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Ask the Right Questions About Scary Health Warnings

You don’t have to catch a lot of news to come across some kind of health warning. Eating “this” increases heart disease risk. Doing “that” boosts chances for cancer.

So, what do you do with this kind of information?

Here are five questions you can ask about each news report. Your answers will help you decide how relevant the research is for you and what you should do about the information.


1. What do the study’s subjects have in common with you?

Are the people who participated in the study similar to you in age, sex, race or lifestyle? The closer they are to you, the more applicable the results will be to you.


2. Where were the study results published?

Seek information from reliable sources. Information in publications such as the New England Journal of Medicine or the Journal of the American Medical Association has a higher degree of reliability. When you see information online, always take a moment to check the source. Is it trustworthy?


3. Who funded or sponsored the research?

Funding from pharmaceutical companies, medical device makers or product makers can bias research and safety studies. Seek research associated with organizations such as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, American Cancer Society or American Heart Association. You can consistently depend on information from organizations like these. 


4. Is the research first of its kind?

The more often research results can be repeated, the more reliable it tends to be. While breakthrough, first-of-its-kind research can be accurate and exciting, additional research on a topic can verify – or sometimes question – early research.


5. What guidance does your health care professional provide?

Your provider can take into account your health, your family history and your medications to better explain how research study findings might relate to you.

It’s important to know that each of us has our own unique traits, tendencies and lifestyles. These differences affect our health and our health risks.

Your health care professional can give you specific guidance on how to reduce your health risks and boost your wellness.


You can also check the Aurora Health Care website and, of course, our Aurora Health Care blog for helpful health information.

Meet the Author

Loras Even, DO, is a family medicine physician at Aurora Wiselives Center in Wauwatosa, WI. 

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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