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Preventing a Cold

November 22, 2015

I recently read an article on the CTV news site that described what we could do to prevent colds.  It was called: “What works, and what doesn’t, to prevent colds”.  I was quite impressed with this article because all of its recommendations were based on carefully controlled scientific studies.  It also told us when there was no scientific evidence for some practices or outcomes.

The article described three things that don’t work to prevent colds: Vitamin C, Echinacea, and garlic.  These are all foods or medicines, things that you eat, and things that people generally believe are effective.  The fact that they don’t work is quite startling to me, although it’s certainly good to know.

It also described three things that did work: more sleep, the right amount of exercise, and hand washing.  These are all practices, things that we have to do, things that take time.  Some are inconvenient.  I’m already doing these things, at least to some extent.

I also read the comments at the end of the article.  Some people recommended the very things that the article reported as not working to prevent colds.  These people can’t be stupid.  Perhaps they didn’t read the article, or only read the headline and looked at the pictures.  Perhaps they were only expressing the public belief in those substances, in spite of what the article said.  Perhaps they believed in magic.  It’s easy to believe in magic where foods, medicines, and disease are concerned.

Other people’s comments, though, clearly indicated that they had read the article and understood it.  They had praise for it.  They agreed that sleep, exercise, and hand washing were effective methods to prevent colds.  Indeed, those seem to be the only things we have right now.


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