I fairly often find myself searching for information on health topics. Two recent searches I made were does fidgeting have health benefits like exercise and what are the risks of extended paracetamol use.
The first result on fidgeting was, unsurprisingly, from the Mail Online, but amazingly the 1st result from my paracetamol query, and the 3rd result on fidgeting, were from NHS choices, in their Behind the Headlines series.
- Mail Online: How fidgeting can help you stay healthy
- NHS choices: Fidgeting probably not a useful alternative to proper exercise
- Mail Online: Paracetamol linked to heart attack risk
- Telegraph: Long term use of paracetamol can lead to high blood pressure and stroke
- NHS choices: Is long term paracetamol use not as safe as we thought?
You can see from the titles of the respective articles that the NHS are making a clear effort here to mitigate the damage done by sensationalist headlines. Fidgeting may have minor health benefits but it certainly won’t save you from the dangers of not exercising. And while some studies have suggested a small link between extended paracetamol use and some health conditions, the evidence is far from solid - paracetamol should still be considered a very safe painkiller to take.
Sensationalist headlines are a problem but the fact that these more informative analyses are appearing so high up in search results is really encouraging. I wish there were more successful efforts like this in science.
Now that I know this “behind the headlines” series exists, I for one will make an effort to check for these articles whenever I want to share information about any health phenomena. And you should too. And eventually Google will learn.