Phony Chronic Pain Advice–The Reason You Should Research Everything You Read Before You Act On It
My pharmacy has a wire rack near the front door that's always stocked with free local magazines. Many of them relate to health and wellness. I recently picked up a new one that announced, in it's premier issue, it's goal of being "your most trusted resource for information on living a healthy life."
Inside, I found an article titled, "Honey And It's Many Benefits." The brief article began with some historical references to honey being used as a curative, then gave a list of diseases and conditions that can be cured by a mixture of honey and cinnamon. (Their words.)
The second item on the list read, "Arthritis: A study at Copenhagen University had remarkable results by mixing a cup of hot water with two spoons of honey and one small teaspoon of cinnamon powder before breakfast. The combination greatly reduced pain throughout the body."
How I wish that statement were true! Sadly, it is not.
Because it purportedly came from a seemingly trustworthy source, a health magazine referencing a University study, I initially believed the statement that honey and cinnamon reduce the pan of arthritis. The only thing I questioned was the amount of cinnamon being recommended.
I knew that cinnamon in sufficient quantity is a blood thinner. And it seemed to me that taking a teaspoon of cinnamon every day might have serious consequences. So I began a search for the original study from Copenhagen University to confirm the amount of cinnamon.
To my surprise, Google showed me a list of almost 2000 web sites that had published the exact list of "conditions cured by honey and cinnamon." The magazine had simply lifted it, in total, from one of those sites. A much deeper search showed me that the original source of this oft-repeated article was the Weekly World News, a now-defunct newspaper known for it's reportage on Big Foot sightings, alien abductions and photos of water stained walls seemingly marked with the image of Jesus. The Weekly World News has never been known as a source for legitimate medical research.
A still-deeper search eventually turned up a statement from the information manager of Copenhagen University stating that the University had never conducted such a study and that their name had unfortunately been used to give a feeling of authenticity to spurious advice.
I was furious! I try to be very careful of anything I read on the internet. After all, people can and do say anything. But I'm a little more casual about information I read in printed books and magazines. That's because when I was writing for magazines and newspapers, they all used fact checkers to verify details like "a study at Copenhagen University." Clearly, it's not like that anymore.
I'm appalled that a magazine presenting itself as a trusted source for health information would print a list taken from the internet without doing even a cursory investigation into the veracity of the material. I'm sure someone at the publication decided, "Honey and cinnamon can't hurt anyone, and it might help." But cinnamon, as I've noted, has blood-thinning properties. Neither I nor the publisher of that magazine has any way of knowing what might happen if someone taking prescription blood thinners added a daily teaspoon of cinnamon to their diet.
I learned a good lesson from this incident. I learned that I have to double-check ALL information before I act on it, not just the information I find on the internet.
And I learned that this new magazine isn't serious about being my "most trusted resource for information on living a healthy life." If they were really serious, they'd be making every effort to be sure the information they publish is accurate. My advice is to check and double-check everything you hear and ready before you act on it, no matter what the source. Your health is just too important!
### Bonnie Boots publishes Pain Health News to provide information and motivation to people living with chronic pain. You can stay in touch with her by typing your email address into the subscribe box in the upper right corner of this page.
This article, "Phoney Chronic Pain Advice" as sited by the How To Cope With Pain blog in their July Pain-Blog Carnival.
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