3 Things to Look Out For When Consuming Health News Stories
We rely on health news stories to stay informed about the latest treatments, remedies, and studies. But not all health news stories are created equal, and many are missing key details that could significantly influence our decisions. Here are some things to watch out for:
Failing to compare one health approach to another. A story might claim a certain supplement is effective at treating a condition, but not compared it to other available treatments. Make sure you have full understanding of all options before making a decision.
Omitting potential side effects of treatments. A treatment may be effective in treating a condition, but come with significant side effects that must be considered beforehand. Research both the benefits and risks of any treatment before trying it.
Lack of information about study results. Health news stories don't explain if the results are "statistically significant" – meaning they're unlikely to occur by chance – making it hard to assess the findings' validity.
For example, a study claimed ginger was 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy at killing cancer cells - yet failed to mention that this was only done in vitro and with mice, not humans. Another article reported vitamin A reduced melanoma risk by 60% - without mentioning that the risk reduction for men wasn't statistically significant and that women saw reductions ranging from 35-90%. And teas, essential oils and colloidal silver have been promoted as ways to prevent or cure COVID-19 - despite there being no scientific evidence they work and some potentially being unsafe.
In order to make informed decisions about our health we must look deeper than just headlines. Research evidence from trusted sources such as NCCIH or NIH; question exaggerated claims; consult healthcare providers; follow instructions on labels; look out for hidden ingredients; keep track of side effects - our health is too important not to!