Health Information

Seeking Health Information Beyond Conventional Practices – An Excerpt From First Check’s Coffee Table Book

Social media and easy internet access accelerate false health information dissemination, demanding immediate intervention through media literacy to combat this public health challenge. “I encourage PhD scholars to delve deeper into the health misinformation dynamics and find solutions to combat it, with the support of suitable funding agencies.” Have you heard the popular folktale about […]

Heat stroke

Fact-check: Heat stroke can be fatal

The body temperature rises to about 40 degrees Celsius, coupled with a severe imbalance of salts such as sodium and potassium in the body.  Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan was recently hospitalised after experiencing a heat stroke. While the discomforts associated with soaring temperatures are well acknowledged, many people are uninformed about the health risks […]

sexually transmitted

Curable sexually transmitted infections account for over one million daily cases: WHO

In 2022, there were 2,30,000 syphilis-related deaths and 6,30,000 HIV-related deaths, of which 13 per cent were children under the age of 15 years. Four curable sexually transmitted infections – syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis – account for over one million cases daily, according to a WHO report released this week. The report, ‘Implementing the […]

menstrual cycle

Explainer: How the menstrual cycle impacts the brain

Advanced MRI techniques provide fascinating insights into how hormones influence brain structure across different menstrual phases. A women’s menstrual cycle isn’t just about periods; it’s a complex process involving hormone fluctuations and physiological changes. Research finds that the brain volume changes substantially during the menstrual cycle. Advanced MRI techniques provide fascinating insights into how hormones […]

Cow Urine

Fact-check: Cowwal’s Cow Urine doesn’t have FSSAI license

The product is still being sold on major e-commerce sites in India, along with the misleading FSSAI logo. WhatsApp messages about cow urine now being bottled and sold in India have been doing the rounds for some time. Recently, the Press Information Bureau of India (PIB) put out a tweet that the Food Safety and […]

health misinformation

Psychological inoculation works against health misinformation: JAMA

Just as the body benefits from being exposed to low doses of an attenuated virus to generate an effective immune response, research finds that it works the same way with the mind. Although debunking misinformation is important, the approach faces many challenges. For example, once people are exposed to misinformation, they often rely on false […]

West Nile Virus

Explainer: The spread of West Nile Virus

Most infections are asymptomatic, while some manifest as moderate fever, or severe fever. No vaccine against WNV is available yet for humans. As cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) rise in the Indian state of Kerala, neighbouring regions are on high alert. While the situation is still evolving and could cause a public health concern, […]

blood glucose levels

Fact-check: The effect of alcohol on blood glucose levels

A recent YouTube video with 256K+ views suggests that alcohol consumption can keep glucose levels “steady and flat”. Interestingly, the speaker acknowledges that it is a “devious” or unhealthy method to keep the blood glucose levels in check. 

obesity

17 steps to combat obesity and diabetes: ICMR-NIN 

The Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Nutrition (ICMR-NIN) — the country’s apex nutrition authority — recently updated its dietary guidelines for Indians. The guidelines, released this month after a 13-year hiatus, recommend 17 steps to meet the requirements of a balanced diet and to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like obesity and diabetes.

Empowering Communities to Combat Health Misinformation – An Excerpt From First Check’s Coffee Table Book

In our region, one of the major health misinformation issues revolves around the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) attributed to lifestyle choices and the aging population. This has given rise to a proliferation of health products promising instant cure, often without any scientific backing. The misleading claims associated with these products pose a significant threat to public health as individuals may unknowingly expose themselves to potential harm.

vitrectomy

Explainer: What is vitrectomy?

The risk of vitreous detachment increases with age, particularly among individuals aged 50 and above. Recently, Raghav Chadha, a 35-year-old Indian politician and Member of Parliament, underwent a surgical procedure called Vitrectomy in the UK. Ever since, questions about the surgical procedure have been coming up online and offline.  First Check gets you all the […]

health care

Infections associated with health care delivery represent a preventable tragedy: WHO

Publishes the first global guidelines to prevent the occurrence of bloodstream infections and other infections associated with the use of intravascular catheters.  Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) published the first global guidelines to prevent the occurrence of bloodstream infections and other infections associated with the use of intravascular catheters.  Up to 70 […]

