With the wonderful world wide web at our fingertips, information and education have never been so easily attainable. However, there are many, many sites with incorrect information on them, well-intentioned as they may be. As a nurse, I have several soap boxes that I try not to stand on too often, but I do feel the need to dispel some myths so that we can go on living our healthiest and best lives.
1.) "Cleanses and detoxes are good for you."
If you are lucky enough to have a working liver and two working kidneys, you do not need to detox (and if you don’t have working organs, you still probably shouldn’t do a cleanse.) Your body is a well-tuned machine and does not need you to go on a juice cleanse, especially not a 200$ one that your coworker absolutely swears by. You’ll be a hangry hot mess at the end of the week, but not any cleaner or clearer. If you feel the need for a system restart, you can adjust your diet and load up on fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and lean protein.
2.) "Cracking your knuckles is bad for you."
I can crack almost every joint in my skeleton. Literally, from my toes, ankles, knees, and hips, to my spine, knuckles, neck, and shoulders. This does not mean I have or will get arthritis. The “pop” you feel when doing this is simply the release of nitrogen bubbles in the synovial fluid that surrounds and cushions your joints. Many prestigious institutions have published studies that concluded that there was no evidence that joint-cracking leading to osteoarthritis. It should be noted, however, that you can hurt yourself doing this, and that if you experience swelling or pain, you should seek treatment.
3.) "Birth control makes it harder to conceive."
Contraceptive methods should only remain active while in place. If you are on the pill and stop taking it, it may take your body a few cycles to get back into a regular routine and process. Once your uterus feels like it’s right again, everything should return back to baseline order. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that even in completely healthy and fertile couples, getting pregnant usually doesn’t happen immediately. As always, speak with your gynecologist if you feel like something is off.
4.) "Being outside in the cold will make you sick."
The only thing that can give you a cold is a virus. And while we’re at it, let’s demolish another public misconception: viruses and colds do not need antibiotics. Being outside in freezing temperatures can chip a dent in your immune system armor, and cold viruses are more present in public in the colder months, but simply being outside will not give you a cold. Wash your hands frequently and avoid being overly affectionate with anyone who is symptomatic, and you should be fine.
5.) "Vaccines cause autism."
The doctor who started this rumor actually lost his license and privilege to practice because of this accusation. In case that isn’t enough proof: the CDC performed a study with more than one thousand children and found absolutely no link between vaccines and autism. And as a passionate post-script: using this falsehood as an excuse not to vaccinate is essentially saying that having a child with autism is a fate worse than having a child die from a preventable pandemic, which we do not believe is true.
In today's society of social media, it's easy to stumble upon false information. The quickest way to verify facts is to follow links - don't just take a heading or title for what it is. Claims should have links to studies or articles. If they don't, do a quick google search. Perpetuating false information not only discredits you as a source; it also feeds the rumor, lie, or myth. Are there any health myths that you've recently learned about or can't stand? Let us know in the comments!