Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Annoying & Misleading Health News Titles

From the New York Times today comes this question: "Is Marathon Running Bad for the Heart?" Since one would normally assume the answer to be "no", the only logical conclusion one can reach is that the story casts doubt on the conventional wisdom, and perhaps the cardiac benefits of long-distance running aren't so great after all.

Yet the story basically does conclude that marathoning is quite safe for prepared athletes, and that heart attacks are extremely rare events. When such an event occurs, and a runner dies on the course, it makes big local headlines, thus warping the relative danger of the event. "The science suggests that, over all, distance running and racing are extremely unlikely to kill you — except when, in rare instances, they do," the article notes, although here at Billy Rubin central we don't understand why they added on the last caveat, since it appears to be redundant. Anyway.

Guess I would have preferred a title more along the lines of, "Study Confirms Running Still Safe for the Heart" or "Deaths from Marathons Extremely Rare but Dominate News Coverage After Races". The content of the story I wouldn't change, but I'm wondering how many people didn't read the story, glanced at the headline, and thought, "See? I knew running wasn't a good idea", as they sit on their couch watching the second hour of SportsCenter.