Excess calcium

Fact-check: Excess calcium intake can pose health risks

While it may be easier to reach for a supplement, calcium from food sources does a better job of building bones. We know that calcium is crucial for the strength of our bones and teeth. But it does a lot more – helps muscles contract and relax, aids efficient blood clotting, regulates heart rhythms and […]

makeup during exercise

Wearing makeup during exercise not healthy for skin: Study

The heightened moisture retention could potentially hinder the natural evaporation process of the skin, impacting its overall health.  In the age of social media trends such as GRWM for Gym/Workout, and hashtags like #gymglam #gymglow, applying makeup before heading to the gym is a common practice. What’s more, even cosmetic companies advertise their products as […]

TB

High BP affects almost 50% of American women: FDA

Although one may not feel sick at first, if the condition isn’t treated on time, it can lead to grave consequences, and even death. High blood pressure (BP) or hypertension is often called a “silent killer” because you can have it and not know it. It is a serious disease that affects almost half of […]

protein supplements

Explainer: Why protein supplements can be harmful

Proteins from dietary sources can be equally effective in muscle building as protein supplements — without the associated risks of renal, liver and brain damage.  Fitness trainers, in most cases, explicitly ask gym-goers to start taking protein supplements. Doubts about potential side effects are easily quelled by citing personal examples of prolonged use. However, there […]

health misinformation

Fides: WHO launches new initiative to combat health misinformation

The aim is to build a network of healthcare influencers to counteract the spread of health-related misinformation on social media.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a noteworthy initiative to combat health misinformation. Fides aims to build a network of healthcare influencers to counteract the spread of health-related misinformation on social media, thereby supporting […]

Onions

Fact-check: Onions won’t help you beat the summer heat

A recent video of an Indian politician talking to the media during the ongoing election campaigns has been in the news for the dubious health claim.  If an Indian politician is to be believed, the best way to cope with the scorching weather conditions is to carry an onion in your pocket! A recent video […]

Health Misinformation

Combatting Health Misinformation in Developing Regions – An Excerpt From First Check’s Coffee Table Book

With the spread of health misinformation, especially during crises like COVID-19, countries like Sri Lanka struggle, shedding light on the difficulties faced by healthcare workers who lack the necessary skills, training, and resources to combat false health information effectively. “It’s important to acknowledge that healthcare officials in most developing countries are overworked and lack the […]

Malaria vaccine

Malaria vaccine saves two million kids : WHO 2023 Results Report

The WHO’s 2023 Results Report highlights the progress made in global health, particularly the malaria vaccine’s impact, funding strategies, accomplishments, and ongoing challenges in fighting diseases worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) released its 2023 Results Report, marking significant strides in global health advancement. Among the standout achievements is the impact of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria […]

Red Line Campaign

Red Line Campaign: Spotlight on self-medication risks

The awareness campaign by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare educates the public about the dangers of antimicrobial resistance, caused by the overuse of antibiotics without medical supervision.  Self-medication, the practice of taking medicines without prescription from a qualified medical practitioner, has become alarmingly common. Videos recommending drugs for various ailments can be […]

Mango

Fact-check: Mango & its anti-cancer benefits

Mangiferin, one of the most extensively investigated naturally occurring anti-cancer substance, is present in greater concentration in mango peel than in the pulp. It is that time of the year when most households in India stock reserves of the king of fruits, Mango. Recently, there have been increasing claims online about the anti-proliferative, or anti-cancer […]

coconut oil

Fact-check: Reducing calories in rice by adding coconut oil

Cooking rice along with any form of fat, not just coconut oil, reduces the calories absorbed by the body from the rice.  Does cooking rice with coconut oil result in the reduction of calories in the rice? The query was shared by a First Check reader after watching a video on YouTube. While the video […]

avian flu

Explainer: Can humans get avian flu?

