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Finding Reliable Health Information Online (online only)
August 2011
By American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: When I want to check news about diet and health, I go online and type the topic in the search box. The top few websites that come up should give the most trustworthy information, right?

A: No. Internet search engines are set up with intricate formulas that raise a website higher on the list based on a variety of factors, including popularity as well as technical details about how the website is set up and run. This is no sign of the accuracy of a websiteís information.  If you want to check on a study that youíve heard reported on the news, you can go directly to the website of the journal in which itís published or to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/) and search for it by topic. However, remember that itís never wise to make food or lifestyle decisions based on just one study. Make decisions based on the big picture of overall research. Since itís hard to keep up with all the studies, youíll save time and get trustworthy information by keeping a list of a few sites you trust where information posted is written and reviewed for accuracy by qualified experts. Check sites related to overall wellness, particular organizations devoted to specific diseases or health problems (like www.aicr.org or www.diabetes.org), and organizations of trained health professionals (like www.eatright.org, the web home of registered dietitians) that provide commentaries and evidence-based reviews of important health issues. These days it can be hard to tell the difference between a true nutrition news story and a press release put out by companies with something to sell, so it really does pay to check what the experts you trust say. A recent survey shows that many seeking health information on the Internet donít check where their information comes from. Donít let a search engine decide for you whom to trust.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $95 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association which operates as the umbrella organization for the network .The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (www.wcrf-uk.org); Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (www.wcrf-nl.org); World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (www.wcrf-hk.org); and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (www.fmrc.fr).


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