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Medical myths

Analysis and Comment (100)

Like much of what we see on TV, this one’s a myth. Like much of what we see on TV, this one’s a myth. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: flatlining patients can be shocked back to life

Beep….beep……….beep……….beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. “We’re losing him. Out of my way, nurse!” The quick-thinking young doctor charges the defibrillator paddles and places them on the chest of the lifeless…
Whether or not you are feeding a cold or starving it makes little difference to the biology of a common cold. Whether or not you are feeding a cold or starving it makes little difference to the biology of a common cold. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: feed a cold, starve a fever

This winter, most of us will catch a cold. Our kids will probably catch at least two or three. We all know you are supposed to feed a cold and starve a fever. But does it really make any difference if…
Being blindly and unrelentingly positive can be a burden to disease sufferers. Being blindly and unrelentingly positive can be a burden to disease sufferers. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: you can think yourself better

Of all the cultural beliefs about health and illness that saturate the developed world, there is none so pervasive and deeply held as the idea that you can “battle” an illness by sheer force of will. We…
There’s no need to temper our efforts to address the obesity epidemic just yet. There’s no need to temper our efforts to address the obesity epidemic just yet. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: overweight people live longer

We’ve long known that too much excess weight increases your likelihood of dying prematurely. Or does it? A large review of the evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA…
Timing sex around ovulation doesn’t change the odds of having a boy or girl. Timing sex around ovulation doesn’t change the odds of having a boy or girl. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: you can control the sex of your baby

Despite most parents ultimately just wishing for a healthy baby, there are many cultural and social factors that can drive the desire for a baby of a particular sex. The medical technology for sex selection…
Forget yoghurt, go to the chemist for an effective treatment for thrush. Forget yoghurt, go to the chemist for an effective treatment for thrush. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: yoghurt cures thrush

Vaginal thrush, or “vulvovaginal candidiasis” is a common condition, with around three-quarters of women experiencing an episode in their lifetime. Many readers may be familiar with the unpleasant symptoms…
You’re no more likely to lose heat from your head than other parts of your body – except your hands and feet. You’re no more likely to lose heat from your head than other parts of your body – except your hands and feet. Taylor Mackenzie

Monday’s medical myth: you lose most heat through your head

As the weather starts to cool down and winter clothes enter rotation in our wardrobes, some peculiar combinations emerge: shorts and scarves; thongs and jackets; T-shirts and beanies. The last is often…
Infertility, high blood pressure, varicose viens and back pain have been attributed to leg crossing – but what does the evidence say? Infertility, high blood pressure, varicose viens and back pain have been attributed to leg crossing – but what does the evidence say? Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: crossing your legs is bad for your health

Almost everyone crosses their legs, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, for custom, for comfort, for effect, to stop your legs splaying, to take pressure off a foot, or for no reason at all. But is…
You may not forget the pain, but if you’re lucky, the end will justify the means. You may not forget the pain, but if you’re lucky, the end will justify the means. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: women forget the pain of childbirth

In an evolutionary sense, memory of pain serves an important purpose. Pain indicates a threat to our safety or our life, and human survival depends on us avoiding things that are going to kill us. Historically…
Booze won’t kill your brain cells but it can still harm your brain. Booze won’t kill your brain cells but it can still harm your brain. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: alcohol kills brain cells

Do you ever wake up with a raging hangover and picture the row of brain cells that you suspect have have started to decay? Or wonder whether that final glass of wine was too much for those tiny cells…
Jane Fonda was wrong – you don’t need to “feel the burn” to reap the benefits of exercise. Jane Fonda was wrong – you don’t need to “feel the burn” to reap the benefits of exercise. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: no pain, no gain

The value of regular physical activity to a person’s well-being is unequivocal. But how much exercise do we need to maintain health, improve fitness or lose weight? And where is the line between healthy…
You may achieve your pigmentary potential a little ahead of schedule, but you can’t go grey overnight. You may achieve your pigmentary potential a little ahead of schedule, but you can’t go grey overnight. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: stress can turn hair grey overnight

The belief that nervous shock can cause you to go grey overnight (medically termed canities subita) is one of those tales which could nearly be true. There are certainly cases in medical literature of…
Controlled crying is when parents respond to their infant’s cries and gently comfort them, then return at increasing time intervals. Controlled crying is when parents respond to their infant’s cries and gently comfort them, then return at increasing time intervals. Flickr/tea...

Monday’s medical myth: controlled crying damages babies' brains

In my clinical work with pregnant and postnatal mums experiencing anxiety and mood disorders, few issues are reported as consistently as sleep deprivation. Parents who spend the first year of their child’s…
There has been very little scientific evidence so far to support sex as a method of inducing labour. There has been very little scientific evidence so far to support sex as a method of inducing labour. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: sex induces labour

Sex. It’s what got you into pregnancy, but is it also the pathway to getting you out? Around a quarter of all Australian pregnancies are medically induced, with a third of those inductions occurring due…
Based on the evidence, it’s safe to dismiss this one as a myth. Based on the evidence, it’s safe to dismiss this one as a myth. Flickr/lism

Monday’s medical myth: deodorants cause breast cancer

The concern that using deodorants and antiperspirants might increase the risk of breast cancer has been around for around for at least 15 years, probably longer. The theory suggests that either parabens…
Excess kilojoules, rather than dietary fat, leads to weight gain. Excess kilojoules, rather than dietary fat, leads to weight gain. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: low-fat diets are better for weight loss

If food is labelled low fat, it’s got to be better for weight loss, right? Wrong – it’s the total kilojoules that matter most for weight loss. Looking solely at fat content only gives you part of the picture…
There are good reasons why cranberry products could work, but the weight of scientific evidence shows cranberry products are ineffective for preventing UTIs. There are good reasons why cranberry products could work, but the weight of scientific evidence shows cranberry products are ineffective for preventing UTIs. Flickr/Half Chinese

Monday’s medical myth: cranberry juice prevents bladder infections

You might eat them in a sauce alongside your Christmas turkey or drink them juiced, perhaps with a shot of vodka. But the sweet, tart cranberry is also well known as a remedy for preventing urinary tract…
Most pregnant women only need to eat the equivalent of an extra two pieces of fruit and half a glass of milk a day. Most pregnant women only need to eat the equivalent of an extra two pieces of fruit and half a glass of milk a day. Flickr/flequi

Monday’s medical myth: eat for two during pregnancy

We’ve all heard people sprout the phrase, “go on, you’re eating for two now” at barbecues, dinner parties and wherever food is being served, forcing pregnant women to decline offers of more and more food…
Unless you’re allergic to cow’s milk, dairy products are unlikely to cause or exacerbate asthma. Unless you’re allergic to cow’s milk, dairy products are unlikely to cause or exacerbate asthma. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: dairy products exacerbate asthma

Dairy products are good for the bones, so we’re encouraged to have regular serves of (reduced-fat) milk cheese and yogurt. But can they make asthma and allergies worse? Asthma is a respiratory condition…
Up to one in three Australians take vitamin supplements, but few healthy people need them. Up to one in three Australians take vitamin supplements, but few healthy people need them. Brian Gaid

Monday’s medical myth: take a vitamin a day for better health

Forget an apple a day, vitamin manufacturers would have you believe it’s important to take daily vitamins to boost your health. And a surprising proportion of Australians do. Data from the last National…
You may never know exactly why you get bitten more than your friends. You may never know exactly why you get bitten more than your friends. Jason Verwey

Monday’s medical myth: mosquitos prefer sweet blood

It’s quite a romantic notion that the sweetness of our blood attracts mosquitoes. But in reality, it’s probably the cocktail of stinky microbes on our skin that really draws them in. It’s hard to know…
There is no evidence to support the claim that eating peanuts or peanut butter during pregnancy will make your child allergic to peanuts. There is no evidence to support the claim that eating peanuts or peanut butter during pregnancy will make your child allergic to peanuts. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: peanuts in pregnancy cause allergies

Anyone else have the feeling something radical has happened with peanut allergy in the past 30 years? I don’t recall knowing anyone allergic to peanuts or peanut butter as a child in the 1980s, yet today…
There is no truth to claims that immunisations cause autism, brain damage or sudden infant death syndrome. There is no truth to claims that immunisations cause autism, brain damage or sudden infant death syndrome. theloushe

Monday’s medical myth: childhood vaccinations are dangerous

When I was an infant I had whooping cough and was ill for three months. I don’t remember it, of course, but I know it was very distressing for my parents. I do remember later trips with my researcher father…
Swimming isn’t the best way to settle that full stomach but it’s unlikely to cause you to drown. Swimming isn’t the best way to settle that full stomach but it’s unlikely to cause you to drown. Jaypeg

Monday’s medical myth: wait 30 minutes after eating before you swim

The old saying that you should wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you swim is based on the idea that after a big meal, blood will be diverted away from your arms and legs, towards your stomach’s…
During summer, most of us get adequate vitamin D from just a few minutes of daily sun exposure. During summer, most of us get adequate vitamin D from just a few minutes of daily sun exposure. AveLardo

Monday’s medical myth: we’re not getting enough sun

Myths abound about UV radiation and its effect on our health. We hear that sun-protection has triggered an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency; being tanned protects you from sunburn; a tan looks healthy…
Natural does not necessarily equate to harmless. Nor does conventional equate to unnatural. Natural does not necessarily equate to harmless. Nor does conventional equate to unnatural. Flickr/wine me up

Monday’s medical myth: natural cancer therapies can’t harm you

One of the most misleading myths of modern medicine is that conventional cancer doctors reject “natural” therapies in favour of artificial or “unnatural” cancer treatments. This myth has contributed to…
Breathing through your mouth or chewing gum has no effect: the tear stimulus is in your eyes, not your nose or mouth. Breathing through your mouth or chewing gum has no effect: the tear stimulus is in your eyes, not your nose or mouth. Flickr/tarale

Monday’s medical myth: chewing gum stops onion tears

The cultivated onion, Allium cepa, is a savoury staple of cuisines around the world. Yet slicing up onions all too often leads to tears: you peel off the papery outer skin, start chopping and before long…
Detox diets may do little harm, except to your bank balance, but neither do they do a lot of good. Detox diets may do little harm, except to your bank balance, but neither do they do a lot of good. katstan

Monday’s medical myth: detox diets cleanse your body

Detox diets make amazing promises of dramatic weight loss and more energy – all achieved by flushing toxins from the body. Toxins have very little to do with it; detox diets “work” because of the very…
Women can move more easily in water, enabling them to change position with ease. Women can move more easily in water, enabling them to change position with ease. Flickr/kTLindSAy

Monday’s medical myth: water births are risky

“Women aren’t dolphins” is a phrase often bandied about by those who question why women want to immerse themselves in pools or warm baths during labour and birth. They forget that we’re not mountain goats…
One in four Australians take fish oil but the latest evidence shows it won’t improve the health of your heart. One in four Australians take fish oil but the latest evidence shows it won’t improve the health of your heart. Flickr/wine me up

Monday’s medical myth: fish oil is good for heart health

Did you hold your nose and take your daily dose of fish oil this morning? Or perhaps you opted for an odour-free capsule? Well, you’re not alone. Around one in four Australians take fish oil supplements…
There is simply no evidence to support this old wives tale. There is simply no evidence to support this old wives tale. FLICKR/zandwacht

Monday’s medical myth: reading from a screen harms your eyes

The time most of us spend looking at a screen has rapidly increased over the past decade. If we’re not at work on the computer, we’re likely to stay tuned into the online sphere via a smart phone or tablet…
Young athletes are not small adults. Young athletes are not small adults. JosephB

Monday’s medical myth: young athletes can train like adults

Public health experts, educators and the media constantly remind us that children should put down the video games and get active. But how much activity is really necessary to maintain health? And how much…
You can save an adult tooth that has been knocked out, but you need to act quickly. You can save an adult tooth that has been knocked out, but you need to act quickly. Fotologic

Monday’s medical myth: knocked-out teeth are history

It’s common enough for a tooth to be knocked out on the footy field, in the playground, during a fight, or even a fall. The blood, shock and pain can easily cause you to panic but, as with most things…
Around 90% of men with erectile dysfunction have a predominantly physical basis for their condition. Around 90% of men with erectile dysfunction have a predominantly physical basis for their condition. Horia Varlan

Monday’s medical myth: erectile dysfunction is all in your mind

It’s perfectly normal for men to have an occasional problem gaining or sustaining an erection. But for some men, these difficulties are frequent and severe, making penetration impossible. This condition…
There’s no good evidence to show cutting carbs works better than just cutting calories. There’s no good evidence to show cutting carbs works better than just cutting calories. Skley

Monday’s medical myth: cutting carbs is the best way to lose weight

There seems to be an endless number of fad diets and “golden rules” for weight loss. One of the most popular of these rules is that cutting carbohydrates (carbs) is the best way to lose weight. The most…
You can’t catch warts from toads, but you can from other people. You can’t catch warts from toads, but you can from other people. DaveHuth