The extremely rare event of the virus mutating such that it is able to invade human bodies, could result in a public health emergency. Globally, cases of bird flu, also referred to as avian flu, are on the rise. There’s fear that this corroborates the predictions of health scientists that the future pandemic is likely […]

AI search engines promote illegal online pharmacies: Study 

The integration of generative artificial intelligence (AI) into search engines offers exciting prospects for a more personalised and user-friendly search experience. However, a pertinent study has raised serious concerns about the associated public health risks, particularly the inadvertent promotion of illegal online pharmacies.

chemicals in food

Food safety: 5 harmful chemicals in food products

There’s an urgent need for transparent labelling, effective regulation, and greater consumer awareness to safeguard public health.  Indian spice brands have been in the news lately for allegedly not following food safety regulations in various countries. Popular products from companies like Everest and MDH were found to contain ethylene oxide, classified as a ‘Group 1 […]

Mental health

Mental health: The silent pandemic we are grappling with

With over 150 million Indians requiring mental health care services, yet only around 30 million seeking help, there’s an urgent need for education and awareness.  Mental health has always been a tricky issue. More so in less developed countries, such as India. Although the disease is like any other, it often isn’t recognised as one, […]

health misinformation

BIMLI: 5 key learnings in fighting health misinformation

The Bihar Information and Media Literacy Initiative, conducted in partnership with JEEViKA and DataLEADS, shows how media training programmes can empower young adults to navigate the digital world responsibly.  How can we equip youngsters with skills to discern and counter health misinformation? The Bihar Information and Media Literacy Initiative (BIMLI), conducted in partnership with JEEViKA […]

Turmeric latte

Fact-check: Turmeric latte can be injurious to health

The popular drink may contain lead chromate, a toxic pigment that is sometimes added to turmeric to make it more yellow, leading to serious health issues. Ever since Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow has endorsed golden latte or turmeric latte, a trendy turmeric-milk drink, it has become hugely popular. But there’s a hidden danger: the latte […]

Health Information

Seeking Health Information Beyond Conventional Practices – An Excerpt From First Check’s Coffee Table Book

Social media and easy internet access accelerate false health information dissemination, demanding immediate intervention through media literacy to combat this public health challenge. “I encourage PhD scholars to delve deeper into the health misinformation dynamics and find solutions to combat it, with the support of suitable funding agencies.” Have you heard the popular folktale about […]

iron cookware

Fact-check: Using cast iron cookware cannot guarantee meeting your daily iron needs

While it can be a helpful supplement for those with mild iron deficiency, for individuals with hemochromatosis, it’s important to consult with a doctor before using cast iron cookware.   In kitchens across India, cast iron cookware has long been hailed as a culinary essential, renowned for its durability and superior heat retention. However, can it […]

World Malaria Day 2024 Crossword!

Team First Check is thrilled to present its first-ever crossword puzzle which is designed to test your knowledge and raise awareness about the important global health issue – Malaria.

Dive into the clues and fill in the squares with terms related to malaria. Whether you’re a puzzle pro or just getting started, this crossword is a fun and engaging way to learn more about malaria.

Airborne pathogens

Airborne pathogens to be called infectious respiratory particles: WHO

The latest global technical consultation report addresses the issue of not having a consistent language to describe the spread of airborne pathogens. During the COVID-19 pandemic, different groups used different words to talk about how pathogens spread through the air. This caused massive confusion. A global technical consultation report by the World Health Organization (WHO), […]

Shatavari

Fact-check: No scientific evidence to prove Shatavari can cure infertility

Limited research data is available to confirm the purported reproductive health benefits of the popular herb used in Ayurvedic medicine.  “Can Shatavari capsules cure infertility?” asked one of our readers on email. First Check delved into the available scientific research on this herb used commonly in Ayurveda. We also reached out to a medical practitioner […]

VITAMINS

Explainer: 5 vitamins, besides vitamin D, for optimal bone health

International Journal of Molecular Medicine article sheds light on the complexity of bone building, underscoring the need for incorporating vitamins A, B, C, E, and K in our daily lives. While the role of vitamin D in calcium absorption and the prevention of osteoporosis is well known, there’s little awareness about the importance of other […]

diabetes

Fact-check: Ads promote bogus diabetes cure on Indian news websites

They endorse a dubious dietary supplement and unverified drug for diabetes management, while discrediting established medications by means of fabricated reviews. Advertisements from ‘The Care Lab’ claiming to cure diabetes are bogus, finds First Check. These advertisements, seen on popular Indian news websites, lead users to dubious webpages selling unscientific treatments. The website dcarelab.com primarily […]

