Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Medical Myths: You Thought WRONG!


Shaving causes hair to grow back faster or coarser: No, it does not. This popular notion was disproved as early as 1928 and more recent studies have confirmed that shaving has no effect on hair growth (or regrowth), write the BMJ investigators. They speculate that when shaved hair regrows, it lacks the fine taper seen at the end of unshaven hair, making it appear coarser. And the fact that it hasn't been exposed to light may make it seem darker than other hair.

Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day: The researchers who conducted the study could find no clinical evidence to support this notion. But they did dig up an article from the November 2002 American Journal of Physiology that documented the lack of evidence behind this popular recommendation. You do need to be well hydrated, but research suggests that the liquids most people drink daily - juice, milk, and decaffeinated beverages - will do the trick.


We use only 10 percent of our brains: This is a real oldie that traces its history back to 1907, but didn't originate, as once believed, with Albert Einstein. Now that we know much more about neuroscience than we did 100 years ago, we can say for sure that we use much more than 10 percent of the brain, say the BMJ researchers. In fact, high-tech methods of studying the brain have not identified any inactive areas.

Eating turkey makes people especially drowsy: Not so. Here, the myth is that the tryptophan in turkey causes the drowsiness. This amino acid is known to cause drowsiness, but the truth is that there's as much tryptophan in pork and cheese as there is in turkey. What's more, as the BMJ researchers noted that for tryptophan to promote sleep, you need to ingest it on an empty stomach (with no protein present) - something that's unlikely at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Other factors are probably to blame for post-meal drowsiness: any big meal can make you sleepy because of a decrease in blood flow and oxygenation to the brain. And then, of course, there's the wine. link via Dr Weil

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