10 Medical Myths You Need to Stop Believing

10 Medical Myths You Need to Stop Believing

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When we were young, we heard plenty of old wives tales and stories that we have latched on to. Some things we believe to be true because we have been told they’re true for far too long. It’s hard to imagine otherwise and such situations can sometimes cause dilemma. Since April is just around the corner, we don’t want you to be an April fool – or any kind of fool – when it comes to your health. While those old wives knew a thing or two, they certainly have not had any experience in the field of medicine or neither have they conducted any scientific research. These medical myths have been believed for too long and it’s time to put them to an end.

Myth #1: We should drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.

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Image: Johnny McClung

Reality: We only need to drink enough water to keep our body hydrated. Studies show that people who gulp a glass of H2O when they’re thirsty get enough to stay healthy and hydrated.

Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. That however, does not mean that we have to gulp at least 8 glasses every day. There’s no evidence to support this myth and many believe it to have perpetuated from a 1945 Food and Nutrition Board recommendation that said people need about 2.5 liters of water a day. The foods we consume contain water in them. For instance, fruits, juice, soups and even tea and coffee contains water. Contrary to the popular belief, studies show otherwise that we only need to drink water when we are thirsty.

The human body is also fine tuned to alert us long before we are actually dehydrated. So baseline is, there is no formal recommendation for a daily amount of water and it all varies from one individual to another. (source)

Myth #2: Being in cold weather for too long can cause the cold and flu.

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Image: Noah Silliman

Reality: While humidity does play a role in the replication of viruses and bacteria, it’s people who are stuck together indoors during the wintertime that are more affected by “seasonal” colds.

It’s one of the oldest medical myths, which has existed for centuries. Most of you have heard this one either from your mom or your grandma but no matter what they have told you, spending too much time in the cold air doesn’t make you sick. Scientists studied the correlation between the spread of influenza, commonly known as the flu, and humidity outside. The study did show that flu survives and spreads better when the air is dry. Since humidity is lowest during the wintertime, when the air is very cold and dry, seasonal changes in humidity can be the reason why more people get sick from the flu during the winter.

At the same time, another study found that healthy men who spent several hours in temperatures just above freezing had an increase in healthy, virus-fighting activity in their immune systems. You’re more likely to get the cold and flu indoors since the circulating air can easily transfer germs from one corner of the house to another. (source)

Myth #3: Mobile phones are dangerous in hospitals since they can disrupt medical equipment.

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Image: Freestocks/Ken Treloar

Reality: The latest smartphones do not emit much electromagnetic interference; nothing that is sufficient enough to disrupt medical equipment within hospitals. Rather, their use is limited because of hygiene and privacy concerns.

Many hospitals around the world ban the use of mobile phones in hospital wards. Most people believe this ban to be in place because they might cause essential medical equipment to malfunction. Even some doctors and nurses believe the myth to be true. However, with the latest scientific studies, many hospitals are relaxing their rules when it comes to using phones in wards and corridors. A 2007 study did show that most mobile phones interfered with equipment such as ventilators but only when they were kept a meter away.

However, recent studies show that the latest phones have less interference and modern medical equipment is better-shielded. So, why are they still banned? The National Health Service in Britain, for example, warns against their use in critical or intensive care wards as a precaution. Another reason is hygiene. A study of healthcare workers in Southern India found that 95% of their phones were contaminated with bacteria. On top of the hygiene problems, there are issues of privacy. Since most phones can capture images without making noise, it raises concerns inside emergency wards. (source)

Myth #4: Reading in the dark is bad for your eyesight.

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Image: Pixabay

Reality: Our eyes are cleverly designed to adjust to different light levels. When you are reading in a darkly lit room, your pupils dilate in order to take in more light through the lens, onto your retinas.

This is one of the most popular medical myths that we have heard from our parents or grandparents. While growing up, you were probably caught at least once reading in low light, or using a flashlight under the covers to read after “lights-out”. And of course you hear the usual story: “You are going to damage your eyes”.

Studies show that our eyes are cleverly designed to adjust to different light levels. This means that when you’re trying to read in a dimly lit room, your pupils dilate so that more light can pass through the lens onto your retinas. Within the retina are cells called rods and cones, that use this light to provide information to the brain about what you can see. While some people find that straining for a long period gives them headache, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s damaging the eyes.

A study conducted in the UK found that when it comes to children, playing outside is beneficial, since their eyes are still developing. However, there was no concurrent evidence suggesting that it caused damage, other than straining them when they were in low light conditions. The same applies to sitting close to the TV. (source)

Myth #5: You can only get tetanus from rusty objects such as nails.

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Image: Débora Rousse

Reality: Rust is an oxidation product of iron and is not infectious for anything, including tetanus. However, getting dirt that contain clostridia tetani spores in your wound certainly can. When you step on a rusty nail, some dirt surrounding it can be pushed into your wound, causing tetanus, but is not necessarily caused by the nail.