hepatitis

World liver day: Understanding hepatitis

The second leading infectious cause of death globally, every day, nearly 3500 people are dying due to hepatitis B and C infections.  The World Health Organization (WHO) 2024 Global Hepatitis Report, released earlier this month, highlights that the disease is the second leading infectious cause of death globally, with 1.3 million deaths per year. Every […]

metabolic health

Light physical activity can improve metabolic health in children: Study

Among overweight and obese youths, increased LPA linked with 20 per cent reduced risk of worsening hyperinsulinemia.   Light physical activity (LPA) is linked to a lower chance of developing excess insulin and insulin resistance from childhood to young adulthood. Increased sedentary time worsens metabolic health, especially in those who are overweight or obese, says a […]

gold in skincare

Fact-check: The science behind using gold in skincare products

Gold nanoparticles have antifungal, antibacterial and anti-ageing benefits. However, those allergic to gold from contact dermatitis need to exercise caution. “Does Suvarna Bhasma work for the skin?” asked one of our readers. First Check delved into research on the subject to understand the rationale behind the use of nano and colloidal gold particles in traditional […]

breast cancer

Deep inequities, underreported suffering in global breast cancer battle: Report

Lancet Commission report estimates global breast cancer incidence to rise from 2.3 million new cases in 2020 to over three million by 2040 and one million deaths annually.  In 2020, 7.8 million women were alive having been diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous five years, reflecting progress in research and cancer management that has […]

diphtheria

Explainer: What is diphtheria?

Given the global surge in diphtheria incidence, it’s important to focus on vaccination against this potentially serious bacterial infection that primarily affects the mucous membranes of the throat and nose.   By Florica Brahma The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning regarding the outbreak of diphtheria, a potentially serious bacterial infection that primarily affects […]

TB

India closing the gap between estimated and reported TB cases: Report

India TB Report 2024, by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, highlights the pressing need to improve the adoption of latest technology to combat the disease.  Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s annual report on the state of tuberculosis (TB) India TB Report 2024 shows significant progress in the detection and treatment of […]

Parkinson

World Parkinson’s Day: 5 science-backed facts about the disease

From its perceived confinement to motor symptoms to fears surrounding medication, common myths have hindered the understanding and treatment of the condition. Every year World Parkinson’s Day is celebrated on April 11 to spread awareness and understanding about the often-misunderstood neurodegenerative movement disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. From its perceived confinement to motor […]

eye donation

Fact-check: 4 eye donation myths debunked

The generous act of donating one’s corneas after death can enable two or more people to acquire vision. It can also be valuable for research leading to prevention or cure of blindness. Vision is one of the most cherished senses, enabling people to perceive the beauty and intricacies of the world around them. However, for […]

Cancer capital

India ‘Cancer capital of the world’: Report

Apollo Hospitals’ Health of Nation report shows a concerning surge in non-communicable diseases, which are now manifesting at increasingly younger ages across the country.    Apollo Hospitals, the largest private hospital network in India, recently released the latest edition of its flagship annual report, Health of Nation, which shows a concerning surge in non-communicable diseases […]

child syndrome

Fact-check: Only child syndrome is a myth

Rather than attributing certain behaviours to being an only child, parents need to focus on fostering positive social interactions and setting appropriate boundaries. Growing up as an only child, I often found myself at the centre of attention during family gatherings. While I cherished the moments spent with cousins, I couldn’t help but notice the […]

online information

Social cues shape perceptions of online information: Study

By acknowledging the social aspects of online information consumption, the researchers contend that we gain valuable insights into our susceptibility to misinformation.  In today’s digital age, social media platforms have become central to how we consume information. Yet, the role of social cues and source credibility in shaping our perceptions of online content often goes […]

Why health fact-checking is still important

It’s not just COVID — it’s measles, HPV, fake cures and more. Health is wealth, they say. That’s true of individuals and countries. Unless we invest in health care, and strengthen our fight against health misinformation, true progress is impossible. We need to work together and collaborate with experts to make credible, timely, relevant, understandable and actionable health information easily accessible for all.

