Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Few Doctors & Seven Magical Myths of Medicine

Once upon a time, doctors believed all manner of horrible things that turned out not to be true. After the Dark Ages, doctors used western astrology to explain epidemics as a medical matter of stellar misalignment and unlucky planet placement. In 1799, hungry leeches were the prescribed remedy for bleeding George Washington of his high fever and the "cure" killed him. It came as quite a revelation during the American Civil War, 1861-1865, that cleaner operating rooms, washed laundry and spruced up patients made a world of difference in the wounded surviving - after another doctor in 1847 said fewer women would die after giving birth of childbed fever if linens were clean. News bears repeating and a few cataclysmic events before some people learn. (picture from Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry)

In the 21st century, some doctors cling to seven myths found untrue by two Indiana based, university researchers for a report in the British Medical Journal . Though not even close to deadly, these selected modern myths have reserved handicapped mind parking spaces for a few men and women with $100,000 + medical educations. It serves as more of a warning that no profession is completely free of non-critical thinkers. Nor are these the only seven magical myths some doctors still believe.

Drink 8 glasses of water a day is a watery tale because of the amount of H2O also in our food. It was a 1945 recommend that many still take as a Health Gospel.

Humans use only 10% of brain. Oh gosh, must resist jokes,...must resist...failed. Non-listeners Anonymous will be up and running soon for the addicted many speaking 100% of the nonsense in their head as if it came from the 10% genius discount store. Supposedly Einstein said something, but nothing is on the record. A brain bustling with electricity isn't in 'standby' mode at any time no matter how badly we wish it could happen to certain cretins among us.

It's spooky and it's creepy...No! Fingernails and hair will not continue to grow after Death.

This almost seems like someone was picking on a certain French custom. Shaving hair causes it to grow back faster, darker, or coarser.

Reading in dim light will ruin, just plain ruin your eyesight. No, just makes a person squint, blink and tear up on a more consistent basis, kind of like watching Imitation of Life or an Affair to Remember. Go blind, no. Bugs Bunny and I shall remain mum on the carrot stalk hypothesis.

Eating too much turkey will make the diner drowsy. Turkey is not the cause of that heavy feeling in the pit of the stomach no matter the admonitions. That's the cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, half dozen dinner rolls, cornbread dressing, asparagus, baked ham, 4 glasses of flaming punch, green beans, Ambrosia salad and second helpings of a rich chocolate fudge cake with a piece of apple pie a la mode on the side.

Cell phones interfere with medical equipment in hospitals and may cause patients to suffer. Fact checking site, Snopes, knocked that one down with no attributable deaths to the alleged phenomenon. To me, its the plane thing where now airlines are finding ways for passengers to use (pay) for all the electrical ringing, buzzing, singing and DVD playing stuff one lugs about in their daily lives.

The list of medical myths that shall live just a tiny bit longer just got a bit shorter.

More serious medical tales and accepted business practices in the modern medical community come under intense scrutiny in the 2007 second edition release of Health Myths Exposed: How Western Medicine Undermines Your Health, by M.Sc. Shane Ellison.

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