Medical specialists spend years studying the human physiology, so it’s not surprising that the lay person is bound to have some misconceptions about what is and isn’t good for the body. In fact, thanks to the Internet, urban health legends now abound. But you’ll just want to walk away the next time you hear one of these five bogus health myths.
Diet Soda is Healthy For You
Zero calories means zero problems, right? Nope. “Fundamentally, we have no convincing evidence that diet soda or artificial sweeteners are actually helpful for people trying to lose weight,” said Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. In fact, a group of French scientists showed that the artificial sweeteners like aspartame, commonly used to “sweeten” diet soda, can cause a body’s insulin production and resistance to go haywire. Coupling that with a confused metabolism that craves the energy these false sweeteners imitate makes a person more likely to develop type II diabetes, the research showed.
Vaccines Cause Autism
Former surgeon and medical research Andrew Wakefield published a report in The Lancet linking the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to the development of autism spectrum disorders in young children. The media later revealed Wakefield had ulterior motives that led the medical community to eventually discredit him and his entire study a few years later.
To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stress that no reliable studies have shown a connection between vaccines and autism. However, many parents continue to under-vaccinate their children out of fear — a harmful choice that has led to dire outbreaks in the past.
Watching TV Leads to Poor Eyesight
Your parents have probably told you to not sit so close to the TV out of fear you’d go blind. Chances are their parents told them the same thing, and for good reason — many TVs sold up to the late 1960s emitted radiation levels 100,000 times greater than what the federal government considered safe.
However, doctors have since refuted the notion that watching TV at any distance will directly lead to eye damage and say there is no connection between TV and poor eyesight. That being said, a sedentary lifestyle that revolves around watching TV for hours on end is bad for you anyway and can lead to health problems with every part of your body.
Step away from the boob tube once in a while and use your eyes to focus on more pleasant things like trees, people, kittens, and the rest of your proximal physical reality you’ve chosen to ignore for so long.
Cracking Bones Leads to Arthritis
A well-executed cracking of the joints might make everyone in your general vicinity squirm with discomfort, but that’s about the closest you’re going to get to a legitimate health problem. The sound of a joint cracking isn’t caused by a physical breaking of any kind. Rather, the space between joints is filled with fluids and nutrients that naturally release a small amount of gaseous byproduct.
When you apply pressure in a certain way, you can create a vacuum bubble that bursts and creates that familiar cringe-worthy sound. Despite the perceived repulsion, doctors say there is no link to joint cracking and the development of arthritis. However, those same doctors warn that habitual knuckle-crackers have a higher risk of damaging ligaments or dislocating tendons, so make sure you crack sparingly.
You Should Suck Venom Out of a Snake Bite
An old hiking wives’ tale once told snake bite victims to cut open their bite wound and physically suck the venom out before it can spread through the body. Don’t do this. Bacteria from your mouth could only exacerbate the problem and more blood loss doesn’t help anyone here. Rather, stay calm, keep the wound below the heart, and seek immediate medical attention.
Our understanding of health and physiology changes every day. Always be sure to take advice passed down from decades past with a grain of salt. What other urban health legends have you heard? Do you tell others to disregard them? Let us know in the comments.
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