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Myth Busters

Filed Under: Announcements & News at 4:13 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
MythsSome beliefs are obvious wives’ tales or folklore. Stepping on a crack, for instance, will not break your mother’s back (at least, we hope not). But other adages have been accepted by the general population, because they are plausible, are supported by some type of scientific evidence or have been repeated so often we simply can’t disregard them. And many of them revolve around health. With that in mind, two researchers set about busting seven of our most popular medical myths.  Here’s what they found:

1. You only use 10 percent of your brain – You use far more than 10 percent of your brain. In fact, you use all of it. There’s no section that sits around idly as the rest toils away. So you may want to limit the number of brain cells you burn doing idiotic things. Turns out you need them all.
2. Reading with improper lighting will ruin your sight – Reading in dim light will not permanently damage your eyes. A few hours of squinting and blinking won’t send you to the optometrist. However, it won’t make reading very fun, either. Turn on the light. You’ll be able to focus more easily and finish the book without inducing a headache.
3. You must drink eight glasses of water a day – Eight glasses of water are not necessary. Yes, it is vitally important that you remain hydrated, but you get water from a variety of sources. Fruits, vegetables and other beverages fill you up with plenty of liquids. Maintain a balanced diet with a reasonable amount of water and you’ll be better off than if you filled that glass eight times before bed.
4. Shaving too often causes hair to grow back differently – Shaving frequently does not cause your hair to grow back thicker, coarser or darker. There’s no difference. Shave as often as you want, but use a sharp blade and some shaving gel. It will help keep your skin from becoming dry and irritated.
5. Cell phones interfere with medical equipment – Cell phones do not do a significant amount of damage to hospital equipment. No one has died because a mobile phone was ringing next to their ventilator . . . yet. I believe this is one of those myths where erring on the side of caution wouldn’t be the worst idea.
6. Turkey makes you sleepy – Turkey, eaten in moderation, will not send you straight to dream land. While the bird does have a healthy amount of tryptophan, a slice won’t knock you out. It’s more likely the mass quantities of food and wine that accompany turkey that do the trick.
7. Hair and nails grow after death – Your nails do not continue growing after death. Your skin, however, does retract making your nails and hair look longer. Although, why you are examining a corpse to see what has or has not grown is beyond me.

These are just seven of the more common medical myths circulating today. There are others; I’m sure they are repeated readily. It’s important for you to remember that common knowledge is not always knowledge.

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