Health & Medical Links
Misinformation | Consumer Health Information | Traditional Medicine | Organ Donation | Kidney Disease | Hospitals | Nutritional Information | Alternative Medicine | Toxic Substances | Is Trust Justified? | About | Suggesting Links
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Coronavirus Facts & Fiction
Don't panic. Use legitimate sources.
There is no question is that COVID-19 is a serious threat, possibly only matched by the flu epidemic in 1918 and 1919. Let's be cautious, let's be careful, but please, don't let fear take over. — Times-Colonist
Wearing a face mask, even a less advanced one, can help reduce both the risk of infection and the severity of illness. Wearing a mask protects others. I wear a mask to protect you and you wear a mask to protect me.
- The Risks • Know Them • Avoid Them (the best assessment I've read).
- André Picard provides straight answers to key coronavirus questions.
- A scientific look at why masks work (but only if everyone wears them).
A Starting Point
‘Health equity’ or ‘equity in health’ implies that ideally everyone should have a fair opportunity to attain their full health potential and that no one should be disadvantaged from achieving this potential. — World Health Organization
The links on this page are intended as a resource and starting point for self-help research. Many links were suggested via email and my attempts to verify their legitimacy may be incomplete.
I suggest you read Health Equity Through Health Fact-Checking: A Primer (PDF) to better understand the issues surrounding self-education on health matters.
Discuss Findings With Your Health Team
Be sure to check the information you find on the Internet with your health professional.
Your body is your own and patients that take control of their own health often do better than those that depend on others for all the answers.
However, I suggest that you use the information you find there as a discussion point with your health team. They can explain the pros and cons of any particular course of treatment.
An informed patient will listen to all the facts before making their mind up about the validity of any medical procedure — traditional or revolutionary.
Be careful when assessing the information you find online. Unlike traditional printed media like encyclopedias and medical textbooks, it requires YOU to determine the validity of what you read.
Sharing Health Information
It is particularly important that you verify information before spreading it when it comes to health information. See CheckThenShare.ca for details.
Information Portals No Longer Independent
Many consumer “information portals” are now owned by corporations, legal firms or advertisers and where sponsors may influence the information provided based upon their products and services. For example, see Doctor Who? The corporations behind WebMD's friendly, free advice.
Addiction Treatment Centres
Before you decide to use an facility for addiction treatment, check it out with reliable sources. There have been significant spam on Google related to addiction treatment.
While listed treatment programs may be effective and excellent, I have no way of knowing but am troubled when duplicate information is found on multiple unlinked websites.
Vaccination is a hot topic, particularly for parents and around the effectiveness of the flu vaccine (now required of medical staff). The fact that our governments shield the companies producing these vaccines from liability is disconcerting and doesn't help slow conspiracy rumours.
Unfortunately, some very well organized folks began to promote misinformation, including Vaccine Choice Canada. Much of their evidence is anecdotal but emotionally-charged.
An emerging body of evidence indicates that vaccines can damage a child's developing brain and immune system, leading to neurodevelopmental disorders, learning disabilities, ADHD, asthma, anaphylactic food allergies, diabetes and autoimmune disorders. — Vaccine Choice Canada
The threat of autism is a regular theme of this anti-vaccine campaign. The C.D.C. has repeatedly ruled out the possibility that vaccinations lead to autism, as have many scientists and top journals. Nonetheless the false narrative has proliferated, spread by Russian trolls and media. — New York Times
Measles Outbreak Fueled by Unvaccinated Children
The 2019 outbreak of measles has again brought out the controversy of vaccinations, particularly where a minority's personal choice NOT to vaccinate may be endangering the majority of the population.
The World Health Organization has ranked vaccine hesitancy — the growing resistance to widely available lifesaving vaccines — as one of the top 10 health threats in the world for 2019. — The New York Times
The story of baby Ian Gromowski is emotionally compelling, but what if the parents are wrong and millions of other babies die because they are not vaccinated?
Ian Gromowski's story is so powerful, so pervasive, and so difficult to refute because it is just that: a story. And personal accounts, particularly as utilized by the anti-vaccine movement, are seemingly immune to facts. — Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics
Mozilla's Reading List
Mozilla put together a reading list to understanding misinformation online using the anti-vaccine movement as an example (there are 480 anti-vaccine websites coded by just 4 people). You'd do yourself a favour by checking out that resource to ensure you fully understand the issues involved.
