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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The web is full of articles about the benefits of nutritional supplements, and there's good research to suggest some of these supplements can in fact help prevent and treat certain diseases. But many consumers wonder about the quality of the specific brands that they see in the supermarket or online. Does that tablet actually contain 500 mg of vitamin E as listed on the label? Are there any unsafe contaminants in that calcium pill? At least one website can help answer these questions.

ConsumerLab.com does disintegration analysis on numerous products to determine whether they actually dissolve once they enter a person's digestive system or pass through whole. It also contracts with independent laboratories that perform a variety of other tests to verify that the dosage on the label is accurate, for instance, or to check for lead contamination.

One recent analysis of Omega-3 fatty acid supplements reported on the site found quality problems with 7 out of 24 products. Problems included a product with less Omega-3 fatty acids than cited on the label, a children's fish oil formula that was spoiled when purchased, and an enteric-coated fish oil soft-gel that released its oil too early. (Enteric coating prevents a capsule from breaking down until it reaches the small intestine.)

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