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Director warns of accuracy of studies

July 27, 2012

Auglaize County Medical Director Dr. Juan Torres reminds area residents to be skeptical of initial reports of health study findings.

Not everything one reads or hears about medicine and health is true, a county official says.
Auglaize County Medical Director Dr. Juan Torres wanted area residents to be skeptical of initial reports of health study findings and to gather more information about the results.
“Before you get excited about something you hear, look at it with a grain of salt,” Torres said. “There is probably more to the story.
“Talk to a doctor before changing anything, he treats people not tests,” he said.
Torres said studies can create controversy and there’s some question about using them to reduce risk.
He recommended closely examining
where ideas for studies come from and how information is obtained for a conclusion. Different types of studies, the number of cases they examine, and over what length of period also can impact how accurate the studies’ results are.
“Not everything we hear is necessarily true,” Torres said. “Just because you saw it in public research doesn’t make it a fact.
“Race, genetics, family history, lifestyle are all factors in someone’s health,” he said.
The National Institutes of Health said Internet users have an enormous amount of health information at their fingertips, but finding accurate and reliable information among the millions of online sources is a difficult task.
Information on just about any disease can be obtained from published scientific literature, but even these medical and scientific journals have different sources of their information. Some articles focus on what is known to date about a disease, with others focusing on laboratory research, case reports, and various treatment options.
“Interpreting the results of studies and weighing the evidence can be a very complex task,” according to the National Institutes of Health. “Because of its complexity and because of the technical nature of these articles, we strongly recommend that you discuss with your physician any articles that interest you.”
A website recommended to guide novices through the vast amount of educational health materials available online is trustortrash.org. The site is specifically targeted at the quality of health information and allows visitors to look up information on who said something, when they said it, and how they knew about it.
Other sources recommended by the National Institutes of Health include medlineplus.gov, a service of the National Library of Medicine (the world’s largest medical library), which offers information on more than 600 diseases and conditions.
The site also offers links to help find reliable and scientifically accurate health information as it relates to news and research and information on sources and currency of information to make better use of online resources.
Medline Plus recommends considering the source when looking at information. Online, look for “about us” pages and check to see who runs the site — is it the government, a university, a health organization, a hospital, or a business. Focus on quality. Is information reviewed before it is posted? Also, be skeptical. If something sounds too good to be true, it often is. Look for current, unbiased information based on solid research.
Medline’s Medical Encyclopedia also can be helpful in understanding complex medical terminology. It can be found at nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/encyclopedia.html.

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