False or misleading information about diseases, illnesses, potential treatments and cures, vaccines, diets and cosmetic procedures are causing people to make decisions that could have dangerous consequences for their health. This type of information can spread through communities, within families, and between friends. Often, we’re trying to help—so we share information that seems helpful. But the truth is that information connected to health and medicine involves rigorous research and complex science. Advice might change as more research is undertaken, meaning even “official” advice from a few months ago might be out of date.
When we rely on friends or internet searches for the best information, we might inadvertently be putting ourselves in harm’s way. Health misinformation is causing harm to individuals and to communities, but talking to one another about its impact can help slow the spread by prompting us to think twice about the information we’re reading and sharing.