7 Medical Myths Even Doctors Believe

Joined Jan 22, 2007
Saw this on Yahoo. http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20071221/sc_livescience/7medicalmythsevendoctorsbelieve

[h1] 7 Medical Myths Even Doctors Believe[/h1]

Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
LiveScience.comThu Dec 20, 7:20 PM ET

Popular culture is loaded with myths and half-truths. Most are harmless. But when doctors start believing medical myths, perhaps it's time to worry.

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In the British Medical Journal this week, researchers looked into several common misconceptions, from the belief that a person should drink eight glasses of water per day to the notion that reading in low light ruins your eyesight.

"We got fired up about this because we knew that physicians accepted these beliefs and were passing this information along to their patients," said Dr. Aaron Carroll, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "And these beliefs are frequently cited in the popular media."

And so here they are, so that you can inform your doctor:

Myth: We use only 10 percent of our brains.

Fact: Physicians and comedians alike, including Jerry Seinfeld, love to cite this one. It's sometimes erroneously credited to Albert Einstein. But MRI scans, PET scans and other imaging studies show no dormant areas of the brain, and even viewing individual neurons or cells reveals no inactive areas, the new paper points out. Metabolic studies of how brain cells process chemicals show no nonfunctioning areas. The myth probably originated with self-improvement hucksters in the early 1900s who wanted to convince people that they had yet not reached their full potential, Carroll figures. It also doesn't jibe with the fact that our other organs run at full tilt.

Myth: You should drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

Fact: "There is no medical evidence to suggest that you need that much water," said Dr. Rachel Vreeman, a pediatrics research fellow at the university and co-author of the journal article. Vreeman thinks this myth can be traced back to a 1945 recommendation from the Nutrition Council that a person consume the equivalent of 8 glasses (64 ounces) of fluid a day. Over the years, "fluid" turned to water. But fruits and vegetables, plus coffee and other liquids, count.

Myth: Fingernails and hair grow after death.

Fact: Most physicians queried on this one initially thought it was true. Upon further reflection, they realized it's impossible. Here's what happens: "As the body's skin is drying out, soft tissue, especially skin, is retracting," Vreeman said. "The nails appear much more prominent as the skin dries out. The same is true, but less obvious, with hair. As the skin is shrinking back, the hair looks more prominent or sticks up a bit."

Myth: Shaved hair grows back faster, coarser and darker.

Fact: A 1928 clinical trial compared hair growth in shaved patches to growth in non-shaved patches. The hair which replaced the shaved hair was no darker or thicker, and did not grow in faster. More recent studies have confirmed that one. Here's the deal: When hair first comes in after being shaved, it grows with a blunt edge on top, Carroll and Vreeman explain. Over time, the blunt edge gets worn so it may seem thicker than it actually is. Hair that's just emerging can be darker too, because it hasn't been bleached by the sun.

Myth: Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight.

Fact: The researchers found no evidence that reading in dim light causes permanent eye damage. It can cause eye strain and temporarily decreased acuity, which subsides after rest.

Myth: Eating turkey makes you drowsy.

Fact: Even Carroll and Vreeman believed this one until they researched it. The thing is, a chemical in turkey called tryptophan is known to cause drowsiness. But turkey doesn't contain any more of it than does chicken or beef. This myth is fueled by the fact that turkey is often eaten with a colossal holiday meal, often accompanied by alcohol - both things that will make you sleepy.

Myth: Mobile phones are dangerous in hospitals.

Fact: There are no known cases of death related to this one. Cases of less-serious interference with hospital devices seem to be largely anecdotal, the researchers found. In one real study, mobile phones were found to interfere with 4 percent of devices, but only when the phone was within 3 feet of the device. A more recent study, this year, found no interference in 300 tests in 75 treatment rooms. To the contrary, when doctors use mobile phones, the improved communication means they make fewer mistakes.

"Whenever we talk about this work, doctors at first express disbelief that these things are not true," said Vreeman said. "But after we carefully lay out medical evidence, they are very willing to accept that these beliefs are actually false."
Joined Sep 26, 2005
I thought the "using less than 10 percent of our brain" referred to capacity as far as remembering stuff, not using each section.
Joined May 24, 2002
The glass of water thing is real, I watched this show once saying how much water your body need to obtain and how much it looses in a day, actual they said8 is only if your not active it also helps you body flush out alot of toxins.......funny because the only thing that can really take your body from Acidic toalkaline is water, people with acidic body's are far more prone to cancer
Joined May 10, 2005
I swear turkey DOES make me tired...I don't drink alcohol, and even if I don't overdo it I still get tired.
Joined Nov 28, 2007
I knew most of these, except for the cell phone myth. That one is interesting.
Joined Nov 11, 2007
Originally Posted by 757bred

I thought the "using less than 10 percent of our brain" referred to capacity as far as remembering stuff, not using each section.
i thought the same
Joined Nov 16, 2007
Haha, my science teacher always tells us the one about the turkey, next time he says it, ima say,"nuh uh! Niketalk said...." lol
Joined Feb 26, 2004
the whole turkey thing?
i've heard it's actually a carb overload for your body.
with all the potatoes and stuffing and pie and everything else you eat at Thanksgiving, your body just shuts down from the carbs.

Joined Jul 11, 2007
i always try to tell ppl that ur hair doesnt grow in thicker after u shave but they swear its true word to kramer
Joined May 7, 2005
hey shake n bake what movie is your avy from

oh and btw i believe those too but i always look for a reason behind it.
Joined Jun 25, 2003
Haha, my science teacher always tells us the one about the turkey, next time he says it, ima say,"nuh uh! Niketalk said...." lol

You might get a better response if you say you read it in the BMJ rather than on NT.

I don't think NT is peer-reviewed...
Joined Oct 5, 2007
I disagree about the water. You should drink at least 64oz. of water a day, the amount of Nitrogen and proteins your body produces are not meant to be in thebody. You body produces alot of acid and drinking water dilutes it. Your body is 70%+ H2O, you have to keep it hydrated.
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