COMMON MEDICAL MYTHS
MYTH 1: You can lower your risk of heart disease with vitamins and supplements.
The antioxidant vitamins E, C, and beta carotene factor into lowering heart disease risk. However, clinical trials of supplementation with these vitamins have either failed to confirm benefit or were conducted in such a way that no conclusion could be drawn. The American Heart Association has stated that there is no scientific evidence to justify using these vitamins to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease.
What you can do: For reasons not yet understood, the body absorbs and utilizes vitamins and minerals best when they are acquired through foods. To ensure you get the vitamins and minerals you need, skip store-bought supplements and eat a wide variety of nutritious foods of every color of the rainbow.
MYTH 2: If you have smoked for years, you can’t reduce your risk of heart disease by quitting.
The benefits of quitting smoking start the minute you quit, no matter your age, how long you have smoked, or how many cigarettes a day you have smoked. Only one year after quitting, your heart attack risk will have dropped by 50%; in 10 years, it will be the same as if you never smoked.
What you can do: Seek help to quit smoking. Many people require stop-smoking aids, such as nicotine patches, nicotine gum, or a stop-smoking medication, to be successful.
Myth 3: Reading in dim light will worsen your vision.
Fact: Dim lighting will not damage your eyesight. However, it will tire your eyes out more quickly. The best way to position a reading light is to have it shine directly onto the page, not over your shoulder. A desk lamp with an opaque shade pointing directly at the reading material is ideal.
Myth 4: It’s best not to wear glasses or contact lenses all the time. Taking a break from them allows your eyes to rest.
Fact: If you need glasses or contacts for distance or reading, use them. Not wearing your glasses will strain your eyes and tire them out instead of resting them. However, it will not worsen your vision or lead to eye disease.
Myth 5: Eating chocolate or oily foods causes oily skin and acne.
The truth is that an oily substance called sebum causes acne. It’s made and secreted by the skin. In fact, there’s no evidence that any specific food causes acne.
Myth 6: Antibacterial soap is best for keeping your skin clean.
Skin normally has bacteria on it. It’s impossible to keep your skin completely free of bacteria for any amount of time. In fact, many experts are concerned that the use of antibacterial soap could lead to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibacterial soap is not necessary for everyday use. Regular soap is fine. Thorough and consistent hand-washing, not antibacterial soap, is what helps prevent the spread of infection.
Myth 7: The higher the SPF of your sunscreen, the better.
Above a certain level, a higher sun protection factor (SPF) has little added benefit compared with a lower SPF. Experts generally recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks out 97% of UVB radiation. It may be worth a higher SPF if you’re planning to be outside for more than two to three hours, especially during hours of peak sun exposure (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). But in most circumstances, a higher SPF may not be worth the extra cost.
Myth 8: Scalp massage can prevent baldness.
There’s simply no evidence that scalp massage prevents baldness, tempting as it is to believe.
If you see something unusual on your skin or have concerns about how to keep your skin healthy, talk to your doctor or dermatologist. And if you hear someone repeating these skin myths, you can set them straight.
MYTH 9: If you have heart disease, you need to take it easy.
For the vast majority of people with heart disease, being sedentary is a bad idea. It can lead to blood clots in the legs and a decline in overall physical condition Physical activity helps strengthen the heart muscle, improves blood flow to the brain and internal organs, and improves overall health and well-being.
What you can do: Ask your doctor what kind of exercise would be right for you, and how much you should do. Most people can walk, and any amount of walking is good for your heart.
MYTH 10: Angioplasty and stenting or bypass surgery “fix” your heart.
Angioplasty and bypass surgery can do wonders for relieving chest pain (angina) and improving quality of life. But they don’t stop the underlying disease—atherosclerosis. Without correcting the problems that contribute to atherosclerosis, arteries will continue to become clogged with fatty plaque, which may mean the return of angina or worse—a heart attack or stroke.
What you can do: After undergoing angioplasty or bypass surgery, it’s important to correct the problems that led to the need for the procedure, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, a poor diet, smoking, or lack of exercise.