How to Read Health News
Understand that most research doesn't prove cause and effect. In other words, just because exercise is shown to be associated with fewer health problems, it may not mean the precise reason is known yet. But that doesn't make the research useless. Somewhat loose associations are still valuable, and if you keep reading over time, you'll see how future studies build on earlier ones to start cornering an answer.
When you read terms you don't understand, try to take the time to look them up in Wikipedia or another accessible, readable source. By building your knowledge of key words and biological processes, you'll get more out of health news because you'll understand it better.
Look for the bottom line, the take-aways. Most health news will tell you the implications of the news and what you should consider changing in your life, if anything, based on the research.
Think long-term. Look for trends in the news that you can apply over the long-run. If there's a deadly food outbreak from cantaloupe, consider where you're buying your fresh fruit and vegetables and whether you're washing them properly. If a story says stress may be killing you, think about how you can simplify your life, make time for what you love to do and get more exercise.
Barbara Bronson Gray, RN, MN, is the founder of the blog www.bodboss.com, which is “dedicated to helping people learn to be the CEO of their own body and better guide their own health care.” Besides her hands-on work as both a nurse and supervisor in hospitals, Barbara has written articles that have been published in a number of national magazines and newspapers. Follow her on Twitter: @bbgrayrn.