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bogus products      lack of fact-checking

miracle cures       sensationalized news items 
exaggerated claims       manipulated data

Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.” – Dr. Richard Horton, editor of the world’s most respected medical journal, The Lancet

Examples of bad research

a single drink a day could prevent heart attacks 
The U.S. government is shutting down a study that was supposed to show if a single drink a day could prevent heart attacks, saying ethical problems with how the research was planned and funded undermine its credibility. Some outside experts who had reviewed the study plans raised concerns that it was too small and too short to address the potential problems of a daily drink — such as an increased risk of cancer or heart failure — and not just potential benefits such as a lowered risk of a heart attack.

Coffee Causes Cancer
When coffee beans are roasted, the compound acrylamide is produced as a by-product. Some studies have found an increased cancer risk in mice and rats who were fed acrylamide, but those studies used doses between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than levels that people would be exposed to in food. There have not been strong studies in humans to demonstrate the carcinogenicity of acrylamide.  review of more than 1,000 studies found no consistent link between drinking coffee and more than 20 types of cancer, according to a working group of scientists who met in 2016 at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a World Health Organization group.

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Cardiovascular Risk
The study found that people eating the Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil were 30 percent less likely to experience a heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes than people assigned to a low-fat diet. People who stuck with a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts had a 28 percent lower risk than those asked to follow a low-fat diet.  New England Journal of Medicine retracted the paper Wednesday because of problems in the way the study was carried out. The revised paper says only that people eating the Mediterranean diet had fewer strokes and heart attacks, not, as the original paper claimed, that the diet was the direct cause of those health benefits.

Hospital viruses: Fake cancerous nodes in CT scans, created by malware, trick radiologists
Researchers in Israel created malware to draw attention to serious security weaknesses in medical imaging equipment and networks
 — vulnerabilities that could have potentially life-altering consequences if unaddressed.

Watch out for fake medical news

Dr. Kasey Harbine from St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula Montana gives a brief overview of fake news on KPAX morning show



Fact checking health news

predatory journals

There Are Now 8,000 Fake Science ‘Journals’ Worldwide, Researchers Say

  • Falsely claiming to provide peer review and meaningful editorial oversight of submissions
  • Lying about affiliations with prestigious scholarly/scientific organizations
  • Claiming affiliation with a non-existent organization
  • Naming reputable scholars to editorial boards without their permission (and refusing to remove them)
  • Falsely claiming to have a high Journal Impact Factor
  • Hiding information about APCs until after the author has completed submission
  • Falsely claiming to be included in prestigious indexes

reputable health sources

Below is a list of General Health Web sites that are excellent and highly recommended:

questions to ask

  1. Who runs the Web site?

    who is responsible for the site and its information should be clearly stated on the homepage

  2. Who pays for the Web site?

    It costs money to run a Web site. The source of a Web site’s funding should be clearly stated or readily apparent. 

  3. What is the Web site’s purpose?

     This Web page should clearly state the purpose of the site and help you evaluate the trustworthiness of the site’s information. Looking for another source of health information that is independent and unbiased can help you validate the accuracy of the material presented on a Web site.

  4. What is the original source of the Web site’s information?

    Check for the credentials of the author and if an article is mentioned, did it come from a reputable journal.

  5. How does the Web site document the evidence supporting its information?

    Web sites should identify the medical and scientific evidence that supports the material presented on the site. Medical facts and figures should have references (such as citations of articles published in medical journals). Also, opinions or advice should be clearly set apart from information that is “evidence based” (that is, based on research results). Testimonials from people who said they have tried a particular product or service are not evidence based and usually cannot be corroborated.

  6. Who reviewed the information before the owner posted it on the Web site?

    Health-related Web sites should give information about the medical credentials of the people who prepared or reviewed the material on the Web site. 

  7. How current is the information on the Web site?

    Experts should review and update the material on Web sites on a regular basis. Web sites should clearly post the most recent update or review date. Even if the information has not changed in a long time, the site owner should indicate that someone has reviewed it recently to ensure that the information is still valid.

  8. How does the Web site owner choose links to other sites?

    Do links meet certain criteria or are they paid ads

  9. What information about users does the Web site collect, and why?

    Any Web site asking you for personal information should explain exactly what the site will and will not do with the information. Many commercial sites sell “aggregate” data—such as what percent of their users take dietary supplements—about their users to other companies. In some cases, sites collect and reuse information that is “personally identifiable,” such as your ZIP code, gender, and birth date. Be certain to read and understand any privacy policy or similar language on the site and do not sign up for anything that you do not fully understand.

  10. How does the Web site manage interactions with users?

    Web sites should always offer a way for users to contact the Web site owner with problems, feedback, and questions. If the site hosts a chat room or some other form of online discussion, it should explain the terms of using the service. 

harms caused by fake medical news

 Fake science and health news can cause potential physical and financial damage -
 it’s easy to be misled (or even harmed) by unproven or exaggerated claims, not to mention the financial impact of spending money on products and services that may not make any difference in your life.

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