Should we follow health related advice from people who are not health care professionals?

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The “sales pitch”

“If you take this supplement it can help strengthen your immune system, help burn fat, keep your mind alert, help control blood sugar, lower your cholesterol and give you more energy.”

“You shouldn’t vaccinate your kids, it leads to autism.”

“These pills worked for me. Try them!”

The person behind the sales pitch:

Someone with a finance degree who works for a company that markets dietary supplements.

Your local priest repeating random facts he got off a website dedicated to anti-vaccination.

Your next door neighbor who works at Target.

Have you spotted anything these people have in common? None of them are healthcare professionals or have education in a health related field!

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This is one thing I’ve seen often that, in my opinion, is a bit irresponsible and I’ve seen it done often. The representative from whatever company trying to get you to try their dietary supplements may have a general idea about what their selling but do they know who they’re selling to? Do they know if it’s ok to use in that person taking anti-depressants or the one who has diabetes? I’ve seen a few with a penchant for twisting facts especially while marketing things on tv and radio.

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This one guy I heard on the radio was talking about a probiotic he was selling that cured candida (a fungus) in the gut. He went on to say that candida in the gut is a leading cause of diabetes and high blood pressure in people so if you got rid of the candida, you’d be improving your chances of not getting any of these conditions or improving the condition if you already had it. I was shocked when I heard this! Candida indeed can be found in diabetics, who many of them have high blood pressure. However, many times it’s because of the high blood sugar diabetics can have that leads to candida, not the other way around. Talk about manipulating the facts!

One of my examples of people behind the pitch is inspired by a Facebook post I saw not too long ago. The priest was telling his congregation not to vaccinate their children, especially against HPV. He used some statistics regarding certain extreme side effects from vaccines in general (which are actually very rare). Now I won’t get into the whole anti-vaccination thing (for some people its a very personal decision). But what I don’t agree with is a priest using his position and influence to give health care advice with random facts he got off the internet. Shouldn’t he be counseling on religious matters and not health care matters? What makes a priest qualified to give healthcare advice? Also, you can have the facts but you need to know how to interpret them.

giphy (1).gifLet’s say that one group of people take Drug A and one group took Drug B. In the group that took Drug A 1 person died but those who took Drug B 2 people died. Because of these numbers, you could say that Drug B killed 50% more people than Drug A. So a person can say that Drug A is better than Drug B. That sounds like a lot! 50%! But when you look at that number it’s not much of a difference if say you were talking about groups of 1000 people. If 2 out of 1000 died it means there’s a 0.2% percent chance of dying. Now the number sounds like a lot less, right? This is the kind of thing that happens with statistics. You have the number but what does it really mean in the whole context of the scenario?

They tell us, “Don’t believe everything you read off the internet” but do people actually follow that advice?

How’s this for advice? If it’s a health related matter, talk to your healthcare professional. If someone offers you health related advice, listen, look up information from reliable sources (primary and secondary literature is good) and then consult with a professional before you do anything. Its also good to keep yourself informed by doing research with reliable source but remember, be sure about how to interpret facts or look for help from someone who can.

In my opinion, those whose professions are not related to health or don’t have any kind of education related to it should not be giving health related advice.

That sales guy trying to sell you in diet supplements…

Your priest who says no to all vaccinations…

Your next door neighbor who works at Target…

Think twice before taking their advice and consult.

Have you been advised by people like this? Do you agree on consulting a professional or not? I Would like to hear someone’s experiences related to this.

 

 

5 comments

  1. I definitely agree with you!! Especially the part about vaccines
    I work with cancer patients (who are children). We do have a few families who turn to herbal treatments that promise a “cure” and “no side effects” which annoy me to no end!! Where is the research behind that? And how can they promise that something will have no side effects? Even water has side effects (needing to go to the washroom)!

    Anyway what I mean to say is that I share your frustration 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like sound advice- can’t say I’ve ever gone anywhere but a healthcare professional for healthcare. As a good friend of mine once said: “what do you call homeopathic medicine that works? Medicine” 😉

    Like

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