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The Healthy Skeptic: Seeing through skin supplements’ claims


4 Star

The Healthy Skeptic: Seeing through skin supplements’ claims

Our Review Summary

We only wish the column had added a brief note about concerns about harms from antioxidants and a bit more about why the evidence cited by manufacturers is so inconclusive.


Why This Matters

“Fountain of youth…anti-aging…youthful skin” product claims demand scrutiny.  They got it in this column.  We wish this same approach would be applied more often to the broad range of health care products and claims.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


The Healthy Skeptic column – as it usually does – included cost information.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story states that “there’s still some hope that antioxidants can help the skin, but the resuits likely aren’t as dramatic as the companies suggest.”

It also raises some questions about the benefits suggested in a couple of studies.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The column implies the harm of consumers being misled by products without evidence to back them up.

But it could have also at least briefly addressed some of the published concerns about harms of antioxidants, such as:


Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The column goes half way to where we wish it would go – but we wish it would just add a line or two.

When it discusses one study of 36 adults, we wish it would emphasize how little conclusion can be drawn from such a tiny study.

When it discusses an unpublished, company-funded study, we wish it would more explicity delineate the red flags that should arise in readers’ minds.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease mongering of “youthful skin.”  In fact, it shoots down many claims.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


Two independent expert sources were cited.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story could have discussed other research into approaches to protect healthy skin – even the basics of sun protection.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The availability of the skin supplements is made clear in the story.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


No inappropriate claims of novelty are made.  In fact, one source says “these products are over-hyped.”

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


It’s clear that the story involved independent reporting and vetting of claims.

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory


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