Navigation Links
Busting Medical Myths Even Doctors Believe

No, your hair and nails don't grow after death, report says

THURSDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Somewhere in the back of your mind is the idea that you should drink at least eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy.

You may have nodded in agreement when someone mentioned scientific studies showing that, on average, we use just 10 percent of our brain.

And you may have lectured your children about the danger of reading in dim light, which could cause permanent eye damage.

None of this is true. But the ideas continue to circulate (and be believed even by some physicians), say Drs. Rachel Vreeman and Aaron Carroll of the Indiana University School of Medicine. They've taken the time and trouble in a two-page report in the Dec. 22-29 British Medical Journal to puncture seven such medical myths.

"We picked these in particular, because we either heard physicians repeat them or heard them in the media a number of times," said Vreeman, who is a fellow in children's health services research at Indiana. "They do appear to be ingrained in the popular imagination, including that of physicians."

Dr. Graham F. Greene, associate professor of urology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine, admits he was tempted to believe the 10 percent brain myth, especially because he'd heard it attributed to Albert Einstein (not so), even though Greene is involved with the UAMS Web page devoted to puncturing similar myths.

"But, in reality, the brain is still a huge mystery in terms of capacity," Greene said. "We're still learning about it."

Greene does recall hearing his mother caution his sisters about another myth punctured in the BMJ presentation -- that shaved hair will grow back coarser and darker. The myth persists even though controlled studies done as long ago as 1928 showed no difference in the growth and texture of shaved and non-shaved hair.

Then, there's the one about hair and fingernails continuing to grow after death -- the so-called Dracula effect. What actually happens, Vreeman and Carroll write, is that the skin retracts after death, giving the illusion of growth. That's part of something that happens during life, too -- we grow "long in the tooth," not because old teeth are growing, but because the gums that support them shrink.

There's an air of scientific verisimilitude about another myth cited by Vreeman and Carroll -- that eating turkey makes you sleepy. Supposedly, that happens because turkey is rich in the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan, but the tryptophan content is not great enough to bother anyone, Vreeland said. It's probably the wine that comes with the Thanksgiving turkey that lowers the eyelids.

As for drinking eight glasses of water a day, don't try it. Water comes into the body via a number of foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and a zealous endeavor to meet the eight-glass quota might even be dangerous, Vreeman said.

She and Carroll are expanding their myth-busting effort. "We're in the process of writing a book with over 100 of them," Vreeman said.

Have you heard the one about chewing gum staying in your stomach for seven years if you swallow it?

More information

For a clear-eyed take on other medical myths, visit the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

SOURCES: Rachel Vreeman, fellow, children's health services research, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis; Graham F. Greene, M.D., associate professor of urology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine, Little Rock; Dec. 22-29, 2007, British Medical Journal

Copyright©2007 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. MSU engineering team designs innovative medical device
2. ATS Medical to Present at the 2007 Thomas Weisel Partners Healthcare Conference
3. Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, Caregivers Reach Agreement on a Union Contract
4. Owner and Operator of Florida Durable Medical Equipment Company Convicted of Medicare Fraud
5. Father and Daughter From Tanzania Receive Their First Medical Examination in Newport Beach
6. Doctors and medical ethicist discuss whether doctors should participate in capital punishment
7. Preparation for Natural Disasters Critical for People With Diabetes, Chronic Medical Conditions
8. Doctors and Medical Ethicist Discuss Whether Doctors Should Participate in Capital Punishment
9. Symmetry Medical Completes Acquisition Of Specialty Surgical Instruments
10. Milestone Scientific Announces Successful Completion of its Collaboration Agreement With Carticept Medical
11. FDA Seeks to Regulate Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Products Such as Vegetable Juice Could Be Restricted for Medical Use
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... For the first time, Vitalalert ... Organizations, One Beat ” campaign. The partnership between the two groups began in 2014 ... MAP International’s cause. , MAP International was founded in 1954 and is an international ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... ... On November 25, 2015, officials of Narconon Arrowhead , the drug rehabilitation ... new cutting edge recovery program that has been 50 years in the making. ... with the purpose to free addicts from the symptoms and negative behaviors of addiction. ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... ... Smiles by Stevens is pleased to announce the addition of Botox® for ... aware of the benefits of Botox® in the treatment of moderate facial wrinkling, few ... and pain as a result of Jaw Tension, TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint) disorder, and Bruxism ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... In an ongoing Clinical Study conducted by an ... IL, UV Angel is evaluating the efficacy of its product and its disinfection protocol. ... 30 beds) from May 2014 through October 2015 at a 360-bed, acute-care, academic medical ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Spring, Md (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 ... ... Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) announces the nation’s Periwinkle Pioneers, individuals and groups responsible ... history of this disease. The Periwinkle Pioneers, nominated by the public, will receive ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 Kitov Pharma ceuticals ... a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of therapeutic ... today announced the closing of its previously announced underwritten ... ), each representing 20 ordinary shares of the Company, ... ADSs and warrants were issued in a fixed combination ...
(Date:11/25/2015)...  Today AVACEN Medical announced the issue of United States patent No. ... ". This patent shields the company,s AVACEN 100 dry heat therapy medical device and specific methods ... Photo - ... ... ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015 USP 800 ... drug preparations (e.g. pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurses, physicians, ... technicians). The chapter also covers all entities which ... pharmacies, hospitals, other healthcare institutions, patient treatment clinics, ... --> --> What is ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: