Every area of knowledge has its myths, legends and odd-ball beliefs. Medicine is no exception. Some of the things we hear about are harmless, but others can harm you. Read over the following and see if you recognize anything you have “heard along the grapevine.

1. The liver needs to be regularly detoxified. We are told that this is a necessity. Actually, if we don’t do it, the only thing that will happen is that a million dollar industry will cease to exist. The liver detoxifies what it can and let pass what it can not. Only vitamin A is retained in the liver. Save your money, make some space in your medicine cabinet.

2. Magnets speed healing by drawing blood to the site of inflammation. Blood contains iron but it is not magnetic – if it were, think of the chaos at the magnetometer in the airport! No, all that you are doing by wearing magnets is adding to your weight and possibly giving yourself a skin irritation.

3. Infant formula must be made with boiled water. It is not necessary to use boiled water because bacteria counts in modern tap water are low. There is no need to boil bottles and nipples either. Use your dishwasher or soap and hot water. This belief arose at a time when tap water was less reliable than it is now.

4. Spicy foods cause ulcers. No way. We used to think that they did, but now we know that ulcers are caused by Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium, un-buffered aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications. Indigestion can certainly be caused by spicy foods, but that is something else entirely.

5. Shingles are contagious. No, indeed. An attack of shingles is the result of an old chicken pox infection from years ago. The latent virus can be triggered by many factors, especially by stress. If you have never had chickenpox, you could catch chickenpox if you come into contact with the chickenpox virus- laden contents of the shingles blisters. You may later develop shingles yourself as the result of an old chickenpox infection, but you will not catch shingles directly.

6. An antibiotic can cure the common cold. Oh, if only it could. Alas, it can’t and won’t. If you or your child has a runny nose and cough, it’s probably the common cold; fluids and rest are the best treatments. Visiting an emergency room (in a survey, 25% of parents said that they would take a child with a cold to the emergency room) or a physician (60% of parents said that they would take a child with a cold to see a physician) for a common cold is costing the healthcare industry a mint of money. Not to mention cluttering waiting rooms and greatly increasing the chances of more people catching the cold.

Cold and flu prevention tips http://usehealthguide.com/cold-flu-prevention

When your child has other symptoms, such as fever, ear pain or breathing difficulties, you should consult a physician; otherwise, try home treatment – fluids and rest.

7. Tight underwear reduces male fertility by raising the testes too close to the body which makes them too warm and reduces sperm counts. This just provides a good excuse to wear boxer shorts. Research shows that this is not true. Heat from the body has no effect other than to keep the testes warm. On the other hand, wearing boxer shorts deprives delicate scrotal tissues and important ducts and vessels of support. Hm, could stretched, narrowed ducts, not able to easily carry sperm to the seminal vesicles and prostate have anything to do with male infertility? In other words, gentlemen, don’t hesitate to wear supportive undies.

8. Mobile phones cause cancer. Judging from the numbers of people who use mobile phones at any one time, it is difficult to believe that this myth has any takers. At any rate, it is not true. Only ionizing radiation (ultra violet rays, X-rays and gamma rays) is able to break chemical bonds in the body and cause cancer. Radio wave photons from a cellular phone are not strong enough to do this. A warm ear after using a mobile phone means that you have had your ear against a battery pack not that radiation is searing your cells.

9. Exposure to air will cause a lung cancer to spread rapidly. People who believe this myth tend to refuse lung cancer surgery and often do not receive surgical treatment until the later stages of the disease. At that point it is hardest to cure. If lung cancer (or any other cancer) spreads more rapidly as a result of exposure to air, we would not expect any patient who received surgical treatment to survive for long after. The plain fact is, lung cancer treated surgically, especially in the early stages, is highly curable.

Principles of preventing and fighting with cancer http://usehealthguide.com/prevent-cancer

A survey found that 38% of those surveyed believed that air exposure caused a tumor to spread. 61% of these persons were African-Americans and 29% were white. The fact that belief in the myth is commoner among blacks than whites may account for the fewer lung cancer surgeries and lower survival rates among blacks.

Delay in accepting appropriate treatment for any cancer, means less chance of cure or remission. If you believe this myth, mention your belief to your physician and discuss it with him or her. It is untrue; believing it is killing people unnecessarily.

There, did you see any that you thought were true? You didn’t? Good. Of course, there are a few other myths hanging around, too. If you want to read them, or more about these. Go to an internet search engine and enter “medical myths.” Enjoy!