Myths abound when it comes to our health. Back in the olden times, before the internet made data instantaneous, information was found in books and microfiche. If we had a strange bump on our hands, we’d have no choice but to actually go see a doctor for it. And not Google “hand cancer symptoms” only to discover that the bump was dried cupcake frosting.
Has the internet made health myths worse? Probably not. But they have made them much easier to explore! Check out five of our favorite health myths to see if they are very true, so false, or somewhere in between.
You must drink eight glasses of water a day.
And this is – false. The average person loses ten cups of water a day, a cup being eight ounces. But you regain four cups from simply eating. So you just need to drink six cups of water to make up the difference. Some nutritionists think you don’t need more than one liter a day. Others will go to their death bed swearing that eight glasses a day is the key to all good health.
The final word comes from Heinz Valtin, a doctor who specialized in kidney research for 45 years. He recently told Scientific American that the answer is no – there are no health benefits to drinking an excessive amount of water daily.
You will ruin your eyes reading in dim light.
I was a big reader as a kid. To the point that if I didn’t get my daily Judy Blume/Laura Ingalls Wilder/LM Montgomery fix, I went a little nutty. Needless to say, there was a lot of reading at night in dim light. When my eyesight went from good to “legally-blind with corrective vision” (Thank you, Lasik!) in a matter of a couple years, some blamed my excessive reading in bad light.
Where they right? Apparently not. But reading in dim light can certainly strain your eyes – it’s just that those itchy, burning tired eyes will restore themselves. No permanent damage is possible.
Pregnancy makes you crazy.
This health myth is common among my friends, who are bearing progeny like there’s no tomorrow. (It’s true – last Mother’s Day I had six friends celebrating their first one, not to mentioned the seasoned mommas among my peeps.) And most of them reported the worst emotional manipulation since kittens started starring on YouTube.
But does pregnancy make you crazy? Not permanently. But if you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD,) new evidence shows that pregnancy hormones can make it worse. In a study that looked at women’s symptoms, researcher found that they worsened, a good one-third of the time during pregnancy.
If you pluck your hair, more grows back.
On an episode of Sex and the City, or “The Show That was Great Before the Second Sequel,” Samantha is upset over a grey hair. She goes to pluck it but decides against it. As she tells our heroine Carrie Bradshaw, “If you pluck it, ten more will come to its funeral.” Now quickly skimming over the fact that I can recite Sex and the City from memory – is Samantha’s anxiety based in truth?
No, no, and more no, according to experts. When your shaved hair grows back, it is initially short and stubbly. The longer hair is, the softer it becomes. So while it may seem like the gods are punishing you for taking a razor to unwanted hair – it’s really just the biology of your body.
Using a cell phone will give you a brain tumor.
Cell phones channel dirty electricity, and all of this dirty electricity has evolved into what experts called “electro-smog.” According to sources, electro-smog is the invisible pollution or smog in the form of EMFs from the now widespread microwave-emitting devices such as mobile phones, their masts, wireless routers and DECT phones. Wired Child is a group that provides a comprehensive guide on how to protect themselves and their children from EMFs and transients.
So will your cell phone give you a brain tumor? Frankly, it seems that the jury is still out on this. Would I invest in a device that keeps “electro-smog” away from your brain? I’m calling Verizon Wireless to order one right now. Or not.