Common health myths

Growing up, many heard parents say things like, “If you keep making that face, it will stay that way,” or, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

These are just some of the many old wives’ tales told throughout gen- erations. Many of them have now become widely accepted in today’s society.

Myth: Most of your body heat is lost through your head

Truth: “This adage was probably based on an infant’s head size, which is a much greater percentage of the to- tal body than an adult head,” Dr. David  Pollack, a senior physician in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Care Network, said.

In actuality, only about 10 percent of heat is lost through the head of an adult. While wearing a hat during cold winter months can be helpful, it’s no more important than slipping on a jacket, gloves or scarf, as body heat is lost through any area exposed to the cold.

Myth: Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis

Truth: According to Hopkins- arthritis.org, there’s no solid evidence that connects the cracking of knuckles to the development of arthritis in the joints. Studies have revealed that both “knuckle-crackers” and non”knuckle crackers” have an equal chance of developing arthritis.

Although this is true, some medical reports have associated knuckle cracking with the dislocation of ten- dons in the hand and the injury of ligaments.

Myth: You should wait an hour after a meal before swimming

Truth: Chow down! CBC Health News credits this myth to the belief that eating before swimming will force the stomach to take away oxygen needed for muscles while swimming. Realistically, the body can supply an adequate amount of oxygen to both the skeletal and stomach muscles.

Therefore, the risk of drowning right after a meal is no greater than if you were to wait an hour before swim- ming. The only risk you may be taking is developing a slight cramp.

Myth: Sugar makes children hyper

Truth: According to Dr. Aaron Carroll and Dr. Rachel Vreeman, authors of popular health book, “Don’t Swallow Your Gum! Myths, Half-Truths and Outright Lies about Your Body and Health,” this is nothing more than an excuse for parents to withhold sugary snacks from children. Many studies have revealed that sugar has virtually no effect on behavior.

Myth:Cold weather makes you sick

Truth: Various studies show out- side temperature has little to do with illnesses. It’s said to be more likely for one to contract a cold during winter months because of being cooped up indoors where germs are more easily spread rather than because of the chill from cold weather.

Myth: Swallowed gum stays in your system for seven years

Truth: Although digesting gum is more difficult for the body compared to solid foods, it does it just the same.

“As with most nonfood objects that kids swallow, fluids carry gum through the intestinal tract, and with- in days it passes,” Pollack said.

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