Medical 'myths'–true or false?

By Niall Hunter-Editor

Everyone is familiar with medical 'myths' they may have heard from an early age;eg if the wind changes when you make a face your face stays that way; wrap up warmly to avoid a cold; drinking water the wrong way out of a cup cures hiccups etc etc.

But how many medical 'myths' are actually true?

The US website WebMD has listed 10 popular 'myths' and has asked medical experts to state whether they are true or false.

1.Chewing gum takes seven years to pass through your system.

False. The gum will pass through your system and will not stick to your insides.

2.Cutting down on salt can help reduce blood pressure.

True. Research has shown that even a small decrease in salt can help control blood pressure.

3.Cracking your knuckles can give you arthritis.

False. There is no medical evidence that cracking your knuckles, although it may irritate people, will inflame the joints sand eventually give you arthritis. However, it is believed that constant cracking can weaken the fingers.

4.Staring at an eclipse of the sun can make you blind.

True. You should never look at the sun directly with the naked eye or with an unfiltered optical device, such as binoculars or a telescope. As sunlight enters the eye, it can damage the light­sensitive nerve endings in the back of the retina, causing vision loss.

5. Staying out in the cold can give you a cold.

False. Colds are caused by viruses. You can get the virus through inhaling infected air droplets sneezed or coughed by an infected person, or by touching something that an infected person has touched and then transferring the germs into your mouth or nose. You cannot, according to the medical experts, get a cold from cold air, wind, rain, snow etc. Cold viruses are more active in the winter, which is why people get more colds then.

6.You can catch a sexually transmitted disease (STD) from a toilet seat.

False. While this may sound vaguely believable, it is untrue. Experts say hard surfaces such as toilet seats are not conducive to spreading STDs.

7. Excessive sugar intake causes chronic hyperactivity in children.

False. While there may be a short term effect on children after they ingest a lot of sugar, it does not cause chronic hyperactivity.

8. Drinking warm milk puts you to sleep.

True. Milk has a chemical known as tryptophan which can help you sleep. However, there are other things which can help sleep such as regular bedtime hours and avoiding certain foods at night.

9.Chocolate can cause acne.

False. Research has shown that there is no link, although stress can apparently cause acne. Acne is caused by excessive sebum production in the oil glands and this, along with dead skin cells, can clog pores. There area number of effective prescription treatments for acne nowadays.

10. Teething can cause a high temperature in babies and toddlers.

False. Research has shown that symptoms such as fever and diarrhoea may make teething babies more uncomfortable, but these are not triggered by the teething. It is advised that if a baby who is teething has a high temperature, it is best to consult a doctor, as there may be another cause.


Anonymous - 04/04/2006 14:23

Across from number five there is a news item that says Why getting cold can give you a cold????

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