26 doctors weighed in:

This is a very open-ended question, but what are some medical myths that you commonly hear and what's the truth that people should know?

26 doctors weighed in
David Miller
Family Medicine
12 doctors agree

In brief: Vaccines and autism

This is perhaps the most destructive of recent medical myths, that vaccines cause autism.
To date, there has been no credible evidence to show any connection between autism and vaccination. Moreover, the researcher in the uk who published the "results" was convicted in a court of law for perpetrating a massive fraud and the article was retracted from publication. Vaccines do not cause autism!

In brief: Vaccines and autism

This is perhaps the most destructive of recent medical myths, that vaccines cause autism.
To date, there has been no credible evidence to show any connection between autism and vaccination. Moreover, the researcher in the uk who published the "results" was convicted in a court of law for perpetrating a massive fraud and the article was retracted from publication. Vaccines do not cause autism!
David Miller
David Miller
Answer assisted by David Miller, Medical Student
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6 comments
David Miller
The risk from getting the disease is much greater than the risk from the vaccine.
Dr. John Weeks
I've treated diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus; I'll take the vaccine any time!
Dr. Barry Rosen
Surgery
11 doctors agree

In brief: Breast Cancer Myths

Myth: "i am too old to get ca.
Truth: breast cancer incidence increases with age. M: "i have no family history, so i don't need to worry". T: 85-90% of cases are environmental in origin, unrelated to family hx. M: "if I have a painful lump, it can't be cancer". T: some breast cancers cause pain. M: "my lump can't be a cancer cuz i just had a normal mammogram" t:mammograms will miss ~10% of cancers.

In brief: Breast Cancer Myths

Myth: "i am too old to get ca.
Truth: breast cancer incidence increases with age. M: "i have no family history, so i don't need to worry". T: 85-90% of cases are environmental in origin, unrelated to family hx. M: "if I have a painful lump, it can't be cancer". T: some breast cancers cause pain. M: "my lump can't be a cancer cuz i just had a normal mammogram" t:mammograms will miss ~10% of cancers.
Dr. Barry Rosen
Dr. Barry Rosen
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Dr. Gregory Hines
Family Medicine
6 doctors agree

In brief: Cold air in ear

I get people all the time who claim an ear infection requiring antibiotics because they were standing in the wind.
That is total baloney.

In brief: Cold air in ear

I get people all the time who claim an ear infection requiring antibiotics because they were standing in the wind.
That is total baloney.
Dr. Gregory Hines
Dr. Gregory Hines
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Dr. Michael Jones
Family Medicine
6 doctors agree

In brief: Green snot!

Patient says, "i knew when i saw the snot was green that i need an antibiotic".
Not necessarily true. Most upper respiratory infections are viral regardless of color of mucus. Drink lots of water, try nasal irrigation and wait.

In brief: Green snot!

Patient says, "i knew when i saw the snot was green that i need an antibiotic".
Not necessarily true. Most upper respiratory infections are viral regardless of color of mucus. Drink lots of water, try nasal irrigation and wait.
Dr. Michael Jones
Dr. Michael Jones
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Dr. Michio Abe
Internal Medicine
6 doctors agree

In brief: Antibiotics for cold

I see a lot of patients coming in to see me for a bad cold with sore throat and runny nose.
And they would ask me for antibiotics. More frequently than not, these symptoms are due to viral infections. Antibiotics do not work for viruses. Another common myth in certain cultures including japanese and some hispanics are vitamin B12 shots for energy. B12 is unnecessary unless you are deficient.

In brief: Antibiotics for cold

I see a lot of patients coming in to see me for a bad cold with sore throat and runny nose.
And they would ask me for antibiotics. More frequently than not, these symptoms are due to viral infections. Antibiotics do not work for viruses. Another common myth in certain cultures including japanese and some hispanics are vitamin B12 shots for energy. B12 is unnecessary unless you are deficient.
Dr. Michio Abe
Dr. Michio Abe
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Dr. George Klauber
Pediatrics - Urology
4 doctors agree

In brief: Urologic myths

M. Circumcision is cleaner and prevents cancer hence all men should undergo.
T. Good hygiene is clean and prevents penile cancer. M don't drink milk if you have kidney stones. T. Urinary calcium and stones are not caused by drinking milk, reduce salt intake and may need meds. M cranberry juice will cure utis. T. Will not, antibiotics needed, cranberry juice may slightly reduce risk of future utis.

