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What Everybody Ought to Know About Surfing The Web

The amount of information on the Internet is as vast as the ocean. Any casual user can surf any website or blog. That's one of the good things about using the Internet as a resource. It can be an invaluable educational tool.

However, the fact that it is so large is also one of its downfalls. There are sources of dubious credibility and fraudulent claims. The question then becomes, who do you believe, especially when it comes to your health?

How do you decide where and what to surf? Well, that can be the most difficult decision of all. My grandfather used to say, "Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see." Nowhere does this hold truer than on the World Wide Web.

For example, Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, has information which may not be credible or scientific. While it is a handy resource for students, teachers and learners, Wikipedia can literally be edited by anyone. The same freedom that creates thorough documents written by diverse experts also opens articles up for abuse and manipulation. Especially susceptible are topics related to health care, medicine, and nutrition, because there are so many products and companies willing to bend, distort, and transform scientific research to make money.

Does that mean all websites should be sifted through with cocked eyebrows and fine-toothed combs? Not at all. In fact, CNN.com recently published an article on its website called "Empowered Patient" that helps teach web surfers where and how to find trustworthy medical advice on the Internet. Tips include smart ways to effectively research online, including the use of government websites, clicking the "About Me" sections found on most pages, and keeping an eye open for references and links to medical journals.

But, most importantly, start in the right place to produce better results. The less junk you get, the less you have to put up with. The search engines medlineplus.gov and Imedix.com are good places to start.

Is the Internet a safe place to surf? It can be. Are there bad websites out there? Sure. Should it be used as a resource for credible health information? Definitely. As with most online activities, conducting research is easy, efficient, and effective when the user is properly equipped. CNN.com has a good article entitled, "Tips For Savvy Medical Web Surfing."

The key is to be proactive and get involved in your own health. Do research and get educated about all of the available options, especially those that deal with exercise, nutrition and supplementation. The idea is to promote health self-reliance. Better the library, Internet or bookstore than the doctor's waiting room.