Some Health Myths (Mostly) Debunked

 

I love lists like these because a) they confirm things I was pretty sure I knew already; and b) they simplify life in the service of common sense, which is always cause for celebration. Herewith Business Insider’s official lowdown on twenty popular health assumptions:

  1. Does olive oil prevent heart disease? Yes.
  2. Do cough syrups work? No (with the possible exception of Dimetapp).
  3. Does sugar cause hyperactivity? No.
  4. Do sugary soft drinks lead to diabetes? Yes.
  5. Do I need sunscreen with more than 30 SPF? No, just remember to use broad spectrum and apply lots.
  6. Is the MSG in Chinese food likely to give you a headache? No.
  7. Do nuts make you fat? No.
  8. Is walking as effective as running? Yes.
  9. Is drinking fruit juice as good for you as eating fruit? No.
  10. Are all wheat breads better for you than white bread? No.
  11. Can a hot tub make you sick? Yes.
  12. Does coffee cause cancer? No.
  13. Do eggs raise cholesterol levels? No.
  14. Can you drink too much water? Yes.
  15. Can yogurt ease digestive problems? Yes.
  16. Do whitening toothpastes whiten teeth more than regular toothpastes? No.
  17. Is it safe to microwave food in plastic containers? Yes.
  18. Can watching TV ruin your eyesight? No.
  19. Is red wine better for you than white wine? Yes.
  20. Is bottled water better for you than tap water? No.

Have a look at the full article for links to explanations. Medical Ricochetti, you can let us know if they got any of this wrong. In the meantime, I’m going to go knock back some shiraz and pistachios while marathoning The Hollow Crown on TV. Catch you later.

There are 49 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @iWe

    Speaking of vision: I loved this. I happen to have sent several of my kids for this therapy, and it has worked wonders.

    Most vision/reading/comprehension problems are not issues of human hardware, but software.  And the software can be reprogrammed with minimal training.

    • #31
  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Pilli

    The Hollow Crown series is a wonderful choice.

    • #32
  3. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    How can any of these things have a No next to them?  They were settled science that has been widely published and widely accepted as truth.  Science can not be questioned, it does not change.  Even Popular Science Magazine removed their comment section because commenting on published science is taboo.   It just can not be done.  Please retract your post before we boycott you.  

    • #33
  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MJBubba

    20.  Is bottled water better for you than tap water?   No.

    Well, this is OK, I suppose.  Tap water in America is safe.

    But, depending on where you are, tap water might taste pretty bad.   I have the good fortune to live in an area where the tap water is wonderful.

    • #34
  5. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MJBubba

    Further re: tap water.

    If you happen to live in an older neighborhood (houses over 40 years old), or if you live in a neighborhood that is a long way from the water treatment plant, then there are some caveats.   

    In both cases, run the water for a couple of minutes before using it for drinking or cooking.   In the former case, there is potential for metals to leach out of the plumbing in your house and into the water.   In the latter case the chlorine content dissipates from the treated water over time, and when it takes a long time for the water to get to you, the chlorine content may be very low.   Although you probably prefer the taste of the water with less chlorine, you need to have chlorine at a minimum level to keep your pipes disinfected.

    • #35
  6. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MJBubba

    6.   Is the MSG in Chinese food likely to give you a headache?    No.

    Unless you are allergic to MSG, in which case it could cause headaches and other symptoms.

    • #36
  7. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Tuck

    @Midget Faded Rattlesnake”

    “Well, the stuff I’ve read speculated that it’s specifically the lack of sunlight that causes children raised too much indoors to be more nearsighted.”

    Makes sense.  Thanks for the links, I appreciate it.

    @Foxfier:

    “I was told not to eat tuna more than twice a month while pregnant, and avoid all other fish….”

    Yes, my wife and I went through a similar incident.  She was told to avoid sushi.  Thinking logically (something they don’t teach in Medical school) it occurred to me that the smartest, longest-lived people in the world, with one of the lowest infant-mortality rates are the Japanese.  I’m led to believe they eat a bit of sushi…

    We went to a Japanese restaurant, and asked the beautiful hostess if pregnant women in Japan avoided sushi.  “Why would we?”, she asked, and told us she ate sushi through both her pregnancies.

