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10 Medical Myths, Facts and Rumors: Are They True? Doctors Answer

doctor-mystery-detectiveYour neighbor states them as fact. Your co-worker insists that they do make sense. And you—well, you grew up with them! They say rumors sometimes hold a bit of truth. But do these?

Find out how rumor-savvy you are. But be warned: Some, even the experts aren’t sure about!


CANCER RUMOR

CLAIM: "If cancer is exposed to air during surgery, it will spread."
VERDICT:
Myth

In a 2003 survey, 38 percent of patients interviewed in lung clinics said they believed this rumor. In fact, air does not affect cancer. It spreads by invading tissues in their immediate vicinity, traveling to lymph nodes or circulating through the bloodstream.Kornmehl

 

BATHROOM RUMORS

CLAIM: "Your bowel movements should slip quietly into your commode."
VERDICT:
Unknown.

This one’s relatively new, apparently originating in May 2005 with Dr. Mehmet Oz on Oprah, when he announced, “If it sounds like a bombardier—you know, ‘plop, plop, plop’—that’s not right because it means you’re constipated. … It should hit the water like a diver from Acapulco hits the water [swoosh].”

This could be true, but in my opinion, it’s really immaterial. I don’t require that you to replicate the sounds of your BM splashes in my office; I’d be pleased if you snuck a peek and described the appearance though.Raymondmyth-shaving-legs


CLAIM: "Shaving makes hair grow back coarser and faster."
VERDICT: Myth

A blunt tip just looks thicker. Plus, plucking removes hair from the root, so it has further to grow before reaching the surface. This may make shaved hair seem to grow faster.Fusco


CLAIM: "Some mouthwashes stain teeth."

VERDICT: Fact

But this seems to be confined to prescription mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine, an antimicrobial agent used to treat gingivitis. Your dentist can remove the stains with a simple polishing.Martin

 

SAFETY RUMORS

CLAIM: "Putting something oily on a burn, like butter, is better than cold water."
VERDICT: Myth

Oily substances can slow down healing and promote infections. Instead, cool minor burns (surface burns or blistered burns under two to three inches) with running water or cold compresses for five minutes. (Don’t use ice; it may damage the tissue further.) Loosely wrapped gauze can provide a protective cocoon to help with pain. Montauk

myth-full-moon-clouds
CLAIM: "A full moon means more suicides or other violent behavior."
VERDICT:
Unknown

Many studies have been done on aggression, mental illness and the full moon. Few have found relationships. One psychiatric unit actually discovered it had even fewer admissions during full moons. Lunacy may not be so lunar after all!Montauk


CLAIM: "If an eardrum bursts, it can’t repair itself, and you will be deaf in that ear."
NewsletterVERDICT: Myth

Eardrums can get holes from objects like cotton swabs, pressure from ear infections, or even blows to the head. Temporary hearing loss is common, but most holes heal well on their own. Still, I encourage my patients never to put anything into their ears smaller than their elbow.Montauk

 

SEX AND REPRODUCTION RUMORS


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Re: Health rumors
written by Leigh Ann , October 12, 2010

There are a lot, aren't there, Joel? Good point that some can be dangerous. Thanks for the feedback.

Leigh Ann Otte
Managing Editor, MyFamilyDoctorMag.com

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Health rumors
written by Joel Gray , October 11, 2010

Sounds interesting! A lot of health rumors are out there and I find it helpful that you made some clarifications. False beliefs can be very dangerous to health if left uncorrected.
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