Beware of Medical Advice From Daytime Talk Shows That Can Cost Money and Give Zero Benefit
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Beware of Medical Advice From Daytime Talk Shows That Can Cost Money and Give Zero Benefit

Many medical tips and suggestions that come from daytime talk shows contradict published peer-reviewed evidence or have no scientific backing

May 28, 2021

If you've ever flipped through the channels, you've seen daytime talk shows with doctors or other professionals giving medical advice to the audience. Have you ever thought about the accuracy of the health claims they make? Should you be skeptical or should you make changes to your health and lifestyle? The bottom line is that you should be cautious before putting their recommendations into action.

more entertainment than education

When people stumble upon one of these shows, they are drawn in partly by the entertainment aspects of the show, not to mention the teasers. But in the end, the purpose of the show is to entertain and to draw in viewers, which in turn brings in revenue. While some of the information presented may have medical or scientific groundings, some of it can be very broad and general. Many times, there isn't any available published literature or medical study to support the claims made on these shows. In studies conducted of varies talk shows by researchers at the University of Alberta and the Georgetown University School of Medicine found that, for those recommendations that are supported, the published literature or medical studies did not provide statistically significant results or required extensive interpretation in order to line up with the claims, which could be misleading.

Product Sales

To make matters worse, many of the shows promote products to the audience and to viewers made by the advertisers who support the show. These are very often products that have an association to the particular medical topics being discussed on that particular show. This creates a clear conflict of interest that could cause the show promoters and the medical professionals to make claims that may not be backed up with scientific evidence in order to push product sales.

Hidden Risks and Costs

These daytime talk shows commonly make medical recommendations, but frequently they do not include relevant discussions about the costs of potential treatments or possible side effects and risks. This could in turn lead people to purchase products and subscriptions without knowing their true costs or to pressure their doctors into treatment plans that may have expensive copayments or not be covered by insurance at all. Further complicating matters is that some products promoted by the shows are dietary supplements or vitamins that may or may not have hidden ingredients, which can cause interactions with other medications you may be taking.

advice is too broad

When you make medical decisions with your doctor, they are based upon your detailed medical history, your medical conditions, and any medications and supplements you take. Unfortunately, much of the advice on these talk shows is intentionally broad or vague so that the medical professionals and the talk show producers can make statements but not get into trouble for broken promises. This means that the advice lacks value for most people. Making a statement that something is good for you without giving the promise of specific benefits keeps them out of legal trouble. Simply put, the advice is typically not backed by research, has contradictory findings, and lacks details.

Stick to your doctor

Getting sound medical advice for any condition from cancer to weight loss involves a thorough review of your health and medical history. If you have questions about your health, speak to your doctor and come up with a plan that factors solid scientific backing and a firm understanding of your current health. Your doctor is the one best suited to help you or to refer you to a specialist. If you do see something on a talk show that you want to add to your health plan, consult with your doctor before making any changes. And always advise your doctor and pharmacist about any new medications, prescription or over-the-counter, and dietary supplements you take. There could be many unforeseen reactions that can alter how medications work, including something as simple as grapefruit.