7 Common Medical Myths Debunked
Researchers Say There's No Evidence for Some Widely Held Beliefs
Dec. 20, 2007 -- Can you separate medical myth from fact? A new report may
help you do just that.
Take a look at these seven medical myths, noted in BMJ (formerly
called the British Medical Journal).
The debunkers include Rachel Vreeman, MD, a fellow in children's health
services research at Indiana University's medical school in Indianapolis.
1. Medical Myth: Drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
Reality: There's no evidence that you have to drink that much water
to assure adequate
fluid intake -- and drinking too much water can be unhealthy.
2. Medical Myth: We use only 10% of our brains.
Reality: Most of the brain isn't loafing. Detailed brain studies
haven't found the "non-functioning" 90% of the brain.
3. Medical Myth: Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death.
Reality: Hair and fingernails don't keep growing after death. But it
may seem that way because dehydration can make the skin shrink back from hair and nails, making them look
4. Medical Myth: Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight.
Reality: Dim light isn't great for focusing, but it's "unlikely
to cause a permanent change in the function or structure of the eyes,"
Vreeman's team writes.
5. Medical Myth: Shaving causes hair to grow back faster or coarser.
Reality: "Shaving does not affect the thickness or rate of hair
regrowth," write Vreeman and colleagues. But shaved hair doesn't have the
fine taper of unshaved hair, making it seem coarser.
6. Medical Myth: Mobile phones are dangerous in hospitals.
Reality: "Rigorous testing in Europe found minimal interference
and only at distances of less than one meter [about 3.28 feet]," write the
researchers. But that may be a point of controversy. In September, Dutch
doctors reported that
cell phones may interfere with critical care equipment and shouldn't be
used within a meter of medical equipment or hospital beds.
7. Medical Myth: Eating turkey makes people especially drowsy.
Reality: Turkey isn't all that rich in
tryptophan, the chemical linked to sleepiness after eating turkey. But
eating a big, decadent meal can cause sleepiness, even if turkey isn't on the
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