I think Mozilla is more trustworthy than many online sources, particularly social media.
Consumer Health Information
- HealthLinkBC gives online access to non-emergency health information and services from the Government of British Columbia.
- Health Finder — sponsored by the US Department of Health & Human Services.
- Health Information — sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health (a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services).
Sleep affects all aspects of your life, including mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Learn to harness its positive impacts. — SleepHelp.org
Insomnia and alcohol are closely linked, though their relationship is complex. Insomnia isn't a direct cause of alcoholism, and alcoholism doesn't directly cause insomnia, however, the two do have effects on each other. Drinking alcohol virtually always decreases your quality of sleep. Insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of withdrawal. — Addiction Group
The resources in this section include several sites that have information about sleep, the main reason I link to them. However, they also provide reviews of mattresses and associated products which generate some sort of referral income if you follow the links from their reviews.
- SleepHelp.org is an independently-owned, unbiased sleep resource which includes information on common sleep disorders and resources including pillow/mattress guides with the aim of improving your sleep.
- Sleeptips.org includes information on sleep health, sleep guides and sleep hacks.
- Sleepadvisor.org includes information on sleep science, sleep hygiene as well as buying guides and tips.
We are outraged that experts in the fields of cardiovascular medicine, diabetes and osteoporosis have come up with disease definitions that label at least 75% of our fellow citizens “sick” and in need of preventive medication. —ShowMoreSpine
Taking 6 to 9 medications is associated with a 59% chance of death in older adults. —Lown Institute
- Worst Pills, Best Pills your expert, independent second opinion for prescription drug information (subscription-based and highly recommended).
- Pharmawatch Canada blog — Canadian drug safety and drug policy.
- Know Your Drugs — looks at the problem of adverse drug reactions to prescribed medications.
- RxList — the Internet Drug Index for prescription drugs, medications and pill identifier.
- DailyMed provides high quality recent information about marketed drugs including FDA labels and strengthened warnings undergoing FDA review. Not all drugs are listed.
- Medscape — medical news and full-text journal articles.
- HealthCentral is an online health company that provides information and support for people with life-changing conditions.
General Information & Guides
- Medical Library Association's For health consumers and patients: Find good health information includes guidelines on assessing content.
- South West Self Management Program's Resources includes videos, articles, websites and tools.
- 100 websites you can trust (PDF — 2013 CAPHIS Top 100 List).
Addiction Treatment & Recovery
Treatment Centre Warning
*Be sure to read the section on drug misinformation, particularly as it relates to addiction treatment centres. Addiction Group is sponsored by Treatment Pathway, LLC, a marketing company that also sponsors a separate alcohol treatment website.
The use of psychiatric drugs is a growing problem in countries across the world. The most common treatments for clinical depression are drug-related rather than “talk therapy” and these medications cause long-term problems. There is growing evidence that these drugs are related to violence.
The US Diagnostic and Statistical Manual has become the standard reference for treatment, but many question its assumption that psychiatric problems are a result of a shortage of serotonin in the brain.
Telling people, as I was told by my doctor, that depression is caused by a problem in your brain is, firstly, untrue and it is also really problematic because it cuts people off from finding the real causes of their depression and anxiety. We've been telling ourselves this chemical story for 35 years and every year depression and anxiety gets worse. — Johann Hari
I believe the following resources are accurate in their assessment.
- Psychiatric Medication Awareness Group (PMAG) — psychiatric drugs and withdrawal (many are commonly-used sleeping pills).
- Benzodiazepine/Sleeping Pill Addiction, Tapering & Recovery — blog hosted by PMAG.
- Is everything you think you know about depression wrong? — The Guardian, January 7, 2018.
Traditional Medical Resources
A medical journal is expected to promote an open-minded discussion of treatments, even if findings — or criticisms — threaten conventional beliefs. In psychiatry journals, the abstracts are nearly always written in a manner that ensures that the conventional wisdom about psychiatric drugs isn't unduly threatened. —Mad In America
- Health Canada.
- Health Canada's Recalls and Safety Alerts.
- Health Canada — Diseases & Conditions.
- US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
General Information & Guides
- VeryWell provides an extensive range of health-related articles vetted by board-certified physicians.
