Today I ran across an link on the LifeHacker.com to a website that would have been very helpful when I was diagnosed with Leukemia almost 6 years ago. The site is called Information Is Beautiful, and the data visualization is called “Snake Oil? Scientific Evidence for Popular Health Supplements“
At the time of my diagnosis I was inundated with suggestions from friends about different supplements that I should try that would hopefully help my condition. I’m happy to say that I’m still here to write this blog post! I’m also here to tell you that I didn’t follow any of the suggestions. It would have taken me a year or more to throughly research the dozens of “suggestions” I received (some of them plausible, and some outright crazy sounding – “wheat grass cures most cancers”?). A visualization of supplements with an indication of the quality of the science backing up their claims, would have been an invaluable tool in helping to quickly sort out quackery from the truly helpful.
I am even more skeptical now than I was back then, so I would not accept this as the final word on any of the supplements they list, but would use it as a good starting point for doing some research if a particular supplement looked helpful. One thing I really like is that they included a link to the underlying data was used to generate the visualization, including links to the studies they relied on, so you can do your own analysis if you wish.
Have fun researching!