Popular myths, outdated or wrong information can keep people from knowing the truth. In the age of the internet its easy to be mislead and to have personal a bias confirmed. Accurate up-to-day information is essential to finding solutions to health and medical problems. We’ve got to go beyond the surface and popular consensus to find answers. Here I continue to expose commonly accepted popular and medical myths.
- People generally believe medicine is a science that functions objectively. Biomedicine uses scientific research and technology, but it is not itself an exact or applied science like chemistry and engineering. It relies heavily on experience and subjectivity. There is a personal and creative component to practicing medicine that cannot be quantified and results cannot always be duplicated. Good medicine depends on the skills, experience and wisdom of practitioners. Medicine also is part of larger network of institutes, and an economic system which plays a key role in how health care is practiced. Medical research is frequently conducted by pharmaceutical companies, whose goal is the development of drug treatments of diseases. For them there is little incentive to looking for natural treatments. Biomedicine has become heavily reliant on corporate funded research.
- Drugs work best. Not always and frequently not at all. For example clinical experience and research shows there is an insignificant difference between the effectiveness of antidepressant and placebo effect in treating depression (Prevention & Treatment, Vol. 5, 2002). Antidepressants and statins for high cholesterol, are not the best solution and have negative side effects like liver damage, that create new health problems like digestive disorders.
- Healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy foods. From an economic perspective the money spent on health care due to illness and disease is much greater than the cost of buying healthy food. Diet-related diseases like heart disease and diabetes, are hidden costs that we don’t usually take into account.
- Fad and weight lose diets work. They don’t (Public Health Rev. 2003). Some people may loose weight temporally, but people are generally not able to keep weight off and, some diets can create nutritional deficiencies. These deficiencies don’t always show up immediately.
- Bacteria are bad for your health. Not all. Microorganisms, like bacteria are essential to bodily functions. The whole body is a colony of trillions of bacteria called the microbiome, which work symbiotically with the body. The immune system would not exist without them, and needs microbial flora in order to function. They are also essential to digestion. Acquired immunity requires exposure to bacteria to create immunity and fight disease. In out sanitary-obsessed society we may be over-sterilizing our environment to the point that its is weaken our immune system. The rise in auto-immune disease can be correlated to this.
- Physicians only prescribe what is necessary. Physician commonly over-prescribe. Antibiotic resistance bacteria is a perfect example of the negative consequences of over-prescribing. Physicians often prescribe antibiotic for colds and flu even though they are not effective. As a result we now have crisis of super-bacteria that are immune to many antibiotics. Most shocking statistic of all is that Iatrogenic deaths due to the adverse effect of medication is the 3rd leading cause of death in developed countries (Jama, July 26, 2000).
- Artificial sweeteners are a good safe substitute for sugar and helps prevent weight gain. False. Some studies (Yale J. Bio. Med. June 2010) show a link between weight gain, higher BMI (body mass index) and increased sugar cravings! You’re better off using a natural sweeteners. Research into whether artificial sweeteners cause specific diseases is still inconclusive at this time, but is it worth the risk?
- Fructose and sugar don’t have a negative impact on your health. False. We know refined sugar can lead to weight gain, but it isn’t the only culprit when it comes to obesity and disease. Processed refined carbohydrates, like refined grains, are just as much a concern and should be a principle focus when it comes to health and prevention.
- Weight is the best indicator of a person’s health risk. It is true that being over-weight is an important health risk, but “waist-to-height” ratio (WSR) is superior in determining risk then weight alone or waist circumference (BMI).
- More spending on medicine and health-care increases health and well-being. False. The United States is a perfect example of how spending a lot of money does not produces a population of healthier people. The U.S. spends more per capita than any other country and is not ranked at the top. (U.S. Health in International Perspective, 2013, S. Woolf and L. Aron)
- The same disease has the same cause for everybody. This is a common assumptions, but it is false. We often find that similar disease in different people have different causes and different diseases can have similar causes. That is why its important to look at each case individually.
© Keyvan Golestaneh