Monday’s medical myth: warts aren’t contagious

As a general practitioner (GP), I see a lot of warts. They’re a common skin complaint that most people experience at least one in their lives. Common warts are small dome-shaped lumps on the surface of…
South Korea’s World Cup football team at a training center near Azadi Stadium in the Iranian capital Tehran. South Korea’s World Cup football team at a training center near Azadi Stadium in the Iranian capital Tehran. AAP

Monday’s medical myth: altitude training improves overall sporting performance

As the AFL season draws closer to the grand final, clubs are already looking to off-season training opportunities to prepare players for 2013. Several high-profile clubs are forking out big money to send…
Some women question the long-term impact of the contraceptive pill on their fertility. Some women question the long-term impact of the contraceptive pill on their fertility. J. Stephen Conn

Monday’s medical myth: the pill affects long-term fertility

The combined oral contraceptive pill is the most popular form of contraception in Australia and is taken by an estimated 100 million women worldwide. The pill’s most obvious use is to prevent pregnancy…
There’s no evidence that wearing a bra – even to bed – increases your risk of breast cancer. There’s no evidence that wearing a bra – even to bed – increases your risk of breast cancer.

Monday’s medical myth: wearing a bra to bed increases your risk of breast cancer

Women’s breasts are seen in society as symbols of femininity, fertility and sexuality – so are the many different styles of bras worn to support, enhance and protect the mammary glands. Many women wear…
Men generally prefer higher concentrations of sweet compared with women. Men generally prefer higher concentrations of sweet compared with women. Ethan

Monday’s medical myth: blame it on my sweet tooth

My wife says she has a sweet tooth. But doesn’t everyone? It’s universal to the human condition (as well as the human palate) to like something sweet. It may even be an evolutionary advantage to seek out…
If you don’t change the way you run, ditching your sneakers is a recipe for injury. If you don’t change the way you run, ditching your sneakers is a recipe for injury. Steven at

Monday’s medical myth: run barefoot to prevent injuries

The human species is one of the most efficient terrestrial animals. We adapted to run on dry riverbeds and grasslands, but development of modern society has strained the evolutionary process. Footwear…
There’s no evidence to show chocolate causes acne but milk may play a role. There’s no evidence to show chocolate causes acne but milk may play a role. anjuli ayer

Monday’s medical myth: chocolate causes acne

Outbreaks of pimples, blackheads and cysts are a cause of enormous anxiety and embarrassment among teens and young adults. If you’re part of the 20% of Australians who have experienced severe acne, you’ve…
If any difference exists at all, it’s imperceptibly small, at less than 0.2°C. If any difference exists at all, it’s imperceptibly small, at less than 0.2°C. Ms Cafe

Monday’s medical myth: men are hotter than women

Holding a body close to you, it’s easy to appreciate the warmth a human body can generate. Humans are “warm-blooded” animals. We’re able to effectively maintain a stable internal temperature, even on cold…
Some teenage boys hope this is true, but most others will be relieved to know it’s a myth. Some teenage boys hope this is true, but most others will be relieved to know it’s a myth. Dharion

Monday’s medical myth: shaved hair grows back faster and thicker

Hair removal is a modern obsession. Despite the economic downturn, the beauty industry is booming, and it seems that a big part of looking good is getting rid of unwanted hair. Men as well as women are…
The research has found no causal relationship between food additives and behavioural disorders in children. The research has found no causal relationship between food additives and behavioural disorders in children. Brit

Monday’s medical myth: food additives cause childhood behavioural disorders

Contemporary processed foods contain many additives, largely to meet consumer expectations for great tasting products that are aesthetically pleasing, all year round. If we didn’t have all these expectations…
If you’re at low risk of cancer, the pill is unlikely to place you at higher risk. If you’re at low risk of cancer, the pill is unlikely to place you at higher risk. Flickr/BeppieK

Monday’s medical myth: the pill increases your risk of cancer

Millions of women around the world have used the combined oestrogen and progestogen oral contraceptive pill to protect themselves from pregnancy for more than fifty years. The overall risk of reproductive-aged…
A vitamin C a day won’t keep colds away. A vitamin C a day won’t keep colds away. Owaief

Monday’s medical myth: vitamin C prevents colds

Vitamin C is so often suggested as a treatment for the common cold that it’s almost considered common sense. This well-known vitamin is primarily found in fruits and vegetables, with small quantities in…
When cooked food falls below 60°C, it’s in the temperature danger zone. When cooked food falls below 60°C, it’s in the temperature danger zone. riebschlager

