From Doctor Weil:

Ask
your doctor how much water you should drink or why you couldn’t keep
your eyes open after Thanksgiving dinner, and you’re likely to get the
same misinformation your mother-in-law might dispense. A study
published in the December 2007 British Medical Journal
tweaked physicians on their acceptance of some widespread medical
beliefs that might now be reclassified as old wives’ tales. Here’s a
rundown:

  1. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day: The
    researchers who conducted the study could find no clinical evidence to
    support this notion. But they did dig up an article from the November
    2002 American Journal of Physiology that documented the lack
    of evidence behind this popular recommendation. You do need to be well
    hydrated, but research suggests that the liquids most people drink
    daily – juice, milk, and decaffeinated beverages – will do the trick.
    Your best bets are purified water, diluted fruit juice, tea, and sparkling water flavored with fruit juice.
  2. We use only 10 percent of our brains:
    This is a real oldie that traces its history back to 1907, but didn’t
    originate, as once believed, with Albert Einstein. Now that we know
    much more about neuroscience than we did 100 years ago, we can say for
    sure that we use much more than 10 percent of the brain, say the BMJ
    researchers. In fact, high-tech methods of studying the brain have not
    identified any inactive areas.
  3. Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death:
    This disturbing, gruesome image is pure “moonshine” according to
    forensic anthropologist William Maples, who was quoted in the BMJ
    study. However, he explained that dehydration of the body after death
    can cause retraction of the skin around hair and nails, giving the
    illusion that they have grown. All tissues require energy to sustain
    their functions, and no such thing is possible once the mechanism that
    promotes normal growth shuts down at death.
  4. Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight: You
    can get eyestrain and have difficulty focusing when trying to read in
    poor lighting, but these symptoms have no permanent effect on eyesight.
    One current theory holds that nearsightedness (myopia) might be caused
    by reading in dim light or holding books too close to the face. But
    consider this: rates of myopia are increasing and are higher
    now then they were centuries ago when people read by candlelight.
    What’s more, the BMJ researchers found hundreds of expert opinions that
    conclude that reading in dim light doesn’t permanently hurt your eyes.
  5. Shaving causes hair to grow back faster or coarser: No,
    it does not. This popular notion was disproved as early as 1928 and
    more recent studies have confirmed that shaving has no effect on hair
    growth (or regrowth), write the BMJ investigators. They speculate that
    when shaved hair regrows, it lacks the fine taper seen at the end of
    unshaven hair, making it appear coarser. And the fact that it hasn’t
    been exposed to light may make it seem darker than other hair.
  6. Mobile phones are dangerous in hospitals: The
    BMJ credits this widespread belief (and the origin of those signs in
    hospitals warning against the use of mobile phones) to a Wall Street
    Journal article citing a medical journal report of more than 100
    incidents of suspected electromagnetic interference with medical
    devices before 1993. But studies in England and the U.S. have found
    little in the way of interference and few serious effects. The BMJ
    cited a 2007 study that showed no interference at all in 300 tests in
    75 treatment rooms. Indeed, the journal reported on a survey of
    anesthetists that showed use of mobile phones by physicians was
    associated with a reduced risk of medical error or injury
    resulting from delays in communication. Let’s see how long it takes
    hospitals to react to these findings and change their policies with
    regard to cell phone use.
  7. Eating turkey makes people especially drowsy: Not
    so. Here, the myth is that the tryptophan in turkey causes the
    drowsiness. This amino acid is known to cause drowsiness, but the truth
    is that there’s as much tryptophan in pork and cheese as there is in
    turkey. What’s more, as the BMJ researchers noted that for tryptophan
    to promote sleep, you need to ingest it on an empty stomach (with no
    protein present) – something that’s unlikely at Thanksgiving or
    Christmas dinner. Other factors are probably to blame for post-meal
    drowsiness: any big meal can make you sleepy because of a decrease in
    blood flow and oxygenation to the brain. And then, of course, there’s
    the wine.

The researchers said that they selected the seven
myths above because they had heard them so often that they thought they
were true or might be true. They learned that they could be wrong and
“need to question what other falsehoods we unwittingly propagate” in
the practice of medicine.

Amen.

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2 thoughts on “

  1. I kind of wonder about No. 7.
    I wonder if that myth is so pervasive that we believe it induces drowsiness.  Like a psychosomatic thing.  We believe it makes us drowsy, therefore it does make us drowsy.

  2. i don’t know about the rest totally. but number one they tell you that because most hunger pangs are usually solved by a drink of water. hunger is a psychological urge not a physiological one. of course people have different needs of water but people that usually tell you about number one are the people advocating people to be fat. really. when you are hungry drink a  glass of water and usually that feeling of hunger can subside. doctor’s probably don’t dispense those things anyways. they are probably to busy telling you about needing to have to lose weight from eating instead when a drink of water would have done the job.

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