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      Boosting the Immune System, From Science to Myth: Analysis the Infosphere With Google

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          Abstract

          Background: The concept that one can “boost” immunity is a popular one. Although the only evidence-based approach to this is vaccination, the lay public is exposed to a wide range of information on how to boost immunity. The aim of this study was to analyze such information available on the Internet.

          Methods and findings: We visited 185 webpages returned from a Google search on “boost immunity” and classified them by typology (blogs, commercial, government, no-profit, news, professional, scientific journals) and by using standard indicators of health information quality (JAMA score, HONCode). We then analyzed their content in terms of disease and “boosters” mentioned. Commercial and news websites represented one third of the results each. Of the 37 approaches to boost immunity recorded, the top ones were diet (77% of webpages), fruit (69%), vitamins (67%), antioxidants (52%), probiotics (51%), minerals (50%), and vitamin C (49%). Interestingly, vaccines ranked 27th, with only 12% of webpages mentioning them.

          Conclusions: Commercial websites are an important component of the information available to the public on the topic, and thus contribute providing biased information.

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          Most cited references 19

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          Why US adults use dietary supplements.

          Dietary supplements are used by more than half of adults, although to our knowledge, the reasons motivating use have not been previously examined in US adults using nationally representative data. The purpose of this analysis was to examine motivations for dietary supplement use, characterize the types of products used for the most commonly reported motivations, and to examine the role of physicians and health care practitioners in guiding choices about dietary supplements. Data from adults (≥20 years; n = 11 956) were examined in the 2007-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative, cross-sectional, population-based survey. The most commonly reported reasons for using supplements were to "improve" (45%) or "maintain" (33%) overall health. Women used calcium products for "bone health" (36%), whereas men were more likely to report supplement use for "heart health or to lower cholesterol" (18%). Older adults (≥60 years) were more likely than younger individuals to report motivations related to site-specific reasons like heart, bone and joint, and eye health. Only 23% of products were used based on recommendations of a health care provider. Multivitamin-mineral products were the most frequently reported type of supplement taken, followed by calcium and ω-3 or fish oil supplements. Supplement users are more likely to report very good or excellent health, have health insurance, use alcohol moderately, eschew cigarette smoking, and exercise more frequently than nonusers. Supplement users reported motivations related to overall health more commonly than for supplementing nutrients from food intakes. Use of supplements was related to more favorable health and lifestyle choices. Less than a quarter of supplements used by adults were recommended by a physician or health care provider.
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            The Health On the Net Code of Conduct for medical and health Websites.

            Internet has become one of the most used communication media. This and the fact that no constraining information publishing policy exists have created an urgent need to control the quality of information circulating through this media. To this purpose, the Health On the Net Foundation has initiated the Code of Conduct (HONcode) for the health/medical domain. This initiative proposes guidelines to information providers, with the aim, on the one hand, of raising the quality of data available on the Net and, on the other hand, of helping to identify Internet sites that are maintained by qualified people and contain reliable data. The HONcode mainly includes the following ethical aspects: the author's credentials, the date of the last modification with respect to clinical documents, confidentiality of data, source data reference, funding and the advertising policy. This article presents the HONcode and its evolution since it was launched in 1996.
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              The Sketch Engine: ten years on

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Med (Lausanne)
                Front Med (Lausanne)
                Front. Med.
                Frontiers in Medicine
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                2296-858X
                25 July 2019
                2019
                : 6
                Affiliations
                1Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais , Belo Horizonte, Brazil
                2Brighton & Sussex Medical School , Brighton, United Kingdom
                Author notes

                Edited by: Jan Willem Van Der Laan, Medicines Evaluation Board, Netherlands

                Reviewed by: Carlo C. Lazado, Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (Nofima), Norway; Saba Tufail, Aligarh Muslim University, India

                This article was submitted to Regulatory Science, a section of the journal Frontiers in Medicine

                Article
                10.3389/fmed.2019.00165
                6673706
                Copyright © 2019 Cassa Macedo, Oliveira Vilela de Faria and Ghezzi.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 29, Pages: 8, Words: 5788
                Categories
                Medicine
                Original Research

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