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Finding Hidden Treasures in the Medical Literature

When I give my presentations I usually describe an analogy that demonstrates how rapidly medical studies are growing. We are in an information explosion that is virtually impossible to keep current with. If a health care professional were to graduate school today and achieve the impossible goal of knowing everything in health that was published at the time of their graduation they would have serious problems in keeping current.

If they read two journal articles a night to maintain their knowledge base at the end of one year they would be over 550 years behind, because nearly one half million studies are published every year and indexed in the National Library of Medicine. That is one of the reasons why so many people, including over 25,000 health care professionals, appreciate this newsletter. In one year I scan over 50,000 studies that might have practical applications to health and post about 1,000 of them. Most professionals and interested health consumers like you simply don't have the time to review this many articles. As you know I also typically include the original journal reference links so if a particular topic interests you it is possible to locate it in the library and read the entire journal article.

Well the issue of falling behind is not limited to natural medicine. Traditional medical doctors face the same dilemma. It is simply physically impossible for anyone to keep current anymore in this information explosion. Fortunately, technology may come to the rescue here. Sophisticated programs have been developed that can easily identify obscure commonalities in research data. The researchers have developed programs that teach computers to 'read' the literature and make relevant associations so they can be summarized and scored for their potential relevance.

I find this amazing and hope that we can use this technology to find pearls in the nutritional literature. I was in San Diego this weekend and visited the Price Pottinger Foundation, which has hundreds of thousands of pages of precious literature in hard copy by many of the nutritional pioneers and experts of the 20th century. This software can be an amazing tool to mine the pearls out of that information.

Science Daily January 23, 2004

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