In brief: Urologic myths

M. Circumcision is cleaner and prevents cancer hence all men should undergo.
T. Good hygiene is clean and prevents penile cancer. M don't drink milk if you have kidney stones. T. Urinary calcium and stones are not caused by drinking milk, reduce salt intake and may need meds. M cranberry juice will cure utis. T. Will not, antibiotics needed, cranberry juice may slightly reduce risk of future utis.
Dr. George Klauber
Dr. George Klauber
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2 doctors agree

In brief: Diverticulosis diet

One of my most hated myths is that people who have an episode of diverticulitis, or those who have the benign condition diverticulosis, should avoid seeds and nuts.
False! in fact, following this advice is very harmful. A study disproving this myth was published in the jama, you can find it here: http://jama.Jamanetwork.Com/article.Aspx?Volume=300&issue=8&page=907. The truth: lots more fiber!

In brief: Diverticulosis diet

One of my most hated myths is that people who have an episode of diverticulitis, or those who have the benign condition diverticulosis, should avoid seeds and nuts.
False! in fact, following this advice is very harmful. A study disproving this myth was published in the jama, you can find it here: http://jama.Jamanetwork.Com/article.Aspx?Volume=300&issue=8&page=907. The truth: lots more fiber!
Dr. Scott Welker
Dr. Scott Welker
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Dr. Jonathan Megerian
Pediatrics - Neurology
2 doctors agree

In brief: Flu Shots

'i never to the flu until i got vaccinated', or 'the vaccine gave me the flu'.
This is like saying 'i got sick because i went outside without my jacket'. There are two realities to remember: 1) vaccines are not 100% effective and 2) the flu vaccine only works against the influenza virus (and only the strains that are in the vaccine). One can still get other viral infections that feel like flu!

In brief: Flu Shots

'i never to the flu until i got vaccinated', or 'the vaccine gave me the flu'.
This is like saying 'i got sick because i went outside without my jacket'. There are two realities to remember: 1) vaccines are not 100% effective and 2) the flu vaccine only works against the influenza virus (and only the strains that are in the vaccine). One can still get other viral infections that feel like flu!
Dr. Jonathan Megerian
Dr. Jonathan Megerian
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Dr. George Klauber
Pediatrics - Urology
2 doctors agree

In brief: More urologic myths

Myth: u should avoid contact sports if u have only 1 kidney.
Truth: kidneys very well protected + risk of injury v slight, thus play soccer, football, hockey, baseball, basketball or lacrosse without kidney protection. Myth: testicle which can be pulled into scrotum is always retractile + normal.Truth: must remain in scrotum at least an instant otherwise undescended and requires surgical correction.

In brief: More urologic myths

Myth: u should avoid contact sports if u have only 1 kidney.
Truth: kidneys very well protected + risk of injury v slight, thus play soccer, football, hockey, baseball, basketball or lacrosse without kidney protection. Myth: testicle which can be pulled into scrotum is always retractile + normal.Truth: must remain in scrotum at least an instant otherwise undescended and requires surgical correction.
Dr. George Klauber
Dr. George Klauber
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Dr. Thomas Byrnes
Family Medicine
1 doctor agrees

In brief: There is a course

The "great courses series" has a course on that very topic, several cd's full of information on many topics under that heading.
Most of the information is very good and it is definitely worth the time it takes to listen to.

In brief: There is a course

The "great courses series" has a course on that very topic, several cd's full of information on many topics under that heading.
Most of the information is very good and it is definitely worth the time it takes to listen to.
Dr. Thomas Byrnes
Dr. Thomas Byrnes
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1 comment
Dr. George Klauber
Excellent tip, thanks
Dr. John Weeks
Family Medicine

In brief: Colds from cold

Myth: you "catch cold" from being in cold/wet weather. Nope, gotta be exposed to the virus and susceptible.
Maybe spending more time cooped up with other sick folks in the winter makes you more likely to get sick than being outdoors! holiday shopping and visiting probably does more to spread colds than the weather.

In brief: Colds from cold

Myth: you "catch cold" from being in cold/wet weather. Nope, gotta be exposed to the virus and susceptible.
Maybe spending more time cooped up with other sick folks in the winter makes you more likely to get sick than being outdoors! holiday shopping and visiting probably does more to spread colds than the weather.
Dr. John Weeks
Dr. John Weeks
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