Where Do you get your health information, part II

In an earlier post I asked where people get their health information. In this post I’m just listing some more websites people can get some unbiased health information:

Medline Plus

Talking to Your Doctor

Talking with your doctor

NIAID Community Immunity

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If you’d like to look up some medical terminology and abbreviations: Understanding Medical Words Some Common Abbreviations

If a couple of the links sound familiar, it’s because I used the phrase ” Talking with your doctor” as a title of a much earlier blog post. Of note, I wasn’t aware of the above links when I wrote my original blog post.

Don’t believe the hype – 10 persistent cancer myths debunked – Cancer Research UK – Science blog

Don’t believe the hype – 10 persistent cancer myths debunked – Cancer Research UK – Science blog.

This site is a reminder to take a lot of “advice”, or at least some headlines, with a grain of salt. In earlier posts I’ve gone over a bit as to where to get health information and things  to think about when evaluating claims (Here are the posts: Where do you get your health information? and Evaluating Health Care Claims ). This link talks about some of the more common myths that still make rounds a lot on the internet.

Sugar: Madness Over a Macronutrient – MPR

Sugar: Madness Over a Macronutrient – MPR.

This article is interesting to me for a few reasons. One is that the current fad of calling refined sugar ‘evil’ (as well the fad of considering high fructose corn syrup as even worse than Satan) is something that has come and gone. This is something that the article does point out repeatedly.

The other is that, as with  many things dietary and lifestyle related, perhaps caution with somethings is warranted but that for many things (like sugar), a moderate approach is better.  It’s perhaps wiser to avoid refined sugar as much as possible (no two liter bottles of regular soda, have candy only occasionally, etc), but not get upset if one does have a can of soda or a piece of candy on occasion. If having something with a lot of refined sugar once in a while helps someone eat in a healthy manner, it’s better than going overboard with too much refined sugar. A can of soda or a piece of cake isn’t going to undo one month, or one week for that matter, of eating a healthy diet.

I would no more suggest that people don’t exercise because they might get injured than I’d say cut out sugar entirely. Better you do both (exercise and have sugar) moderately. That way if you do have something “bad” for you then won’t beat yourself over the head when you do so.

Older Athletes Have a Strikingly Young Fitness Age – The New York Times

Older Athletes Have a Strikingly Young Fitness Age – The New York Times.

For me this is an exiting and interesting story.  As I have said in earlier posts, exercise is important.  This just reinforces the notion that exercise, even if started later in life, does help health.  I won’t wax poetic about how exercise is a “veritable fountain of youth” as I try to avoid being overly dramatic with health care claims.

Where do you get your health information?

Recently there was something in the news about roughly half of the information in the shows “The Doctors” and the Dr. Oz show was correct (actually it was 63% of the time in “the doctors: and correct about 49% on the Dr. Oz show). See an article reporting on this here. Often times people will have looked things up on the internet when they come into the office.

Now I’m not bringing this up to knock Dr. Oz or the doctors who appear on “The Doctors”, nor looking things up the internet. However it’s important to ask several questions when evaluating health claims.

1) Does the claim have any scientific basis?
2) Has the study (if a study is being quoted) been replicated with the same or similar results?
2a) Who funded the study? Was it reported in a reputable journal?
2b) If it is a product being touted, did the company making the product fund the studies of the product?
3) Does the person ‘reporting’ the results, or pushing the product have a connection with the company? If there is, what is the connection? Just because someone is employed or funded by a company doesn’t necessarily mean they’re biased, but it is something to take into account.Well you get the picture.

Looking up things on the internet may be just as hard, given that websites may not be what they seem. If a patient asked where to look for information I’d give the following advice:

Lean toward sites that end in .edu, .org (though it doesn’t totally eliminate the possibility of bias..) or .gov
Examples of places like this to start include:

Centers for Disease Control

Health information at the NIH

Harvard Medical School health information

the Mayo Clinic
for things like diet, organizions like the Oldways Preservation Trust

WebMD does appear to be a commercial site with decent information

When on a site, look for a statement that indicates if they get funding from a source, and where that source is. Ask where is someone getting his/her data from (or if they’re willing to say).

Perhaps the best place to start is with your own physician.

Lost Posture: Why Indigenous Cultures Don’t Have Back Pain.

Lost Posture: Why Indigenous Cultures Don’t Have Back Pain : Goats and Soda : NPR.

I see a lot of people with back pain in my office. There are times I think it’s the common cold of pain. Though I don’t consider things like the radio, newspapers, TV  my main source of medical information (I prefer journals like “The Annals of Internal medicine” and “The New England Journal of Medicine” and things like grand rounds [a form of continuing medical education for doctors]), sometimes I come across things like this are interesting.

Often times if something is common one might forget to ask why it’s so common.   With a lot of people developing  back pain finding ways to prevent it or treat it before it becomes chronic is important. If this theory holds up, It’s worth pursuing.