Health

Poll: Most Americans Believe Medical Myths

| by Michael Allen

A new survey found that most Americans are clinging to several myths about medicine and health.

A new poll by InsuranceQuotes.com found that 83 percent believe probiotics help digestion for everyone that uses them; 68 percent think carrots can improve everyone's eyesight; 67 percent believe that creativity and logic originate on different sides of the brain; 62 percent think that women who live together have synchronized menstrual cycles; and 60 percent worry that sitting too close to a TV will damage eyesight.

When it came to myths that Americans didn't believe, 71 percent didn't buy the notion that cracking knuckles will lead to arthritis; 76 percent didn't think that drinking under the age of 18 stunted people's growth; 82 percent dismissed the idea that limiting food intake while sick helps people get well sooner; 83 percent did not agree that people who have dark hair have more hair on their heads; and 95 percent didn't think drinking alcohol would fix a hangover.

For sources of medical and health information, the majority of each major ethnic group got their information online: 71 percent of Asian-Americans, 59 percent of Caucasians; and 58 percent of both African-Americans and Hispanics.

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AlterNet notes that probiotics may help certain conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and childhood diarrhea, but are not a cure-all for everyone.

The news site reports that a study in 2013 from the University of Utah found there is no evidence that people are left-brained or right-brained.

Scientific American reported that people who suffered from an extreme lack vitamin A are likely the only ones who can benefit from carrots because the cornea can vanish if the human body does not make enough vitamin A. The body uses beta-carotene, found in carrots, to make vitamin A. Beta-carotene and vitamin A supplements have been found to help undernourished people's night vision.

The British government first spread propaganda about carrots and night vision during World War II, and it has stayed in the public's mind ever since. During the war, many areas would be blacked out at night to make it harder for German planes to bomb houses, and promoting carrots helped people feel empowered.

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In 2007, Scientific American noted that many anthropologists and psychologists doubt the notion that if women live together their menstrual cycles will change so they are closer together. Almost half the research papers on this topic said there is no evidence, while the studies that asserted this does happen have been criticized for their statistical analyses and poorly designed studies.

When it comes to watching TV while sitting too close to the screen, there is no permanent damage, but it may cause eyestrain, reports AlterNet.

Sources: InsuranceQuotes.com, Scientific American (2), AlterNet / Photo credit: Nevit Dilmen/Wikimedia

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