Investigate Health! | Personal Health
Why is health advice always changing?
Here in the City of Medicine, we are surrounded by an incredible amount of ongoing health research, but how can we use it to make healthy choices? Especially when the findings change so quickly, often seeming to contradict yesterday’s advice? For starters, it’s helpful to understand the research process and to recognize the tendency to overgeneralize the results.
In many ways research is like putting a puzzle together — it doesn’t give us the whole picture at once, but instead reveals one piece at a time. Each experiment is usually designed to answer a very specific question. But the findings are often reported in very broad headlines and many of us distill them in our minds even further.
Meanwhile more experiments are being run, often answering questions that were raised by previous research, and adding new pieces to the puzzle. And scientists do sometimes make mistakes when designing their health studies which lead to faulty findings that are later overturned by a new study.
It’s important to remember that things usually aren’t all good or all bad for all people in all quantities. Something may be fatal to some people and not affect others much at all. Or something may be helpful to you in some ways and detrimental in others.
It takes some work on our part to keep up with the current research and to figure out if and how it applies to us as individuals. There are plenty of reliable health websites to help (see the list "Health Resources" at right as a start). And don’t forget another critical source of help — your doctor, who can help you interpret the studies and make the healthiest choices possible.
Personal Health Articles
• National Institutes of Health
• Mayo Clinic
• Visit Ask Me 3 to find recommended questions to ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
• Behind the Medical Headlines provides reliable commentaries on health news reports from leading medical experts in an attempt to reduce the confusion which can often arise from conflicting, incomplete or misleading media reports.