Keeping Up on Diabetes News

Gretchen Becker Health Guide
  • We all lead busy lives, and most of us don't have time to read dozens of scientific journals every month, even if we are able to decipher what the authors are saying.

    So the best way to keep informed might be to follow the popular science press and let them do the difficult work of reading complex scientific information and translating it into terms we can easily understand.

    That sounds like a good approach. Unfortunately, when health information is vital for our well-being, that approach is often treacherous. Science reporters -- and scientists and physicians too, for that matter -- are human, and their brains tend to interpret scientific studies through a lens that is clouded with their preconceptions, sometimes almost religious beliefs.

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    A good example of this is the quasi-religious belief that fat clogs arteries so the best diet is a low-fat diet that is high in starches and sugars. If some study fails to support this view, these low-fat acolytes contend that's only because the diet being tested didn't lower the fat content sufficiently.

    That's like the people who used to bleed sick people. If the patients died, they claimed it was because they didn't bleed them enough.

    A good example of seeing the facts through low-fat glasses is a recent story that ran in the online science news site Science Daily. The headline read, "Mice Stay Lean with High-Carb Diet." Sounds as if a high-carb diet is a good thing for those mice.

    But it's not.

    In fact, the study showed the exact opposite. It showed that mice lacking a particular gene were able to stay lean despite being fed a high-carb diet and the gene might play a role "in the prevention of obesity related to the over-consumption of high-carbohydrate foods, such as pasta, rice, soda, and sugary snacks."

    A few days later, Science Daily reran the exact same story, but with an accurate headline: "Mice With Disabled Gene That Helps Turn Carbs Into Fat Stay Lean Despite Feasting on High-Carb Diet."

    Apparently other people also noticed the discrepancy and complained.

    But unfortunately, misleading headlines, and in fact misleading news stories, are not uncommon. The physicians who treat us are also very busy people, and they too also have to rely on headlines that they see in the medical magazines they read, and these headlines too may be misleading.

    The moral is Reader Beware. Read as much as you can of the health news, but if something is really critical for your health condition, see if you can follow up on it and find out more. For a few tips on how to do this, see here.







Published On: May 08, 2009