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Pinterest Most cancers Vitamin is crammed with misleading information

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Pinterest is full of misleading nutrition information related to cancer, a new analysis shows.

Users who search for “cancer recipes” or “cancer recipes” on the site would have a 3 out of 1 chance of linking to a page that sells a product or service and a content that makes a 95% healthy choice, the researchers found.

Nearly 42% of the content was said to be preventable, 27% to be treated and almost 11% to cure cancer.

“We were certainly surprised by the sheer number of health claims made in these posts,” said Margaret Raber, a senior researcher at MPH, DrPH, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Medscape Medical News. The finding was particularly astonishing, ”considering that Pinterest’s community guidelines limit health claims that aren’t particularly medically supported.

“It is crucial that providers accept the issue of nutrition misinformation on the web and encourage patients to discuss the information they find with their doctor,” Raber added.

The research was published online in the April 5 issue of the journal Cancer.

Previous research by the group has revealed that the most common type of cancer misinformation circulating on social media is about cancer nutrition.

In the current study, Raber and colleagues looked at the scale and characteristics of cancer-related nutrition information on Pinterest, a social media platform that is particularly polite to food and prescription content, but specifically not to post “misleading” or “unsolicited commercial or commercial” content to users. which requires them. advertising messages “.

The analysis had a total of 103 special “pins”. Each pin was coded for 58 variables, including cancer claims – such as treatment, prevention and cure – and specific nutritional statements – such as “turmeric cures cancer”. On average, Pinner had more than 116,000 followers, though some had 1.5 million.

Overall, the researchers found that only a handful of content creators (18%) reported health or nutrition credentials. And more than two-thirds (68%) of founders were trying to make a profit. Although most pins were related to recipes (73%), half (49%) sold products or services directly on pages linked from pins.

These products and services included food supplements, food products, cookbooks, wellness training, and membrane services. Over-the-counter content included articles and book promotions.

Although the target audience for the pins was wide, it was targeted by many patients and caregivers (44%). Breast cancer was the most common type of cancer referenced (12%).

Health statements were common with content that said cancer prevention (42%), treatment (27%), or cure (11%). Approximately 40% made vague claims using terminology such as “cancer”, “fight against cancer” and “cancer cell killing”.

Specific health statements were categorized into three main categories: cancer-related health problems / symptoms (including weight loss and energy), food and food ingredients (e.g., antioxidants and herbs), and general health statements (e.g., organic and natural).

Eleven-pin (11%) food or diet-based therapies were a viable alternative to conventional cancer treatment, which was preferred in some cases, they said. The pins also included academic or government citations (28%), cancellations (36%), and personal anecdotes (22%).

“The results show a wide range of health claims on Pinterest-related cancer recipes,” the authors wrote. And given the severity of many cancer diagnoses, “cancer patients and caregivers may be particularly vulnerable to cancer nutrition misinformation because they want to take personal control of their condition.”

It is important to recognize that this type of information is in a spectrum.

“It’s unlikely that ginger lollipops that reduce nausea will cause harm, while articles that claim that ginger is stronger than chemotherapy are more worrisome,” Raber said. Medscape Medical News. “We found these two in our sample.”

In addition, Raber added that Pinterest is not the only social networking site where unsafe nutrition information related to cancer goes through systems that detect inappropriate information.

What is the solution?

“There is no clear solution to the problem of online food misinformation,” said Dr. Echo Warner, a senior nurse and MPH researcher at the University of Salt Lake City, Utah University. Medscape Medical News. “There are two things that probably won’t change any time soon: people who use the Internet to find health information and people who share bad information online.”

But, as Warner points out, the first step is to acknowledge that online cancer nutrition misinformation is a problem. “We can work to empower users, especially the most vulnerable populations like cancer patients, with patient education resources and tools to help them navigate this content,” Warner said.

Consequences of questionable nutritional claims

To receive comments, Shelley Maniscalco, MPH, RDN, a member of the American Nutrition Association, said that the amount of food misinformation on the net “is very worrying, especially in the cancer population.

“For the most part, the information is presented in a way that seems very intuitively true and / or includes related anecdotes,” said Maniscalco, founder of Nutrition on Demand, a food aid company in Washington, DC. national organizations, individuals and families. “Unfortunately, none of these factors guarantee that information is based on science or evidence, which often is not.”

Nutritional misinformation can have serious consequences. It can interfere with the effectiveness of a treatment regimen, waste the patient’s money, give false hope, and even stop treatment. For example, if a patient is squeezing juice and has significant weight loss, a doctor may need to discontinue cancer treatment.

“Misinformation is never a good thing,” Maniscalco said.

Scholarships for postdoctoral research at the University of Arizona include the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Services, the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, the Cancer Prevention Energy Balance Center and Survivorship, and the Duncan Family Institute. Raber is a board member of CookLab (a nonprofit). Echo and Maniscalco have not disclosed any significant financial relationships.

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