Modern research increasingly enlightens us by debunking widely held notions on a variety of topics. But that evolving process can also become unsettling when such scientific breakthroughs flow too rapidly, washing away so much of what we thought we knew.
Thus, a pair of conclusions from new scientific studies prompt not just surprise but alarm across the nation.
For instance, a recent edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine included an editorial under the headline "Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements." From that firmly stated opinion, which cited three studies featured in the same issue:
"The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided."
Then, from a news story in the next day's New York Times: "After years of mounting concerns that the antibacterial chemicals that go into everyday items like soap and toothpaste are doing more harm than good, the Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that it was requiring soap manufacturers to demonstrate that the substances were safe or to take them out of the products altogether."
That's because "studies in animals have shown that the chemicals, triclosan in liquid soaps and triclocarban in bar soaps, can disrupt the normal development of the reproductive system and metabolism, and health experts warn that their effects could be the same in humans."
Yet millions of Americans have long counted on health-enhancing effects from a) antibacterial chemicals, and b) vitamins.
Must those trusting consumers now abruptly accept as fact that they were mistaken in one or both beliefs?
Meanwhile, as the news undermines public confidence in antibacterial soap and vitamins, it inevitably lowers faith in other assumptions while raising obvious questions, including:
What's the next commonly believed health "fact" to be exposed as a mere myth by science?
And no, you can't wash your hands of unnerving revelations from modern science.
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