There is indeed such a time of the day as your very own “Social Media Hour”. No, not enough time to read a book, see a movie or phone a friend. But still, you do have time on your hands. To be specific, time to hold the smartphone in your hands.
So you scroll, scroll and scroll again. Your eyes lap up jokes, videos and conspiracy theories. By the way, aren’t conspiracy theories funny? – Stories of aliens controlling the world and robots taking over the universe. Yes, conspiracy theories are indeed a harmless form of entertainment. There is one exception, however. When conspiracy theories are applied to medicine, they can be dangerous. Medical misinformation can maim, or even kill.
Take, for instance, that very common theory about cholesterol being a myth and of statins being an illusion invoked by drug manufacturers. Studies in Europe have analysed the people reading these messages, and found that the posts have resulted in them stopping cholesterol lowering medicines. And what is more: this social media-driven stoppage of medicine has resulted in more heart attacks in that population. So who is the loser here? Not the cardiologist or the statin-stent manufacturer for sure. The creator of the social feed is a clear winner, for, thanks to his (or her) viral post, digital immortality is guaranteed. Friends, the clear loser here is the patient with heart disease who has stopped medications and paid with his health.
To be fair, medical information is tough to interpret, given the infinitude of circulating stories. Do you think coffee is good for the heart? There is a study for that! Think coffee can increase heart rate and worsen load on the heart? There is a study for that too! So what are lay people to do? To those of you being tossed up and down on a boat in the stormy oceans of information, we at Diabetes Health strives to be like a lighthouse. This time, specifically, our cover story is focused on how to navigate your way through information and avoid misinformation. Like the lighthouse that is built on a strong foundation – the foundation of Diabetes Health too is built by scientific experts. And our writers and editors, building on this strong foundation, strive to shine the light of knowledge on the waves of the ocean of information.
So that we can guide you, dear reader-traveller, to the safe shores of health and wellness
Dr Unnikrishnan AG