Healthcare // Patient Tools
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3/28/2012
12:40 PM
Paul Cerrato
Paul Cerrato
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Is That Healthcare Website Making You Sick?

Many healthcare websites provide valuable information that can help prepare you for the next doctor's visit. But some serve up misinformation that just might land you in the hospital. Here's how to tell the difference.
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Contrast Sensa's discussion about weight loss to WebMD's balanced approach. The article on weight-loss supplements pictured above presents the pros and cons in plain English so you can make an informed decision.

For instance, here's an excerpt from the site's discussion of green tea: "Although [the nutritionist Toby] Smithson cautions that there are not enough human studies to prove the effectiveness of green tea extract as a weight-loss supplement, she tells WebMD '...there is some thought that regular consumption may promote weight loss by adjusting resting energy usage and increasing the use of energy.' "

The language here is optimistic but cautious. It suggests that some experiments might support the use of green tea for weight loss, but it's also clear that there's not enough human data to prove its effectiveness.

It's also important to understand the difference between animal versus human research. As you look through health-related web sites, you'll likely find many claims of product success based on "solid scientific evidence published in respected journals." But often the research has been done using only mice. That's hardly proof that the same results will occur in people.

WebMD also earns points for including a list of sources at the end of the article, so users can do their own research on the credibility of the reports cited.

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