The reason I am blogging about this is because I recently read erroneous information about a disease from a small company that sells a so-called solution. It isn’t the first time I have seen junk information used to sell, but for some reason this time it just ticked me off in a big way!
It was one of those “use my product and you won’t have to worry about getting ill”. That kind of stuff makes me absolutely crazy, since there aren’t credible, scientific studies or facts to back up what is being said!! Usually the company states that they are the only ones that offer this risk-free, stay healthy product – out of the goodness of their heart, but for a cost. The only thing you can find with that type of misleading advertising are trusting consumers looking to be healthy, happy, fit and slim. I find it misleading, dangerous and horridly greedy. I have a very dear friend who reads a publication on alternative health “solutions” and frequently thinks she had found a cure to what ails her – and usually many of her friends too. She then sends out mass-emails with links to let her group of friends know, so that they too can take advantage of the solution. My friend doesn’t profit or sell the stuff; she only wants to help others. However, the claims still aren’t true despite her best intentions. If anyone trying the solution is lucky, the only thing they will loose is the cost of the product and not their health.
In my profile, I talk about wanting to help others who may not have information on a condition or may not understand heavy-duty medical information because they aren’t medical professionals. I offer to answer questions after researching a topic. Even when I know about a disease or disorder, I still want to ensure that I am providing the latest credible information. LATEST and CREDIBLE are the keys here.
I will stop my venting and lecturing and share where I find the reliable health information I use when responding to questions and comments:
1) National Institute of Health (NIH): The NIH is “NIH is the nation’s medical research agency—supporting scientific studies that turn discovery into health.” At the NIH site, you can find great health information and all kinds of topics and conditions. The information is backed up by clinical research and credible studies done in a methodical and scientific way. Medical review by other clinicians without a vested interest in the outcome is key to ensuring good data. Just do a Google NIH search and visit their home page. It is easy to get around their site and you can find all kinds of health information. They also have a section specific to women’s health.
2) Medical Organizations: A site I visit frequently is The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). They have an ACOG patient page, which houses the latest consumer brochures from leading experts in women’s healthcare. Often I link to a brochure or topic area, as the brochures are written so that even those who aren’t medical professionals can understand the content. Another favorite site of mine to reference is the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). They also have a resource area with research, education and health policy. Actually, most professional medical organizations have sites that contain the same type of information, relevant to the disease state or overall topic area.
3) The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The FDA site has information on food, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics, amongst others. Also there is the latest medical or health news and events, as well as a place to report a problem with a product or advertisement, criminal activity etc. I usually access drug information from the FDA site, though most pharmaceutical company sites have similar information about their drugs, as the FDA requires it.
4) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Love this site. On their home page they have easy to maneuver sections on health and safety topics, such as: Diseases and Conditions, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Healthy Living, Travelers Health, etc. It is definitely worth a visit to their content area.
5) Medically reviewed articles: I sometimes go to sites like WebMD, as they have really good medically authored and/or reviewed articles that are easy to find and understand. Other sites have similar type of content that I check out too. Some product sites have excellent information. Check out the references though. The key here is to look at who authored the article, what is his or her educational background and did anyone else review the content. Being a nurse, I like articles that have a medical professional as the primary author or the one who reviewed the article for content accuracy. Also, check the dates of the research being used for the article or opinion. Usually research that is older than 10 years is outdated and there is more recent information that is more relevant to ones needs and the current state of the topic, product or disease state.
Hope this helps someone else get to sound information or at the very least be a better consumer of health information they may read in ads. Also, continue to feel free to ask away, as I love to answer health questions using the most credible, scientifically based information!