I read with interest the Sunday, Oct 5, Wisconsin State Journal article about new health information apps being developed by Epic Systems. Together with Apple computer, they are developing apps for individuals to self-report their health data. I couldn’t help but wonder if the focus on data collection will actually contribute to better health. For a while, lowering cholesterol levels was thought to be the controlling factor for reducing heart disease, so we measured cholesterol. Now researchers report that many with normal cholesterol levels have heart attacks. Focusing on disease data, instead of appreciating and expecting normal health, could lead to greater anxiety, stress, and more disease. This article by John Clague in the Oregonian talks about research related to the power suggestion has on creating the very negative health effects we hope to prevent by information gathering.
Everywhere we go, information is at our fingertips through the ubiquitous Internet. We seem to have an insatiable desire to access data at any instant in any location. Everywhere people are staring at their laptops, tablets, and smartphones, searching for important tidbits.
Interestingly, a 2007 story from BBC warned that prolonged exposure to cell phone transmissions and wifi radio waves could cause negative health effects.
Six years later the research doesn’t support this notion. What the research does show, however, is that exposure to this kind of “misinformation” perpetuated by the media causes people to experience the negative symptoms they’ve been told about.
Through experimentation, M Witthöft and GJ Rubin demonstrated that watching the BBC program caused people who believed they were exposed to wifi radio waves to experience predicted symptoms even though the exposure was fake. When people were shown this research and then asked about symptoms, 54% reported experiencing them.