wrote about the Boston and CBS stories:

“A new bra may be able to detect breast cancer six years before a tumor can be detected by imaging.  Sounds too good to be true.  After further reading we are presented with what sounds like impressive statistics referring to clinical trials with results in the 90% range for sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy. Never mind that details regarding what was actually detected seemed to be omitted.

Click here to read the entire article

October 23, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Breast cancer screening ad campaign criticized


English: SAN DIEGO (Sept. 22, 2008) Lead Mammo...

English: SAN DIEGO (Sept. 22, 2008) Lead Mammography Technologist Carmen Waters, Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) Breast Health Center, assists a patient preparing for a mammography. In conjunction with NMCSDs pharmacy, the Breast Health Center has started a new program called “Mammograms While You Wait” which allows patients to take the exam while their prescriptions are being filled. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph Moon/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Komen adThe Komen Foundation’s ad campaign for breast cancer screening was criticized in a BMJ article by Dartmouth’s Steve Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz, who wrote: “Unfortunately, there is a big mismatch between the strength of evidence in support of screening and the strength of Komen’s advocacy for it.”

Take your pick of places to read more about it:

  • Susan Perry of wrote: “The commentary is part of BMJ’s “Not So” series, which the editors call an “occasional series highlighting the exaggerations, distortions, and selective reporting that make some news stories, advertising, and medical journal articles ‘not so.'” I wish I could send MinnPost readers to the BMJ website to read it, but for reasons that are inexplicable to me, the journal has decided to keep this paper behind a paywall.



August 8, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment


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