As much as we might wish them to be true some of the most common medical “cures” we’ve heard from Mom or an older family member have now been disproved by researchers from Indiana University as just medical myths.
An article appearing in the current issue of the British Medical Journal dispels half a dozen of the most often repeated winter related myths.
Both doctors and patients alike often accept these myths as true, and this brings the need to investigate these beliefs using the rigors of science.
A team from the Indiana University School of Medicine did an extensive review of medical literature as well as searching the internet to find any evidence for the most commonly held beliefs and discover the truth of the matter.
You Can Cure A Hangover
Drinking too much over the holidays, or any time of year, is thought to be cured by anything from aspirin or ibuprofen to bananas to drinking extra water.
Search the Internet, or talk with an older relative, and you’ll likely hear a few more oddball cures.
Sadly, the evidence doesn’t support any of these, despite the trials that have been done. Avoiding that hangover only comes from drinking in moderation, or not at all.
Eating Late Puts On Weight
Despite being told that you’ll put on weight if you eat late, this myth isn’t supported by the evidence.
A Swedish study found that obese women were more likely to eat at night, but their weight came from the fact that they also took in more calories overall.
Another study found that eating at night wasn’t an issue, but eating more than three meals a day or consuming more calories over the course of a day are the more likely culprits behind weight gain.
Sugar Leads To Hyperactivity
Parents can relax about the sugar in kids’ treats; research has shown it doesn’t cause hyperactive behavior.
At least a dozen randomized controlled trials looking at sugar levels and behavior didn’t find any difference because of higher sugar levels.
Parents also tend to rate their children as more hyper when thinking they had a sugar-laden drink, showing that belief is a big part of the picture.
Wearing Hats In the Cold
We’ve all been told that wearing a hat in the winter helps protect us from losing heat through our heads. Actually about 40-45% of heat is lost from the head, though a new study shows there’s nothing especially troublesome about losing heat from the head in the cold than any other part of the body.
Poinsettia Plants Are Toxic
They’re a staple of the holidays, and a beautiful addition, but many of us hold off on having one at home because of beliefs that the plants are toxic.
Research on rats couldn’t find a toxic level of the plant sap, and of the over 22,000 calls to poison control regarding the flowers in the U.S.; no one died or needed medical treatment.
These beautiful plants, while not the preferred snack for your pet, will deliver no more than a gastrointestinal upset, though you should try and keep plants out of reach if possible.
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Debunking Five Of The Medical Myths Of Winter… continued
Suicides Increase During The Holidays
It’s a stressful time highlighting family dysfunction or loneliness and there’s less sunlight during the day.
Still, there is no good evidence that supports a rise in suicide rates.
In fact the opposite is true, suicides around the world peak in warmer months and are lowest in the winter.There are many other medical myths that we all tend to believe, but as research progresses we will get information that points us in the direction of what really works.