55 Rampant Health Myths That Need to Die

Your mother lied to you: Carrots will not improve your eyesight.

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Myth: Alcohol warms you up

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"Perception versus reality can cause people to report things that simply aren't true. For example, if you ask a study participant 'Does alcohol warm you up?' the answer may very well be yes. But, that's not what's really happening in your body. Alcohol causes your blood vessels to dilate, moving warm blood closer to the skin and making you feel warm. But in reality this causes you to actually lose body heat faster. " —Matthew Amsden, expert in research protocol and analysis and CEO of ProofPilot

Myth: Deodorant causes cancer

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"That makes a great headline, but a few researchers used techniques that show correlation—not causation, and there's a big difference. Humans and the world we live in are complex so it's very unlikely that one particular behavior causes cancer. It's likely a complex combination of genetics, environment, and behaviors. In addition, follow-up studies haven't been able to corroborate a link." —Matthew Amsden, expert in research protocol and analysis and CEO of ProofPilot (If you're still concerned, try these homemade deodorants.)

Myth: Carrots are good for your eyes

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"While carrots are a healthy snack, and they do contain a vitamin A precursor (beta-carotene), the conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A in the body is limited. Almost everyone in America already has plenty of vitamin A stored in their liver. And even if we supplement with beta-carotene or vitamin A, it won't change the 'refractive error' or glasses prescription needed to see clearly." —Jeff Anshel, OD, FAAO, E Street Eyes and founder, Ocular Nutrition Society

Myth: Bottled water is better than tap water

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"Global bottled water sales have skyrocketed over the past several decades thanks to the misguided belief that 'spring water' is healthier or cleaner than the water that comes out of your tap. Bottled water is generally not worse or better than tap water because over 50 percent of it is just tap water. Plus the EPA publishes detailed data about water quality, while most bottled water companies won't tell you anything." —Morton Tavel, MD, clinical professor emeritus of medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine

Myth: Put butter or ice on a burn

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"Most of the damage from a burn actually comes from the skin's inflammatory response to it. The best way to keep a partial thickness burn from going to full thickness is to immediately immerse the burn in cool water. Makes sense, right? That feels good and the body has learned how to protect itself. Butter, however, spreads heat very effectively so it will actually make a burn worse. Ice can damage cells and has also been shown to make burns worse." —Amy Baxter, MD, emergency pediatrician, founder and CEO of MMJ Labs LLC (You can also try these home remedies to treat burns.)

Myth: Vaccines cause autism and are dangerous

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"Parents understandably feel really weird about their kids getting so many injections at once. That said, the immune load of the current vaccines is a fraction of what it was 30 years ago—we've gotten much more precise at teaching the immune system what it needs to know to fight disease. Some people have worried that Thimerosol, a preservative used in older vaccines, causes autism, but the truth is it wasn't the dangerous kind of mercury, it was the naturally occurring kind. And regardless it was removed from all vaccines in 2002. The true risk of vaccines is children becoming afraid of getting healthcare when they're older—and parents' anxiety doesn't help. For more information I have done TEDx and TEDMED talks about misconceptions about vaccines." —Amy Baxter, MD, emergency pediatrician, founder and CEO of MMJ Labs LLC

Myth: You can "detox" your body with special diets

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"People are obsessed with finding a quick fix or the one cure for all their health problems, but the truth is there isn't one. So-called detoxes with juices or other liquids don't have unique powers to help you lose weight, clear up acne, or even purge toxins from your system—that's your liver's job and it does it quite well. Instead of seeking a brief detox regimen try incorporating a few small but meaningful life changes. My favorite 'detox' is to plan a trip somewhere outdoors with bad cell phone reception." —Elizabeth Trattner, AP, doctor of oriental and integrative medicine

Myth: The flu shot can give you the flu

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"The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Minor side effects, including soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, a low grade fever, and/or aches may occur. These side effects begin soon after the shot and usually last one to two days. Almost all people who receive the influenza vaccine have no serious problems as a result of receiving it." —Jeremy Blais, Pharm.D., CVS Pharmacy

Myth: Humans only use 10 percent of our brains

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"This is categorically false. We use the majority of our brains the majority of the time. For instance, a simple task like getting a glass of water requires neuronal activity from at least five distinct areas of the brain to signal thirst, coordinate the movements, signal satiety, and keep us upright throughout. If such a simple task requires this much effort and coordination, one can imagine how much more brain power quantum mechanics requires. Therefore, we use the majority of our brains for most tasks—simple or involved." —Abhishiek Sharma, MD, a neurosurgeon practicing in Scottsdale, AZ

Myth: Going outside with wet hair will make you sick

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"It's the virus, not the cold air that makes you sick. Without exposure to the common cold virus, you can go outside in the extreme cold with your hair drenching wet and it would be impossible to catch a cold. In fact, there's a whole group of people today that seek out cold temperatures to improve immunity and performance. Is there a correlation? Yes. But according to recent research it is because rhinovirus, the virus that causes the common cold, thrives in low temperatures. But the cold doesn't cause the virus." —Matthew Amsden, expert in research protocol and analysis and CEO of ProofPilot. (Watch out for the signs a cold is coming.)

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