Have you ever seen MythBusters? Well if so, you can consider this blog post my own episode of MythBusters: Health Edition. We’ve all heard them since we were young, and most of us (I’m not leaving myself out, because I am most definitely guilty of being a blind follower from time-to-time) haven’t questioned them since. So here you are: three of the most common health-related myths and why they are completely, totally untrue.
- If you tan but don’t burn, exposure to sunlight is a-okay!
Uhhhh, nope. The “healthy glow” thing is an oxymoron. There is no such thing as a healthy glow, though it may look nice. Tanned skin (unfortunately) is damaged skin. Although a sunburn is much more extreme in terms of the damage is does, tanning provides no health benefits. An article from the World Health Organization about the known health effects of Ultraviolet Radiation reads:
“The darkening provides some protection against sunburn: a dark tan on a white skin offers a sun protection factor of between 2 and 4. However, it is no [defense] against long-term UV damage such as skin cancer. A suntan may be cosmetically desirable, but in fact it is nothing but a sign that your skin has been damaged and has attempted to protect itself”.
So, there you have it. It doesn’t mean you have to skip out on every pool day, but when you do head out for some fun in the sun, try your best to avoid the sun part by doing the following
- Stay in shaded areas as often as possible, especially between 10am-4pm when the sun is at its strongest
- If it isn’t too toasty wear lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect your skin
- Sunglasses and hats are perfect for protecting your face and eyes
- SUNSCREEN! Re-apply regularly, especially if you’ve been swimming or sweating
- Moderate drinking is good for your health.
Yeah, I know you love this one. Every college student does! However, I have some unfortunate news for you. A recent study covered by the New York Times tells us that, in fact, no amount of alcohol is good for you. In past years, the majority of public health officials reassured us that alcohol consumption in moderation could reduce the likelihood of many serious health conditions including heart disease and cancer. Said article explains further by saying
“Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, agrees with that assessment. It’s clear, he says, that drinking comes with health risks, and far less clear that it comes with any benefits. So, while some moderate drinkers might never experience health problems from drinking, ‘if you look at all the risks and all the benefits of alcohol, it’s probably net harmful, on average, for the whole population,’ he says”.
Huh, bummer. While studies are still searching for a solid answer, it looks like for the time being you should avoid alcohol as much as you can manage. Sorry, kiddos!
- After eating, you have to wait 30 minutes before you can swim.
Honestly, I had no idea where this myth came from. After a bit of research, I found out that the “wait 30 minutes” rule was based on the idea that after eating, blood is diverted toward your digestive tract from your arms and legs, and of course if your limbs aren’t getting much blood flow, you’ll drown. This, and if you’ve ever seen or read A Series of Unfortunate Events you know that you’ll be eaten alive by the Lachrymose Leeches.
Now we know that the blood flow theory is untrue, so next time you head out for a beach day you can get crazy and take a dip right after you down a PB & J.
Now, go forth and spread the MythBusting news my friends! Keep in mind, there are plenty of other health-related myths out there, but these are the three I chose to address. Got questions? Concerns? The best way to address any sort of health-related issue or topic is by getting in touch with a healthcare professional, so… stay away from WebMD if you can help yourself.