Live Science presents study investigating the transmission of noncommunicable diseases using clickbait
In this article, Live Science discusses a few reputable journal studies that apparently cite the possible transmission of noncommunicable diseases such as cancer and obesity through the human microbiome. A study at the center of the article’s focus is one published recently in Nature Microbiology, which followed a closed cohort of 287 people from the Fiji Islands and investigated bacterial transmission in individuals’ gut and oral microbiomes. The results found transmission patterns within households and between spouses, suggesting that there is likely a sharing of microbiota.
The article does a good job at using jargon-free language and explaining scientific concepts in easily translatable language; however, there are a few limitations associated with the news story. Firstly, the article discusses the possibility of treatment mechanisms that may be able to treat abnormal microbiota, such as fecal transplants, but this suggestion falls outside the scope of the research study. Secondly, the title of the article falls within the realm of click-bait, where fear-mongering tactics seem to be used to garner attention. Thirdly, the title of the article overexaggerates the point of the studies of interest, and while the result of microbiotas being transmissible is an interesting scientific discovery, there is no evidence to suggest anybody can “catch” cancer.
Finally, the article may have benefited from including perspectives other than the author of the study in question. While this source did provide useful insights into the limitations these results contain, it would have been helpful to hear from multiple sources; however, all sources discussed and most casually claimed sources were cited well and the studies in question were available publicly online. While the presence of advertisements and sponsored content may have been distracting, the article overall described the research succinctly and decently.
The Live Science article discusses the findings surrounding microbiomes influencing the spread of noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer and obesity. While an unhealthy and healthy microbiome is currently indistinguishable, some diseases are linked to specific bacterial imbalances. It is suggested that those that have a closer relationship share a more similar microbiome. The main journal being reviewed does not appear to have actually done experiments involving model systems (i.e. rats) yet to test out the theories, but the researchers hope to do so one day.
The article’s title does not contain any information or findings pertaining to the original journal(s). Instead it not only defies convention, but it induces fear in readers by using “Cancer” and “Obesity” that may lure readers into reading the article for the wrong reasons.
In regard to the overall appearance of the article, it contained approximately ten advertisements that not only clutter the page, but also serves as an immense distraction, making reading and understanding the article challenging. There were also an overwhelming number of links to other pages and articles and social media buttons.
The views expressed by the reviewers for this article are not endorsed or shared by SciFeye. The interpretation of the review of the news story using the SciFeye Index was done independently by two SciFeye reviewers. We encourage you to conduct your own evaluation of the accuracy and quality of the news story using the Index.