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15 health myths that make doctors cringe

15 health myths that make doctors cringe
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Do you believe in “base tans”? Have you sworn off bread forever? Are you logging endless kilometres on the treadmill? Read this. Now.

The more water you drink, the better

The more water you drink, the better
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Water may be the healthiest beverage (not to mention necessary to life) but you can definitely get too much of a good thing, says Neal Schultz, MD, dermatologist, founder of DermTv.com and creator of BeautyRx. At best, overhydrating will have you peeing every 30 minutes and at worst it can kill you. There is a “right way” to drink enough water and it comes down to trusting yourself. Your body is great at knowing how much water it needs, so forget drinking eight cups a day or any other prescribed amount. “You should drink to your thirst, not to meet an arbitrary number,” he advises. Meanwhile, find out these health myths that turned out to be true!

Getting a base tan can prevent sunburns

Getting a base tan can prevent sunburns
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Even though skin cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in adults under 40, many people still hold the faulty belief that getting a “base tan” will protect them from sunburns and cancer, make them look youthful, or clear up acne. Not so, says Jennifer Caudle, DO, board-certified family physician and assistant professor at Rowan University. There is no such thing as a “little” tan and all tanning increases your risk of cancer. Nor will it help your skin, in fact, sun damage is the primary cause of wrinkles, she adds. Find out the 8 summer skincare tips that dermatologists follow.

Juice diets or other “detoxes” work

Juice diets or other “detoxes” work
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As long as you have a healthy liver and kidneys, your body can detoxify itself just fine, says Caroline Apovian, MD, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at the Boston Medical Center and professor at the Boston University School of Medicine. Moreover, trendy detox diets can harm you. “Drinking lots of juice does not assist with removing toxins from the body,” says Dr. Caudle. “In fact, many juices are high in sugar which can result in a blood sugar spike, quickly followed by a crash. Furthermore, being on a juice fast for an extended period of time may result in malnourishment.” Check out this other classic diet advice you can probably ignore!

You can only get an STD through having sex

You can only get an STD through having sex
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“Sexually transmitted diseases” have “sex” right in the name so you might assume that is the only way to get them. Not so, Dr. Caudle says, adding that many people interpret that to mean only “traditional” penetrative sex and think that a condom is all they need to protect them. While condoms are definitely necessary, the reality is that you can get some STDs through any type of sexual contact, including oral sex and even just skin-to-skin contact if one partner has open sores, she adds. Condoms are a great start but they’re not the only precaution you should be taking. Find out the 5 ways sex could save your life.

Gluten is bad for you

Gluten is bad for you
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Gluten-free foods and diets are everywhere these days and many people believe that gluten, a protein found in some grains, is toxic to health or causes weight gain. Not true, says Apovian. “Only about one percent of the population has Coeliac disease and another small percentage may have a gluten intolerance, but if you do not have any of the above, eliminating gluten from your diet does not offer health benefits, including weight loss,” she says. Whole grains are a great source of fibre and vitamins and processed gluten-free versions of whole grain foods are often higher in sugar and preservatives, and lower in protein and fibre, making them the less healthy option, she adds. Along with gluten sensitivity, here are 13 conditions you think you have – but probably don’t.

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You can exercise your way to a six-pack

You can exercise your way to a six-pack
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Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. “At least once a day, I’m asked if there is an exercise I can prescribe that will give you ‘abs’ but what most people don’t understand is that everyone already has abs, they’re just likely hiding under layers of fat,” says Jasmine Marcus, DPT. Your best bet for beach-ready abs is to lose weight through a combination of diet and exercise – and then add a healthy dose of patience as this isn’t a quick fix, she adds. Find out the 7 golden rules of fitness here.

You can eat whatever you want as long as you’re skinny

You can eat whatever you want as long as you’re skinny
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Filling up with sugary treats or junk food will hurt you, even if you’re thin, says Robert D Willix Jr., MD, founder and CEO of Enlightened Living Medicine. “Many studies now show that cancer growth can be associated with the food that we eat, especially those high in sugar,” he adds. You can have your treats in moderation but overall you should be thinking about food in terms of “quality” not just “quantity.” Find out the 10 most common weight loss tips you can probably ignore.

Breast cancer is the #1 killer of women

Breast cancer is the #1 killer of women
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Breast cancer gets a lot of attention, but it’s not the primary cause of death for women – that’s still heart disease. It’s not even the primary cause of cancer deaths; lung cancer takes that spot, killing nearly twice as many women as breast cancer in the US. Yet this false belief leads many women to have a fatalistic attitude about it, says Nicola Finley, MD. While you can’t completely prevent breast cancer, there is a lot you can do to reduce your risk, including talking to your doctor about your family history, eating a healthy diet, getting daily exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight, she says. Check out 8 great ways to get fitter after cancer treatment.

A hypoallergenic dog is the perfect pet for sensitive people

A hypoallergenic dog is the perfect pet for sensitive people
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“There is simply no such thing as a ‘hypoallergenic’ dog,” says Brian Modena, MD, Division of Allergy-Immunology at Scripps Health in La Jolla, California. This myth is based on the idea that it is the actual dog hair that causes allergies, so some dog breeds are designated as ‘hypoallergenic’ because they have low amounts of hair shedding. While these dogs may be easier on your carpets and black pants, they won’t be easier on your nose, because dog allergies are actually caused by microscopic proteins derived from the pet’s skin dander and saliva and carried through the air, he says. Find out the 14 cleaning hacks every dog or cat owner should know.

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Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, Reader’s Digest magazine May issue will not be available at its regular on-sale date to our subscribers or through our retail channels in that region. We hope to have the issues available in early June, but this is dependent on when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team