Health Myths


Popular heritage comprises myriads of myths and misconceptions that have been passed on and believed though faulty and unscientific. These misconceptions exist in all fields, including the health of the human body, organs, and cells. Let us investigate some of these misconceptions and see what science has to say about them.

Credits: Freepik 

Knuckle cracking causes arthritis

The popping sound of knuckle cracking can result from a negative pressure pulling nitrogen gas temporarily into the joint. Sometimes, this sound occurs due to tendons tearing from tissues as a result of a slight shift in the joint sliding field, all of which is normal. As such, it has not been proven that the habit of knuckle cracking could cause arthritis or any other joint-related illnesses. Although there are different explanations for that sound, it is agreed that knuckle cracking is not a healthy habit; it may cause redness or swelling of the fingers or even inflammation of tendons or ligaments.

Credits: Freepik 

Going outside with wet hair in the Winter causes the flu

We catch the flu all year round, in winters and summers; however, the winter is more notorious for higher rates of infection. So, what is the relationship between low temperatures and flu virus infections? In fact, winter and cold weather have nothing to do with infection. Yes, common colds are more common during winters, but due to poor ventilation and gatherings of families and friends in warm indoor settings. As a result, infection rates increase. The belief that going out with wet hair causes a cold is also a misconception since the common cold is a viral infection that has nothing to do with hair, be it wet or dry.

Flu vaccine causes flu infection

Another myth about the flu is that the vaccine designed to prevent it causes infection! Of course, this is absolutely not true. There are different flu vaccines; some are in the form of injections and some are nasal sprays. Injection vaccines contain a deactivated virus or one of the virus proteins, whereas spray vaccines comprise weakened active viruses; in both cases, the infection cannot occur.

Credits: Freepik 

Blue veins indicate de-oxygenated blood

Moving to people with clear blue veins, it is thought that the color is due to de-oxygenated blood; the scientific fact is human blood is always red, whether oxygenated or not. The explanation for this blue hue of veins has to do with the reflection of light inside the skin layers, as well as the fact that veins, as opposed to deep arteries, are close to the skin's surface.

Credits: Freepik 

Sunscreens should not be applied at sunset

Personal care products have their share of misconceptions too. Most people think it is unnecessary to apply sunscreens when it is cloudy or rainy. However, the problems posed by the Sun are not related to the heat, but to the ultraviolet rays, which can penetrate clouds and be more acute than on a warm summer day. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, clouds prevent ultraviolet rays from penetrating the skin by less than 25%. Therefore, to protect the skin, one should apply a rich layer of sunscreen before going out, and reapply it every two hours if you are staying out for a long time.

Credits: Freepik 

Once you stop exercising, muscles turn into fat

A common misconception among some athletes that players with big muscles would lose their muscle mass to fats if they stop exercising due to an injury or a busy schedule. Muscle cells are different from fat cells and they never transform into one another. However, when people stop exercising, they gain weight, in the form of fats; yet, these are new fats, and not transformed muscles.

We are in the twenty-first century; blindly following myths should not be the case. Some of these myths could deprive us of much joy; or cause us health, social, or behavioral problems. It is always recommended to research and double-check strange ideas before adopting them.


Credits: Banner Image/Freepik 

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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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