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We are all excited about new technologies in medicine. The press loves to create a stir over the latest chemotherapy, immune modulator, and surgical procedure. Often, though not always, these highly touted “advances” don’t pan out. It doesn’t mean they are necessarily bad ideas or the wrong approach. But, often a well-meaning journalist sees a report about something that may be groundbreaking. By the time it hits the airways, or the paper, or the Internet at preliminary report becomes the latest, greatest technique that will cure us all. But, using information from the popular press to help decide your healthcare carries risks.
It takes time, confirmation, and reconfirmation before an advance is seen as truly revolutionary. In an attempt to inform the public, the need for news 24/7/365 often bypasses this time-consuming and confirmatory process. Research is not sexy, but it is necessary to make sure we are treating you or your family with proven therapies, not just the fad of the moment.
Science is a messy business. It is long, arduous, and filled with misdirection and rediscovery. Every researcher wants to find the big truth and turn over the current thinking. They all want to make a difference and come up with new ideas and thinking to change the world. However, most of the time, one person in the lab doesn’t immediately change the world. It is the accumulated wisdom of many researchers, may labs, in collaboration that comes up with progress.
Be careful about making medical decisions from the evening new, Facebook®, or Twitter®. Inform yourself and ask your doctor about what is right for you. Use information to be healthy, but take it with a grain of salt (or not if you are on a low salt diet.)