English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am looking to write an online article about the negative effects of eating/drinking a certain item. There are articles that have a title such as "Top Health Benefits of _____". What could be used to describe the exact opposite?

There is a similarly titled question, "Antonym of benefit". However, the content of the question is different and its answer is not helpful for my situation.

share|improve this question
3  
+1 for doing your research before posting! Would detractions work? A benefit is "an advantage or profit gained" while detraction is "a taking away". You'd end up with "Top Health Detractions of _____". – John Clifford Mar 14 at 12:57
13  
Top health risks of might work. – ChongDogMillionaire Mar 14 at 13:03
3  
Health detriment? – ResidentBiscuit Mar 14 at 14:29
1  
Health malefit? – Crissov Mar 16 at 20:34
1  
@KyleWilliamson I had added it as an answer to the question you linked to, so repeated it here in a comment only. – Crissov Mar 16 at 20:49

10 Answers 10

up vote 55 down vote accepted

Top Health Risks is the phrase that you're looking for!

Risk (noun)

a situation involving exposure to danger.

[ODO]

For reference, here's an Ngram plot on the usage of "Health Risks of Alcohol" from 1975 to 2008.

share|improve this answer
5  
I don't think the answer is this straightforward (I'm calling into question my own contribution., threat, too). A risk isn't necessarily bad for you. It's got to be actually detrimental to your health, 100% of the time, to be the opposite of a benefit, doesn't it? – Charl E Mar 14 at 13:22
7  
@CharlE - At times, a risk in itself may not be bad, but when it is preceded by "health", it almost always means detrimental to health. – BiscuitBoy Mar 14 at 13:25
3  
@CharlE "Health Risk" is different than a regular risk - it's taking on an activity that increases the chance of developing health complications - drinking heavily, smoking heavily, eating high fatty foods are all health risks - it's not a gamble to win something, it's saying that it's increasing your chances of getting those complications. – Zibbobz Mar 14 at 15:41
2  
Whatever the literal meanings of all these words are, they words that most often are used as opposite pairs are 'benefits and risks'. – Mitch Mar 14 at 18:35
2  
@Peter that is exactly what I'm saying. Standing alone, a benefit and a risk are not exact counterparts when taken literally. I'm just telling you that at least in medical practice, they are used together to signify the alternatives. Drug X does good things and bad things, they are called respectively benefits and risks. Life isn't literal. – Mitch Mar 15 at 17:11

You could consider using health hazard which means:

A danger to health resulting from exposure to environmental pollutants, such as asbestos or ionizing radiation, or to a life-style choice, such as cigarette smoking or chemical abuse.

[Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 9th edition]

share|improve this answer
2  
Hazard seems right to me. A benefit offers to protect or provide for your well being. A hazard threatens it. – Darthfett Mar 14 at 17:16
1  
I have the same objection as above: I find hazard not exactly opposing benefit. Rock climbing is a health hazard: You may not fall and walk away as well as you came. By contrast, seriously drinking comes with a health penalty (not only a potential). – Peter A. Schneider Mar 15 at 15:05
1  
@Peter You are comparing apples with oranges. You need to compare rock climbing with drinking and (rope-) free-climbing with serious drinking. – A.S. Mar 15 at 20:18

How about detriment?

  1. loss, damage, disadvantage, or injury.

  2. a cause of loss or damage.

"Top Health Detriments of ________"

share|improve this answer
1  
This is incorrect, because "the detriment of X" means that X is harmed, not that X is harmful. "I drink lots of alcohol, to the detriment of my health." You can see ngram results, that "detriment of" is now almost exclusively used in the construction "to the detriment of": books.google.com/ngrams/… – Dietrich Epp Mar 16 at 17:23

I don't believe that there is a single word that fits exactly in that sentence structure "Health _____ of", but normally in medical circles things are either beneficial or harmful, so one would probably go for something like

"10 harmful effects of __________"

or

"10 ways ___________ can harm you"

or perhaps

"10 detrimental side-effects of__________"

although in today's world of over-senasionalizing things, for the tabloid-style title you'd go:

"10 ways ____________ can kill you!"

or

"10 ways ____________ will ruin your health!"
share|improve this answer
1  
+1 Sounds more practical – NVZ Mar 14 at 13:13
1  
How about ill effects? – Brian Donovan Mar 14 at 14:27
8  
Number six will shock you! – mikeTheLiar Mar 14 at 14:29

Consider,

negative health effects

Google Books

damaging effects

Google Books

deleterious (health) effects

deleterious

Having a harmful effect; injurious: the deleterious effects of smoking. American Heritage Dictionary

Harmful often in a subtle or unexpected way deleterious effects; deleterious to health M-W

Injurious to health Ramdom House

Ngram

share|improve this answer

Threats, perhaps. The Top Threats to Health from consuming _____.

If you Google Threats to Health you will see that it is quite commonly used in the context you're suggesting.

Global public health threats in the 21st century

from the World Health Organisation, for instance.

share|improve this answer

Disbenefits is a word I have used from time to time, though I was astonished to find that it doesn't appear in all dictionaries so may be office-speak, slang or new and is designated as 'British [English]' in the site linked in this answer

Disbenefit

Noun: A disadvantage or loss resulting from something: ‘an environmental disbenefit to the area of Teesside’

www.oxforddictionaries.com


E.g. "The health disbenefits of eating [these things] are..."

share|improve this answer
1  
Nice. I'm going to start using this. – goblin Mar 15 at 4:12
1  
Thanks for the suggestion. I live in the united states and have never heard of this word. Too bad it is not common, as it seems to be the most logical word. – Kyle Williamson Mar 15 at 14:19
1  
Double-plus good - i.e. horrible. – A.S. Mar 15 at 20:19
1  
What next? Malefit? – TaW Mar 17 at 3:27
    
Why have I received 3 DV? It IS a word, and an apposite one at that! Bemused. – Marv Mills Mar 17 at 9:16

The opposite of a health benefit is a health penalty. Googling "health penalty" "health benefit" comes up with quite a few significant links.

The word pair fits also etymologically quite nicely. Penalty as well as benefit are originally human acts: A punishment (Latin poena), and a good deed (bene factum). Both terms imply some sort of book keeping, as in in accounting or a game. Both terms for originally human acts have acquired an impersonal meaning as well: "The tax benefits of marriage", or "The Financial Penalty for LGBT Women". Using the term penalty, even when describing a consequence which is not the act of a single person, evokes an image of a rule based framework, like a sports game or a court case. Certainly some possibly imaginary score is lowered.

Both terms are frequently used in economics where they apply quite naturally, because it's a rule based framework where scores are kept.

Using them in medicine applies this concept of rule-based score keeping to a person's health and interactions, thus "economifying" or "gamifying" it.

share|improve this answer

Top Health Malefits of ____

OED with prefix mal+ ‘ill’, ‘wrong’, ‘improper(ly)’:

Self-conscious use as an antithesis to benefit n.

Wiktionary:

detriment, disadvantage, encumbrance, hindrance, nuisance, obstacle
Antonyms: advantage, aid, assistance, benefit, boon, foredeal, help

Urban Dictionary:

Something that is harmful or disadvantageous.

Merriam-Webster has no entry for it, but upon search suggests malefic ‘malignant’, ‘malicious’. The related actor term malefactor, it lists of course. So the word fits in well with other mal+ terms, although some readers may mistake it to relate to male instead.

Other associations people may have are Maleficent, the evil fairy in Disney’s 1959 adaptation of Sleeping Beauty and later installments of the franchise, and the board game Malefiz that is also known as Barricade.

share|improve this answer

Consider "Top Health Contraindication of ...".

Definition: medical reason for using something, such as a treatment, procedure, or activity. It implies risk.

Example: Quinia in small doses and stimulants are appropriate whenever there is no contraindication to their employment.

share|improve this answer

protected by Community Mar 14 at 21:05

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.