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Entries in Research Studies (20)


Do I Really Need a Multivitamin?

Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin & Mineral Supplements”, one notable editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine proclaimed.

News outlets picked up the story as if we’d put another person on the moon. The proclamation resulted from three published studies in the latest issue that failed to show overwhelmingly positive support for widespread multivitamin use in adults.

There are a few thoughts I had as I witnessed the media headlines roll out over this issue. First and foremost, I thought about how badly consumers are ping-ponged around by media blasts like this: X is good, X is bad, X might be worth it if….

Unfortunately, only if you’re “in the know” and understand how to examine the actual study methods, data, interpretations, limitations and conclusions, let alone sift through the misleading/confusing headlines will you have a clue what to believe (or do) for your health without at least a moderate amount of frustration. Let’s take apart these factors as they relate to the latest claims.


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More Confusion about Red Meat

This past week, two opposing research studies were published. The first got major press and might sound familiar. It suggested eating red meat could cause heart disease because it contains the nutrient l-carnitine, which the researchers believed would cause a change in gut bacteria, which in turn would produce something called TMAO. TMAO is associated with higher levels of heart disease. Notice, nothing about that chain of sentences said red meat causes heart disease, although that’s what news headlines suggested based on this particular study, which was published on April 7, in the journal Nature Medicine. Five days later, the second study came out and received little to no press. On April 12, Mayo Clinic Proceedings released the results of a meta-analysis (a study of all quality studies) on l-carnitine, finding l-carnitine “significantly improves patient outcomes following heart attack.” Confused yet? Let’s break it down.

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The Headline Games of Health Research

How many health headlines do you think the average person reads in a given week? How many of these headlines inspire fear, panic, cynicism, smugness, or change? Unfortunately, maybe a better first question is how many should be taken at face value. I’d argue we should view all headlines citing research studies with 1) a level of prudent skepticism and 2)an equal motivation to discern how or why (or if) a given headline should matter to us individually.

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Do Overweight People Really Live Longer?

Yet again, another crazy headline is making its rounds through the media. Not long ago, we were warned that red meat would kill us and that eating an egg was as bad as smoking a cigarette. In a similar spectacle, the latest headline based on an observational study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests being overweight will help people live longer. Before you break out the desserts in hopes of putting on some body fat to “extend” your lifespan, however, there are some pretty critical points to understand about this study.

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Eggs, Cigarettes, and More Nutrition Confusion

Written By Tom Nikkola - Director of Nutrition and Weight Management


If you haven’t heard the latest news about nutrition, rumor has it that eating an egg yolk is as bad a smoking a cigarette. At least that’s what the news headlines have been telling people. This is an example of the constant challenge we face in trying to deliver accurate information to people about their health and nutrition habits. In the span of a day or two, the media can create mass confusion about something as nutrient-rich and healthy as a simple egg. The headlines help get traffic to the various websites, but for the unfortunate readers, most of these media sources do little to nothing when it comes to investigating the actual study. They look for the opportunity to pounce on another saturated fat or cholesterol story, and in the pursuit of article readership, they skip over a key component to good journalism — doing research before publishing a story.

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Will Eating Red Meat Really Kill You?

The news was recently on fire with headlines declaring red meat consumption raises the risk of death. Pretty scary stuff! No doubt, some of those who just heard or read the headlines have become terrified at the thought of eating red meat. Each year a new study seems to say something along these same lines. Though the headlines draw attention, such sensationalized sound bites could be worse for peoples’ health than the information found in the stories they promote.

Before you stick your nose up at sirloin or blow off other cuts of beef, you should understand what the study showed. Even if you just don’t like to eat red meat, you’ll know the truth so you can share it with your friends.

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Exercise: Is 15 Minutes a Day Enough?

How little can you exercise and still be healthy? Five minutes a day? Ten? According to many news headlines, playing off a recent study on the topic, it sounds like 15 minutes a day might be enough. Taking just pieces out of a recent study on exercise and health, headlines such as Exercising 15 minutes a day adds 3 years to life expectancy, Are you ready for your 15 minutes of exercise? and Exercise 15 minutes a day for a longer life recently made the news. As so often happens, the headlines start creating confusion and mislead people about what’s required for optimal health.

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