As a kid, I keep in mind the tune, “June is bustin’ out all over” from the musical Carousel. These days, June is Men’s Health Month, and with it comes a few helpful reminders. But Twitter is bustin’ out all over with balderdash, baloney, and BS on many guys’ fitness topics.
If you visit the #MensHealthMonth hashtag on Twitter you may fall down a rabbit hollow of Tweets reminding you about what’s possibly wrong with you if you’re a man. Behind almost all of these Tweets are product promotions, clinical center advertising, and marketing, physician practice PR, or other ways to show guys’ health troubles into money-makers.
There’s no harm in trying to make a dollar, in step with se. But there’s damage in promoting things that aren’t sponsored up through evidence, and in changing normal states of health into illness by way of redefining what it’s far that people need to worry approximately.
Among the marketing messages that caught our eye on Twitter:
– Research indicates #astragalus may additionally help opposite the natural shortening of telomeres on chromosomes that happens with #growing old to slow #hairloss.
– Help the guys you recognize live happier, more healthy lives! #CheckYourCalcium
– Simple checks just like the CT Scan can be lifesavers even when you don’t suppose there’s a health situation.
– “Some men worry that their penis is simply too small.”
And what could Men’s Health Month be without warnings about low testosterone?
There’s not anything troublesome approximately the Tweet itself. It’s the statistics within the hyperlink that’s furnished that goes too far.
I requested Dr. Richard Hoffman, professor of inner medicine and epidemiology, and director of the department of widespread internal medication at the University of Iowa – and an established contributor to our project – to deal with the claims.
Rush urges men to “Think Zinc” – telling them to “Make certain that you’re getting the endorsed day by day allowance — 15 milligrams in step with day — of zinc via foods consisting of pumpkin seeds (inside the shell), oysters, nuts and beans, or with the aid of taking a zinc complement.”
But Dr. Hoffman responded: “The zinc claims are unfounded. Observational records (Leitzmann et al in 2003 and Zhang et al in 2008) surely suggest that zinc dietary supplements are related to an extended danger of prostate most cancers, even though evidence is insufficient to determine whether this a causal effect or due to confounding (including guys who see urologists are more likely to be on zinc, screened for, and recognized with prostate most cancers). I’m now not finding any research looking at whether growing zinc consumption improves decrease urinary tract signs in men with prostate enlargement.”
Rush tells guys to “Eat More Tomato Sauce.” They say, “Research has shown that eating huge portions of cooked or processed tomato products — including tomato paste, spaghetti sauce, and ketchup — can be related to a reduced chance of prostate cancer.”
But Dr. Hoffman wrote: “This has now not been established in controlled trials. Tomatoes are part of the healthy Mediterranean weight-reduction plan, though the advice for consuming ketchup reminds me of the school lunch kerfluffle at some point of the Reagan management.”
“Most critical — get screened,” emphasizes Rush. And that is also probably the maximum repeated recommendation in Men’s Health Month. Rush states: “Most prostate cancers are silent, which means they don’t have signs till they’re extra advanced. So even if you don’t enjoy symptoms of prostate problems, it’s critical to have ordinary physical exams and screenings to test for prostate most cancers.”
Dr. Hoffman, who worked on shared selection-making academic substances on prostate most cancers for years, wrote me: “When even the American Urological Association shows assisting informed decision making, the pointers to get regular screening as a right of overdiagnosis and overtreatment is ludicrous. In catching cancers early, screening unearths widespread proportions of indolent most cancers—those cancers will not development so treatments are needless, albeit costly and related to headaches adversely affecting urinary, sexual, and bowel characteristic. While hints advise DISCUSSING screening with high-danger men at an earlier age, there is no proof (because these men have been now not covered within the randomized trials) that screening and early treatment is useful.”
This is a reminder that promotion just like the announcement of Men’s Health Month, and all the marketing and misinformation that incorporates it, isn’t always usually beneficial. People can be harmed by means of deceptive misinformation or claims that move beyond the limits of what evidence has proven.
When I, to begin with, asked Dr. Hoffman to respond, his first comment to me was: “Haven’t we commented on all of this earlier than?” Yes, we’ve got. But that’s why it’s important to preserve doing so. The waft of polluted records to the public maintains and it needs to be cleaned up every time and anyplace we are able to.
Addendum on June 29:
Rita Rubin’s current article in JAMA, “Debating Whether Checkups Are Time Wasted or Time Misused,” similarly explores some of the equal questions I raised above.