What Are 10 Medical Myths That Have Been Debunked by Recent Studies?

In summary, a variety of studies have found that several commonly held medical practices and theories are not supported by evidence. This NY Times article lists 10 findings that contradict previous beliefs, including the idea that peanut allergies can be prevented by early exposure, fish oil reduces the risk of heart disease, and ginkgo biloba protects against memory loss. Other debunked beliefs include the effectiveness of single-dose oral opioids for acute pain, testosterone treatment for memory retention in older men, and keeping a dust-free house to prevent asthma attacks. Additionally, step counters and calorie trackers have been found to be ineffective for weight loss, and physical therapy has been shown to be a better option for torn knee meniscus compared to immediate surgery. This article serves
  • #1
BillTre
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Summary: A variety of studies have contradicted several medical practices and theories.

This NY Times article lists 10 findings that contradict what were once widely held theories:
  • Peanut allergies occur whether or not a child is exposed to peanuts before age 3.
  • Fish oil does not reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • A lifelike doll carried around by teenage girls will not deter pregnancies.
  • Ginkgo biloba does not protect against memory loss and dementia.
  • To treat emergency room patients in acute pain, a single dose of oral opioids is no better than drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen.
  • Testosterone treatment does not help older men retain their memory.
  • To protect against asthma attacks, it won’t help to keep your house free of dust mites, mice and cockroaches.
  • Step counters and calorie trackers do not help you lose weight.
  • Torn knee meniscus? Try physical therapy first, surgery later.
  • If a pregnant woman’s water breaks prematurely, the baby does not have to be delivered immediately.
 
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  • #2
BillTre said:
Summary: A variety of studies have contradicted several medical practices and theories.

This NY Times article lists some medical ideas contradicted by studies:
I call BS. Cancelling my subscription immediately
 
  • #3
pinball1970 said:
I call BS. Cancelling my subscription immediately
On which one? The studies in the NYT article are all linked: they come from either The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, or JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), all of which are reputable (and very esteemed) medical journals. What would you have had NYT do instead?
 
  • #4
  • Peanut allergies occur whether or not a child is exposed to peanuts before age 3.
Is this the finding that has been contradicted or is this the new finding that contradicts previous beliefs?
 
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  • #5
Ygggdrasil said:
Is this the finding that has been contradicted or is this the new finding that contradicts previous beliefs?
It's a poorly written summary. There were two studies (LEAP and LEAP-on) in the last few years: the first one (LEAP) showed that introduction and sustained exposure of peanuts to high-allergy risk infants decreased peanut allergy development by 81%. The second (LEAP-on) introduced peanuts to another set of infants, then removed them for 12 months, and observed that the peanut allergy development was not significantly different from the LEAP trials.

The summary probably refers to the notion that if you keep your kid away from peanuts, they won't develop an allergy to them. This is not true: they can develop an allergy regardless of whether they're exposed or not. NYT unfortunately leaves out the most important finding: if you expose your kid to peanuts at an early age, they are far less likely to develop an allergy than if you don't.
 
  • #6
The opening post is somewhat misleading. The way the post is phrased currently:
BillTre said:
This NY Times article lists some medical ideas contradicted by studies:

Makes it seem like the quoted statements are the ideas being contradicted by the studies, when in fact the statements are the findings that contradict previous beliefs. So for example, the statement that "Fish oil does not reduce the risk of heart disease" is supported by data from a large clinical trial that contradicts previous notions that fish oil would reduce the risk of heart disease.

I would suggest that @BillTre or a moderator edit the wording of the first post to clarify this point. The wording from the NYT article ("Here are 10 findings that contradict what were once widely held theories") would be more clear that the current wording of the opening post.

Also, while the NYT article focuses on ten medical myths, the article refers to a study, published in the scientific journal eLife, that found close to 400 such "medical myths" that were later proven wrong by clinical studies.

The journal article is freely available here:
https://elifesciences.org/articles/45183
 
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I speed-read the NYT comments as of about noon PDT. Though most of the 10 items from the article involve medicine, many comments concern unnecessary surgery. Item #9 concerning exercise and physical therapy for knees before a surgical solution morphs in the comments into repudiation of the (facetious) adage to surgical residents,
"Heal with cold steel*".
[* Samuel Shem (Stephen Bergman), House of God , 1978]

Also from the novel,
The delivery of good medical care is to do as much nothing as possible.
 
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  • #8
TeethWhitener said:
On which one? The studies in the NYT article are all linked: they come from either The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, or JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), all of which are reputable (and very esteemed) medical journals. What would you have had NYT do instead?
Yes I retract the statement as I was factually incorrect. I have never had subscription with the NYT
 
  • #9
Content aside, the title has the feeling of social media clickbait.
 
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  • #10
Let's move his to General Discussion.
 
  • #11
Ygggdrasil said:
The opening post is somewhat misleading. The way the post is phrased currently:

Thanks for clarifying, I couldn't understand what the OP was trying to say.

Cheers
 

1. What are the top 10 medical myths addressed in the NY Times article?

The top 10 medical myths addressed in the NY Times article are:
1. You should drink 8 glasses of water per day
2. Eating turkey makes you sleepy
3. Sugar causes hyperactivity in children
4. You should wait an hour after eating before swimming
5. Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis
6. Antibiotics are effective against the common cold and flu
7. You can catch a cold from being in the cold
8. Vaccines cause autism
9. You should take a daily multivitamin
10. Going outside with wet hair will make you sick

2. What is the evidence behind the myth that you should drink 8 glasses of water per day?

The myth that you should drink 8 glasses of water per day is not supported by scientific evidence. The recommendation actually originated from a 1945 report that stated a person needs 2.5 liters of water per day, but it also stated that most of this water is obtained through food. The report also mentioned that other beverages, such as coffee and tea, can also contribute to daily water intake. Therefore, the 8 glasses of water per day recommendation is not based on scientific evidence and may vary depending on individual needs and activity levels.

3. Is there any truth to the myth that sugar causes hyperactivity in children?

No, there is no scientific evidence to support the myth that sugar causes hyperactivity in children. Several studies have been conducted on this topic and have consistently found that sugar does not cause hyperactivity. In fact, a 1994 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that there was no difference in behavior between children who consumed sugar and those who did not. Hyperactivity in children is often attributed to other factors such as genetics, environment, and individual behavior.

4. What is the truth about cracking your knuckles causing arthritis?

The belief that cracking your knuckles leads to arthritis is a common myth. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. A study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that there was no association between knuckle cracking and hand osteoarthritis. The sound of cracking is actually caused by gas bubbles in the synovial fluid, which helps lubricate the joints. Therefore, cracking your knuckles is not harmful and does not cause arthritis.

5. Is it true that vaccines can cause autism?

No, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that vaccines cause autism. Multiple studies have been conducted on this topic and have consistently found no link between vaccines and autism. The original study that sparked this myth has been discredited and the author's medical license was revoked. Vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious diseases and do not cause autism.

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