Question: You often say “studies show” when giving an information. There are so many experts giving so many opionions how do I know who to trust? I hope you are not offended that that I question your sources, but I read so many things.
Answer: No offense taken! The validity of studies behind skin care and health recommendations is a super important question– and you are not the first to ask it. Last week I got some good info on studies at a Beauty of Data event for beauty editors and bloggers hosted by Ortho Dermatologics, the makers of Retin A Micro. Since I look at the studies for Retin A as the gold standard for anti-aging research, I felt it would be a reliable source of information.
Dr Eric Schweiger, a dermatologist associated with Mount Sinai Medical Center presented three great tools to evaluate any study, not just those for beauty:
1. Look at the number of patients in a study. If its just 10-20 people, results are interesting but should not be used to change current standard treatments. For reliable results researchers agree that a study should have at least 100 participents to be taken seriously by the medical community.
2. The study should be published in a peer reviewed journal. This means that before it is published, the study has been evaluated by doctors in the same field. So if its a study on the effect of soy on sun damage, it needs to be reviewed by doctors who have also studied the impact of soy on health.
3. A peer reviewed journal has an editorial board and publishes original research. The articles are all written by doctors ( MD’S or PHd’s) who are affiliated with a research center or university. The journal is often associated with a national medical society. For example the journal Chest is published by The American College of Chest Physicians.
So what does this look like? For example I often quote the NHANES nutritional study which compares diets to a wide range of health issues. For 10 years it followed 32,000 men and women in the US. The research was done at first tier univeristy medical centers throughout the US and the authors of the published papers were all academics. It has been published in some of the most prestigious medical journals including The New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA. So when they reported that higher carb intake was linked to more skin wrinkling, I put down that cookie.
Health articles in newspapers and consumer magazines usually don’t provide their sources of info about articles. If you read something that deals with something that impacts your life, you can often track down the original article online to see if its something that you can trust. If you need help finding a source, just send me a email and I can try to track it down at a medical library online service. There is so much info available– both valid and sketchy– and the challenge is determining which is which.