A recent study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University has found that the popular social media app TikTok is flooded with dangerous amounts of misinformation about women’s cancers. The app’s most popular cancer-related content, predominantly in the form of first-person testimonials, was discovered to be “misleading or dramatically inaccurate.” The study revealed that at least 73% of the information shared through TikTok was both inaccurate and of poor educational quality.
In response to the alarming prevalence of misinformation, medical professionals and organizations have taken to TikTok themselves to counteract the spread of false information. For example, Dr. Laura Makaroff of the American Cancer Society posted a clip debunking the false narrative that breast cancer rates in women under 45 had significantly increased between 2022 and 2023.
Oncologist Dr. Eleonora Teplinsky also raised awareness on TikTok about the dangers of believing phony medical information. She emphasized that such misinformation can be dangerous and lead to adverse outcomes.
The study conducted by Ohio State University focused on analyzing the most popular videos related to various women’s cancers. The aim was to identify patient concerns that may not be addressed during medical appointments. According to senior author Dr. Laura Chambers, the study revealed that many patients face additional challenges at home while undergoing treatment, such as finding ways to show love and attention to their children despite fatigue.
This is not the first time health officials have raised concerns about misleading content on TikTok. In the past, influencers have promoted the false idea that tampons are linked to cancer due to titanium dioxide. Similarly, the University of Michigan conducted a study in 2021 investigating the spread of misinformation about prostate cancer online.
Given the lack of regulations on the quality of medical advice shared on TikTok, individuals seeking reliable information may find greater safety on YouTube. YouTube recently launched an initiative to combat fake cancer news by removing content that promotes harmful or ineffective cancer treatments or discourages viewers from seeking professional medical treatment.
– Ohio State University researchers
– Dr. Laura Makaroff of the American Cancer Society
– Dr. Eleonora Teplinsky, Oncologist
– University of Michigan study