January 7, 2013

Reflections on the Blog's 2012 Hit Parade

I started this blog a few years ago, thinking it might become an online info exchange for people, like me, with questions about their health. I hoped it might help others, as well as myself, and I love the process of researching and learning new stuff along the way.

But the blog, like me, has been changing. I’ve sensed a little seismic shift this year. I find I'm writing more about personal things. I'd been reluctant to do that initially, figuring others would be more interested in the latest medical research than my babbling about life. Then, I noticed I was getting as much or more traffic and feedback on the personal postings. Of course, I usually get the most traffic on posts that primarily feature photos. Reminds me why I liked and now miss the old Life magazine.

So for the coming year, I'll continue a mix of the personal views and research-based reports on issues that concern us old folks.

People Want Hope, Even When Science Doesn’t Support It
The blog platform I use -- blogger.com -- provides data on what post are generating the most traffic. Interestingly, of the ten most popular posts in 2012 postings, the top five deal with dietary supplements! I shouldn't be surprised, since over half of us take supplements and spend an estimated $25 billion annually on them. Just pop a pill and -- presto! -- everything is better.

No. 1, by far, in my blog Hit Parade was my initial report on the hype for coconut oil as a remedy for Alzheimer's. I'm embarrassed I didn't first do the research that would have shown how little evidence there was to support the claims. The No. 2 most popular post was the follow-up report I did a few months later on the lack of evidence for coconut oil as a remedy for Alzheimer's, but unfortunately this piece has received only half the traffic the initial report got.

What's troubled me most in last year's research was seeing how susceptible we all are to the hype generated  for dietary supplements despite the lack of supporting evidence. The huckster machinery is a powerful thing, especially when we cling desperately to some hope, some dream, some wish for salvation.

I'll be doing a report in a few days on the many supplements I've taken recently. One of the most important things I've learned this past year is that we our welfare is best served when we get our nutrition from wholesome food, NOT pills. I'm now taking only three supplements.(http://bit.ly/U0wkxm).

One more reminder that less is more.

Another surprise has been the sparse reporting about the most-studied supplement: curcumin. Thousands of peer-reviewed, scientific studies provide evidence of its potential for treating many diseases. I'm glad one of my reports on curcumin came in at No. 4 on the all-time Hit Parade.

After supplements, the most popular blog topic has concerned death and dying. Three of the top ten posts dealt with those final issues.

So, eight out of the top ten posts dealt either with our fear of death or our susceptibility to hype for pills that promise to -- but can't -- forestall that fate.

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