Saturday, March 20, 2010

Popular health supplements

David McCandless and Andy Perkins have created a generative data-visualisation of scientific evidence for popular health supplements. The more Google hits, the bigger the bubble. The greater the evidence for its effectiveness (according to PubChem abstracts and The Cochrane Collaboration), the higher a bubble. The evidence ranges from “none” to “strong” (through “slight”, “conflicting”, “promising” and “good”). This visualisation generates itself from this spreadsheet. As you can see, these supplements are quite a mixed bag, e.g.
  • L-lysine
  • (unspecified) arginine
  • selenium (in which form?)
  • fish oil
  • probiotics
Interestingly, of all the metals used as “health supplements”, only calcium (effective only for the specific condition of colorectal cancer) is above “worth it” line.

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