100 million Americans go online for health information.
of what they find is hard to understand, and often incorrect
and incomplete. Consult several Web sites, but also
check with a physician. In general, government and university
sites are the most reliable.
Institutes of Health
Not the prettiest of the lot, but for authoritative
and reliable patient information without the hype, this
government-sponsored network of sites is tops. Search
NIH's 27 branches (the National Cancer Institute, for
example) for detailed information and government research.
Or click on Health Information and link to Medlineplus
where you can easily navigate 450 topics, from back
pain to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's
disease). Also, a clinical trials database.
& Drug Administration
Good drug information. You can look up FDA-labeling
for new drugs aproved since 1998 and find an exhaustive
rundown on efficacy and safety. In the MedWatch section,
look up drug-safety labeling changes since 1996 and
alerts on drugs, dietary supplements and other products.
Aetna U.S. Healthcare's portal gets content mainly from
Harvard Medical School, though not all of the staff
is academic. A recent article asks "Do cell phones
cause cancer? (Answer: no.) Distinctive features include
a section on dental health, a link to FDA drug safety
alerts and interactive Cool Tools section.
The latest news and information in 30 health categories,
written by and for health care professionals. On a given
day there might be 40 bulletins. Customize the home
page to get news by specialty and sign up for weekly
updates via e-mail. When the jargon gets too thick-and
it will-you can always click over to the civilian site,
CBS Health Watch, but it's less trustworthy.
Addresses both the clinical and human sides of cancer.
Run by the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center,
this authoritative site covers the gamut from financial
issues and symptom management to art and writing programs
that help patients heal. Breast cancer information even
covers pregnant woment and those with silicon implants.
Debunks health care hype on the Web. Run by retired
psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Barrett, this no-frills site
blasts the claims of chiropractors, acupuncturists and
homeopathic healers. Hundreds of articles attack dubious
treatments for serious conditions, such as pultiple
sclerosis. Links to government consumer sites.
Before you go under the knife, check out this site run
by Dr. Harold Portnoy, a Michigan neurosurgeon. Thoroughly
details 50 surgical procedures, from heart valve surgery
to Lasik vision correction. Clearly written and beautifully
illustrated with diagrams and animated pictures, each
section describes the anatomy of the body part in question,
pathologies, symptoms and complications. Fast despite
all the graphics.