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Health Myths Unearthed

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by Lorraine A (subscribe)
Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
Published June 19th 2013
Fact or Fiction?
Here are a few things your parents probably told you as a child, some you may have thought were true but none of which have evidence to support it.

Medical bag

* The flu vaccine can give you the flu
The flu vaccine contains a tiny amount of dead virus. It's not possible for dead virus to cause infection, it is more likely people get their flu shot in winter/autumn when coughs and colds are common.

*Sugar makes kids hyperactive
Despite what many parents will insist on this being true, there is no proven study to suggest there is a link between hyperactivity and sugar even in children with ADHD.

*Sitting too close to the TV will ruin your eyes
This myth came about in the 60's and did hold a certain degree of truth as TV emitted a form of x-ray, however, although today's TVs and computer screens will not ruin your eyes but can cause eye strain.

* Don't swim for an hour after eating
It was thought that swimming after eating could cause you to drown, however studies show that it's fine to swim after eating and causes no ill effects.

* Chocolate causes acne/pimples
Pimples and acne are caused by bacteria and are not associated with what you eat, therefore eating chocolate will not give you pimples or acne.

Glasses of water

* You need to drink at least eight glasses of water a day
There is no evidence that your body needs at least 8 glasses of water a day. Surprisingly, food contains most of the water your body needs. This is not taking into account temperature and exercise.

* Cold weather increases the chance of catching a cold
Despite more people having coughs and colds during winter, cold weather does not increase your chance of catching a cold. It's thought to be more common to catch colds in winter as more people are inside and are in closer contact with each other.

A source of vitamin C

* Vitamin C prevents colds
Vitamin C does not prevent colds, however it can show very minor changes in the severity and duration of a cold.

* Feed a cold and starve a flu
The most important thing when you have a cold or flu is your fluid intake, which needs to be enough to keep you well hydrated. Food however does not make a difference in the duration or severity.

* You loose 75% of your body's heat through your head
It was thought that humans lost the majority of heat through their head. This may be the case for babies because their head has a bigger percentage of body mass compared to an adult's head, however, heat escapes from any exposed area of the body, usually 10% of this being from the head.

* We can catch up on sleep on the weekend
As much as we would all like this one to be true, it's been found you can never catch up on lost sleep.

Birth control pills don't work as well with antibiotics
Studies have shown that antibiotics don't affect the effectiveness of birth control pills, with the only exception being Rifapin, an antibiotic that is not commonly prescribed.

Have you heard of any other interesting health myths?
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Why? Interesting facts
Your Comment
Love This!!
by SupahAnnie (score: 1|93) 2578 days ago
Hi Tammy,
My information about the flu injection comes straight from the Australian Governments health department, in my research I spoke with a lady from the department who said "The flu injection can give you flu like symptoms but it cannot give you the flu." you can also visit the website and search under the myths section.

As for vitamin C, studies show that it can mildly decrease the duration of a cold and lessen the severity but not prevent a cold.

It's okay to disagree, I can only go of studies but you obviously have first hand experience.

Kind Regards,
by Lorraine A (score: 3|1614) 2578 days ago
I had the flu shot a few months ago (after having the flu for 5 weeks when I first moved to Melbourne), and I definitely had flu symptoms for two days immediately after the injection. In fact I was concerned that I was coming down sick again. Two days later, I woke up feeling perfectly well again.
by Robyn Camilleri (score: 1|14) 2577 days ago
I swear by Vitamin C to help prevent a cold or flu if taken early, or to help alleviate the severity of symptoms if taken when the symptoms are already presenting.
You do have to take 3,000mg though, One or two 250mg chewable tables won't cut it :(
Many years ago a pharmacist was the one that put me onto it saying that the ascorbic acid creates a toxic environment for the virus (cold or flu) to replicate so you will basically kill off the virus before it takes over your body:) If you already have symptoms then the virus is taking hold so the ascorbic acid won't work as well.
I also read an article a couple of years ago in the Choice Health Reader, that I subscribe to, which did a double blind study with high doses of Vitamin C and it found that in 80% of people it was effective in reducing the symptoms of colds & flu.
Everyone body is different so you can't say with 100% certainty what works for 1 person will work for another person. Fortunately Vitamin C is water soluble so easy and safe to test out yourself!!

I think that it's difficult to discredit myths unless actually presenting exact references or studies that support your line of thinking as people generally have very strong opinions either way.. that's just my scientific training coming out!! Everyone is entitled to their own opinions :)
by rosan (score: 0|7) 2578 days ago
I have some interesting sites to look at if anyone is curious in health myths and studies.
Vitamin C seems to be the one of interest so here are 4 sites to look at written by Michael Tam Lecturer in Primary Care and General Practice of the University of NSW

For more health myths have a look at the


by Lorraine A (score: 3|1614) 2577 days ago
I had the flu shot a few months ago (after having the flu for 5 weeks when I first moved to Melbourne), and I definitely had flu symptoms for two days immediately after the injection. In fact I was concerned that I was coming down sick again. Two days later, I woke up feeling perfectly well again.
by Robyn Camilleri (score: 1|14) 2577 days ago
That's the most absurd write up I've ever read (some of your points anyways)

Off course the flu shot can give people the flu. Flu shot have even made them seriously ill. I know, I see these gravely ill elderly people on a regular basis Juts like a measles shot can give you full blown measles

Studies have shown vitamin C and other preventative medicines like garlic, onion, ginger horseradish echinacea have a great role in preventing colds

As nutritionist its only common sense and a fact oranges and other citrus fruits come into season during winter when we need them the most hence YES can help strengthen your immunity and PREVENT colds and other cold related ailments

by tammy (score: 1|20) 2578 days ago
Thanks for debunking the myths. Especially the one about drinking 8 glasses of water! How I have suffered trying to drink that much water even though I eat oranges and take soup almost every day etc. I shall be able to sleep easy now. LOL
by arrietty (score: 1|83) 2577 days ago
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