- Medline Plus has a medical encyclopedia with information on health topics and drugs & supplements.
- National Library of Medicine has links to several databases & other resources.
- University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics's Health Topics.
- ConsumerSafety.org is a US-based non-profit that provides recalls and safety information about drugs, medical devices, food and consumer products. Products may be regulated differently in Canada.
- Reuters Health News — daily breaking news coverage of the global pharmaceutical, medical and consumer health sectors.
- Medical World Search.
The Human Body
Organ Donation & Transplantation
In 1997 the BC Organ Donor Registry replaced ALL previous forms of consent including a decal on your driver's licence (NOT valid).
Register or verify your decision online — it only takes 2 minutes yet could make a tremendous difference to someone waiting for a transplant. Paper forms are also available at ICBC and Service BC offices.
Canadian Transplant Resources
1 in 10 Canadians has chronic kidney disease and a renal transplant is the best option for quality of life.
My Organ Donation & Transplantation page contains a deeper look into the critical need to greatly increase donor registration to meet a growing need. Our Story about Kidney Disease is a personal account of how my wife and I have dealt with a lifetime of renal disease.
General Information & Guides
- Donating a Kidney is an overview from HealthLink BC.
- TransWeb is one of the oldest transplantation sites and includes excellent information and links.
Renal (Kidney) Disease
General Information & Guides
- Chronic Kidney Disease is an overview on HealthLink BC.
- BC Renal Agency “Managing My Care” includes links to information on taking an active role in managing your kidney disease.
- Kidney School.
- JASN — Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
- American Journal of Kidney Diseases — Official Journal of the US National Kidney Foundation.
- Parathyroid.com has a series of parathyroid articles. Parathyroid issues can result from chronic renal failure.
- Children with Diabetes is an excellent resource for diet, new technologies, and summer camps.
- Surgical Wait Times for British Columbia.
- Royal Jubilee Hospital is home to the Victoria Renal Unit.
- Victoria General Hospital.
- Vancouver Hospital & Health Services Centre.
- Lists of hospitals in Canada.
- Canadian hospitals rated by CBC.
Journals & News
- Nutrition Today.
- Journal of Nutrition — American Society for Nutrition.
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
General Information & Guides
- Food and Nutrition — Health Canada.
- Nutrition Labelling — Health Canada.
- Nutrition Glossary — common nutritional terms.
- University of Arizona Health Sciences Library.
Manufacturers love artificial sweeteners. They can be produced much less expensively than the cost of real sugar and that cost is relatively stable. However, there are genuine concerns about these chemical alternatives.
[O]ver 40% of adult Americans consume no-cal sweeteners on a daily basis, and studies that measure the sweeteners in blood and urine show that many people who report not using artificial sweeteners are unknowingly consuming them. — Meghan Azad
- The safety of sugar substitutes — Health Canada.
- High-intensity sweeteners — US FDA.
- Artificial sweeteners: Where do we stand? — CNN 2016.
- Just desserts: Artificial sweeteners linked to weight gain — Scientific American.
- Aspartame controversy on Wikipedia.
Herbs and Vitamins
- The Health Action Network Society. BC-based HANS is known for their fight to maintain the availability of vitamins, herbs and other alternative treatments outside of pharmacies.
- Henriette's Herbal Homepage contains a herbal FAQ.
With the legalization of marijuana becoming more prevalent, it is important to ensure that the risks as well as potential benefits are understood.
Study of 10,000 reports into cannabis finds only enough evidence to support therapeutic use for chemotherapy patients, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis. There is not enough research to reach conclusive judgments on whether marijuana can effectively treat most of the symptoms and diseases it is advertised as helping, according to a wide-ranging US government study. —The Guardian
If you are in possession of an open can of beer in downtown Victoria, you can be arrested yet you can openly smoke marijuana on the street (anywhere you can smoke cigarettes). This is of great concern to me.
My wife has experienced hospitalization just from being around someone else smoking marijuana (she neither smoked nor ate the drug). It resulted in a chemical imbalance treated with four IVs simultaneously.
Why are we so quick to forget the lessons from the last century of the harms that tobacco inflicts on smokers and innocents alike? Why did we buy into the use of vaping as a treatment for tobacco addiction?
Obviously, there are some very powerful lobbyists (or perhaps government addiction to the tax revenue).