    That was the end of the sushi ban.

    Since then they’ve discovered the importance of omega-3 fats (aka fish oil) to the developing mind… Idiots.

    I have a strict policy of not taking health advice from doctors based solely on their authority as medical professionals…

    • #37
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Salamandyr

    The bread thing was new to me.  I’ll be sure to read the labels more carefully to make sure I’m getting *actual* whole wheat bread rather than just color added white bread, on the occasions where I eat bread.

    • #38
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @DuaneOyen
    Chris Campion: I’ve heard the running vs. walking thing.  I think the assumption there is that it’s based on calories burned, and you burn as many walking as running.  You might have to walk farther, but the effect is the same.

    At least, that’s the theory.  Lower blood pressure is a benefit to running, due to sustained heart rate elevation, which you get less of from walking.

    ………

    I agree- the article says “walking at a moderate pace and running produced similar health benefits, so long as the same amount of energy was expended.”

    There is no way that walking at a moderate pace expends the same amount of energy over the same time as does running.  You can get close with speed-walking, that is, faster than a 14 minute mile (Army standard of 35 minutes for 2,5 miles).

    • #39
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @EricHines
    MLH

    Eric Hines

    MLH: “. . . I’m going to go knock back some shiraz and pistachios while marathoning The Hollow Crown on TV. ”

    Sounds absolutely delightful! · 2 hours ago

    I’ll be having lots of the most healthful dish known to man: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Every one of them has all of the four major food groups: bread, peanut butter, jelly, and bread.

    Eric Hines · 50 minutes ago

    Agreed! The grain and legume make a complete protein. Crunchy or smooth? · 6 hours ago

    Crunchy, of course.  I grew teeth decades ago.

    Eric Hines

    • #40
  11. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @ChrisCampion
    Mike Rapkoch

    Aaron Miller: Ultimately, I don’t think anyone lives a long and healthy life by running or dieting. They do it by forgetting about themselves, keeping busy (which is different than frantically fretting) and really living. · 2 hours ago

    Agreed. And of all the exercise approaches, walking has a special benefit, the chance to stop, see, hear, smell, and feel the concrete world with its beauty and frustration. I love to walk. I usually pray the Rosary while walking, trying to keep still as I meditate on the mysteries and the world that is surrounded by continuing creation.

    Good for the body, good for the soul. · 6 hours ago

    Try selling walking for a workout for anyone playing a sport, anywhere, and after the laughter dies down, and they point at the flowers you’re enjoying, get your full-on body workout by taking that walk by the horns and feeling the burn.

    I’m 46. I ran 6 half-marathons this year. I feel like I’m 25 – in a lot of ways.  Enjoying life means being able to hike Mt. Mansfield without a cardiac event occurring.  

    Enjoy the walks. Bring a towel for all that sweat.

    • #41
  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @HeartofAmerica
    Foxfier: Is it possible tofind sun screen under 30?  I’m getting annoyed at only being able to find SPF75 and such for my kids.

    This means we generally don’t put sunscreen on, and– this toasts me– the kids are less likely to get burnt without than I am with.  (Obviously, there’s behavior modification involved.) · 11 hours ago

    Sure. I’ve seen SPF 15 in stores. I think it’s one notch up from using nothing or baby oil.

    • #42
  13. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Foxfier
    Chris Campion

    Try selling walking for a workout for anyone playing a sport, anywhere, and after the laughter dies down, and they point at the flowers you’re enjoying, get your full-on body workout by taking that walk by the horns and feeling the burn.

    Can’t. They keep dropping dead at age 50-something when they decide to go “feel the burn” in anything below 45 degrees.  At least one a year in my home valley. 

    Turns out that too big of a shock to the system is not a great idea.

    I feel no need to prove my nonexistent masculinity by making a stress-relieving, body-flexing, maintenance option into some sort of “feel the burn” competition. 

    • #43
  14. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Foxfier
    HeartofAmerica

    Foxfier: Is it possible tofind sun screen under 30?  I’m getting annoyed at only being able to find SPF75 and such for my kids.

    This means we generally don’t put sunscreen on, and– this toasts me– the kids are less likely to get burnt without than I am with.  (Obviously, there’s behavior modification involved.) 