Castor oil

Fact-check: Castor oil is not a magic pill

Contrary to what social media influencers may claim, castor oil cannot dissolve tumours, cure arthritis or detox the liver; at best, it may provide short-term relief from constipation.  A viral video on Facebook and YouTube claims that castor oil can not only prevent life-threatening diseases, but it can also help patients fully recover from them. […]

tuberculosis

Fact-check: Expert take on 6 tuberculosis myths

TB is curable, but the biggest challenge remains the general lack of awareness about the disease, coupled with poor health seeking behaviours among most people. Tuberculosis (TB) is a common, and in many cases fatal, infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis that attacks the lungs, and can affect other parts of the body too. According […]

vaginal whitening

Explainer: The hazards of vaginal whitening products

Vaginal lightening promotes unhealthy body image ideals, and reflects cultural preferences rooted in internalised colourism. While the skin-lightening industry had found a strong global foothold, several high-end spas today offer vaginal bleaching services, ranging from laser treatments to specialised peels.  A plethora of DIY vaginal lightening methods are also promoted on social media platforms.  Whether […]

SCD treatment

India gets first indigenous hydroxyurea oral suspension for SCD treatment

The country ranks second worldwide in sickle cell disease incidence, with 102,021 reported cases, particularly among certain tribal populations.  Recently, India got its first indigenous hydroxyurea oral suspension for the treatment of sickle cell disease (SCD), a genetic blood disorder. Akums Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Limited is expected to manufacture the drug at one per cent […]

paracetamol

Fact-check: The link between paracetamol and liver toxicity

Excess acetaminophen intake is the leading cause of drug-induced liver injury, one of the most common causes of liver failure.  Does paracetamol, a painkiller commonly used to mitigate fever and treat mild to moderate pain, cause liver toxicity? That’s the recurring question many readers have asked over the last couple of weeks. Based on the […]

health disinformation

Decoding health disinformation during elections

In a year when the world’s oldest and the largest democracies are going to polls, AI-generated fake news is expected to be all over the place.  Does health mis/disinformation increase or decrease during elections? Very little is known about this phenomenon. It is, however, scientifically proven that political fake news becomes rife during polls.  According […]

misinformation, disinformation

US launches Foreign Ministry Channel for Health Security to counter health misinformation, disinformation

Climate change, growing regional instability, the rise of misinformation and disinformation increase the complexity of preventing and responding to the next pandemic. The United States has launched Foreign Ministry Channel (FMC) for Health Security, making health security a foreign policy priority, and effectively addressing health-related misinformation and disinformation. This comes with the recognition that the […]

social media

Pro tips to find scientific health information on social media

Nutrition and fitness expert Layne Norton offers some sound advice on navigating false, misleading claims online.  While self-proclaimed health experts on social media platforms are some of the biggest perpetuators of health misinformation, there are also several qualified professionals, who share valuable information online on health and well-being. Layne Norton, a PhD holder in Nutritional […]

health misinformation

Lessons in fighting health misinformation from Nigeria

Beyond short-term online campaigns, proactively engage with social media influencers and equip them with the necessary tools and knowledge to counter misinformation.  While measles vaccination has seen success in Nigeria, challenges persist, especially with the introduction of new vaccines. Resistance to these vaccines often arises from misinformation spread on social media platforms. Whether it is […]

measles

Vaccine misinformation fuels measles resurgence in US

58 new measles cases reported by 17 jurisdictions, raising fears of comeback of the disease that was declared eliminated from the US 24 years ago.   In 2000, measles was declared eliminated from the United States of America. However, recent trends show a resurgence of measles cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated […]

Fasting cannot cure cancer

Fact-check: Fasting cannot cure cancer

Researchers caution against oversimplification as autophagy has been attributed tumour-suppressive as well as tumour-promoting functions.  A viral video on YouTube (with 10K views at the time of writing this) claims that fasting can cure cancer, among many other ailments. The video, narrated in the Malayalam language, asserts that the practice of fasting, common in many […]

WHO

WHO proposes pandemic agreement, not treaty

The ninth Intergovernmental Negotiating Body meeting will be held in hybrid format from March 18 to March 28, 2024. Ahead of the ninth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) for a World Health Organization (WHO) instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, later this month, the WHO has started an aggressive campaign on the […]

health misinformation

Why we need to collaborate to fight health misinformation

It is crucial to address issues comprehensively, combining efforts to counteract industry influences, regulate fake health products, and continue promoting awareness and education.  The collaboration between media professionals and health experts has become increasingly robust, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pervasive nature of health misinformation during the crisis highlighted the urgent […]

