7 Medical Myths You Must Get Rid of Today


Doctors have an understanding that to practice good medicine it requires constantly acquiring new knowledge, but they don’t always think that what they currently know should be re-evaluated. There are numerous medical myths that are wrong and should always question any falsehoods that are propagated by anyone during the time spent in the medical practice. Here are just 7 of the most common medical myths that you need to get rid of today.

Common Myths

Everyone knows that there are plenty of myths that are put about all over the world when it comes to medical areas. However, if you are a doctor, then you should know better and work hard to figure out which ones are true and which ones aren’t. The most common myths that doctors, as well as others always emphasize, are the following:

  • 8 glasses of water should be consumed in a single day
  • 10% of the brain is used by every individual
  • Fingernails and hair still grow after we die
  • Shaving of the hair causes it to be coarser, dark and grow back faster
  • Eyesight is ruined by reading with the lights dimmed
  • Consumption of turkey can make people feel sleepy
  • Electromagnetic inference in hospitals is created by the use of mobile phones

However, there has been some research done and there are instances where there is currently no evidence to support some of the claims. Every myth has some truth and some don’t, so if you are going to tell these to your patients, then you need to ensure that you are telling them the truth. Don’t just take everything as truth, but make sure to do your research and find out which one is the truth and which ones are complete lies.

8 Glasses of Water Daily

Source: globein.com

The advice that most people give is that they should be consuming at least 8 glasses of water every day. However, it might have originated back in 1945 when there was a recommendation that said that an adult should consume around 2.5 liters of water every day. Frederick Stare, who was a well-known nutritionist, once said that around 6 up to 8 glasses of liquid should be drank in a single day, but that it could also be in other forms. There is a significant lack of evidence that shows that this has any affect on anyone and an article in the American Journal of Physiology by Heinz Valtin pointed out the lack.

There have also been other studies that were undertaken that showed the consumption of other liquids, such as caffeinated drinks, milk and juice can help the body get the required fluid intake. Everyone can get the required amount of liquids in their body by various methods, which doesn’t always require them to drink a specific amount of water on a daily basis, but can also be gained by other types of liquids.

10% Brain Use

Source: theatlantic.com

The belief regarding the fact that we only put into use some 10% of our brain has been around for more than a decade, despite the dramatic advances that has been made in the field of neuroscience. Barry Beyerstein has provided his detailed account about the origins of this specific myth along with some evidence to dispute it. There are some sources that claim that this myth started with Albert Einstein, but there is no such statement or reference recorded by Einstein regarding this. This myth might have started around 1907 as an attempt to advocate people to improve their selves and access their latent abilities that were unrealized.

Evidence from metabolic studies, microstructural analysis, localization of the functions, brain imaging and brain damage studies shows that much more than just 10% of the brain is put into use. Numerous studies regarding brain imaging has shown that there are no inactive or silent areas of the brain, which is the same with the metabolic studies as well. All areas of the brain might not be active at once since they control various areas, but there is never any part that is inactive and more than 10% is being used at any one time.

Fingernails and Hair Grow After Death

Source: bbc.com

Some morbid details about the body after death simply draws in the imagination about what happens when someone dies. In a book titled Quiet on the Western Front there was a description about a friend who said his friends fingernails had grown to look like corkscrews after he had passed away. However, according to William Maples, who is an anthropologist, this myth is false and nothing like this occurs. He did point out that there is some scientific explanation to why this seems to happen since after death drying, dehydration and desiccation of the body might end up with some of the skin around the nails or head retracting. This can create a look of longer nails or hair after death, but it doesn’t grow anymore.

Another thing that is required in order to allow hair and nails to grow is hormones, which aren’t produced anymore after death. Many dermatologists have said that the look that the body takes on when death occurs is due to the changing colors of the skin, which shrinks, along with the contrast against the hair and fingernails. This is a myth that has been disproved by science and Maples stated, “It is a powerful, disturbing image, but it is pure moonshine. No such thing occurs.”

Shaving Hair and Growing Back

Source: stbaldricks.org

Another one of the common beliefs is that if you shave off all of your hair it will then grow back in darker, coarser or even quicker. This is often reinforced by those who are contemplating just how fast the stubble grows back or by various media sources. However, there is plenty of scientific evidence that proves that this myth is another false one. There were clinical trials held back in 1928 and the review showed that there was no effect on the growth of the hair after shaving.

