Fake news could be injurious to health -Anoop Misra, Ambrish Mithal & Viswanathan Mohan
Medical leaders and associations must take the lead in issuing effective and clear messages countering fake information
Along with the Hippocratic oath, the MBBS curriculum has a mantra: bar God, all must provide data. A good physician treats patients based on scientific principles derived from solid evidence. The physician’s personal experience may embellish or temper these principles, but should not be ‘contrary’ to them.
In India, the mantra of scientific data and evidence is often not the basis of beliefs. The attraction of alternative, unscientific treatment methods has been irresistible. Aided by social media, ‘cure-mongers’, ‘quacks’ and ‘diet gurus’ issue medical diktats. Some are confused, and others believe them.
One hoax relates to chronic diseases such as diabetes. The lure of a complete cure is greater than boring, often predictable medical advice. In addition, the effort needed to sustain lifestyle changes often pushes people to ‘miracle remedies’ that free them from lifelong restrictions.
‘Claims’ on social media
Social media is flooded with claims that diabetes can be reversed or cured in hours or days. Through experiments we now know that remission is possible only in a small number of those with Type 2 diabetes, most of whom are obese and freshly detected; and that such remission will take months. And most diabetics cannot achieve remission. But the pull of a message offering cure is magnetic. People ignore advice from qualified doctors and flock to authors of these falsehoods.
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