PFAS & BPA

Explainer: The presence of PFAS & BPA in your kitchen

These chemicals can accumulate in the body over time, increasing the risk of cancer and numerous other ailments.   We live in a world where convenience often comes at a cost. The prevalence of “forever chemicals” like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and bisphenol A (BPA) has raised significant concerns – from exposure in drinking water […]

Japanese water therapy & weight loss

Fact-check: Japanese water therapy & weight loss

While drinking water on an empty stomach can temporarily boost metabolism, there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the dubious weight loss claims made by advocates of Japanese water therapy. In recent years, Japanese water therapy has gained popularity as a method for weight loss. Advocates claim that drinking water first thing in the morning on […]

physical & mental health

Ultra-processed foods impact physical & mental health: Study

Researchers find strong association between consumption of ultra-processed foods and heightened risk of heart disease-related deaths, type 2 diabetes, obesity, anxiety, depression, sleep problems.  A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has unveiled a disconcerting association between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and heightened risk of heart disease-related deaths, type 2 diabetes, […]

gastric issues and stress

Fact-check: The connection between gastric issues and stress in relationships

Stress, anxiety, and unresolved emotional conflicts can manifest in various bodily symptoms. According to a trending video on Instagram, there is a strong connection between the indigestion problems one may be facing and the strained relationship they share with their father. Does that mean the next time your stomach churns uncomfortably, you need to consider […]

dietary fats

Fact-check – Not all dietary fats are evil

Inclusion of a variety of nutrient-dense fats as part of a balanced diet can help individuals reap myriad health benefits, while minimising the risks associated with excessive consumption. Is dietary fat evil? That’s the question a reader asked First Check. The short answer is no. The notion that all dietary fat is evil stems from […]

ADHD

ADHD: A woman’s quest for understanding

Being diagnosed as an individual with ADHD brought a mix of emotions – relief at finally having the correct diagnosis, anger for the past dismissals, and determination to move forward.  At 22, I approached my first mental health counsellor with concerns pertaining to forgetfulness and struggles with day-to-day tasks. To my surprise, the response I […]

Paternal smoking

Fact-check: Paternal smoking, obesity can harm unborn babies

Researchers have identified notable associations between paternal factors and birth outcomes, encompassing preterm birth, low birth weight, small for gestational age (SGA), and high birth weight prevalences.  “If a man is a smoker, does it affect his unborn baby?” asked one of our readers recently. Traditionally, women are believed to have the biggest influence on […]

misleading health ads

Indian court takes firm stand on misleading health ads

The Supreme Court orders immediate ban on all electronic and print advertisements by Patanjali Ayurved. In a scathing indictment, the Supreme Court of India has criticised the Central Government for its lack of action against Patanjali Ayurved, co-owned by yoga guru Ramdev, in a case involving “misleading and false” advertisements. The apex court remarked that […]

teeth whitening

Fact-check: DIY teeth whitening treatments don’t work

Social media claims about the magic mixture of toothpaste, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide guaranteeing white teeth are not only false, but they also pose health and safety risks.  An image circulating on social media claims that a mixture of toothpaste, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide can make your teeth “snow white”. “Is it true?” […]

Turmeric is not the magic pill for weight loss

Fact-check: Turmeric is not the magic pill for weight loss

There is no robust study to support the claims on social media about turmeric tea or supplements helping with fat loss or improving liver health.  If a video on Instagram is to believed, turmeric, the spice that comes from the root of Curcuma longa plant, can help with targeted fat removal. Just like liposuction, a […]

cyanide exposures

Fact-check: Not all cyanide exposures are murderous

Estimating how lethal a dose can be is challenging, due to various factors, such as the specific compound involved. In the true-crime documentary ‘Curry & Cyanide – The Jolly Joseph Case’, available on Netflix, a toxicologist asserts, “When you come across cyanide in a case of death, first rule out murder.” While cyanide is often […]

depression

Exercise is an effective treatment for depression: Study

While walking or jogging benefited both genders, strength training was more beneficial for women, and yoga or qigong was more effective for men. A recent study, published in the British Medical Journal, finds that exercise is an effective treatment for depression, with walking or jogging, yoga, and strength training more effective than other exercises, particularly […]

malaria vaccines

Explainer: How malaria vaccines can eradicate the disease

There are two malaria vaccines recommended by the WHO, and they act against P. falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa. Nearly 249 million cases of malaria and 6,08,000 malaria-related deaths were recorded globally in 2022. The World Health Organization (WHO) African Region continues to bear the brunt of the […]

