Each year, more than 80 million Americans go to the Internet to look up medical information. Unfortunately there are many Web sites that are more than just inaccurate, they're also dangerous.
The Saturday Early Show's Dr. Mallika Marshall provided viewers with advice on finding reliable medical resources online.
When searching the Web, Marshall suggests going to sites that are affiliated with respected and well-known institutions, such as the American Heart Association. This way you can be assured there are credible experts behind the data.
Marshall says to stay away from sites that are run by a single person or organization that you've never heard of. Also, avoid Web sites that make outrageous claims. Marshall says it's important to remember the old adage: if it's too good to be true, it probably is. As a rule, many of the government-sponsored sites are good, but there are exceptions. And, Marshall says you should be wary of any Web site that hawks products such as vitamins or homeopathic remedies.
Marshall recommended a few Web sites according to categories.
If you want the latest medical news or accurate information about illnesses such Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, Marshall says these are all good places to visit. They have the latest information that's been vetted by people with strong credentials. These sites are also very good at explaining things in a way non-medical people can understand.
AAP.org (American Association of Pediatrics)
This is not the site you'd visit to find the best way to bring down a fever. That said, it offers valuable information about topics such as childhood immunizations. And it has good advice on ways to protect your child from sports injuries. Marshall says the Web site also provides good links to other sites.
Women's Health Issues
Marshall recommends visiting 4women.gov to find information for many health issues specific to women, such as pregnancy and breast cancer. The 4women.gov site is organized by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Like many government Web sites, it's very reliable. When searching, Marshall says to be as specific as possible, because it tends to bring up many pages.
This is another government-sponsored site. CDC.gov has all the latest information on topics such as this winter's deadly flu outbreak and includes advice such as who should be vaccinated. There's also a whole section that offers medical advice you'll need if you're traveling internationally, as well as a section on workplace safety.
This is the Web site of the American Heart Association. It has great information not only for people suffering with the disease, but information to help patients' loved ones. Marshall says Americanheart.org also has a great section that helps you determine whether you are at risk of developing heart disease.
This Web site is maintained by the American Cancer Association. Marshall says its has almost everything you'll ever need to know about the disease, including how different cancers are treated and a guide to cancer-fighting drugs.
Marshall says much of the information on the Internet about alternative medicine is inaccurate and dangerous. So, it's especially important that people know of a good place where they can get reliable information about herbal and dietary supplements. Marshall says Naturaldatabase.com is a good destination for reliable information.