You'd be surprised by how much of what you've grown up believing
turns out to be false. Science has been debunking these health myths for
years – read on to check the facts on some of the most common misconceptions
you've spent your whole life believing.
1. Being cold gives you a cold.
We’ve all heard it – our mother yelling to us from the front
door, “Come back in and put a coat on or you’re going to catch
a cold!” But did you ever stop to think that maybe her maternal
concern was based on a long-standing myth?
We’re certainly not advocating that you go spend a couple of hours
in the snow with wet hair and no jacket on the brink of hypothermia, but
we are telling you that being a bit chilly won’t make you any more
susceptible to a cold. “Colds and the flu are caused by viruses,
and viruses are not influenced by the weather,” says
Brenda Manfredi, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician at
Annadel Medical Group in Windsor.
2. You’ll get arthritis if you keep cracking your knuckles.
This myth stems from the assumption that the “crack” or “pop”
noise comes from two bones or joints rubbing together, but that isn’t
the case. “The noise is actually a result of a gas bubble popping
in the fluid between two bones in your finger,” explains Dr. Manfredi.
“Studies show this doesn’t actually contribute to arthritis,
or any joint issues for that matter.” In fact, the only harmful
thing about it is how much that noise bothers your friends and coworkers!
3. If you swallow gum, it will take seven years to leave your body.
If you accidentally swallow a piece of gum, did you just sign up for seven
years of it living in your stomach? We’re happy to report that the
answer is no. Though we don't recommend that you start swallowing
gum on a regular basis, it certainly doesn't sit around decomposing
for nearly a decade. “Like anything that you swallow,” explains
Dr. Manfredi, “gum will continue through your digestive tract at
a normal pace. Your body won’t break it down, but it will pass fairly
quickly.” Great news for concerned parents of gum-loving children!
4. Eating sugar makes people, especially children, hyperactive.
Parents seem willing to bet anything on the fact that just a single cookie
will have their kids bouncing off the walls. Recent research studies have
proven, however, that excess sugar does not affect a person’s behavior
or activity level. When parents were told that their child was given a
snack high in sugar, when in reality that snack had no sugar at all, they
were more likely to attribute any hyperactivity to the snack, citing their
behavior as more active than normal. Don’t go pumping your child
full of cake and candy, but they’re certainly cleared to have the
occasional treat without it affecting their behavior.
5. You can’t get chickenpox twice.
This is one of the most popular myths around. So popular, in fact, that
parents often have neighborhood “chickenpox parties” to expose
their child while he or she is still young, supposedly to prevent them
from coming down with shingles later in life. There’s just one problem
with this – it actually works the other way around. “Chickenpox,
a strain of the herpes virus, actually sticks around in the body, and
is perfectly capable of coming back,” explains Dr. Manfredi. “While
it is rare to get chickenpox again after having it once, due to your body
developing a life-long immunity, having had chickenpox doesn’t help
boost your immunity against the shingles virus.” This would actually
make adults who had chickenpox as children significantly
more likely to develop shingles. So think twice before walking little Johnny
over to the neighbor’s house for that "party"!
Did you grow up believing other health myths only to find out they’re
more fiction than fact? Share your story in the comments below.
Annadel Medical Group. Learn about
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.