Working night shifts

Fact-check: Working night shifts takes a toll on one’s health

Apart from circadian misalignment and its effect on physical health, studies show that shift work sleep disorder can also exacerbate mental health issues.  “Is it really such a bad idea to take up a job that requires you to work at night?” asked one of our readers recently. When it comes to the health consequences […]

prebunking and debunking

Adopting a hybrid strategy of prebunking and debunking

We need to examine the differential impact of false information and truthful information. Is the harm caused by falsehoods offset by the dissemination of truth? Can the viral spread of disinformation and misinformation ever be completely curbed? It is a rhetorical question. We know by now that while false narratives of any kind can be […]

Misinformation

Interview: ‘Misinformation can lead to misunderstandings about scientific facts’

Dr Safieh Shah, First Check member and Canada-based senior policy scientist, talks about the power of collaboration, the prevalent challenges, and the urgency to strengthen our fight against health misinformation. “The landscape of health misinformation is dynamic and changes over time, as does social media,” says Dr Safieh Shah, First Check member and senior policy […]

protein deficiency

Explainer: The perils of protein deficiency

Poor dietary choices, food insecurity, certain medical conditions, and vegetarian or vegan diets lacking in protein-rich sources can contribute to protein-energy malnutrition. By Florica Brahma Protein is often hailed as the building block of life, and for good reason. It plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including muscle repair and growth, hormone production, […]

AI-generated

AI-generated content cannot provide personalised medical advice: Study

While ChatGPT 3.5 and 4.0 can serve as supplementary sources for health information, a recent study underscores the need for validation and scrutiny of AI-generated content.  By First Check Team As health misinformation continues to spread across various online platforms, the reliability of sources becomes paramount. An interesting study sought to evaluate the potential of […]

climate change

Fact-check: Meatless diet can help fight climate change

About 15% of global greenhouse emissions result from livestock farming, nearly equivalent to those generated by the transportation sector. Is it healthier for the planet if humans stop consuming meat? That’s the question a reader asked First Check. After going through the scientific evidence – there’s a lot of promising research happening in this area […]

Eggs, fruits, oats

Fact-check: Eggs, fruits, oats are not unhealthy breakfast

There isn’t much nutritional value to white bread though. A high-glycemic index food, it can increase hunger and promote overeating. Instagram videos can be entertaining, but they can be misleading too. A funny video rues about the challenges of eating a healthy breakfast, given that everything, from eggs and oats to bread and fruits, has […]

global pandemic

Conspiracy theories major obstacle to new global pandemic treaty: WHO

Despite lessons that should have been learned during COVID-19, the world is unprepared for the next pandemic, be it an influenza virus, another coronavirus, or “Disease X.” A new global pandemic treaty is in the works. The motive of the treaty is to prepare the world for the next pandemic, be it an influenza virus, […]

HPV vaccination

Explainer: Why HPV vaccination is the most effective strategy against cervical cancer

The fourth-most prevalent cancer among women globally, cervical cancer has a notable impact on low- and middle-income countries.  By Florica Brahma There have to be better ways to beat cervical cancer than social media influencers faking their own death in order to spread awareness about the disease. Earlier this month, during the interim budget speech […]

Health Misinformation

Use behavioural science to fight health misinformation: Study

Latest research underscores the importance of recognising the content, tactics employed by spreaders, and understanding the motivations of those susceptible to misinformation. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of social media in public health has become increasingly evident. A recent research titled ‘Using Behavioural Science for Infodemic Preparedness: The Case of Vaccination […]

Leprosy

Leprosy: 3 myths that refuse to die

Despite being one of the oldest diseases known to mankind, substantial gaps in our fundamental knowledge of this disease hinder global efforts to eradicate it. Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, has been surrounded by myths and misconceptions for centuries, contributing to the social stigma attached to this ancient malady. Regardless of significant advancements in […]

vaccine misinformation

Dilute vaccine misinformation with large amounts of scientific evidence: US FDA experts