When shaving occurs you are simply getting rid of the hair that has died and not the part that is alive, which means that it isn’t going to affect how quickly or what type of growth will come in. The new hair that grows in might look darker since it hasn’t yet been lightened due to the exposure to chemicals or the sun. The hair that is shaved doesn’t have the fine taper that is found at the ends of the hair that isn’t shaved off, which leads to it looking coarser than it really it. These scientific facts have helped to dispel this myth and proved that the only reason there is any difference is because of the living and dead hairs on the human body.

Eyesight Ruined by Dim Light Reading

Source: stonewire.ca

The scary idea that reading using dim light will ruin your eyesight might have some basis in the physiological experiences that come with eye strain. You can have problems focusing, or the feeling of this, when you are reading in low light. However, the majority of those in ophthalmology agree that eyesight is not affected by reading using dim light, but it can indeed cause some temporary effects that are negative. There are some reviews that if you hold your book up close to your face or use dim lighting to read, then it can cause myopia.

There is some stress that can be caused by the eyes being used in the dim lights, but it won’t cause your eyesight to be ruined. Also, the fact that over time more light being introduced doesn’t affect the increased number of people with myopia since in the past the conditions for reading were even worse since they had to rely on lanterns or candles. There are hundreds of opinions from experts who have come to the conclusion that this is not the case.

Eating Turkey Makes You Tired

Source: gizmodo.com

Turkey contains tryptophan, which is a fact that is known because of the knowledge of food and amino acids. There is some scientific evidence that shows tryptophan has some level of control over mood control and sleep, which can then cause you to feel drowsy. The myth is that when you eat turkey then it might predispose that person to feeling sleepy, but turkey doesn’t have a significant amount of tryptophan. Minced beef, chicken and turkey have nearly the same amount of tryptophan, which is about 350mg for every 115g of meat, while some other sources of protein like cheese or pork have higher levels.

This is also thought to be the case since a sleeping medicine is created using L-tryptophan, but it is a much higher dose than is found in the turkey and other foods. The effects that tryptophan might have are minimized by the fact that there are more foods that are also being consumed at the same time, which can help to limit the level of absorption into the body.

There are some physiological mechanisms that can help to explain why people feel drowsy after meals and can help to bunk this myth. Anytime you have a solid, large meal, including vegetables, stuffing, sausages, turkey and other items, can induce excessive sleepiness due to the decreased flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Also, having a high carbohydrate or protein meal can help to increase the level of sleepiness that you would feel after eating, which can be increased by having some wine.

Electromagnetic Interference in Hospitals from Mobile Phones

Source: medicitynews.com

There are currently no known cases of deaths in any medical facility or hospital due to the use of mobile phones. There, however, have been occasional reports about incidents that aren’t as serious, including wrong cardiac monitor readings, infusion pumps malfunctioning and monitors giving false alarms. Once anecdote that was published back in 2002 by a government website has described how using the mobile phones in the intensive care unit had ended up with an unintended dose of epinephrine or adrenaline being dispensed by the pump. However, in this report there were no dates or references that had been listed and after a report published in 1993 by the Wall Street Journal many hospitals banned mobile phones from being used.

However, there is very little evidence to support these claims and early studies undertaken in the UK showed that only 4% of the devices had suffered from interference from the mobile phones and only if they were <1 meter away. In 2005 there was another study done by the Mayo Clinic and it showed that out of 510 tests that were undertaken using 16 various medical devices and 6 mobile phones only 1.2% of interference had been shown. There are more recent technological advances that might be helping in lessening the various effects that the interference might be having.

A study that was done back in 2007 examined the way the mobile phones had been used normally and it was done in 75 various treatment rooms and 300 tests were conducted. No interference had been found and in a survey undertaken by anesthesiologists it was suggested that mobile phones being used by the doctors had been directly associated with reduced levels of communication delays or medical errors with a relative risk of 0.78% and a confidence interval of 0.62 up to 0.96.

There are always various medical myths that are floating around and they can range from untrue to unproved. Some of the myths listed above have been proved to be untrue, especially after numerous tests that were undertaken by some of the most famous locations in the world.

All doctors should make sure that they are aware of some of the most common myths and work to figure out if they are true, which can make a difference in how medicine is practiced. You need to ensure that you are only giving your patients advice that is medically confirmed and doesn’t come from myths to avoid causing problems or giving bad advice.

Cover Image Source