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28 Dec

Medical Myths Even Experts Fall For

Oh, those experts – always falling for one thing after another! We’re partly kidding, of course, but there are a variety of myths that even health pros still believe. Have you been fooled? The British Medical Journal pares the meat from the mealy:

1. We only use 10% of our brains. Wrong!

This “fact” is often cited as one of Einstein’s pearls, but that’s a common misconception. There are no dormant parts of our gray matter – it all gets used.

2. You need 8 glasses of water a day. Wrong!

This is absolutely false and unscientific. The Nutrition Council determined in 1945 that people need 8 ounces of fluid daily, but this can come from coffee, tea, juices, fruits, vegetables and greens. Somehow the word “water” replaced all sources of fluid in recent years, but experts say there is no proof. Just drink water when you are thirsty – that’s what the thirst mechanism is for. Salt, chemicals, and sugar can interfere with your natural sense of thirst, so if you feel hungry, drink a glass of water first to make sure your body isn’t misreading signals.

3. Fingernails and hair grow after death. Wrong!

Soft tissue – like fingertips and the scalp – retracts. But the nails and hair follicles do not continue growing.

4. Shaved hair grows back darker and thicker. Wrong!

It only looks dark because the sun hasn’t bleached it. It looks thicker because it’s the blunt edge of the shaft that was shaved. But in study after study, research shows that once the hair grows out to the standard length, it’s the same as if it had been unshaven.

5. Reading in low light damages your eyes. Wrong!

There is no evidence to support this. Reading for a lengthy period of time, no matter what the light, will strain your eyes, but it won’t permanently damage them. You need to give them a break regardless of whether you’re reading in full light or muted light.

6. Turkey makes you tired. Wrong!

Turkey contains tryptophan, a compound your brain loves. Though it can make you a bit drowsy, chicken and beef contain identical levels of tryptophan. It’s more likely the massive onslaught of holiday calories that makes you tired.

7. Cell phone use in the hospital is dangerous. Wrong!

Oh boy – this myth is really silly!

Gaeten Lee, richarmasoner and ~Sage~ Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Glyconutrients: A Sweet Scam

Top 10 Health Scams

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Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. That “only use ten percent of your brain” thing drives me INSANE, because it falls completely apart on even light prodding. Who has ever heard of a stroke, brain bleed, concussion, brain tumor or other head injury being no problem because the location of the wound was in the ninety percent of the gray matter that wasn’t doing anything but taking up space?

    LabRat wrote on December 28th, 2007
  2. The one about turkey always amuses me. People say “Whew! I’m sleepy. Must be the turkey.” And I want to say, “You don’t think it could be the sugar crash resulting from the mashed potatoes, candied yams, and 4 rolls?”

    As for hair growing back faster, another reason it may appear to grow back faster is because the change is greater proportionally. If you assume that hair grows at a constant rate, say 1cm per day, then hair that is 10cm long will only grow an additional 10% the next day, whereas hair that is trimmed to 0cm (as in shaving) will grow exponentially. Hair that is 1cm long will double in size the next day. It’s all about proportions.

    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

    Scott Kustes wrote on December 28th, 2007
  3. Glad you like my legs photo :-)

    Fritz wrote on December 29th, 2007
  4. I dispute your take on cell phones. See Forbes magazine for an excellent article last year by the man who was hired by the industry to validate cell phones as being safe. He found they are not safe, even with lower levels of exposure, and was subsequently relieved of his duties. I imagine it’ll take 20-30 years before we start seeing epidemic brain tumors on a massive, global scale.
    And no, I’m not a fear monger by nature, but I do feel we are all being duped and exposed to needless hazard.

    Dave wrote on January 4th, 2008

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