7 Common Health Myths Busted

eating in the fridge

Dispelling myths is always a fun thing to do, so here’s a list of common health myths that need to be debunked, dispelled, and dismissed.

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1. Drink 8 glasses of water a day

drinking water

Apparently the origin of the myth is a 1945 government agency that declared that the human body needs this amount of fluid each day, including fluid from foods we eat and drinks. Oddly, over time, this ‘fluid’ somehow became ‘water’ and the myth grew legs. But don’t swallow it: it’s not true. There’s really no need to count cups: research shows that a good glug of water when you are thirsty is enough to keep you hydrated, providing your food intake is appropriate.

2. Antiperspirants give you cancer


At one time, some scientists suggested that chemicals contained in deodorants would be absorbed through the underarm and end up in breast tissue, increasing the possibility of tumours. However the National Cancer Institute has found no evidence of this.

3. Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis in later life

Cracking your knuckles

The cracking noise you hear is the sound of bones moving away from one another and forming a gas bubble which ‘pops’. If you are a knuckle-cracker, studies have shown that you probably won’t get arthritis, which has several causes, but you may get weakened finger joints.

4. Your chewing gum will need seven years to go through your system

chewing gum bubbles

It sounds silly, but you’ll be surprised by the number of people (children and adults) who believe this myth. Your Spearmint gum cannot be digested by the human body -  it simply goes through your system. It does not, as some believe, stick to your insides, but it just carries on its merry journey, picking up food stragglers along the way before popping out at the other end.

5. Snacking at night makes you fat

eating in the fridge

I can hear the collective sigh of relief at this one. Yes, we can all now snack at night and not get fat. It isn’t the time of day you eat that will pile on the pounds, but the number of calories that you consume, according to scientists. So if you only consume the calories you burn daily, you won’t put on weight. You will lose weight if you consume fewer calories than you burn, and vice versa. That simple.

6. Back pain needs bed rest

back pain

If you suffer from back pain, you may have been told by a well-meaning person to get some bed rest. In fact, bed rest can delay the recovery of the lower back significantly. Studies have shown that those who continue to engage in normal activities get better faster and have fewer problems with recurring back troubles. Other independent studies have found bed rest to be detrimental to a range of illnesses, albeit surprisingly.

7. Sugar turns kids into hyperactive monsters

kid with sweets

Not so, according to paediatricians Dr Vreeman and Dr Carroll at the Riley Hospital for children, who found no difference in their studies in the behaviour of children who consumed sugar and those who did not. Sugar doesn’t, therefore, result in kids climbing walls or trashing their parents’ bedrooms as you and I have been led to believe. The researchers believe that because many parents have understood there to be a link, parents are primed to notice bad behaviour after the eating of sugary foods.

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Do you know of any other common health myths? Add them to the comments box below!


National Cancer Institute
Western Journal of Medicine