Reality Checklist

Image of a Red Pen and Check List

Image: Corpnet.com

I’ve received so many emails from people about surfing the Internet about breast cancer. My advice as always is to check for current information and updates rather than old studies and inaccurate content. How do you know if it’s authentic or phony baloney information? Well, here are a few tips to help you with your Internet surfing. Good luck, and let me know if you were able to ride the waves with new information or if you were bombarded by the waves of unidentified sources and invalid information.

When evaluating cancer-related information online, consider the:

Source:  Reputable websites tell visitors, often on an “About Us” page, who’s running the show.  Are they health professionals? What are their credentials?

Red Flag: No contact information, no physical address. This is a No, No, NO!

Origin of the Content: Is content based on research findings published in reputable medical journals?  Are there citations in the text that enable visitors to verify those findings?  Nonprofessional opinion and advice, individual case histories and testimonials (some of which may not be genuine) are poor substitutes for rigorous science.

Red Flag:  Information collected from unidentified sources. This is a No, No, NO!

Funding:  The funding source should be clearly stated or apparent.  The endings on Web addresses-.com (commercial), .org (noncommercial organization), .gov (government)-are clues to the website’s funding source, target audience and motives.

Red Flag:   Funding source is obscure or unverifiable. This a No, No, NO!

Objectivity:  Information should be unbiased, unless otherwise labeled, and complete.  Reliable resources acknowledge that experts sometimes disagree about cancer causes and treatments.

Red Flag:  Capital letters, exclamation points, descriptions such as “miracle cure,” “breakthrough,” “secret ingredient,” and “natural” (which doesn’t necessarily mean safe or effective). This is a No, No, NO!

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