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Weird science: Medical studies

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If you’ve noticed an uptick in oddball medical research lately, you’re not imagining things. With more than 900,000 studies published each year in mainstream medical journals, there are bound to be a few weird and wacky ones. Too often, the craziest science gets the splashiest media coverage. Which would YOU read first in your paper: “Fiber Is Good” or “Smoking Protects Your Joints.”

How do you know what to believe? Start by remembering this: One study is never enough. Science is always uncovering new facts and challenging old assumptions. But the golden rule of research is that study results have to be repeatable — at least three times, and four’s better. So don’t let a bizarre study throw you.

Trimming salt doesn’t help your blood pressure. A recent Dutch study questioned the long-established link between high-sodium diets and high risk for high blood pressure, suggesting that salt-loaded diets lower your risk of heart disease — yep, really. Should you feel free to order salty smoked salmon on a salt bagel instead of fruit and oatmeal? Nope. Heart experts quickly highlighted several flaws in the study, including that it looked only at midlife adults with healthy tickers! The punchline: More data definitely is needed before you treat salt like water.

The YOU Docs — Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic — are the authors of “YOU: Losing Weight.” For more information go to www.RealAge.com.

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