Posts Tagged ‘My Family Doctor’

Occupy the Internet! Doctors Unite to Build Accessible, Reliable Health Site

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

stethoscope and keyboardby Leigh Ann Otte

It’s amazing how much misleading information there is on the Internet, isn’t it? People claim just about anything—and do it with such authority that it seems like they must know what they’re talking about.

I’ve come across some doozies over the years. I’m convinced that dubious health claims must make up a good 50 percent of the Interwebs. Once, I stumbled upon a psychologist(!) blogger who was spreading the myth that antidepressants didn’t work. He drew his claims from an “expert’s” book on the subject. Just by looking into the first study, you could get a feel for the quality of evidence relied upon. It was on a different class of medicine (tricyclics, not SSRIs—the type prescribed most commonly today) and a tiny amount of people. I posted a comment. The blogger wrote me privately and admitted fault; he hadn’t looked into the studies himself. He was just repeating information.

Sometimes, though, the problem isn’t too much dubious information; it’s not enough of any information. Often, with lesser-known disorders, you can find a smattering of overviews online, if that. Well, there is more-detailed information, but it’s written for doctors and stuffed with so much jargon it might as well be Greek. (I think some of it is Latin).

The lack-of-information syndrome seems to be the case with a disorder called MGUS. Ever heard of it? Probably not, but 3 to 4 percent of people over 50 have it, according to S. Vincent Rajkumar, a hematologist-oncologist from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. It’s a blood disorder that usually causes no symptoms, but some people who have it end up getting a certain kind of cancer.

We published an article about MGUS a while back, and people started flocking to it. They posted so many questions in the comments section that we decided to do a follow-up answering them. Two top MGUS experts were kind enough to share their knowledge for the piece. The result is this week’s featured article, “MGUS: Questions About Symptoms, Related Diseases.”

That brings us to the early-Thanksgiving portion of this post—a gushing thanks.

We’d like to thank the doctors who took the time to answer the MGUS questions: Dr. Rajkumar of Mayo Clinic and Hani Hassoun, M.D., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Our purpose at My Family Doctor has always been to give you trustworthy information straight from doctors. We couldn’t do that without the experts who are willing to work with us. Turns out, they like to spread reliable information too. They just need an outlet.

So thanks to you guys—our readers—for supporting that outlet. Down with the 50 percent! Let’s make it 49.5. I think we might be able to do it.

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Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of and a freelance writer specializing in health and aging. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

© My Family Doctor 2010.
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