Fake news stories can influence voting patterns, fake health news about treatments that are unproven may lead to people adopting the latest recommendation and abandon current medical treatment or to spend thousands of dollars for miracle cures particularly for hair loss, weight loss, cancer cures and sexual problems. Ten of the twenty most-shared articles on Facebook in 2016 with "cancer" in the headline were shown to have discredited by health authorities and doctors.

There are several steps to take in determining whether an article is based on good science or quackery 

  • If it looks implausible, it probably is.
  • If the treatment is described as "the secret that doctors won?t tell you about," remember that doctors have nothing to gain from withholding effective treatments, they want to help or cure people.
  • If the source of the article is from a reputable organisation it is more reliable
  • The amount of evidence that is available should be in proportion to the claim. A huge breakthrough will have significant coverage in the mainstream media, published in medical journals, many patients in trials and not just one doctor recommending the treatment or procedure
  • The evidence produced should not be in the form of testimonials from previous patients or customers. Anecdotal evidence is not the same as genuine scientific evidence.
  • Has the treatment been tested on humans or just mice or in the test-tube?
  • Search the journalist's name to see what is their usual topics covered. Regular writers of health and science will be more reliable
  • Search online for the story's details plus the word myth or hoax, it may have been critiqued elsewhere. Check for the source of the article and whether it circles back to the one article.
  • Be suspicious of news promoting 'nontoxic," "natural," "holistic," "miraculous,"
  • Check websites such as the British, Health News review at  , there are several sites that review media coverage including the International Fact Checking network, and which provides information on the safe use of medications, tests and health technologies
  • Check with your GP and/or pharmacist who are accredited, have studied log university courses, undertake regular CPD for registration and to maintain their practice and are interested in your wellbeing.



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