5 Controversial Medical Theories That Are Actually True

The physicians on the hit syndicated TV show The Doctors debunk health theories the medical community once claimed were false.

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Smoking gives you lung cancer

Smoking gives you lung cancer Pascal le Segretain/Getty Images
The first studies connecting smoking to lung cancer came out as early as 1939, but many doctors contended that cancer was largely due to other factors such as air pollution until the early 1960s.

Bacteria produce ulcers

Bacteria produce ulcersChina Photos/Getty Images
Australian physicians Robin Warren and Barry Marshall identified the link between Helicobacter pylori and ulcers in 1982, but the medical community maintained that the causes were stress and/or diet until the mid-1990s when the NIH acknowledged the connection.

Aspirin lowers heart attack risk

Aspirin lowers heart attack risk Tim Boyle/Getty Images
A California physician named Lawrence Craven first published research showing aspirin’s anti-clogging effect back in 1950, but his practice of prescribing an aspirin a day to keep heart disease away wasn’t widely adopted until about 40 years later.

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Radiation can be harmful

Radiation can be harmfulJustin Sullivan/Getty Images
Research linking X-rays to leukemia and other cancers was published in 1911, but X-rays, used everywhere from doctors’ offices to shoe stores (yes, really!) were generally considered safe until the National Academy of Sciences issued a report condemning these practices (including use in pregnant women) in 1956.

A virus causes cervical cancer

A virus causes cervical cancerJoe Raedle/Getty Images
In the late 1970s, German virologist Harald zur Hausen published research suggesting that the human papillomavirus causes cervical cancer. Many scientists mocked his claim, but in 2008 he won the Nobel Prize for his research—and children today are routinely vaccinated against HPV.

Watch The Doctors daily for more fascinating facts and feel-great tips (check local listings).

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6 thoughts on “5 Controversial Medical Theories That Are Actually True

  1. “Be nice to the ER folks” is one of the 15 secrets?…my god…I thought I was going to read things like, they stick an aspirin under your tongue if you come in with a heart attack or stroke until a specialist can get to you…instead we get, “we dont like it when people talk on cell phones”….wow…no way the readers of the hard copy RD magazine are actually coming here on line, so who exactly was this written for? You think we’re that dumb huh?

  2. dont smoke dont get x rays…ok we know that…next please?…anything on GMO’s, High Fructose Corn Syrup contributing to an epidemic of obesity…thought not. When Monsanto, Kellogs, and General Mills still buy ads in that rag, we’ll all stay fat and die early.

  3. RD is so middle of the road it’s pathetic. I let my subscription lapse long ago.

  4. Good grief! Was this really written in July, 2013? None of this is controversial & probably hasn’t been for at least 20 years.

  5. This article would’ve been relevant in the 1980s as everything in this article has already been proven fact for awhile. Time to get with the times, RD.

    1. Actually, a lot of people in less educated places don’t know half of these truths so even though some know it alls are already aware of this stuff already I have no doubt this article will save some readers lives in the long run. It’s definitely worth airing for and does no real harm otherwise. BTW, most people did not learn about helicobacter p. until the mid to late 90’s. Thanks RD for helping save lives.

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