Everyone loves to dispel a good myth. It makes you feel enlightened! Empowered! Smart! (And maybe a little smug). The Discovery Channel caught wind of this when they created the very popular show Mythbusters. Want to know if horses can float? THEY WILL TELL YOU.
When it comes to medical myths, the list of what’s true and false is constantly evolving with thousands of theories proven and disproven every year. Here is a list of what I think are the Top Ten Common Medical Myths that we all forget just aren’t true. Feel free to use these to sound smart at your next dinner party while wearing a top hat and spectacles.
1) Carrots Improve Eyesight
This is one of the best medical myths ever because it allows parents so say annoying things about eating vegetables. How many times did your mom tell you to eat your carrots because it was good for your eyes? Think again, Mom. This one is a no-go. Carrots do contain vitamin A but consuming a lot of vitamin A will not give you 20/20 vision or improve your eyesight.
The origins of this myth go back to the dates of World War II. The British Intelligence service spread the rumor that their pilots ate a lot of carrots and that’s why they were so successful in destroying German targets. The truth for their success was the use of radars and not the consumption of huge amounts of carrots. In an effort to hide the existence of radars the British spread around this myth that is sustained with great success until today.
Warning: Probably still eat carrots for other reasons even if they’re kind of gross.
2) Sugar makes kids hyperactive
Take a spoonful of sugar, add kids, and you have a recipe for disaster. This is a staple belief of parents everywhere. But after extensive studies in recent years, medical researchers have found the contrary to be true. In at least 12 double-blinded, randomized, controlled trials, scientists have examined how children react to diets containing different levels of sugar. None of these studies, not even studies looking specifically at children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, could detect any differences in behavior between the children who had sugar and those who did not. This includes artificial and natural sources of sugar. Interestingly, parents who were told their children had been given sugar when they hadn’t, noted that the child was more hyperactive. So it seems it is all in the parent’s mind. Many have concluded that if parents expect their children to misbehave or be overactive, their children most often live up to those expectations.
Warning: Sugar will still make your kid’s teeth rot out and become tubby toddlers, so eat those gross carrots.
3. Chewing gum takes seven years to pass through your system
We have all been told at least once in our life by a neurotic adult not to swallow gum as it will take seven years to pass through our bodies. This makes as much sense as a fruit seed growing a tree in your stomach. It is true that gum is not digestible in the human body, but it still passes through your system along with everything else.
Warning: Chewing gum is a dirty habit. Keep your yapper shut while engaging in the dirty deed. No one wants to see your cud.
4. Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis
It is quite common to hear someone warning a knuckle-cracker that they will get arthritis, but the worst that can happen to a compulsive cracker is that their finger joints may weaken over time. Arthritis, however, has nothing to do with knuckle cracking. I almost wish it did cause arthritis, maybe then you would stop doing it.
Warning: Cracking your knuckles repeatedly may cause your friend, family member, or spouse to have high blood pressure.
5. Eating turkey makes you sleepy because it contains tryptophan
This myth pops up every year around Thanksgiving when we blame our stuffed birds for our afternoon naps. In reality, chicken and ground beef contain almost identical amounts of tryptophan as turkey. Cheese and pork contain even more. The reason you feel sleepy is because you just stuffed your face in the middle of the day. That, or you’re imagining it.
Warning: Naps make holiday get-togethers tolerable. Feel free to blame the turkey for a chance to escape your in-laws for a snooze.
6. Do not swim immediately after your eat
It may not be bad advice to wait a while to swim if you’ve just shoved 12 hotdogs down your gullet at a summer picnic, but you won’t cramp up and drown. Most professional swimmers and endurance trainers consume food before taking part in athletics. There is no medical need to torture the kids with a half-hour to an hour delay before pool play. They’ll be fine.
Warning: Do not eat while swimming. No one wants your cookie crumbs in their hair when they come up for air.
7. Computer screens will permanently damage our eyes
What a relief because I WOULD BE BLIND. Many of us use computers all day at the office and also at home, leading to a fear that the machines are harmful to our eyes. Hundreds of people every year visit their eye doctors with complaints about discomfort and fatigue in the eyes after prolonged and continuous use of the computer, which makes sense, but long-term effects are yet to be proven. Extensive studies show that computer screens emit very little or no harmful radiation such as X-rays or ultraviolet radiation. Therefore our eyes are not in a long-term risk from a computer screen (just our mental health!).
Warning: Everything in moderation. Go outside.
8. Men think about sex every seven seconds
It’s hard to believe we ever thought this was true, but this sex fact is still quite popular. Obviously there is no scientific way of measuring such a thing, but as far as researchers can tell, this statistic greatly exaggerates the frequency of sexual thoughts.
In my humble opinion, many women think about sex just as much as men.
Warning: This fact does apply for Charlie Sheen.
9) Lick your wounds
This may seem like an odd myth to debunk, but how many times have you seen a person get a cut and then put their mouth on it? GROSS.
The fact of the matter is that the mouth is full of bacteria. By putting your mouth, tongue, or saliva on an open wound, you are putting yourself at risk for infection. Also, it’s repulsive.
Warning: If you like the taste of your own blood, you may be a vampire.
10) You can catch a STD (or get knocked up) from a toilet seat
To hover or not to hover, that is the question. You may choose the former option, but it should not be because you fear catching a sexually transmitted disease or getting pregnant. STDs can only be contracted from direct sexual contact, blood transmission. or from a mother to her unborn child. The chance of catching any disease from a toilet seat is nearly zero. You could get a cold or the flu from direct contact with any type of contaminated surface, but as long as you avoid visibly dirty toilets, wash your hands, and take common sense precautions, there is no need to avoid the public bathrooms.
Warning: Even in the very unlikely case that a perv visits the women’s bathroom and spills his seed on the seat, the chances of conceiving are one in a million.