The fine line – and crying wolf

So much in medications and treatments comes down to walking a fine line between healing and hurting. Today we see this about the powerful ability of cannabis to relieve severe pain and insomnia in advanced cases of multiple sclerosis, along with a lengthy explanation of the known bad effects of using “weed”–which include its propensity to reveal previously unrecognized psychotic conditions and illnesses in the user that might never have shown up under any other conditions.

The worry is that people who want to continue using marijuana will hear the good and ignore the bad. By constantly printing lists of potentially damaging side effects of various substances, the media could be dulling the public’s ability to notice. Certainly if you use a certain substance and don’t experience any of the side effects listed for it, your tendency is going to be to discount what you read about it anywhere else.

I know I started getting turned off after the first reports saying how bad caffeine was for you were countered shortly aftwards by a round saying it was good for you. Same thing with eggs and cholesterol. After open-heart surgery my father suffered several years of foregoing one of his favorite foods–only to be told by his doctor one day that, well, cholesterol wasn’t all that big a deal after all. Dad was livid.

…and maybe some other people’s trust in media “health” reports went into the toilet along with mine.