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7 common medical myths

According to a recent article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) there are common medical myths that are unproven or untrue.

Researchers selected seven commonly held medical beliefs that are espoused by both physicians and the general public, then searched for evidence to support, or refute, each of the claims.

The results:

  1. There is no medical evidence for the need to drink 8 glasses of water daily. Studies suggest the consumption of juice, milk, and even caffeinated beverages provides adequate fluid intake. In fact, drinking too much water can be harmful. Clinical evidence points to the dangers of drinking excessive amounts of water.
  2. The belief that we use only 10% is refuted by studies of patients with brain damage. Researchers suggest that damage to almost any area of the brain has specific and lasting effects on mental, vegetative, and behavioral capabilities. Also, brain scans show that no area of the brain is completely silent or inactive.
  3. Fingernails and hair do not continue to grow after death. It is an optical illusion caused by the retraction of the skin after death.
  4. The belief that shaving hair causes it to grow back darker, coarser, and faster is another illusion. The stubble resulting from shaving grows out without the finer taper seen at the ends of unshaven hair, which gives the impression of thickness and coarseness.
  5. Reading in dim light does not damage your eyes.
  6. There is little evidence to support the belief that cellular phones should be banned from hospitals on the basis that they cause electromagnetic interference.
  7. The tryptophan amino acid in turkey meat does not make people especially drowsy. In fact, minced beef, chicken, and turkey all contain the tryptophan amino acid.