Health monitoring products are increasingly becoming part of the everyday lives of many consumers.
From health-monitoring gadgets to fitness trackers, the industry has become a significant source of income for some of the world’s largest companies, with companies like Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Eli Lilly also making millions off of monitoring products.
Now, new research published in the journal PLOS ONE reveals that these products are not only giving consumers a better understanding of their health but also offering potential side-effects that could be harmful to their health.
The study, led by a team from the University of Exeter and the Royal College of Physicians, surveyed over 1,400 consumers to gauge their exposure to health monitoring products and how they felt about the possible adverse effects of the products.
They found that more than two-thirds of respondents indicated that they would avoid using products that tested positive for a potential side effect.
The results of this study are promising and can potentially lead to improved consumer safety and wellbeing, especially given that these new technologies have the potential to provide a better insight into the health of consumers.
However, the researchers caution that the study only covered one-third of the health monitoring market, and that there is a large gap between consumer awareness of possible side effects and their actual use.
“The number of potential health consequences of this research is low, and it will take a long time before the health monitors are widely available,” says lead author Dr. Matthew R. Wootton, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University at Albany.
“I would like to encourage all consumers to use the best and most current health monitoring technologies available to monitor their health, and to make sure that they don’t use products that may be toxic to their bodies,” he says.
“But until consumer awareness increases, the monitoring industry needs to be mindful of the risks that come with using new technologies.”
The study looked at the responses of more than 1,000 people across a wide range of ages, genders, and ethnicities to questions about whether they would use a monitoring device, and if so, what the potential side issues were.
The researchers also looked at data from over 200,000 monitoring devices sold in the U.S. and Europe over a 10-year period.
The survey found that there were significant differences between the responses in terms of the type of products tested, as well as the types of devices and devices types that people had used.
People who had been tested for side effects reported that about a third of their devices had a side effect and about one-quarter had no side effects.
People who had used a monitoring product in the past reported a much higher rate of possible adverse side effects than people who had not tested for the potential effects.
The researchers also found that the products that people most commonly used to monitor were:Eye droppers, wristbands, earbuds, and other earbud-like devices.
For those who had tested positive, the rate of potential side reactions ranged from 2.8 to 20.6 per 100,000, which is equivalent to a 3.2-fold increase in risk.
However the results of the study don’t necessarily mean that people are getting sick from their monitoring devices.
The team noted that while these results might indicate that people have used a particular product in past, the results were not statistically significant.
“These findings are very difficult to interpret given the low frequency of adverse effects, but we can’t rule out that some people might be experiencing side effects,” Wootston said.
“One could argue that these results may indicate that many consumers have taken the time to assess whether they have taken medication that may cause side effects with their monitoring products.”
He added that these findings do not mean that consumers are avoiding monitoring products because of the potential negative side effects, or that monitoring products aren’t useful.
“Although the findings of this paper do not suggest that people don’t need to take medication to avoid potential side benefits, the importance of this survey to understanding the benefits of health monitoring remains unknown,” he said.
Wootton says that the most important takeaway from this research could be that consumers need to be more vigilant about what they’re monitoring and to avoid using a product that is potentially harmful.
“It’s important to remember that monitoring technologies are just a tool, and you should always be aware of the possible risks associated with monitoring products,” he notes.
“However, it’s also important to note that monitoring is an important part of daily life, and the fact that we have a greater understanding of how the body works, including the impact of the disease on the body, makes us more aware of how to avoid potentially harmful side effects.”