More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
The seven great "medical myths"
Fri Dec 21, 2007
By Peter Griffiths

LONDON (Reuters) - Reading in dim light won't damage your eyes, you don't need eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy and shaving your legs won't make the hair grow back faster.

These well-worn theories are among seven "medical myths" exposed in a paper published on Friday in the British Medical Journal, which traditionally carries light-hearted features in its Christmas edition.

Two U.S. researchers took seven common beliefs and searched the archives for evidence to support them.

Despite frequent mentions in the popular press of the need to drink eight glasses of water, they found no scientific basis for the claim.

The complete lack of evidence has been recorded in a study published the American Journal of Psychology, they said.

The other six "myths" are:

Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight
The majority of eye experts believe it is unlikely to do any permanent damage, but it may make you squint, blink more and have trouble focusing, the researchers said.

Shaving makes hair grow back faster or coarser
It has no effect on the thickness or rate of hair regrowth, studies say. But stubble lacks the finer taper of unshaven hair, giving the impression of coarseness.

Eating turkey makes you drowsy
It does contain an amino acid called tryptophan that is involved in sleep and mood control. But turkey has no more of the acid than chicken or minced beef. Eating lots of food and drink at Christmas are probably the real cause of sleepiness.

We use only 10 percent of our brains
This myth arose as early as 1907 but imaging shows no area of the brain is silent or completely inactive.

Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death
This idea may stem from ghoulish novels. The researchers said the skin dries out and retracts after death, giving the appearance of longer hair or nails.

Mobile phones are dangerous in hospitals
Despite widespread concerns, studies have found minimal interference with medical equipment.

The research was conducted by Aaron Carroll, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis, and Rachel Vreeman, fellow in children's health services research at Indiana University School of Medicine.


Very interesting. I never thought about some of these as being myths, I hear about them all the time from everyone. Really makes you think about if everything that we hear commonly is completely true. Then again maybe I am just a child in nature, listening to everything that authority tells me to do. :p


That is interesting, I have actually seen signs in doctors' offices that do minor surgeries that say not to use cell phones because it interferes with their equipment. Maybe they are just being extra careful in case the myth has some factual basis.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Some hospitals up here still have those warnings. So do gas stations, even though the concern about it throwing off the readings on the pumps and/or creating some sort of a fire hazard were found to be false quite some time ago.


All hospitals here have the warnings. Or that ones I've been to have anyway.
There's a sign up in my GP's too. But I think that's for peace and quiet rather than anything else.

I'm glad the 8 glasses of water is a myth! If I had that much I'd never get any work done as I'd be elsewhere with all that water!


So do gas stations, even though the concern about it throwing off the readings on the pumps and/or creating some sort of a fire hazard were found to be false quite some time ago.

I just wish that people would understand that keeping your car turned on while pumping gas IS a fire hazard! I just watched one lady with a huge SUV pump gas near me with her car on, radio blasting, windshield wipers on, the whole works! I just couldn't believe that she really didn't see a cause for concern.

Sorry about that, just a small little off-topic rant...
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