For decades, we have been told that only rusty objects can give us tetanus. The truth is, you can get tetanus from a piece of plastic that contain clostridia tetani spores. You can get tetanus after being exposed to tetanus spores in dust, soil, and even feces. In fact, studies show that the bacteria is even found in the mouths of many animals. The most reasonable explanation to the rusty nail myth could be due to the fact that they are exposed to the outside elements for longer periods of time; especially when you compare it with a brand new one you just purchased.

Tetanus has nothing to do with nails or rust. Throughout history, there have been several reported cases where people got tetanus after a cat or dog bite, a burn, frostbite and something as simple as falling into a rose bush. Anything that can cause a non-superficial wound can cause tetanus, especially if the wound is contaminated with dirt, feces, or saliva that contains the spores. (source 1, 2)

Myth #6: Shaving hair causes it to grow thicker and darker in young men.

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Image: Patrick Coddou

Reality: Young men shaving coincides with the timing of natural hormonal fluctuations in their body, causing hair to grow faster. It does not have anything to do with the removal of hair.

Shaving can make it look like your hair is growing thicker and faster for a short period of time. This is because as humans, we are good observers and are capable of noticing even the slightest of changes in our bodies. The new short hairs, sticking straight up from their follicles, can look coarser, but only for a short period of time. Studies show that the tampered hair is what you will initially end up with.

Other studies also show that when young men start shaving, the process takes place as natural hormonal fluctuations are happing within their bodies. So, it’s natural for their hair to be thicker as time goes by since it’s a natural process. Shaving regularly has nothing to do with it. (source)

Myth #7: Snacking at night contributes to weight gain.

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Image nrd

Reality: Only the total number of calories in vs the total number of calories out matters in weight loss, not the time of day when you consume them.

We have all had those days where we just cannot resist keeping our hands off of ice cream and pizza at night. However, studies show that snacking after midnight will not be an issue as long as you are burning off the same amount of calories you take in. Although a 2007 study does indicate that people who eat most of their food at night have higher body mass indexes than people who eat earlier in the day, that doesn’t necessarily mean that snacking will cause you to gain weight overnight. (source)

Myth #8: Vitamin supplements are beneficial.

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Image: rawpixel

Reality: Not every available supplement carries the benefits it claims. The billion dollar industry claims that multivitamins might go that extra step that you require every day but studies show that they don’t.

We need vitamins to be healthy and our bodies can’t function without them. However, that doesn’t mean that the multivitamins we take every day provide us with the benefits they claim. Two major studies found that these pills actually have no influence in our body. Apart from taking them, what you can do to ensure that your body receives all the vitamins necessary is to follow a healthy diet. Another study found that the coating used to make these pills are so hard, that our bodies don’t have enough time to break through and utilize any of its properties. But if your doctor tells you to take a vitamin, do it. (source 1, 2)

Myth #9: You should wait for half hour after eating before you go swimming.

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Image: Todd

Reality: There is no special reason not to swim after eating. While vigorous exercise can be uncomfortable right after you eat, it’s certainly not dangerous.

The myth that you should wait at least half an hour to swim after you have filled yourself has existed for decades, but has no scientific evidence to back it. The only reasonable explanation to the creation of this widely believed myth is the presence of stomach cramps when swimming. Some believe that the cramps can lead to drowning. Stomach cramps can occur to swimmers or anyone performing any kind of physical activity. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the food you had is the culprit.

Another reason to disprove this myth is the time period. Does the food we consume wait undigested for exactly 29 minutes and as soon as it turns 30, we are in the safe zone? While there’s no plausible explanation to agree with this myth, someone who just consumed turkey should be heading straight to the bed anyway, instead of swimming. (source)

Myth #10: Spicy food and stress can cause stomach ulcers.

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Image: rawpixel

Reality: Most ulcers are actually caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. They can also be caused by certain medicines such as aspirin and iron tablets.

Peptic ulcers, also known as stomach ulcers are open sores that develop in the lining of the esophagus, stomach or the first part of the small intestine. It is estimated that each year, over 25 million Americans suffer from an ulcer at some point during their lifetime. According to the CDC, there are approximately 500,000 to 850,000 new cases of ulcer disease each year. While most people blame spicy foods and stress to be likely culprits, the real culprit is Helicobacter pylori bacteria (H. pylori), that causes the infection.

Barry Marshall was convinced that H. pylori was the culprit but no one believed him. In order to prove his findings, Marshall consumed a broth that was mixed with the bacteria. Within a few days, he developed an ulcer and treated them with antibiotics. For his discovery, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2005. (source 1, 2)

All content within this list is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Mind Blowing Facts is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this site.

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