Contradictory tips and strategies about how to improve our health fill the airwaves, magazines and newspapers year-round. Drink coffee; don’t drink coffee. Eat whole grains; avoid carbohydrates of any kind. Vitamin supplements are good for you; wait, no they’re not. All of these news stories claim they are based on “evidence.” So what’s the deal?
By now, our regular readers know that here at EBL, we value systematic reviews above other forms of evidence. That’s because these reviews collect all of the available evidence on a given topic to provide a summary of what we know and an assessment of the data quality. In short, they’re the best way to find a definitive answer about what does and doesn’t work.
Last month, the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease in its own right for the first time. (Previously, it had been categorized as a symptom or risk factor.) There is plenty of evidence that shows people who are obese are more likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But does that make obesity a disease in its own right? What about being overweight, but not obese?
News stories about the problem of gun violence in America have dominated media outlets across the country over the past year. The tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut continues to fuel an on-going debate about the laws surrounding violence and safety in our society. It’s a sensitive subject, and many people across the nation hold opposing viewpoints about what should be done. But one thing is clear: gun violence is a critical public health problem.
When actress Angelina Jolie revealed last week in the New York Times that she had a double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer, media outlets across the country interviewed doctors, breast cancer patients, and generally added their two cents to the discussion about whether this type of surgery is worthwhile. [Read more…]
Over the years, EBL readers have appreciated our occasional reports on scientific evidence on popular sports. Indeed, during Cornell’s epic run for the NCAA tournament, we reviewed very interesting research on the “hot hand” in basketball, one of our most viewed posts. We’ve also written about other factors that determine a team’s success and the science of the Olympics. [Read more…]