15 Common Medical Misconceptions


Since the recent advancement in medicine, we now know how incredible is the human body, but before that wasn’t really the case. There have been a lot of sayings passed on for generations, some were true but most are in fact just myths. So here’s a list of the most common medical misconceptions and I hope we can put an end to them once and for all!

1.) Old People Sleep Less

It is often heard that the older you get, the less sleep you need. This myth couldn’t be more wrong since it’s the complete opposite. Throughout the course of our adult life, the hours of sleep needed remains fairly same, but once we get past the age of sixty-five we need a little more hours of extra sleep. The most likely cause behind this myth is that senior citizens tend to have a lot of problems connected to difficulty in getting to sleep which reduces the overall quantity of hours of sleep.1

2.) Chocolate causes Acne

We’ve all heard this one before, since this is a really common myth and some people may still believe it. We were all warned against eating too much chocolate or greasy food or you’ll have a bad case of acne. There have been a lot of scientific studies that prove that there is little to no chance that chocolate or greasy food can cause acne breakouts, but be careful since large quantities of both can cause weight gain.2

3.) Sucking an Open Wound

This one is just a big no-no. Do you know how much bacteria there is in the mouth? Well I’m not exactly sure either, but I know that there sure are a lot. So if you ever get a cut, don’t go putting it in your mouth or anyone else’s because that’s just asking for an infection.3

4.) Sugar Rush

This is one of the most common misconceptions around the world, but there have been many studies that debunk this particular myth. A series of studies conducted by Dr. Vreeman and Dr. Caroll at the Riley Hospital for Children, where they examined multiple children’s reaction to diets with different levels of sugar. None of the studies could detect any difference in behavior between the children who had sugar and those who didn’t. What’s interesting is that parent’s that were told that their children were given sweets even if they weren’t have reported that their child was more hyperactive than usual.4

5.) Swallowing Gum

I’m sure that everyone was told when they were young that gum takes seven years to leave the body. Most adults still believe this misconception, but this is completely false. It’s true that your stomach can’t digest gum, but it just simply passes through your digestive track along with other food you ate.5

6.) Resting for Back Pain

The myth goes that when you’re experiencing back pain, you should just sleep it off or lie in bed all day. But it’s actually the opposite, since bed rest can actually delay the recovery of the lower back. Studies have shown that patients that engage in regular activities tend to recover faster and have fewer problems with recurring pain. There are thirty-nine independent studies that have proven that bed rest could be more harmful in a wide range of illnesses. So sleeping it off does more harm than good.6

7.) Midnight Snacks Makes You Fat

This one is false, but a lot of people who are conscious about their weight think it’s true. Snacks eaten at night are no worse for weight gain than snacks eaten during the day. It doesn’t really matter what time you eat since weight gain and weight loss is only due to your calorie intake and the amount of calories you burn.7

8.) Cracking your Knuckles

I’ve had countless arguments due to this misconception so you have an idea how widespread it is. People believe that cracking your knuckles can cause arthritis. So here’s the explanation behind the cracking sound made by our bones: it’s caused by the bones moving and forming gas bubbles and the sound is due to the bubble bursting. Arthritis is caused by crystal formations like in cases of gout, among other things, but knuckle cracking is not one of them.8

9.) Hypothermia can only happen in the Cold

Hypothermia is scary since a lot of us don’t really understand how easy it is to contract. People think that hypothermia is freezing to death, but it’s a reduction of the body’s temperature: if your core body temperature drops below thirty-five degrees Celsius. This could also happen in warm environments. You can contract hypothermia swimming in warm waters, because water gradually reduces your core body temperature since water conducts heat away from your body more than air.


10.) Contact Lenses

People who wear contact lens often fear that their lenses might get stuck behind their eyeball, but that is an irrational fear since there is no cavity behind the eye so it’s physically impossible for that to happen.10

11.) Sneezing Causes the Heart to Miss a beat

This myth is false (okay, not completely.) In some case sneezing can cause the heart to have a slightly erratic beat due to pressure chance inside the chest.11

12.) Heart Attack is Caused by Over Exertion

Most people believe that heart attacks can be caused by excessive exertion, and that rest and a more carefree lifestyle is necessary for recovery from a heart attack. But the surprise is that a less active lifestyle is more likely to cause heart conditions. In fact, medical facilities generally advice recovery heart attack patients to begin light exercise programs in order to build heart circulation and improve blood circulation.


13.) Underwire causes Breast Cancer

Medical professionals think there is a possible link between bra underwire and other shaping garments to the increased cases of breast cancer. The argument was that the unnatural pressure from the garments restricted lymph flow, which was reputed to provoke retention of carcinogenic body toxins in the breast tissues. But researchers have shed some light on this myth; they have found no possible link between underwire use and lymph flow and of course no link to breast cancer.


14.) Ulcers are due to Stress

It is commonly believed that ulcers are related to stress and emotional negativity can cause stomach ulcers and other gastrointestinal diseases. Some recent medical researches have completely debunked this myth which suggests that ulcers are caused by harmful stomach bacteria, not stress or acidity levels in your stomach. The H. pylori bacteria weakens the mucus lining of the stomach then the gastric acid eats away the stomach lining. 14

15.) Stretching before Exercise

Almost everyone (that includes me) stretches before exercising to avoid injuries and sprains, but researchers discovered that contrary to popular belief stretching can in fact reduce your performance by more than five percent. Possibly, stretching is simply an additional exertion to reduce the possibility of a strong start.070422-N-5215E-002