Go to contents

False medical news

Posted June. 01, 2017 07:16,   

Updated June. 01, 2017 07:27


In the old days, mothers had a few quick treatments for their children needing emergency care. When a child suffered from acute indigestion, the mother would take out a thick needle and rub it against her scalp before pricking the child’s finger to make it bleed. Before long, the indigestion disappeared. Modern mothers would loathe such a treatment for fear of infection.

An Internet café called “Anaki” that advocates naturalistic childrearing has come under criticism for recommending unverified “natural treatments” for various symptoms or diseases. For example, it advised users against resorting to chickenpox vaccines for their children, recommended them to let their atopic children scratch the itchy parts, or advised them to treat a burn with water at 37 degrees Celsius. Kim Hyo-jin, a doctor of traditional Oriental medicine and the café’s operator, claimed during an interview with a local news outlet that she simply taught the café members to strengthen their children’s natural immunity and depend less on medicines. However, many of her advices were not scientifically verified, causing controversies over possible side effects and even child abuse. The Association of Korean Medicine filed a complaint against Kim with the group’s ethics committee. The Korean Medical Association called Kim’s acts “frauds worse than fake news.” The café was shut down, and its operator is now under police investigation.

There people who reject vaccines in Western countries, too. Germany had 583 measles patients in April, more than the 325 cases for the whole of 2016, as the vaccination rate dropped because of rumors that the MMR vaccine preventing measles, mumps and rubella could cause autism. It is true that a medical thesis on the possibility was carried on an international medical journal in 1998. It seems, however, that German mothers did not know the paper was withdrawn after the authors were found to have doctored data. The German government proposed a bill calling for reporting to police parents or childcare centers that refuse to have children vaccinated.

Natural therapies or folk remedies still exist in the 21st century. Books on why people should not depend on doctors sell well. Many people resort to the Internet to find answers to their medical questions that are hardly answered during their three-minute session with their doctors. Of course, there are times when pharmaceutical companies or doctors appear to be targeting patients’ money. Still, the best way is to become a “smart” patient who asks their doctors a lot of questions. Seeking solutions, rather than trying to find the right answer, is necessary not to be deceived by fake news or false information.