Monday’s medical myth: leave leftovers to cool before refrigerating

Food poisoning doesn’t just come from dodgy kebabs, under-cooked chicken and restaurants with poor hygiene practices – it can also occur in the home. And anyone who has suffered a bout of food poisoning…
You might feel crook after a flu vax but the injection itself can’t give you influenza. You might feel crook after a flu vax but the injection itself can’t give you influenza. Nettsu

Monday’s medical myth: the flu vaccine will give you influenza

We hear it all the time: “I don’t want a flu vaccine. It gives you the flu.“ The old, the young, and even health professionals make this claim. And it’s usually followed by a personal example like, “the…
It’s important men can identify potentially cancerous lumps in their testes. It’s important men can identify potentially cancerous lumps in their testes. xddorox

Monday’s medical myth: testicular self-examination is a waste of time

Testicular self-examination is turning men into “ball-watching neurotics” – that’s the view of Keith Hopcroft, a GP from Essex in the United Kingdom. It’s unnecessary, he explained recently in the British…
A sexual thought every seven seconds? That’s 8,000 thoughts a day! A sexual thought every seven seconds? That’s 8,000 thoughts a day! Flickr/Lara604

Monday’s medical myth: men think about sex every seven seconds

Each time you turn on the television after 10pm, eavesdrop on a group of men at your local pub, or drive past a billboard, you’re likely to encounter some stereotypes about masculinity and men’s sexuality…
It doesn’t really matter how long food is on the floor, it’s likely to collect the same amount of bacteria. It doesn’t really matter how long food is on the floor, it’s likely to collect the same amount of bacteria. Flickr/bark

Monday’s medical myth: the three second rule (when food falls on the floor)

As a food microbiologist, I have always been amazed at people’s belief in the three- or five-second rule. It goes something like this: if you retrieve food dropped on the floor or another surface within…
Sugar doesn’t play a greater or lesser role in obesity than fat and other carbohydrates. Sugar doesn’t play a greater or lesser role in obesity than fat and other carbohydrates. Esther Gibbons

Monday’s medical myth: sugar is the main culprit in obesity

The debate about the health implications of sugar consumption began back in 1972 when Professor John Judkin, from the University of London, published Pure, White and Deadly, which linked sugar intake to…
Peanuts may alleviate some symptoms but they won’t cure your motion sickness. Peanuts may alleviate some symptoms but they won’t cure your motion sickness. Jetstar Airways

Monday’s medical myth: peanuts stop motion sickness

At the start of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the ever-resourceful Ford Prefect buys four packets of salted peanuts, ostensibly to prevent motion sickness. We sometimes get them on flights too…
Studies into the lunar effect show no difference in rates of harm on full moons. Studies into the lunar effect show no difference in rates of harm on full moons. Bill Gracey

Monday’s medical myth: hospitals get busier on full moons

It’s another busy night in an inner city hospital emergency department (ED) and patients keep pouring in with injuries from accidents, assaults and self-harm attempts. One veteran nurse turns to a junior…
Neither organic nor conventional food is nutritionally any better or worse for you. Neither organic nor conventional food is nutritionally any better or worse for you. Smaku

Monday’s medical myth: organic food is more nutritious

Across the world, outbreaks of food-borne illness, contamination and environmental scares have generated a lot of media attention and plenty of fear around food safety. Think of the recent E. coli outbreaks…
Emo music may be bleak but there’s no evidence to show it causes depression. Emo music may be bleak but there’s no evidence to show it causes depression. Flickr/Corrie

Monday’s medical myth: emo music makes you depressed

Like death metal and grunge before it, emo music has copped more than its fair share of criticism since it rose to prominence a decade ago. Rather than being seen as an outlet for young people to express…
xgqsg. xgqsg.

Monday’s medical myth: stress causes cancer

Cancer is a disease of the body’s cells that affects around half of all Australians by the age of 85. Normally cells grow and multiply in a controlled way. But if something causes a mistake to occur in…
There’s no biological evidence to show that chocolate can affect your libido. There’s no biological evidence to show that chocolate can affect your libido. Roxanne Cooke

Monday’s medical myth: chocolate is an aphrodisiac

There are many ways to a woman’s heart. But is a box of chocolates really one of them? What makes chocolate romantic is entirely contextual. Valentine’s Day is traditionally the time for couples to profess…
You can mix “the grape and the grain” and avoid a hangover if you drink in moderation. You can mix “the grape and the grain” and avoid a hangover if you drink in moderation. Erwyn van der Meer

Monday’s medical myth: mixing drinks causes hangovers

As a general practitioner, I hear a lot of colourful advice from my patients about what they believe constitutes “safe” drinking and how to avoid a nasty hangover. Some of the more pithy sayings – “beer…
If you’re not meeting your weight-loss targets, you need to eat less or move more. If you’re not meeting your weight-loss targets, you need to eat less or move more. Flickr/lism

Monday’s medical myth: ‘my slow metabolism makes me fat’

People who struggle to lose weight often blame their difficulty achieving a healthy weight on their “slow metabolism”. So is this a real barrier to weight loss, or is the real culprit an excess of food…
Children should be taught to play music themselves rather than just listening to it. Children should be taught to play music themselves rather than just listening to it. Naruco

Monday’s medical myth: play Mozart to boost your baby’s IQ

What parent can pass up the chance to boost their child’s intelligence by putting on some nice classical music? The popular idea that IQ scores can be raised by listening to Mozart is a case study in how…
It just isn’t possible for someone with a normal brain to selectively use just one side of it. It just isn’t possible for someone with a normal brain to selectively use just one side of it. vaXzine

Monday’s medical myth: you can selectively train your left or right brain

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, getting your body in shape often tops the list. But what about your brain? If your left or right brain is feeling a little flabby, there’s a wide range of books…
Oysters can still play an important role in romance, even though they aren’t an aphrodisiac. Oysters can still play an important role in romance, even though they aren’t an aphrodisiac. Stephen Coles

Monday’s medical myth: eating oysters makes you randy

The stuff of romance novels or a secret tool to give you a boost in the bedroom? We start the year by examining the truth about oysters. Holly gazed around in awe. Rory had brought her to a tiny waterfront…
In the developed world, where vitamin A deficiency isn’t an issue, eating carrots won’t help you see more clearly. In the developed world, where vitamin A deficiency isn’t an issue, eating carrots won’t help you see more clearly. Nerdcoregirl

Monday’s medical myth: eating carrots will improve your eyesight

Getting enough vitamin A is important for healthy eyes. And carrots are a rich and natural source of this vitamin, which is basically a group of chemicals made up of retinal (the active form of vitamin…
90% of the glutamate in our diet comes from protein, not MSG. 90% of the glutamate in our diet comes from protein, not MSG. Kevin H

Monday’s medical myth: MSG is a dangerous toxin

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is widely viewed as a dangerous food toxin that is responsible for adverse reactions to Chinese food and other meals. But is it really the MSG that’s to blame? Glutamate is a…
Few antibiotics preclude drinking alcohol but it’s a bad idea to get drunk when you have an infection. Few antibiotics preclude drinking alcohol but it’s a bad idea to get drunk when you have an infection. DeusXFlorida

Monday’s medical myth: you can’t mix antibiotics with alcohol

Staying off alcohol when taking antibiotics has been hallowed advice from GPs, pharmacists and well-meaning relatives for decades. It’s difficult to work out exactly where the advice orginated, but Karl…
You won’t ruin your eyes but you may get a headache. You won’t ruin your eyes but you may get a headache. Martin Gommel

Monday’s medical myth: reading in dim light ruins your eyesight

The idea that reading in dim light ruins your eyes isn’t my favourite wives' tale about “leisure activities” causing blindness, nor is it the most obscene! In any case, it’s simply not true. I’ll begin…
Fruit juice contains as much sugar as soft drink. Fruit juice contains as much sugar as soft drink. Gail M Tang

Monday’s medical myth: fruit juice is healthier than soft drink

We often hear, from health experts and well-meaning parents, that soft drink is terribly unhealthy and we should opt for fruit juice instead. But apart from a few additional vitamins and minerals, there…
Being overweight or obese can increase a teen’s risk of developing a number of diseases. Being overweight or obese can increase a teen’s risk of developing a number of diseases. Cindy Shar-pei

Monday’s medical myth: don’t worry, kids will grow out of their ‘puppy fat’

Picture this common scenario: A mother is worried about the size of her 13-year-old daughter, who appears quite a bit heavier than the other students in her class. But the mother is reassured by her friend…
Tight underwear may increase scrotal temperature but there’s no evidence to show it reduces fertility. Tight underwear may increase scrotal temperature but there’s no evidence to show it reduces fertility. AAP

Monday’s medical myth: wearing tight undies will make you infertile

Most men have a preference for boxers or briefs, but which are better when it comes to fertility? Many things can affect a man’s ability to make or transport sperm, including sexually transmitted infections…
Creativity requires communication between both hemispheres of your brain. Creativity requires communication between both hemispheres of your brain. Flickr/lacta

Monday’s medical myth: the right side of your brain controls creativity

Are you suffering a creativity problem? Well, pop psychology claims your “right brain” holds the key. Whether you want to drop a few kilos, improve your profits, spice up your sex life, or take over the…
The links between coffee and better health aren’t strong enough to recommend another cup. The links between coffee and better health aren’t strong enough to recommend another cup. Flickr/doug8888

Monday’s medical myth: coffee is a health drink

Many Australians begin their day with a cup of coffee. It’s widely viewed as a tonic with revitalising properties – each cup making us feel better. But this isn’t the same as being good for our health…
Case closed: the MMR vaccine has no relationship with autism. Case closed: the MMR vaccine has no relationship with autism.

Monday’s medical myth: the MMR vaccine causes autism

Few medical myths have spread as feverishly and contributed to so much preventable illness than the theory that the triple measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine might be linked to autism. The tale…
It’s even possible to get relief from symptoms when knowingly taking a placebo. It’s even possible to get relief from symptoms when knowingly taking a placebo. Flickr/JLA Kliche

Monday’s medical myth: the placebo effect only works on the gullible

If you took a pill that had been prescribed to treat your illness and it alleviated your symptoms, that means the medicine worked – right? What if you took a complementary medicine from a health food store…
Over time, smokers gain as much weight as the rest of the population. Over time, smokers gain as much weight as the rest of the population. Flickr/Difei Li

Monday’s medical myth: smoking helps control your weight

One of the few positives put forward by smokers to justify their habit is that it helps keep their weight in check. And while smoking may be harmful to their health, so is obesity. So how does this claim…
Water alone won’t kill germs – it’s the soap that counts. Water alone won’t kill germs – it’s the soap that counts. Flickr/CafeMama

Monday’s medical myth: you have to wash with hot water to kill bugs

Despite decades of medical breakthroughs and growing health budgets, the simple act of washing our hands remains one of the most important things we can do to protect ourselves from disease. The principle…
High intake of antioxidants won’t slow the ageing process and may increase your risk of some cancers. High intake of antioxidants won’t slow the ageing process and may increase your risk of some cancers. Dan Machold

Monday’s medical myth: a diet high in antioxidants slows the aging process

As Australians' life expectancy nudges past 80 years, it’s no surprise that we’re searching for ways to add youthfulness and vitality to our later years. It’s a nice idea that a good dose of blueberries…
Teething doesn’t cause fever but a high temperature shouldn’t be ignored. Teething doesn’t cause fever but a high temperature shouldn’t be ignored.

Monday’s medical myth: infant teething causes fevers

Any parent can tell you that infant teething makes for a trying time. Restless nights, feeding problems and irritability can all be part and parcel when an intant’s baby teeth erupt through their gums…
There aren’t any miracle cures but there are a number of treatments that can reduce its severity. There aren’t any miracle cures but there are a number of treatments that can reduce its severity. Flickr/Algo

Monday’s medical myth: osteoarthritis can be ‘cured’

Switch on daytime television on any given day and you’d be forgiven for thinking there was a cure for the debilitating and dreaded condition, osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, there’s not. And that’s not…
Minimise bed rest and take short walks around the house if you’ve got low back pain. Minimise bed rest and take short walks around the house if you’ve got low back pain.

Monday’s medical myth: bed rest is best for back pain

Severe low back pain is a common and dreaded problem that rivals only hay fever, asthma, hypertension and dermatitis as Australia’s leading cause of long-term illness. The instinctive response to severe…
While it may make you unpopular, cracking your knuckles won’t cause arthritis. While it may make you unpopular, cracking your knuckles won’t cause arthritis. Flickr/orijinal

Monday’s medical myth: cracking your knuckles causes arthritis

For some it’s a morning ritual – cracking your knuckles before beginning the day. For others, it’s a way to pass time while pondering a thought or reading something particularly interesting online. But…
Hookahs are actually more dangerous because users are likely to puff more frequently. Hookahs are actually more dangerous because users are likely to puff more frequently.