Vaccine hesitancy brings about a substantial risk to the population’s immunity against vaccine-preventable infectious diseases and could potentially lead to thousands of deaths.  Plummeting vaccination rates currently pose a major public health challenge in the United States. A recent viewpoint article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by Peter Marks and Robert […]

thyroid

Explainer: Understanding thyroid disorders

Greater awareness empowers individuals to recognise early symptoms, seek timely diagnosis, and explore effective treatment options. January marks Thyroid Awareness Month, drawing attention to the critical role of the thyroid gland in our overall well-being. Despite its importance, many remain unfamiliar with the intricacies of thyroid function and the potential impact of thyroid disorders on […]

Bulletproof coffee

Fact-check: Bulletproof coffee no magic bullet to weight loss

While the coffee concoction can kill food cravings and give an instant energy boost, low micronutrients and high amounts of fat can harm people with chronic diseases or cholesterol issues. If the social media buzz is to be believed, there’s a new elixir for weight loss! Bulletproof coffee, also known as coffee with ghee or […]

Measles

Measles: Misinformation-fuelled vaccine hesitancy puts children’s lives at risk

The CDC reported that measles cases in 2022 increased by 18%, and deaths by 43% globally as compared to 2021.  Misinformation on vaccines, spread by a section of social media users, is contributing to vaccine hesitancy and negatively affecting public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 10-year low in routine […]

weight loss

Fact-check: Consume beans for better digestion, weight loss

Instagram video is right about the positive impact of consuming beans on gut health and curbing cravings for unhealthy foods. An engaging video on Instagram talks about the positive impact of consuming beans on gut health. It further states that higher intake of beans may contribute to lesser consumption of unhealthy junk food.  First Check […]

Video gamers

Video gamers at risk of irreversible hearing loss, tinnitus: Study

Researchers note the need to consider permissible noise levels and exposure duration to determine safe listening practices. Recent research findings suggest that video gamers worldwide may be jeopardising their hearing, exposing themselves to irreversible hearing loss, and persistent tinnitus. Researchers analysed data from studies involving over 50,000 individuals and found that reported sound levels often […]

mental health

Fact-check: DIY Vagus nerve massage can’t cure mental health issues

On social media, rubs and massages that “tone” one of our body’s longest nerves have been claimed to remedy anxiety and other psychological ailments. However, it lacks robust scientific backing. There’s a sudden increase in popularity of vagus nerve massage, especially on social media. Some of the viral videos on YouTube and other social media […]

HPV vaccines

Cervical cancer awareness month: HPV vaccines are safe

While India’s Union Health Ministry is yet to take a decision on the roll-out of HPV vaccination against cervical cancer, misleading posts and videos are doing the rounds on social media channels. January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. While India’s Union Health Ministry has said it is yet to take a decision on the roll-out […]

winters

Climate change: Warm winters set new temperature records globally

Disruption of winter upsets a series of vital environmental processes that nourish life on earth.  Kashmir Valley, one of India’s coldest places, is witnessing an unusually warm winter with day temperature hovering over 15 degrees Celsius, at par with the capital city, New Delhi. In the middle of winter, spring is in the air. Trees […]

tobacco

Decline in tobacco use rates globally: WHO

Currently the WHO South-East Asian Region has the highest percentage of population using tobacco at 26.5%, with the European Region not far behind at 25.3%. The World Health Organization (WHO) tobacco trends report released earlier this week brings some good news. The world is getting closer to the voluntary target of a 30% relative reduction […]

walk

Fact-check: No need to walk 10,000 steps daily to stay fit

Research findings underscore the importance of prioritising the quality and intensity of physical activity over fixating on reaching a particular step target. The “10,000 steps a day” mantra has long been touted as the golden rule for achieving optimal health and fitness. However, recent scientific research challenges this widely accepted belief, revealing that the magic […]

A pill or injection can’t address the complexities of obesity: Lancet

Weight loss is only maintained while taking the drugs; once treatment stops, weight can be regained, and so the costs of chronic treatment, for both individuals and health systems, could be substantial. Global efforts are on to discover effective drugs for obesity and diabetes. While a simple pill or injection will undoubtedly help some patients, […]