    Sure. I’ve seen SPF 15 in stores. I think it’s one notch up from using nothing or baby oil. 

    That would be a shock to my parents, who use it year round and have established by experiment that there’s no functional difference between Ludicrous Level Of SPF and 15.  (more important in the winter– hats don’t do anything for it)

    Perhaps if they didn’t spend roughly 75% of all daylight hours out in the sun, that would be different, but when even the Scotsman that gave me the “burn in an hour or less” complexion is protected by SPF 15, there’s a problem.

    • #44
  15. Profile Photo Inactive
    @ParisParamus

    I would just like to say that I seem to have imagined living from about 1985 to 2011 with the medical knowledge that SALT IS BAD.  And then they said nevermind, and I never believed them anyway.

    And on a related note, is MSG still being used anymore?  I’ve always assumed that New York suburban Chinese food stopped tasting good circa 1980 because they took out all the MSG…

    • #45
  16. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Bluebottle

    A few years ago, while vacationing with my family in California, I went to purchase more sunscreen. The moment I picked up a bottle of 45 SPF stuff, a smug stranger swiftly descended upon me, to educate me about my stupidity in considering SPF higher than 30. With difficulty, I resisted the knee-jerk reflex to tell her to keep her nose out of my business.

    “We’re from Colorado, a high altitude desert,” I said. “We’ll still be using this sunscreen when we’re back home from our vacation. Regardless of your advice, I will happily choose this stronger SPF, knowing it will be used where UV radiation is higher due to the thinner, drier atmosphere.”

    Surprised, she replied, “Oh, I hadn’t thought about that.”

    Was I correct? I actually have no idea whether altitude or humidity play significant factors in the effectiveness of a given SPF score in a sunscreen product. Regardless, the opportunity to push back, and demonstrate that little miss know-it-all actually doesn’t, was a sublime experience.

    Health myth or not, SPF 45 works great for me and mine. Free markets for the win.

    • #46
  17. Profile Photo Inactive
    @dittoheadadt
    HeartofAmerica

    Foxfier: Is it possible tofind sun screen under 30?  I’m getting annoyed at only being able to find SPF75 and such for my kids.

    This means we generally don’t put sunscreen on, and– this toasts me– the kids are less likely to get burnt without than I am with.  (Obviously, there’s behavior modification involved.) · 11 hours ago

    Sure. I’ve seen SPF 15 in stores. I think it’s one notch up from using nothing or baby oil.

    I’ve got 6s, 8s, and 30s in the beach bag and golf bag.  The 6 and 8 aren’t as easy to find as the 30, but they’re out there.  And here in PR the 6 and 8 work fine on preventing burn when outside 2-4 hours (I’m not native; I’m a Northeast gringo of Scots descent).  So I’m not sure 15s are one notch from nothing.  If one wants some color while mitigating some of the risk, it can be had without going without or with oil.

    • #47
  18. Profile Photo Moderator
    @MikeRapkoch
    Aaron Miller: Ultimately, I don’t think anyone lives a long and healthy life by running or dieting. They do it by forgetting about themselves, keeping busy (which is different than frantically fretting) and really living. · 2 hours ago

    Agreed. And of all the exercise approaches, walking has a special benefit, the chance to stop, see, hear, smell, and feel the concrete world with its beauty and frustration. I love to walk. I usually pray the Rosary while walking, trying to keep still as I meditate on the mysteries and the world that is surrounded by continuing creation.

    Good for the body, good for the soul.

    • #48
  19. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Foxfier
    Tuck: I think a lot of those 20 “debunkings” are myths, or at least such gross-oversimplifications as to be indistinguishable…

    Yep.  In some situations, with some assumptions, they’re right.  And even then, the presentation is probably not just bad, but possibly even dangerous.  

    I was told not to eat tuna more than twice a month while pregnant, and avoid all other fish.  This was a permutation of “eating these high risk fish from that area twice a week is one tenth of the observed side-effect level for mercury” thing.  I didn’t find this out until after a very miserable Lent, and then only because I was looking for an authority to reassure my sister’s friend that she hadn’t maimed her kid by eating rainbow trout from a mountain creek three times over a weekend.

    I am still steamed, as you may guess.

    • #49
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.