Monday’s medical myth: hookahs are less harmful than cigarettes

After decades of successful anti-tobacco campaigns, we’re all familiar with the risks of smoking. But how do the health harms of cigarettes compare with those of other smoking devices? The hookah, also…
It’s wise to rug up outdoors but it won’t stop you getting a cold. It’s wise to rug up outdoors but it won’t stop you getting a cold. Flickr/foshydog

Monday’s medical myth: you can catch a cold by getting cold

Colds are more common in the cold winter months. But does the weather have anything to do with why we get sick? These days, we use other terms such as “virus” or “the flu” to describe our sniffles because…
Light or “lite” can refer to the colour, weight or kilojoule content of a product. Light or “lite” can refer to the colour, weight or kilojoule content of a product. Flickr/Trusty pics

Monday’s medical myth: light or ‘lite’ food is healthy

How much can you believe about claims made on food packaging? For any mention of the word “light” or “lite”, feel free to add your own definition – that will have about as much credibility as any claim…
There’s no evidence to prove it works, but does that matter? There’s no evidence to prove it works, but does that matter? Flickr/Akane86

Monday’s medical myth: chicken soup cures the common cold

Of all the homemade winter cure-alls, chicken soup is the best known and most loved. In fact the term “chicken soup” has become idiomatic for all things restorative; benefiting every possible problem from…
Historically, lefties have had a rough trot. Historically, lefties have had a rough trot. Flickr/Incurable Hippie

Monday’s medical myth: left handers are more likely to be geniuses

Left handers have copped their share of bad publicity in the past. The term used to describe left handers in English is “sinistral”, which is derived from the word “sinister”. And it’s no better in other…
Exercise decreases hunger in the long term. Exercise decreases hunger in the long term. Puuikibeach/Flickr

Monday’s medical myth: exercise makes you eat more food and gain weight

It’s time to ignore any advice you’ve heard about your sweat and hard work in the gym sabotaging your weight loss efforts by causing you to eat more. Every little bit of exercise can help shift unwanted…
Even when we rest, all the sections of our brain show some level of activity. Even when we rest, all the sections of our brain show some level of activity. flickr/wellunwell

Monday’s medical myth: we only use 10% of our brain

The thought that most of us only use 10% of our brain is appealing because it means we have a whole lot of untapped potential waiting to be harnessed. Unfortunately, that figure is off by about 90%. This…
Men’s testosterone decline isn’t quite the same as menopause. Men’s testosterone decline isn’t quite the same as menopause. Andres Thor

Monday’s medical myth: men also go through menopause

Feeling tired and grumpy? Maybe a litte emotional? If you’re a middle-aged male, these symptoms might be hormone-related, but no, you’re not going through man opause. It’s true that signs of men’s low…
A full English breakfast just doesn’t cut it. A full English breakfast just doesn’t cut it. Iban

Monday’s medical myth: you can cure a hangover

Piping hot cups of coffee. A fat laden fried breakfast. Going for a run. Or maybe just going back to bed. There are plenty of claims about how you can cure a hangover. So, what’s the reality? If you’ve…
It’s how much you eat, not when you eat it, that affects weight management. It’s how much you eat, not when you eat it, that affects weight management.

Monday’s medical myth: eating at night causes weight gain

If only a cure to world hunger was as easy as dishing out late-night sandwiches to the starving masses, and seeing them gain weight by eating at night. The reality is that it’s not when you eat, but how…
Science says otherwise. Science says otherwise. Pink Sherbet Photography

Monday’s medical myth: sugar makes kids hyperactive

Any parent would tell you that seeing children fuelling up on sugar-laden cake, lollies and soft drinks at a birthday party is a sure-fire recipe for a bunch of rampaging hyperactive kids. The connection…
It’s more likely to be the accompanying potatoes or your natural post-lunch dip. It’s more likely to be the accompanying potatoes or your natural post-lunch dip. tuchodi/flickr

Monday’s medical myth: eating turkey makes you sleepy

It has been long-rumoured that gobbling up turkey meat has a mysterious soporific effect, rendering its consumers progressively drowsier. Sounds like a good story, and certainly one that’s worth checking…
You don’t need eight of these a day to be healthy. You don’t need eight of these a day to be healthy.

Monday’s medical myth: drink eight glasses of water a day

We have all heard the popular advice that we should drink at least eight glasses of water a day, so it may be a surprise that this is more myth than fact. Of course our bodies need water, otherwise we…