Medicine is a field of industry that is highly necessary for the survival of the human race. Research and development performed in medicine results in remedies for the diseases which attack us. Thanks to the work performed by medical scientists such as Louis Pasteur, cures and vaccines for various diseases have been discovered thus improving the wellbeing of millions across the world. Just as there are many exciting and eye-opening facts in the medical field, there is also a variety of myths. Defined as an unproven story that has no factual basis, a myth is a commonly accepted belief that won't go away. Ready to be amazed? Here are 25 medical myths that you need to know about.
Chewing gum will take 7 years to pass through your body system
This is one of the medical myths that is most mentioned by adults to warn children against swallowing chewing gum. It is derived from the knowledge that chewing gum is not digestible. Hence, it logically passes out of the body in as much time as a normal digestion cycle takes, not seven years.
Cancer treatment is painful and pointless because the disease is terminal
Three decades ago, this myth could have been factually true due to the lack of knowledge and technology to battle cancer. However, today it is very untrue. We have medication and procedures which are capable of treating cancer. As a matter of fact, many people have been totally cured of the disease.
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Cracking your knuckles will cause arthritis later on in life
This is a medical myth that is used as a warning to people who enjoy cracking their knuckles. People say that engaging in this activity will cause arthritis. As a matter of fact, it will not because the popping sound is caused by gas bubbles. The worst that knuckle cracking can cause is weakened joints in old age.
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Cold weather causes you to suffer from a cold
When it comes to medical myths, none beats this one. Many people believe that cold weather causes you to develop a cold or flu. It is surprisingly untrue. The common cold is caused by a rhinovirus which is transmitted through the air. Since cold weather causes more of us to huddle together indoors, the virus just finds it easier to move from one person to the next. This causes many people to catch a cold during the cold season.
You lose most of your body heat through your head
For a long time, we have believed that the body radiates most of its heat through the head. According to a military study, the head loses heat just as rapidly as the rest of the body in cold conditions. If you are naked in a cold environment, you will lose 10% of your body heat through your head and the rest through other parts of the body.
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Sugar causes hyperactivity
One of the myths that parents across the world believe is that sugar causes kids to be more active. Well, it was proven untrue by Drs. Vreeman and Carroll from the Riley Hospital for Children. In 12 random and controlled trials, they found that hyperactivity in children as a result of consuming sugar was simply all in the parents' minds.
Your body needs eight glasses of water every day
This is a myth that has actually been printed as true in medical journals. It originated from a government agency report in 1945 which indicated that the body needs at least 8 glasses of fluid to stay hydrated. The word fluid changed into water over time hence the common misconception. Simply put, drink water before you feel thirsty, and if you are thirsty you are already dehydrated.
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Teething normally causes your baby to develop a fever
This is a medical myth that can actually harm your child. Scientific studies have been performed and they show that there is absolutely no relation between teething and fever in children. If your child is growing some teeth and has a fever, then they have an underlying disease which needs immediate medical care.
Tanning beds are safe
Marketing statements often proclaim that tanning beds are safe because they don't produce harmful UVB rays. Beauty enthusiasts are encouraged to use these beds since they only emit UVA rays. What the marketers don't tell you is that UVA rays are just as dangerous. As a matter of fact, tanning beds are some of the leading causes of cancer in the world.
Swimming after you have eaten causes you to develop cramps
Many people actually believe this medical myth. It is true that eating causes most of the blood in the body to flow to the digestive system. This leaves less blood in the extremities such as arms and legs. The process can leave you weaker and make swimming difficult but does not lead to cramps.
Alcohol causes brain cells to die
Alcohol does not kill any brain cells. Many people use this myth to warn against too much of the drink. However, it actually damages the ends of neurons when consumed in excess.
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Calories make you more fat when you eat them at night
This is a very misleading nutritional myth. According to Dr. John Forey Ph.D, calories do not have a more pronounced effect at any time of the day. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight, period.
Carrots make you see better
This is a medical myth that is told to children to encourage them to eat their carrots. As a matter of fact, carrots do not cause you to see better. However, they contain vitamin A. This nutrient is capable of preventing macular degeneration in the retina.
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Crossing your eyes will make them stick that way
Children all over the world are discouraged from crossing their eyes with this myth. According to Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology W. Walker Motley, it is untrue. Voluntarily crossing your eyes has no negative effect.
Eggs are bad for your heart
The egg yolk of a large egg contains 211 milligrams of cholesterol. High amounts of bad cholesterol are linked with heart attacks. As a result, people say that eggs are bad for your heart. This is a misconception. Eggs have cholesterol which you can control by eating only an egg a day. Moreover, any extra cholesterol in the body is countered by less natural production to keep you healthy.
You can sweat out the toxins in your body
Sweat is produced by glands in the skin and helps to cool down the body to prevent overheating. While it provides a method to excrete water, it is not a medium for excreting body toxins. The kidneys and liver are responsible for this, not the skin.
Your hair and fingernails keep growing even after you die
This myth even has doctors convinced. Logically, it is untrue. When you die, the skin simply begins shrinking hence revealing more your fingernails and hair. As a result, these features seem to be growing.
Flu vaccines actually give you a flu
Flue vaccines contain incomplete forms of the influenza virus. The objective is to make your body release antibodies hence keep you safe from the flu afterwards. As such, these vaccines are incapable of giving you a full blown flu.
You should starve a fever and feed a cold
One of the common medical myths of our times is that you should starve somebody who has a fever and feed one who has a cold. It is terribly untrue and can actually harm the patient. Starving yourself when sick only makes it harder to heal. Therefore, try your best to eat despite feeling unwell. Also, remember to stay hydrated.
Fasting is an effective way of getting rid of toxins from the body
This myth is untrue because there is no medical proof that denying yourself food contributes to toxin excretion. According to Keith-Thomas Ayoob, Ed.D., R.D., toxin excretion is performed by the kidneys and liver, not lack of food.
Hiccups can be cured by getting startled
Scientific study has proved that this myth is not true. Hiccups are simply caused by spasms in your diaphragm. Being spooked or made to yell does not relieve hiccups.
All herbs are organic and natural, hence harmless
While there are some herbs which have very good effects in our bodies, not all of them are harmless. Many of them have some positive effect and a negative beside effect. For example, Kava is a herb that is used to relieve anxiety but it causes toxicity in the liver.
Eating a diet that is low in fat causes you to lose weight
This is a medical myth that was created by marketing agents. Many cookie companies market their products as low fat for people who want to lose weight. While they contain lower amounts of fat, they still have high numbers of calories thanks to the sugar content. Therefore, eating them in excess will still cause you to gain weight.
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Microwaving food causes it to have dangerous chemicals
Microwaves produce X-rays and gamma rays to heat up our food. The nutrients in food such as fat and sugar absorb microwaves and transform their energy into heat resulting in hot food. Once the process is compete, there is no residual energy or chemicals released. The food is completely safe to consume.
Cutting your hair often makes it grow faster
This is a myth that has been proven to be untrue. The speed at which air follicles produce the strands is not affected by how often we cut the hair. Only an improved diet can stimulate quicker hair growth.
The Important Takeaway
There are many myths in the medical industry. They have been repeated to us so many times that they seem true. While popular and interesting, many of them are not true. Above are some of them which make the rounds in our families, schools and places of work. Learn and debunk them for your friends and families.