Preventing Colds: Washing Your Hands Is More Effective Than Taking Vitamins
The days are
getting shorter, temperatures are dropping, and the cold and flu season
is beginning. Many people have started taking vitamin C tablets as a
precautionary measure. But research has shown that vitamin supplements
do not provide nearly as much protection as other measures, like
frequently washing your hands – and that high doses can even be
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) has
published information and a quiz on the subject of prevention, helping
to separate widespread myths from facts.
Promising news is quickly assumed to be true
overestimate the benefits of vitamin C and other antioxidants. For
years it was believed that taking vitamin C supplements not only
provided protection against colds, but also against cancer, thereby
helping people to live longer. A summary of the research in this area,
refuting these beliefs, has now been published on IQWiG's website.
"Not only is
there no proof that some antioxidants prolong life, but there is some
evidence that certain products may even lead to earlier death", says
Professor Peter Sawicki, the institute's director.
news gives people hope, which can quickly spread, become deeply held
beliefs. Professor Sawicki: "It can be very difficult to accept that
these beliefs are myths, but they are not true if further research does
not confirm them or the research points to the opposite conclusion."
Simple strategies can prevent respiratory infections
Whether it is
caused by a mild cold or the flu, a runny nose and sore throat are
signs of a viral infection. Many people are absolutely convinced that
vitamin C provides protection against respiratory infections. Yet
research has shown that vitamin C does not prevent infection, and that
high doses can even be harmful.
many simple but effective ways to lower the risk of respiratory
infections. These include frequently washing your hands with normal
soap and water, and not touching your face with your hands. People who
already have a respiratory infection can stop it from spreading by
throwing away tissues immediately after using them and not shaking
hands with other people.
For more information on the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, visit www.iqwig.de.