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article imageCardiology group guides journalists on results of group's study

By Michael Krebs     Mar 9, 2013 in Science
In an unusual communication, the American College of Cardiology issued a press release ahead of its upcoming conference and challenging the results of one of its studies - in an effort to provide guidance to journalists.
Media coverage of scientific matters and of scientific results often amplifies or sensationalizes questionable conclusions in a manner that can make researchers cringe and that can mislead the general population through a splashy headline or a misguided phraseology. This is due in part to the complexity of the language presented in a given scientific journal, but it is also often the result of an editorial decision to publish material that is interesting and easily digestible for the common reader.
So it was with this backdrop in mind that the American College of Cardiology issued an unusual press release ahead of its 62nd Annual Scientific Session and Expo this weekend.
At issue is the findings from a particular study that will be presented at the weekend conference: the consumption of Concord grape juice by "healthy" smokers helps protect the lining of their heart and blood vessels in a manner that helps sustain more ideal blood flow and consequently can avoid clotting, immunity, and inflammation issues that are of concern to smoking populations.
The American College of Cardiology issued the release to blunt the headlines around this research and to openly question the value of the findings.
“Often medical research that is talked about in national media outlets touts the health benefits of a particular food or hobby, like wine or yoga, and results can be presented in an exaggerated way,” CardioSmart Chief Medical Expert JoAnne Foody, MD, FACC, said in the ACC press release that was published by Health News Review. “Sometimes it is difficult to know what to trust, but I would encourage people to look for reputable medical journals and the number of participants included in a trial.”
While Foody took issue with how journalists present scientific material, she also challenged the study's results.
“I would have serious concerns about this study,” Foody said, according to the press release. “While we know that foods such as grape juice may have important benefits on arterial function, before making any drastic changes to your diet, check with your health provider.”
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