This just further adds to my considerable misgivings about all of the so-called healthy lifestyle and healthy living campaigns that the government and quasi-governmental bodies are subjecting us to nowadays.
Certainly the current ad of the Commonwealth targeting chronic disease, centred on the issue of body weight, is almost certainly a complete waste of health dollars because it is based upon very questionable assumptions that are largely underpinned by poor quality epidemiological studies with very weak findings.
But also the false claims of outfits such as the Cancer Council that diet can cause cancer (and its corollary that diet can prevent it). There is simply no good evidence in the scientific literature to support this claim (but plenty of bad), but it is now almost accepted universally as true.
There was an ad in today's West flogging apples as some kind of "miracle food" in relation to cancer. False advertising pure and simple. Anyhoo - the nocebo effect:
A financial publication isn’t a place you might expect to find an insightful article on health, but Financial Times proved the exception. Last weekend, Stuart Blackman explored how seemingly helpful educational health messages can be bad for our health. In fact, they can lead us to believe we are unhealthy and to actually feel quite unwell.
His article, “Why health warnings can be bad,” began by describing the nocebo effect. That’s the powerful phenomenon of developing the most extraordinary physical symptoms when we believe or fear that something is bad for us. It’s the negative stepsister of the placebo effect and the full significance of both isn’t understood by many people.
According to John Adams, professor emeritus at University College London and Britain’s leading risk expert and author of Risk, a major contributor to our negative expectations is the popular trend among health professionals and health agencies to issue precautionary advice concerning health risks, even when there is no evidence for any credible risk to people’s health. He labeled it a “syndrome” he calls C.R.A.P.
Full post at Junkfood Science