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Let There Be Truth – The Commonest Medical Myths, Debunked

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For instance, no medical proof exists that proclaims reading in the dark could deteriorate one’s eyesight.

Yet, this ancient myth has persisted for so long that one would naturally move from the shadows to the light with their reading material for the fear of ‘contracting’ weakness of sight.

When one believes in a “fact” that had widely been accepted as a fact for too long, one perceives questioning its factuality as absurd. This is because myths had been passed down from one generation to another, allowing them to become realities.

Medical Myth 01: “Cholesterol is a Villain”

Cholesterol is often given the bad press, being linked to strokes and heart diseases, when in fact, cholesterol is more friend than foe. It plays roles as important as any in the body, such as improving metabolism and building cell membranes.

Cholesterol can be classified into two types viz; LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) which are also known as “bad cholesterol” and “good cholesterol” respectively. The human body consists of less HDL than LDL, and higher levels of the latter is what is responsible for heart attacks.

It is best to avoid food containing saturated fats and switch to those containing good cholesterol (HDL), such as olive oil, salmon, oatmeal and surprisingly, egg yolk.

Medical Myth 02: “Knuckle-Cracking Causes Arthritis”

It is no myth that cracking knuckles happens to be a small guilty pleasure for most people, so hearing that it could lead to early-onset of arthritis may have come as a disappointment. This, however, is a myth.

“The ‘crack’,” says a nutritional expert, Dr. Kristen Scheney, “is simply the popping of bubbles in the fluid that lubricates the hands, known as synovial fluid… this practice does not cause arthritis.”

However, she goes on to mention that cracking knuckles is not without adverse consequences including weak grip and hand-swelling.

Medical Myth 03: “Supplements are Great for the Body”

Be it a vitamin, mineral, Ayurvedic or any other of them which can be named, supplements do not generally receive adequate judgment before intake.

Years of research on supplements have revealed that they carry risks, both long term and short. Reports have been filed of calcium supplements being linked to dementia and high doses of vitamin supplements effectuating cancer. Even “prescribed” dosages could lead to particular toxicities.

Leaning on supplements might not be a great idea, moreover because of prescription errors and unconfirmed results displayed on bottle labels.

Medical Myth 04: “Chocolate Gives Acne”

It is possible that this old wives’ tale had been spun as a motive that could drive zit-despising teenagers away from sugar-packed candy, and as good as that may be, this is still a myth that deserves exposure. Researches involving high amounts of chocolate and individuals have presented scientists with the conclusion that chocolate does not instigate acne.

Medical Myth 05: “Taking Eight Glasses of Water a Day is a Must”

The eight-glasses-of-water-per-day would be the most widespread medical myth of all. Water is, by far, the healthiest drink to exist, but the eight-glasses-a-day recommendation is far from healthy.

In fact, this recommendation should be rephrased as “eight glasses of fluids per day is a must”, fluids including those that we receive from food and drink other than water. On average, 80% of the body’s daily intake of fluids comes from water and as well as other beverages, and solid food—inclusive of common edibles viz; lettuce, oranges, yoghurt and watermelon—which comprises the remaining 20%. These percentages together would provide the body with eight glasses of water a day. Atlanta-based urologist, David Perlow suggests, “Trust your thirst instinct to make sure you get enough fluids.”

A count of 9 cups of beverages, water included, for women and 12.5 cups for men would actually be adequate per day.

More often than not, these “realistic” myths, even medical myths, are humorous and harmless. On the other hand, though, knowing the truth could randomly save a life.

By Mischelle Rupasinghe

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