Cancer Misinformation On The Rise On Social Media, Huntsman Cancer Institute Study Says

Jul 22, 2021, 7:11 AM | Updated: 7:38 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Many of us turn to the internet for information about our health, but a new Utah study finds misinformation surrounding cancer treatments is growing on social media.

It may be human nature to peruse social media for answers after a cancer diagnosis, but experts say following advice found online without talking to your doctor first can be harmful.

“I call it the murky waters of the internet,” said Dr. Skyler Johnson, an assistant professor in the University of Utah’s School of Medicine and radiation oncologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Johnson did just that when his wife got cancer during medical school.

Dr. Skyler Johnson and his wife, Laurie Johnson, turned to the internet when she was diagnosed with cancer during med school. He’s now the lead researcher at the Huntsman Cancer Institute on a study that found cancer misinformation is on the rise on social media and can be harmful to patients.

“The first thing we did is hopped online to figure out, ‘What are the treatment options, what’s the prognosis like?'” Johnson said.

Johnson is now the lead researcher at the Huntsman Cancer Institute looking at misinformation online.

“We know that patients who choose to use treatments that don’t have scientific support for them are putting their own health at risk,” he said.

Their study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found many of the most popular cancer articles shared on social media aren’t accurate.

According to researchers at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, 33% of the articles on social media contained misinformation about cancer. Of those, 77% had information that could negatively impact patient outcomes.

Dr. Skyler Johnson and his wife, Laurie Johnson, turned to the internet when she was diagnosed with cancer during med school.

“If it means that you’re refusing conventional cancer treatments, then it decreases your chance of cure and survival,” Johnson said.

Scientists also found misleading articles got the most traction online, especially on Facebook.

That’s why Johnson said it’s critical to talk to your doctor before trying a new treatment.

“It’s all about being able to use social media wisely, and just be a little bit critical about the information you may be seeing online or hearing about from well-meaning family and friends,” he said.

He prescribes a healthy dose of skepticism when reading about cancer on social media.

Next, Johnson and his team will look at how likely people are to recognize false information about cancer on social media when they see it.

KSL 5 TV Live


Students in the Cache Valley want to discuss sextortion and suicide...

Mike Anderson

Cache Valley tackles suicide and sextortion with students

The North Park Police Chief is hoping to get through to teens and their parents on two important topics: suicide and sextortion.

16 hours ago

Walking is one way to exercise and manage stress....

Emma Benson

Get moving: How to manage stress with exercise 

If not managed well, stress can cause serious health problems. So, how can you exercise to manage stress?

17 hours ago

Rebecca Page has worked hard to get her children on a regular sleep routine....

Emma Benson

How to keep your kids on a regular sleep routine to reduce stress

Experts emphasize that sleep is therapy, both physically and emotionally, which is why it's important to keep you and your kids on a regular sleep routine.

17 hours ago

Alyssa McBride is the mother of three children. After her youngest son, Jack, was born, she started...

Aley Davis

Teaching children to regulate emotions early is essential to future success, experts say 

Teaching kids how to regulate emotions early is essential to future success.

20 hours ago

Lehi seventh grader took this gun to his middle school...

Lindsay Aerts

Lehi school resource officer, middle schooler prevented Utah student’s planned suicide

The Alpine School district said a seventh grader who brought a gun to his Lehi middle school last November, planned to take his own life. A school resource officer and a fellow student stepped in.

3 days ago

A woman uses eclipse glasses to observe an annular solar eclipse at the Bicentenario Park in Antigu...

Christl Dabu, CNN

How to tell if you damaged your eyes from watching the eclipse

If you watched Monday's solar eclipse, you may be wondering whether you damaged your eyes.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Cancer Misinformation On The Rise On Social Media, Huntsman Cancer Institute Study Says