See Addiction Treatment and Recovery for treatment resources.
Consumer-level DNA testing can reveal potential genetic proclivities to certain diseases such as cancers and risks of drug addiction or alcoholism.
Recent estimates suggest that as much as 60% of addiction risk can be blamed on your genetics. Yet, only in the last few years have researchers made significant strides in identifying the exact genes and variants. As shown with alcohol, there can be many different variables that might increase your risk of dependence on any particular drug. —KnowYourDNA
Is DNA Screening Right For You?
You might want to consider how you might react to knowing you have a tendency towards a disease that is potentially not treatable.
Pharmaceutical companies have been promoting potential diseases for some time (e.g. pre-diabetes). I'm concerned that this screening may be more beneficial to corporate profits than helping patients avoid the effects of potential diseases.
Be Aware of Potential Issues
Deciding whether to take a DNA test, like all medical decisions, must be an informed choice.
There are benefits to these tests, but there are also negatives such as privacy and DNA ownership issues that could affect not only yourself but your family and potentially your other relatives.
DNA may reveal people related by sperm donors that thought they were anonymous or break up families because their parentage wasn't revealed to them. The question of whether a donor's anonymity overrides the need of children to know medical histories that affect them have yet to play out in the courts.
Companies are Profiting
Companies are charging users to test their DNA, then selling that information to companies. The privacy clauses and contracts employed may not clearly indicate what is being done with their DNA in simple, precise language.
Companies such as 23andMe have proliferated over the past decade, feeding people’s hunger to know who and where they come from, and what diseases their genes might predispose them to. Over that time, it has gradually become clear that the main source of revenue for at least some of these companies comes from selling the data on to third parties. — The Guardian
Users are effectively paying DNA testing companies which turn around and make a profit selling their DNA to third parties without benefiting the person paying for the test.
- KnowYourDNA provides an unbiased look at the benefits of DNA testing with reviews and how-to guides.
- Your DNA is a valuable asset, so why give it to ancestry websites for free?
- Home DNA tests reveal more than customers bargain for.
- W5: When DNA tests reveal a hidden history (YouTube).
General Information & Guides
- An overview of complementary and alternative medicines.
- Homeopathic Educational Services includes a number of articles and free information from Dana Ullman, M.P.H.
- The Townsend Letter — the Examiner of Alternative Medicine will keep you up to date on current alternative medical literature.
- Dr. Weil's Site offers an alternate perspective on traditional medicine.
PFAS are found in a wide range of consumer products that people use daily such as cookware, pizza boxes and stain repellants. Most people have been exposed to PFAS. Certain PFAS can accumulate and stay in the human body for long periods of time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans. — US EPA
- Basic Information on PFAS.
- National Toxicology Program (US Department of Health and Human Services).
- TOXNET online databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health and toxic releases.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry tracks health effects of hazardous substances. This agency offers a searchable database of profiles of about 200 environmental contaminants, giving health effects and other information for the lay person. Also featured is a clickable map leading to locations where hazardous substances exist. The entire site is searchable using keywords and Boolean operators.
- NIH Toxicology Literature Online (TOXLINE).
- What's on My Food lists the pesticides used on common foods.
- Pesticide Action Network works to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with alternatives.
- Pest control and pesticide safety for consumers.
- Burning Issues provides public education about the health hazards of burning wood. There is a FAQ and links to studies on the effects of smoke and particulates, including legal cases.
- Carbon Monoxide Headquarters is an “expert” site on the issue of carbon monoxide, which causes more deaths than any other poison in our environment.
- EMfacts Consultancy is an independent source of information on the possible health and safety issues arising from human exposure to Electromagnetic Energy (EME).
- WEEP Initiative — The Canadian and International Initiative to stop Wireless, Electric, and Electromagnetic Pollution.
- Smart Meter Guard and Wi-Fi Router Guard:
Chemical & Environmental Sensitivities
- The Environmental Health Association of BC provides information on resources for those with Environmental Sensitivities (ES): food, chemical and electromagnetic sensitivities.
- Global Recognition Campaign for sufferers of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is an Australian Social Development Committee enquiry into Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.
- The trouble with sunscreen chemicals.
- How toxic are your household cleaning supplies?
- 8 hidden toxins: What's lurking in your cleaning products?