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7 Medical Myths Even Doctors Believe

January 10, 2008 | 119,195 views

medical myths, myths, mysteriesDo you believe that hair and fingernails grow after death? Do you think that humans use only 10 percent of their brains? Do you believe eating turkey makes you drowsy?

Or, how about these commonly repeated beliefs:

  • You should drink eight glasses of water per day
  • Shaved hair grows back faster, thicker and darker
  • Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight
  • Mobile phones are dangerous in hospitals

Then you’ve bought into some very common medical myths which, while widely held, are simply untrue, says this study published in the British Medical Journal.

To read more of these myths, and find out the truth behind them, take a look at the link below.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Here’s another example of why you can’t blindly believe everything medical experts tell you. While I can certainly agree with some of these myth busters, I cannot support all of them, and some are just not sufficiently or appropriately explained. 

Not All Expert Advice is the Right Advice 

Take this myth, for example: You should drink at least eight glasses of water per day.  

Here they claim as “fact,”  

“Over the years, “fluid” turned to water. But fruits and vegetables, plus coffee and other liquids count.” 

Hold it right there. Coffee counts toward your daily fluid intake?

Every day you lose water from the body through urine and sweat, and this fluid needs to be replenished. Coffee is a natural diuretic, which – logically, I might add – depletes your body of fluids.

Your body is equipped with a mechanism that tells you when you need to replenish your fluid supply -- it’s called thirst! So although I have stopped recommending drinking a specified amount of water per day, fulfilling your body’s request for fluids by drinking coffee is simply not going to do the job.

Without going into all the negative health ramifications that can be attributed to coffee (which I’ve reported in many previous articles, all of which you can find on my site), let it suffice to say that not only are they completely overlooking the fact that coffee simply cannot replace the biological benefits of plain water, they also fail to answer the question of: if not eight glasses of water, then how much water do you need?

Setting the Record Straight on the Water Myth

We know you can exist without food for months, but without water you can only survive for a few days. Your body is made up mostly of water, which:

  • Is essential for digestion, nutrient absorption and elimination
  • Aids circulation
  • Helps control your body's temperature
  • Lubricates and cushions joints
  • Keeps your skin healthy
  • Helps remove toxins from your body

I have refined my recommendations to this: use the color of your urine as a guide to how much water you should be drinking.

As long as you are not taking riboflavin (vitamin B2), which fluoresces and turns your urine bright yellow (it is also in most multi-vitamins), then your urine should be a very light-colored yellow. If it is a deep yellow then you are likely not drinking enough water.

Of course, if it’s hot outside or you are engaged in exercise or other vigorous activity, you will require more water than normal so be sure to stay well hydrated in these cases. Additionally, as we grow older our thirst mechanism works less efficiently so older adults will want to be sure to drink water regularly, and again make sure their urine is a light, pale color.

More Myths Most Conventional Experts Fail to Inform You About

The myths studied and “clarified” through science in this article are not really a matter of life and death however. Fortunately, believing in them will not necessarily ruin your health in the long run.

But there are many other medical myths out there that are actually taking lives because even your doctors fail to realize they are perpetuating a myth and giving out misguided advice.

Here are a few more of my top medical myths that you REALLY need to know the real answers to:

Myth: Sun Exposure Causes Skin CancerThis is perhaps the most pervasive and destructive myth in today’s society, reinforced by expensive media campaigns for sunscreen protection of all kinds. Unfortunately, that trend is contributing to one million unnecessary deaths each and every year, causing about 600,000 deaths from breast and colorectal cancer alone.

Can sun exposure cause skin cancer? Absolutely -- if you burn. However, appropriate sunlight exposure actually prevents more than 16 types of cancer, and provides benefits such as promoting the formation of vitamin D, which many folks are very deficient in.

You also need to know that using sunscreen is NOT a good way to limit your sun exposure; in fact, sunscreen is one of the last things you want to put on your body, and sunblock does not stop skin cancer.  

As natural health expert Krispin Sullivan explained during my interview with her last year, when you wear sunscreen you may not realize you’re creating sun damage because it prevents you from burning – but the damage is still being done on a cellular level -- simply because now you’re staying out in the sun too long, thinking it’s okay since you’re covered in goop. Adding insult to injury, sunscreens contain many toxic chemicals that can cause additional problems in your system, and increase your risk of disease.

Myth: Milk Does Your Body Good – Another case where back-in-the-days before pasteurization, this was true. However, commercial pasteurized milk is not healthy for your body, and should be avoided if you want to be optimally healthy. For a great explanation on the differences between healthy raw milk versus pasteurized milk, don’t miss Mark McAfee’s excellent video on this subject.

And, of course there is the issue of the hormones, antibiotics and pesticides that are used in modern milk dairies, and the fact that nearly all commercial dairy cows are raised on grains, not grass, like they were designed to. This changes the composition of the fats in the milk they produce, especially the CLA content.

Myth: Whole Grains are Good for You --  Even though I do agree that whole grains are better for you than refined grains, whole grains are still not healthy for most people. Why? Because so many Americans are either:

  • Overweight
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Diabetics

Nearly everyone with these issues has high insulin levels, and would therefore benefit greatly from avoiding all grains -- even whole grains. Additionally, about one-third of people will need to avoid grains because they are protein types.

Myth: Fish is Good for You – Again, prior to the industrial pollution that has now devastated the waters world wide, this was true. But not anymore. Fish (and shellfish) easily accumulate very high levels of chemical residues from the water they live in. Residues in fish can be as much as 9 million times the amount found in the water!

Sadly, due to the release of 40 TONS, or 80,000 pounds, of mercury into the air and water each year, this once healthy food has now been rendered largely unfit for human consumption. Some of the contaminants now found in fish flesh include:

  • Mercury
  • PCBs
  • Radioactive substances like strontium
  • Toxic metals such as cadmium, lead, chromium and arsenic

Fortunately, there are still some viable alternatives for obtaining the nutritious benefits of fish, such as regularly consuming high-quality purified krill oil or fish oil. Some wild Alaskan salmon are also still good, as well as very small fish like anchovies and sardines.

Myth: Saturated Fat Causes Heart Disease – I recently published an article about this very topic. If you missed it, I’d recommend reading it in its entirety: The Truth About Saturated Fat. Saturated fats from sources like meat, dairy, some oils and tropical plants such as coconut actually provide a concentrated source of healthy energy in your diet. They also:

  • Provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone like substances
  • Slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry
  • Act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • Are necessary for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes

Part of the scientific confusion relates to the fact that your body is capable of synthesizing saturated fats that it needs from carbohydrates, and these saturated fats are principally the same ones present in dietary fats of animal origin. However, and this is the key, not all saturated fatty acids are the same. In fact, there are more than a dozen different saturated fats with subtle differences that have profound health implications, and if you avoid eating all saturated fats you will suffer serious health consequences.

There is still a link between fat and heart disease. But it’s most likely dangerous TRANS FAT, and not saturated fats that is the problem and the missing link between fat and heart disease.

To test your knowledge of even more medical myths, check out the links under related articles.

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