Headlines at Hopkins
Media Advisory

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

May 11, 2009
CONTACT: Phil Sneiderman

Media Advisory
Johns Hopkins to Host International Symposium on
Understanding Health Benefits and Risks

WHEN: Thursday and Friday, May 28 and 29, 2009

WHERE: Charles Commons Conference Center at The Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus, 3400 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Md.

WHAT: A conference aimed at helping health professionals, medical journalists and the general public gain a better understanding of health benefits and risks. Speakers and research papers will address topics such as the risks associated with overtreatment and ways to make better-informed medical decisions. Among those scheduled to speak and present papers are health, environmental risk and social policy researchers.

BACKGROUND: The meeting was co-organized by Edward Bouwer, chair of the Whiting School's Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins. It will focus largely on issues raised by Bouwer and his outside colleague and conference co-organizer Erik Rifkin, in their 2007 book, "The Illusion of Certainty: Health Benefits and Risks." Their premise is that because much information about health risks is confusing and contradictory, people need new perspectives and tools to help them make intelligent health decisions. Bouwer and Rifkin are not physicians. In writing their book they drew on their decades of experience as environmental health risk researchers and directed their expertise at the data in mainstream medical studies. They looked, for example, at the strength of the link between high cholesterol and heart disease, the usefulness of cancer screening and the safety of the water we drink and the air we breathe.

PARTICIPANTS: Speakers will include health care/medical journalist Shannon Brownlee, whose talk is titled "Overtreated: Why Too Much Care is as Bad as Too Little"; and physician Avrum Bluming, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Southern California, whose topic is "Judgment Day: What Do We Know About HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)? What Should We Know?"

WHO WILL ATTEND: Professionals from the health care and public policy fields and interested members of the public are been invited to attend. Journalists who cover health and science news and other beats also are encouraged to attend. Reporters and editors who wish cover the event can make arrangements by sending an e-mail to Erik Rifkin or Edward Bouwer.

MORE DETAILS: Further information about the symposium, including schedule and registration details, is available at the event's Web site: jhepp.library.jhu.edu/ocs/index.php/healthrisks/first.

Related Web sites
- Edward Bouwer's podcast on 'The Illusion of Certainty: Health Benefits and Risks'
- A 'Johns Hopkins Magazine' feature on the book