Navigation Links
Toxic Poinsettias? Hangover Cures? It May Be All Fiction

Researchers debunk common holiday and wintertime health myths,,,,

THURSDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- It's that magical time of year when people are willing to suspend disbelief just a little bit and hope that holiday miracles, like Santa delivering presents across the globe in a single evening, can actually happen.

It also appears to be a time of year when people might be willing to suspend critical thinking and buy into some common holiday and wintertime health myths, according to researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine.

In the Christmas issue of BMJ published online Dec. 18, the researchers pointed out six commonly believed myths that even some health professionals believe are true. But, when the researchers looked for evidence to back up the myths, they couldn't find it. The debunked myths include:

  • Suicide rates are higher during the holidays.
  • Poinsettias are toxic if eaten.
  • Hangovers are curable.
  • Sugar makes children hyperactive.
  • You lose most of your body heat through your head.
  • Eating at night makes you fat.

"We really don't know why some myths become so embedded," said one of the article's co-authors, Dr. Rachel Vreeman, an assistant professor of pediatrics.

"Sometimes you hear these myths from people you consider to be experts," suggested Vreeman's co-author, Dr. Aaron Carroll, director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research. "And, often, there's a kernel of truth in some of these myths. For example, sugar gives us energy, so some people might leap to the conclusion that too much sugar gives you too much energy."

But, he added, that's not the case. At least 12 double-blind, randomized, controlled trials have looked at the effect of sugar on children, and none found evidence for the sugar-equals-hyperactivity myth. In one study, children weren't even given sugar, but their parents were told they had been -- and parents who thought their children had eaten sugar rated their behavior as more hyperactive.

Another pervasive myth is that more people try to commit suicide over the holidays, but numerous studies have failed to find a peak of suicides during the holidays, according to Vreeman and Carroll.

Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine, said he wasn't surprised that there was not an increase in suicides during the holidays, because people tend to be surrounded by other people in December. He wondered, however, what happens after the holidays.

"There are such high expectations around the holidays," he said. "Holiday anxiety and depression are very common, so a better question might be whether or not people are more unhappy during the holidays."

Another common holiday myth surrounds hangover cures. Although most everyone has a favorite that they swear works for them, the only real cure for a hangover is not to drink excessively in the first place. Also, Siegel pointed out that some hangover cures, such as aspirin or acetaminophen, can actually create troubles, such as liver problems or stomach irritation, in people who've been drinking.

As for the other myths? Vreeman and Carroll said that poinsettias, even in large doses, appear to be safe, though they certainly don't recommend consuming them. Your head, like the rest of your body, releases heat, but it's no more important to shield your head than to protect other parts of your body against the cold.

And, finally, they said that eating at night won't make you fat as long as what you're eating doesn't put you over your normal daily calorie total. Generally, they said, people who eat at night tend to gain weight, because those calories consumed nocturnally are in addition to three regular meals and snacks.

So, Santa, if you've already had breakfast, lunch and dinner, maybe you'd better put down the milk and cookies.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on other important health myths.

SOURCES: Rachel Vreeman, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis; Aaron Carroll, M.D., director, Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research, Indiana University School of Medicine, and the Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis; Marc Siegel, M.D., internist, associate professor of medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York City, and author, False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear; December 18, 2008, BMJ online

Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Draining away brains toxic protein to stop Alzheimers
2. Toxic Mold May Pose Health Threat to Pets
3. Caffeine Plus Acetaminophen Toxic for Some
4. Loss of gene leads to protein splicing and buildup of toxic proteins in neurons
5. Toxic Shock Drug Might Aid Trauma Victims
6. National Academies advisory: genes and toxic chemicals
7. Genomic technologies to identify toxic chemicals should be developed
8. ABA Conference in Chicago Provides Litigators First Look at DNA Technology That Can Save Millions in Workers Comp and Toxic Tort Cases
9. Once-Daily Exjade(R) Shown to Remove Toxic Iron From the Heart and Liver, According to Data Presented at ASH
10. Another smart cancer drug can have toxic effects on the heart
11. Inverness Medical Innovations to Acquire Redwood Toxicology Laboratory
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Holcomb ... the leading plastic surgery practices in Florida, is proud to announce that Dr. ... surgical innovations giant Ethicon Inc., a Johnson & Johnson Company. , Ethicon is ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Sikka Software announced today that they are showcasing ... dentists to make complex business decisions by providing the tools and information they need ... survey with 10 procedures customized by zip code. , The Sikka Software Ecosystem ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... 30, 2015 , ... Vasont Systems, a top component content ... extension unites with Syncro Soft’s latest software update, oXygen XML editor Version 17.1. ... the latest release of oXygen® XML editor and the Vasont® CCMS. , ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... the assets of DataTrade Solutions Inc., a Healthcare IT consulting, development and support ... the programming and technical experience available within DataTrade to extend the services currently ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... of critical importance to the medical schools of the future. To reach an ... suite at the 2015 ChangeMedEd conference in Chicago, organized by the American Medical ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... -- Next week, December 2-3, BIOMEDevice San Jose ... events covering the latest in Medtech innovation, Wearable Tech, ... more than 3,000 design industry professionals to the ... combined show floor will host more than 300 exhibitors ... --> BIOMEDevice features suppliers in medical ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015 Nautilus Medical Inc. ... Image Management platform ( ). The release of ... from RSNA 2015 (Radiology Society North America) in ... in the U.S. --> ... that enables access to radiology studies worldwide via a ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... November 30, 2015 ... adds a 2015 publication ... - 2015 with comprehensive analysis of ... of deal types, such as Mergers ... . ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: